Criterion Press Release: Holiday (Blu-ray)

3 Stars

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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.

FILM INFO

  • George Cukor
  • United States
  • 1938
  • 95 minutes
  • Black & White
  • 1.37:1
  • English
  • Spine #1009

SPECIAL FEATURES

  • New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • 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
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Dana Stevens

01-07-2020

Published by

Robert Crawford

administrator

51 Comments

  1. Thank you for supporting HTF when you preorder using the link below. If you are using an adblocker you will not see link.

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  2. Tonight I pulled up my HD streaming version and watched the 1938 Holiday. While it looks good (and comes with a series of pre-title cards concerning the film's restoration), there is still damage along the edges here and there during the presentation. I'm assuming Criterion's version will go the extra mile to deal with these anomalies.

  3. Matt Hough

    Tonight I pulled up my HD streaming version and watched the 1938 Holiday. While it looks good (and comes with a series of pre-title cards concerning the film's restoration), there is still damage along the edges here and there during the presentation. I'm assuming Criterion's version will go the extra mile to deal with these anomalies.

    I only have the DVD that came in the Cary Grant set so I'm all in for the blu-ray. I wasn't even aware there was an HD streaming version so it'll definitely be a big treat no matter what. Thanks, Matt.

    In addition to Hepburn and Grant, I have a particular affinity for 1930's character actress Jean Dixon (don't ask me why, I can't explain it) who plays Edward Everett Horton's wife. She made so few movies in her almost 90 years that it's always a treat to see her. In fact, this was actually her LAST Hollywood movie as she went back to the Broadway stage after this and lived until the early 1980's. I love the characters that she and Horton play and love that the movie also gives Horton a chance to play something other than the prissy comic relief (not that I mind when he does, he is brilliant at it, but I like seeing him as someone who knows what's going on for a change rather than the clueless foil.)

  4. I agree about Jean Dixon. She's always good and always grabs my attention. One of the reasons I've long been wanting to see "Mister Dynamite" (1935), in which she gets a solid leading-lady role. It's a tough one to run across, but everyone I've talked to who has seen it tells me it's a pretty nifty film.

  5. Matt Hough

    Tonight I pulled up my HD streaming version and watched the 1938 Holiday. While it looks good (and comes with a series of pre-title cards concerning the film's restoration), there is still damage along the edges here and there during the presentation. I'm assuming Criterion's version will go the extra mile to deal with these anomalies.

    New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray

  6. Garysb

    I remember Jean Dixon as Molly, the maid in "My Man Godfrey". She and Carole Lombard commiserate about both being ban from Godfrey's bedroom.

    I have a thing for Jean Dixon too as I wish she made more films with her wise-cracking style.

  7. Will Krupp

    I've only have the DVD that came in the Cary Grant set so I'm all in for the blu-ray. I wasn't even aware there was an HD streaming version so it'll definitely be a big treat no matter what. Thanks, Matt.

    In addition to Hepburn and Grant, I have a particular affinity for 1930's character actress Jean Dixon (don't ask me why, I can't explain it) who plays Edward Everett Horton's wife. She made so few movies in her almost 90 years that it's always a treat to see her. In fact, this was actually her LAST Hollywood movie as she went back to the Broadway stage after this and lived until the early 1980's. I love the characters that she and Horton play and love that the movie also gives Horton a chance to play something other than the prissy comic relief (not that I mind when he does, he is brilliant at it, but I like seeing him as someone who knows what's going on for a change rather than the clueless foil.)

    The HD stream on iTunes hasn't dropped at $12.99. It did drop to $6.99 on Vudu which is when I bought it last December.

  8. Garysb

    Edward Everett Horton played Nick Potter in both the 1930 and 1938 versions of "Holiday", Hedda Hopper played Susan Potter, Jean Dixon's role in the 1930 version.

    Hedda Hopper was, by all accounts, a terrible person, but she's another one who's onscreen presence I've always liked and enjoyed.

  9. Will Krupp

    Hedda Hopper was, by all accounts, a terrible person, but she's another one who's onscreen presence I've always liked and enjoyed.

