Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Remembering Holiday

George Cukor's Holiday is an enchanting, old fashioned, romantic comedy with a premise as irresistible today as it was when it premiered in 1938.  Cary Grant is a free-spirited dreamer, engaged to Doris Nolan, an upper crust socialite from one of Manhattan's wealthiest families.  When he makes a killing on the stock exchange and announces his intention to retire from law so he can sail around the world, he draws rancor from Nolan and her family.  The question then becomes whether he will compromise by taking the desk that his would-be father in law has offered him, or pursue the life he truly wants.  Enter Katherine Hepburn, Nolan's sister, a very modern woman hemmed in by her stuffy, elitist family.  Hepburn responds to Grant's youthful ideals and quickly makes it her mission to hold onto him -- on her sister's behalf.  

It's plain to see that she and Grant belong together, but Donald Ogden Stewart & Sydney Buchman's script is truly a crash course on how to write your characters out of a potentially unsavory triangle.  Somehow Hepburn manages to steal her sister's beau without betraying her trust and Grant wins our sympathies after quitting his fiancee in favor of her sister.  Cynics may dismiss this as romantic pablum, but fans of the genre will be hard-pressed to find a film that is as funny and genuinely romantic as this one.  Cukor keeps things moving, Grant somehow makes even the clumsiest acrobatic flips look dashing and gallant and Hepburn tugs at our heartstrings without resorting to maudlin theatrics.  Watch for peerless character actor Edward Everett Horton and Jean Dixon as Grant's closest friends, who realize before anyone else that he and Hepburn are made for each other.  Sparkling and timeless.  

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