Reel Classics

Holiday: Criterion Collection (1938) - Blu-ray Review

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Holiday (1938)

Sometimes it takes meeting the wrong person to finally get to the right person.  That’s one of the territories in Holiday, an often overlooked romantic comedy from 1938 which deals with clashing values and what it means to truly live as pie-in-the-sky dreamers mix drinks with the aristocrats in America.

"a wickedly smart romantic comedy that DEFINITELY deserves to be mentioned alongside Bringing Up Baby and The Philadelphia Story"


Director George Cukor’s Holiday, starring Katharine Hepburn as the black sheep of her family and Cary Grant as her sister’s smooth walking and talking beau, is an important film when you consider that this romantic comedy was filmed in a run of now-certified classic films which include Bringing Up Baby and The Philadelphia Story.  Of course, this film - failing to connect with audiences at the time of its 1938 release - is often neglected when in the company of discussions about the other films, but Holiday remains a classic in spite of its neglect.

And this release from the Criterion Collection - who present Holiday with a Sony-approved brand new 4K scrub - lets the movie, the actors, the writing, and the director explain why.  The film hits every single note right in the kisser, providing moments of sheer comedy and romance and even allowing for some melancholy as lifestyles are measured against financial gain.

First and foremost, this romantic comedy - probably proving (or solidifying) Hepburn as Box Office poison as it was not a hit - is a visual treat for cinephiles as it takes place at a mouthwatering location: a New York mansion that is big enough to house THREE zoos.  In fact, the film was nominated for an Academy Award for its production as a result of what is achieved here in this shimmering palace.

You see, a fiercely independent man, Johnny Case (Grant), has met the great love of his life in a new whirlwind romance with fiancée Julia Seton (Doris Nolan).  He met her on vacation and, yes, already she is betrothed to him.  Quick, huh?  But that’s the way Johnny wants it. He doesn't stand still for long, even his friends are concerned.Holiday (1938)

Now, it is time to meet the family!

When he - not understanding just how wealthy Julia is - goes to see her at her home, he walks in through the back door of their property as he believes that Julia must work in the building, not live there. The servants, while friendly, are surprised to see him there.  They quickly take him to the library where he is asked to wait for his love.

Uh-oh.  The problem is that Julia comes from a family of great wealth and her father, Henry Kolker as Edward Seton Sr, is very protective of his family and his wealth, keeping a suspect eye on the people his family meets that he doesn’t know.

Johnny will soon learn those trials and troubles as Julia’s brother Ned (Lew Ayres), who takes to the bottle in order to escape life with his father, and her older sister Linda (Hepburn) have a lot to say on the matter.  They are happy with their nonconformity and, as Johnny witnesses, might inspire a lot more in him than Julia ever did.

Thanks to a fabulous and witty script from Donald Ogden Stewart and Sidney Buchman and Hepburn’s commanding performance, Holiday absolutely bursts with energy when she pals around with Grant.  These two characters are meant for each other - only they don’t see it, until it feels too late.

Made complete by the fabulous Edward Everett Horton as Professor Nick Potter and the equally fantastic Jean Dixon as Susan Potter, Holiday is exactly that: a wickedly smart romantic comedy that DEFINITELY deserves to be mentioned alongside Bringing Up Baby and The Philadelphia Story

Gorgeously handled, Holiday is now on blu-ray thanks to the Criterion Collection who understand that this movie is a REEL CLASSIC

5/5 stars

Holiday (1938)

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Kino Lorber
Available on Blu-ray
- 01/07/2020
Screen Formats: 1.37:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
Uncompressed monaural 1.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Two years before stars Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant and director George Cukor would collaborate on The Philadelphia Story, they brought their timeless talents to this delectable slice of 1930s romantic-comedy perfection, the second film adaptation of a hit 1928 play by Philip Barry. Grant is at his charismatic best as the acrobatically inclined free spirit who, following a whirlwind engagement, literally tumbles into the lives of his fiancée’s aristocratic family—setting up a clash of values with her staid father while firing the rebellious imagination of her brash, black-sheep sister (Hepburn). With a sparkling surface and an undercurrent of melancholy, Holiday is an enchanting ode to nonconformists and pie-in-the-sky dreamers everywhere, as well as a thoughtful reflection on what it truly means to live well.

Video:

The 4K digital restoration is absolutely stunning!  Framed in a 1.37:1 aspect ratio, Holiday’s main location is a glorious monument to stirring black-and-white cinematography as the details in each of the rooms (AND THE DOORS) absolutely burst out of the edges of this transfer with depth and surprising detail.  You will get sucked into the life of the wealthy as the riches herein tease and tantalize you, begging you to pick them up and never, never let them go.  This house - with clean black lines and sparkling grays - is intoxicating.  And just wait until you see the split staircases.  Wow, wow, wow.  This is a grand transfer for a grand house and the actors, with a clarity that is appreciated, look all the more gorgeous.  Truly a wonderful handling of this transfer.

Audio:

This release is made complete with the addition of the uncompressed monaural soundtrack.  You can practically HEAR the shining wealth captured inside this home.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Unfortunately, there is not one included with the release.

Special Features:

With an essay by Dana Stevens, Holiday includes the previous adaptation of Philip Barry’s play, a new conversation about the movie with filmmaker and distributor Michael Schlesinger and film critic Michael Sragow, and audio excerpts from Cukor.

  • Holiday (1930), a previous adaptation of Philip Barry’s play, directed by Edward H. Griffith
  • New conversation between filmmaker and distributor Michael Schlesinger and film critic Michael Sragow
  • Audio excerpts from an American Film Institute oral history with director George Cukor, recorded in 1970 and ’71
  • Costume Gallery

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 5/5 stars
  Video  5/5 stars
  Audio 4/5 stars
  Extras 4/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

4.5/5 stars

Holiday (1938)

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
Runtime:
95 mins
Director
: George Cukor
Writer:
Donald Ogden Stewart, Sidney Buchman
Cast:
Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Lew Ayres, Doris Nolan
Genre
: Comedy | Romance
Tagline:
If you had a million... which sister would you pick to spend it with?
Memorable Movie Quote: "When I find myself in a position like this, I ask myself what would General Motors do? And then I do the opposite!"
Theatrical Distributor:
Columbia Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
Jun 15, 1938
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
August 20, 2019.
Synopsis: A young man in love with a girl from a rich family finds his unorthodox plan to go on holiday for the early years of his life met with skepticism by everyone except for his fiancée's eccentric sister and long-suffering brother.

Holiday (1938)

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