    But as an actress, she's no Jean Dixon. Hopper did have an aristocratic presence that's in evidence even in her earliest roles in silent films.

  10. I had posted my preference for the 1930 Holiday on the deleted thread. I am fortunate to have seen both versions in 35mm prints (the 1930 version twice at MoMA). Cukor is a more accomplished director than Griffith. Ann Harding and Mary Astor are (imo) superior to their counterparts in the remake. Horton is Horton in both; Dixon is a better actress than Hopper. I like Robert Ames, but maybe Grant is better as Johnny; I'd have to view them side be side to make up my mind. It's been many years since I saw both versions. The only performance that I view as absolutely superior to the original is that of Lew Ayres as Ned. He plumbs the tragic depths of despair in Ned's character in a way that Owsley doesn't. (Owsley was in the original Broadway production.)
    But Harding and Astor have it over Hepburn and Nolan, and it's their conflict over Johnny's philosophy that makes the play. And yes, Holiday is a better play than The Philadelphia Story, and Hepburn is so good in TPS because it was written for her. BTW, Hepburn was the understudy for Hope Williams (Linda) in the original Broadway production of Holiday.

  11. As I mentioned in the original thread, this play was extremely important to Hepburn who stated in the 1970's that she could still quote Linda's dialogue from "Holiday".

    On another topic there were scenes filmed where Johnny and Julia meet in Lake Placid in the 1938 version that were cut before release.

    The play was adapted into an unsuccessful Broadway musical called "Happy New Year" using existing Cole Porter music.

  12. Garysb

    The play was adapted into an unsuccessful Broadway musical called "Happy New Year" using existing Cole Porter music.

    According to IBDB, it had 27 previews and 25 performances in April/May 1980. That's a yikes! Looks as though they really really tried to make it work.

    Interestingly, Linda was played by actress Leslie Denniston (who, daytime soap fans may remember, played the character of Maeve Stoddard for awhile on GUIDING LIGHT and is the longtime wife of Don "Bob Hughes" Hastings of AS THE WORLD TURNS) and the narrator of the show was none other than John McMartin.

  13. Saw this on PBS recently. It was completely delightful from start to finish. Not only was Grant acrobatic, but Hepburn (or a stunt double) also did an acrobatic stunt. I'll watch it again.We were commenting that they can't make movies like this anymore. Well, maybe Bogdonovich could.

  14. I would have seen Happy New Year if it had played into the summer. I went to NYC every summer back in those days except for summers when I was taking graduate courses and couldn't get away. As I recall, I saw A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine and Barnum that summer.

  15. Matt Hough

    I would have seen Happy New Year if it had played into the summer.

    For what it's worth, I think it was a terrible title change. The original is so much more evocative (they could have added a Broadway "!" if they wanted to and re-titled it HOLIDAY! If you notice, they don't re-title musicals anymore. They aren't willing to lose any "oh, I know that one" dollars at the box office.

  16. This publicity still is what was used as the original DVD cover, but it was cropped heavily so you couldn't see the all the different travel posters and see that Cary and Katherine were sitting on their suitcases as well.

    [​IMG]

  17. I hope you Jean Dixon fans have read Moss Hart’s Act One. She plays an important part in turning Once in a Lifetime into a smash hit launching his pretty incredible career. The early talkie movie adaption is surprisingly faithful to the play(including the biggest laugh In the play which would have been cut post code) but why oh why didn’t they use Dixon? She was probably the only one with her dry delivery who could make the applesauce line bring down the house. Aline MacMahon is good but she’s no Dixon.

    Every single print I’ve seen of Holiday going back to the 70s in revival houses has been very grainy. It’s as if the 35mm prints have all been taken from a 16mm print back in the 60s.

    I saw the revival of the play in the Circle in the Square with Laura Linney and Tony Goldwyn both actors who I like a lot. It went for nothing.

  18. I love this film! I'm not a big fan of Hepburn, but I love her in this. I try to watch it every New Year's Eve if I can. I adore the Potters, they are a great compliment to Johnny and give more depth to his world since we only see the extravagance of the Setons. Ned is also a great counterpoint to Johnny. Lew Ayres certainly tugs at the heart strings in his portrayal of the man trapped in his unhappiness.

