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Holiday, starring Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, Doris Nolan, Lew Ayres, Edward Everett Horton
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Holiday (1938), starring Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, Doris Nolan, Lew Ayres, Edward Everett Horton, Franchot Tone, directed by George Cukor

Synopsis of Holiday

Johnny Case (Cary Grant), a free-thinking financier, has finally found the girl of his dreams — Julia Seton (Doris Nolan), the spoiled daughter of a socially prominent millionaire — and she’s agreed to marry him!  Johnny plans a holiday for the two to enjoy life while they are still young.  But his fiancée has other plans.  She wants Johnny to work in her father’s bank!  He needs to decide whether to follow his head or his heart.  But Johnny can rely on at least one Seton in his corner. Its Linda Seton (Katherine Hepburn), the down-to-earth younger sister of his soon-to-be-wife.  And she likes Johnny just the way he is.

Review of Holiday

Buy from Amazon Holiday is a surprisingly enjoyable movie, with a great cast giving great performances all around.  Cary Grant is a young financier, who meets and falls in love with Doris Nolan while on vacation.  They become engaged, and on their return, he goes to meet her family.  And only then finds out just how incredibly wealthy that her family is.  And what expectations they have for a future son-in-law.

Cary Grant, his fiancee, and her father in Holiday

He’s made a good bit of money, and wants to see the world while he’s still young.  But the expectation is that he’ll join her father’s firm, and spend the rest of his life making money.  And join the upper crust, and leave behind his old friends, Edward Everett Horton and Jean Dixon.  And his fiancee’s younger sister, Katherine Hepburn, likes his lifestyle idea.  But his future father-in-law, Henry Kolker, doesn’t.  And the pressure is on …

Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn in Holiday

Along the way, Katherine Hepburn’s character begins falling in love with Cary Grant.  And he starts falling for her as well.  Even though he doesn’t realize it at first.  One other outstanding character is the family brother, Lew Ayres.  He drinks too much, and at first, the audience thinks he’s a stereotypical, one-dimensional character.  He’s not.  Alcohol is how he’s self-medicating.  He hates his life but is afraid to leave it.  There’s a very touching scene at the end, where Katherine Hepburn promises to come back for him.

In all, Holiday is a very enjoyable comedy, and a very good film.  It’s not slapstick or screwball comedy.  It builds slowly, and very enjoyable.  I enjoyed Holiday very much, and you will also.  I rate it a solid ‘B’, or 4 stars out of 5.

Cast of characters in Holiday

  • Johnny Case (Cary GrantDestination TokyoHigh Society).  The young financier, who has fallen in love with Julia.  He wants to see the world, enjoy life while he’s young, and work when he’s older.  The wealthy Seton family doesn’t see things his way.
  • Julia Seton (Doris NolanJuggernaut).  The lovely young lady who’s fallen in love with Johnny.  And she thinks that she can change him, to fit her world.  Not realizing, or caring, that it would make him miserable.
  • Linda Seton (Katharine HepburnStage DoorThe African Queen).  Julia’s younger sister, and best friend.  As she begins falling in love with Johnny, she hates herself.  But she can’t help how she feels.  She’s a kindred spirit for Johnny, and his advocate.
  • Ned Seton (Lew AyresDonovan’s BrainDr. Kildare’s Wedding Day).  The brother to Linda and Seton.  He’s intimidated by his father, and hates how he’s stuck in life.  He’s miserable, and drinks too much to relieve his pain.  And he truly loves his sister Linda, and does what he can to help.
  • Professor Nick Potter (Edward Everett HortonHere Comes Mr. JordanThank Your Lucky Stars).  A college professor, with a love for life and laughter.  He and his wife serve as best friends to Johnny, and his anchor.  Even to the point of kicking him in the pants when he needs it – literally.
  • Mrs. Susan Elliott Potter (Jean DixonMy Man GodfreyJoy of Living).  Nick’s wife, Johnny’s friend, who also keeps him anchored to his true self.
  • Mrs. Laura Cram (Binnie BarnesThe Three MusketeersThe Time of Their Lives).  Linda, Ned, and Julia’s married sister.  She’s happy in the upper-crust life.
  • Seton Cram (Henry DaniellThe Great DictatorThe Body Snatcher).  Laura’s husband, who is a reverse mirror image of Johnny.  He’s also married into the rich family.  And gradually became … comfortable … with his new station.

Editorial review of Holiday courtesy of

This absolutely charming, wholly engaging romantic comedy is the hidden gem of the four collaborations of Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. Most everyone’s seen The Philadelphia Story, but few know of this unorthodox, hilarious comedy of life among the rich and privileged, though both were Broadway hits by playwright Philip Barry. Grant plays the happy-go-lucky Johnny Case, a self-made man with a dream in his heart of making just enough money to retire on and then traveling around the world. Johnny proposes to the lovely Julia (Doris Nolan) in Lake Placid, but it isn’t until he comes to pay her a visit in New York that he discovers she’s the daughter of a wealthy industrialist. Although his nonconformity ruffles the feathers of Julia’s stuffy father, he’s soon won over the whole family–most notably, Julia’s rebellious sister Linda (Hepburn), who in becoming Johnny’s greatest advocate finds herself irresistibly drawn to him.

There’s more going on here than a spiffy, surface romance, with Johnny’s free-spirit determination going up against rock-hard establishment values, and director George Cukor plays up the social politics of the story just as well as the wonderful, exquisite romance. Hepburn and Grant, as always, are perfectly paired, and given able support by Lew Ayres as the black sheep of Hepburn’s family, and Edward Everett Horton and Jean Dixon as Grant’s longtime pals. Filmed previously in 1930; Hepburn understudied the role of Linda on Broadway and used a scene from the play in her first screen test. –Mark Englehart


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  • Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, Music by Felix Mendelssohn (1840), Lyrics by Charles Wesley (1730)
  • Bei mir bist du Schön, Music by Sholom Secunda, Lyrics by Jacob Jacobs, English lyrics by Sammy Cahn and Saul Chaplin
  • Auld Lang Syne, Scottish traditional music, Lyrics by Robert Burns

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