Holiday (1938)

holiday poster 1938 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 7/10

Nice, classic rom-com

Abrupt ending with characters acting out of character

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Holiday

Studio:  Columbia Pictures

Genre(s):  Romance/Comedy

Release Date(s):  May 24, 1938 (Premiere)/May 26, 1938 (US)

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

holiday johnny julia doris nolan cary grant

I’m sure that despite having different work ethics that there will be no problems…

Julia Seton (Doris Nolan) has met an exquisite young man named Johnny Case (Cary Grant) on her holiday at Lake Placid.  With a whirlwind romance, Johnny intends to marry Julia…but first he must pass the approval of her wealthy family including her father Edward Seton (Henry Kolker), her younger brother Ned (Lew Ayres), and her older eccentric sister Linda (Katharine Hepburn).  Johnny has some ideas about he hopes his life unfolds…and they might not be what Edward accepts or Julia hopes for.

Directed by George Cukor, Holiday is a romantic comedy.  It is a version of the 1928 play which was previously made as a film in 1930.  The movie received an Academy Award nominations for Best Art Direction.  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #1009) which also included the 1930 version of the film.

Romantic comedies of the 1930s are kind of the building blocks of modern romances.  Unlike a lot of rom-coms, Holiday has some of the traditional tropes of a romance, but it takes a weird path to it.  Due to aspects of the story, a ******spoiler alert****** exists.

holiday johnny linda katharine hepburn cary grant

Houston, we have a problem…

The story feels like a very obvious play.  It has limited sets and most locations just become an area for the characters to talk about what they are going through and experiencing.  The story feels pretty obvious on the forefront in that the chemistry between Johnny and Linda is much more palpable than the relationship between Johnny and Julia…but the story struggles to make the Julia relationship seemed doomed until way too late in the film.  Julia suddenly becomes a bad person who doesn’t want to get married and doesn’t understand Johnny.  It is rather abrupt ending.

Part of the problem in modern viewing is the casting.  Hepburn is a bigger star than Doris Nolan, and as a result, it feels obvious that Hepburn and Grant will end up together instead of Grant and Nolan.  All the actors are fine, but the namesake nature of Hepburn and Grant says that they are the power couple at the end regardless of the events.  The movie also has a nice supporting cast in Edward Everett Horton and Jean Dixon as Johnny’s friends (Horton reprised his role from the earlier version of the film).

holiday edward everett horton jean dixon cary grant

It’s my wacky friends!!!

The play would benefit from feeling a bit bigger.  The set is nice and it is obvious that the home of the Setons is big, but it also might have been nice to develop the characters more besides what is told occurred off camera.  Seeing Julia and Johnny interact more would have made it more tragic that they don’t end up together or make it at least more surprising that the relationship is called off.

Holiday is a decent romantic comedy, but it feels like there are better comedies from the similar timeframe (especially with Hepburn and Grant).  If you’ve watched Bringing Up Baby, Arsenic and Old Lace, and The Philadelphia Story one too many times, you can check out Holiday for a different take on comedy starring these giants.  Holiday might be a classic, but there are even better classics.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response