Holiday: The Triumphant Return

Good news.  I am not dead.  I have been, however, working a job that keeps me out of the house from 7:30 in the morning to 9:30 at night.  So finding time to continue watching the Top 1000 films (to say nothing of actually writing reviews) has been…let’s go with “problematic”.  After a not so brief hiatus, I decided that I definitely wanted to still do this.  Bear with me as I’m working the kinks out.  With no further ado, I present Holiday!  It's a lovely romantic comedy from 1938 starring Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn, and it earns a very respectable place at #616 on our list.

So Johnny Case, a self-made man who’s been working since the age of 10, goes on his very first vacation.  While in Lake Placid, he meets and falls in love with Julia (well, as much as one can fall in love with someone in a week).  Much to the entire world’s surprise, Julia comes home engaged with plans for Johnny to come to her house and meet the fam.  Enter awkward class humor.

Johnny is clearly not expecting his fiancĂ©e to be extremely ridiculously obnoxiously wealthy (one of the unfortunate side effects of proposing after one week).  He meets her sister Linda, who is kooky and unconventional and so obviously way better suited for Johnny.  I wonder where this is going.  JK.  I know exactly where this is going.

So Julia runs off to church to break the news of her engagement to her father (the idea is that if he’s in church, he can’t argue loudly about it – which btw, I’m sure is a great confidence builder for Johnny).  It works, and she stays around to talk with her father as Linda and her brother return home to chill with Johnny in their super cool childhood playroom.  They like Johnny…even now it’s obvious that they like him more that Julia does.  Because they’re all fun, interesting people and Julia’s, well…not.

Papa Bear actually relents fairly quickly and plans a super lavish New Years/Engagement/Let’s Show Off How Rich We Are Party…despite the fact that like 5 minutes earlier Julia promised a very excited Linda that she could plan their engagement party.  She’s basically like, “Oh wait, Linda wanted to throw the party.  Eh.  Oh well, she’ll get over it.”  That’s mad cold, Jules.

Predictably, once the party rolls around, Linda is super PO-ed and refuses to attend.  Together with her brother Ned, and Johnny's friends Mr and Mrs Potter, they sulk up in the playroom and create a We Hate Rich People Club.  Johnny is a bit taken in by all the glitz and glamour, but it only takes about 30 seconds of the OMG I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHO YOU ARE ANYMORE speech from his friends to remember that rich people are dumb and worthy of derision.  So he joins their club and becomes the treasurer.  Then he finds out from Linda's snooty cousin that he just made a lot of money from some business transaction that I don't really understand, and is overjoyed because now he can go through with his plan to be an unemployed bum until the money runs out.  He assumes that Julia will be equally pleased.  Call me a cynic, but I foresee this not ending well at all.

Of course only moments later Julia stalks up to the playroom to ruin everyone's good time and demand that Johnny and Linda return to the party.  Johnny tells her all about his plans, and she is nothing short of horrified. Johnny is shocked that she doesn't share his vision of being poor and happy for the rest of his life (I am shocked at his naivete).  They're at that point a month or two into a relationship when you realize that no matter how much you like each other, your core values and what you want are just too different for you to consider a future together.  Unfortunately these two are screwed because they skipped the relationship part and headed straight for the alter.  Uh-ohs.

Johnny's all angry and refuses to give up his dream...only to come back with his tail firmly between his legs a few days later.  Meanwhile, Linda is clearly in love with him and he is clearly in love with her but they all insist to continue this pointless exercise.  Johnny agrees to get a job at his soon-to-be father-in-law's bank for a year or two (read: FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE).  But when the old man maps out their lives for the next five years or so, it is just too much, and Johnny changes his mind again.  He flees to join the Potters on a cruise.  Julia's just kind of like:

Linda, seeing her sister's indifference, is all:

And races off to follow Johnny.  She makes it to the boat in time, and they live happily ever after.  Except for Ned, who is left in NY all alone with his liquor and is doomed to die of cirrhosis at an early age.  But everyone else lives happily ever after.  The End.

Random Musings:
  • I like that in this film, she doesn’t turn into a shrew once she returns home.  You never really hate Julia.  She’s a realistic, albeit spoiled, person who just happens to want something in a husband that Cary Grant just can’t provide.  It’s not that there’s something wrong with her – she just is the absolute last person who should be marrying a man like Johnny Case.  This way, it’s not necessarily about being a good or bad person – it’s just a matter of taste.  I like that.

  • I would also like, at this time, to launch a one-woman appreciation parade for Ned.  Because seriously, how awesome is he?  He’s just this wonderful character who wanders in and out of rooms, either with a drink or a musical instrument or possibly both, occasionally making funny comments and just generally being marvelously self-aware.  I love the real bond you feel between him and Linda, and I like how he’s obviously a little bit in love with Johnny Case himself.  There’s so much depth there.

  • I think this is one of the few films from the 1930s where literally every single joke lands for me.  I love Ned, I love the Potters, I love it all.  The comedy is very nearly flawless.

  • I know a lot of people consider Katharine Hepburn something of an ice queen.  I just can’t get over how warm and adorable she is in this film.  Her showing off the playroom to Cary Grant is priceless – I especially love how she compares her sister to the porcelain doll in the room, then compares herself to the toy giraffe.  It’s so awkward and cute – especially since there is definitely a resemblance.

In my opinion, for the very little it’s worth, Holiday is the very best of all the Cary Grant/Katharine Hepburn collaborations.  It’s certainly the most underrated.  Cary is at his past, the sometimes cold Kate is at her most likeable, and the two bring so much joy to the production that it’s easy to live.  I’ve always seen this story as a clever sequel to any number of romance films.  The couple meet cute at some exotic and romantic location (in this case Lake Placid) and they fall madly in love.  Do they really know anything about each other?  Can Julia be entirely sure that Johnny Case isn’t an axe murderer?  No, but it doesn’t matter, because the credits roll long before they ever have to deal with that.  This film is about what happens next.

The two lovebirds come home from their whirlwind romance, woefully ill-suited for one another but completely oblivious to the fact.  She’s an ambitious, entitled heiress, and he’s a lazy piece of crap who doesn’t want to work.  Just kidding…kind of.  Regardless, once the two are reacquainted with reality, they fall apart.  Because they liked one another enough to have a fling, they imagined that each possessed the particular qualities they happened to be looking for in a mate.  Unfortunately…not so much.

So anyway...big fan.  It definitely deserves it's place on this list.  Yay for Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn!
That's it for me.  Stay tuned, because I will very shortly be reviewing The Shop Around the Corner.

Thanks for reading!

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