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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents
Holiday (1938)

"Money is our god here."
- Linda Seton (Katharine Hepburn), tongue firmly in cheek

Review By: Jon Danziger  
Published: December 04, 2006

Stars: Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant
Other Stars: Doris Nolan, Lew Ayres, Edward Everett Horton
Director: George Cukor

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h:35m:49s
Release Date: December 05, 2006
UPC: 043396114166
Genre: romantic comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A B+B+B C-

DVD Review

It's easy to expect too much of Holiday—it was made in the same year that the leading man and leading lady starred together in Bringing Up Baby, and two short years later, they would reteam with the same director as this picture to make The Philadelphia Story, and those points of comparison are on just about everyone's short list of favorite comedies. But don't hold it against this picture that it's not the quest for the intercostal clavicle nor the tale of nuptials disrupted by some disreputable characters from Spy Magazine, for on its own terms, it's a charming little story, and in its way deeply romantic.

Cary Grant is of course your leading man, starring as Johnny Case, just back from a Lake Placid skiing vacation, where he's met the most wonderful girl—and no, it's not Katharine Hepburn, but rather her sister. Doris Nolan plays Julia Seton, of the Fifth Avenue Setons, darling—Johnny doesn't know it, but the woman he's swept off her feet and proposed to after knowing for just a couple of days isn't just another snow bunny, but an heiress, from one of New York's finest and wealthiest families. Johnny has come to ask properly for the hand of his intended, and to get a wedding on the calendar as soon as possible. But just who is this young upstart who thinks he's good enough to marry a Seton? Julia's father is not sure that he approves of the young rapscallion—and it's an indication of just how rarified this world is that Johnny, the bad boy, the rebel, is a Harvard alumnus and a promising young banker. But if Father isn't quite certain, there's no question that Linda, Julia's older sister, heartily approves—Johnny may just be the fresh blood that the Setons need.

Certainly Linda has issues of her own—her delicate constitution, peculiar ways and jumpy temper have kept her from finding a socially acceptable beau, and though the words themselves are never spoken, no doubt "old maid" is pretty much on everyone's lips. Johnny's friends, the Potters, will vouch for him—Nick is a professor, and the street address he gives suggests that he works at Columbia, though the number on the Potters' apartment is so far west that it would be in the middle of the Hudson River. Will Johnny's joie de vivre win over those stuffy old Setons? Or will they bend the young iconoclast to their will?

One of the most charming things about the film is its look at a New York that no longer exists, and then only if you were a Frick or a Rockefeller, an Astor or a Seton. Gentlemen in smoking jackets, ladies accessorized with fur muffs and fantastically elaborate hats, limousines as long as a city block, Manhattan homes the size of a football stadium—it's all wonderfully sumptuous, and had to seem even more so to Depression-era audiences when the film was made. There's even a political element to the film, as a couple of the more offensive members of the leisure class suggest that their government is insufficiently sympathetic to the plight of the rich, what with confiscatory tax rates—these characters are promptly rebuked, though, and we're to understand that they're little more than effete Fascist sympathizers.

But at its core, of course, this is a romance, and is about Johnny's discovery that perhaps he's fallen for the wrong Seton girl. You'll find yourself rooting hard for Johnny and Linda to figure out what we've known all along—that they're meant for one another, not simply because their names are above the title, but because only they have the properly jaundiced view of life to rise above the trappings of their wealth. (Believe me, I'd be happy to try.) Forgoing a job at Daddy's bank for a first-class cabin on a liner to Marseilles is about as modest and privileged a bit of rebellion as one could engage in, but it brings Hepburn back from the brink of a nervous breakdown and keeps Grant from selling his soul to the highest bidder on the pit of the New York Stock Exchange. If that doesn't merit a good stiff cocktail from a waiter in white tie and tails, nothing does.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: A couple of gauzy shots look rather battered, but the UCLA restoration of the film's print has generally been rendered well on this DVD. It appears as if the film stock on which it was shot was particularly fractious—you fear now and again that it all will break apart, but thankfully it never does.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: The mono track has its fair share of static, but little if any of the dialogue is lost. There's relatively little scoring to the picture, so if you need music to put you in the mood, bring your own.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Korean, Spanish, Portuguese with remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring It Happened One Night, His Girl Friday, Sense and Sensibility
2 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Cary at Columbia (07m:10s) gives a brief look at Grant's time at Harry Cohn's studio; it features lots of stills and clips, and interviews with film historian Marc Wanamaker and Grant biographer Marc Eliot. And over a series of photographs (01m:52s) of a deleted skiing scene, we learn a bit about Cukor, and this being the project designed to keep him busy while script and casting issues were worked out on what was supposed to be his next, Gone with the Wind.

Extras Grade: C-

 

Final Comments

A charming outing from one of the most winning pairings in the movies. It may not end up as your favorite romantic comedy, but it's endearing and sweet without becoming treacly.

 


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