    I am very pleased that they are including the 1930 version. I've never seen it and would like to compare.

  19. Suzanne.S

    Lew Ayres certainly tugs at the heart strings in his portrayal of the man trapped in his unhappiness.

    He really does. You can almost SEE Ned's demons on Ayres' face and it's another interesting, underrated performance especially since, at that particular phase of his career, he was usually appearing as a light leading man and didn't really get to play that kind of complicated character. His portrayal of a spiraling but genuinely likable young man adds a lot of heft to Linda's desperation to save him.

    Suzanne.S

    I am very pleased that they are including the 1930 version. I've never seen it and would like to compare.

    Me neither and I'm really looking forward to it, too! I can't wait to see it with a stronger actor in the part of Julia. As pleasant as Doris Nolan may be in the more well known version, she is the one weak link as she never seems to be at the same level as everyone around her. I don't think there's any real sisterly conflict between she and Hepburn because you never believe, for even a single second, that she stands a chance. I can't imagine Mary Astor would ever have let that happen.

    I "know" (in my head) that January is just around the corner but it FEELS like a long way off!

  20. I don’t watch Holiday as often as I should, but as a consequence, it still holds fresh sway over me and impressed me and involves me each time. I’m really excited for this one. It’s been a treat to have Sony and Criterion bringing us some of Grant’s best and most interesting work on a semi regular basis.

  21. It's hard to believe it was an unsuccessful film. It even flopped at Radio City where I would have assumed it would have been a big hit. And then the far inferior Philadelphia Story turns into a roaring long running success. Who can figure these things out? Kazan wrote Cukor when he won the Oscar for MFL he won it for the wrong film. Hardly the way to congratulate someone. I assume he felt he should have won it for TPS but I would have given it to him for Holiday.

  22. I have to agree with Kazan on this one: MFL is not Cukor's finest film. It would have been ironic, though, if Cukor had snatched the AA from Kazan in 1954 by winning for the complete version of A Star Is Born.

  23. The 1930 version of "Holiday" is on youtube. The print is horrible and I don't recommend viewing it. Hopefully Criterion thru Sony has access to a better source than what is currently on youtube. As its advertised as an extra I wouldn't expect a restoration of the 1930 film.

  24. Garysb

    The 1930 version of "Holiday" is on youtube. The print is horrible and I don't recommend viewing it. Hopefully Criterion thru Sony has access to a better source than what is currently on youtube. As its advertised as an extra I wouldn't expect a restoration of the 1930 film.

    The youtube print is an abomination. However, I did see a pristine 35mm print decades ago, when the film became available once more. I'm sure Sony has the elements that would enable them to release something better than the dupey prints that are now available.

  25. Though not consistent there are great sequences in MFL where Cukor earned his Oscar. Specifically the long scene where Eliza first comes to Higgins' home to ask for lessons. Beautiful. And then the Ascot tea small talk. I wish people could do this kind of high comedy today so magnificently. Just look at Elsom's reactions. And yeah not only would I have given Hepburn a nomination I would have I would have given her the Oscar as well. Harris's restoration is an unalloyed joy. I better be good and get back to Holiday. I would have given it to Cukor for the playroom scene alone. Nobody is any longer able to keep this kind of gossamer afloat. This is the kind of talent I truly envy.

  26. roxy1927

    It's hard to believe it was an unsuccessful film. It even flopped at Radio City where I would have assumed it would have been a big hit.

    I think it may have been a case of the film being released at the wrong time. Audiences just didn't seem to have any patience with it and we can't discount the really pronounced unpopularity of Katharine Hepburn's screen image at the time. Just a few months earlier BRINGING UP BABY also flopped rather loudly, too.

    roxy1927

    And then the far inferior Philadelphia Story turns into a roaring long running success. Who can figure these things out?

    Well, as much as I love HOLIDAY, I just can't agree with your assessment of THE PHILADELPHIA STORY being a far inferior movie. As a "movie," I think it's a better, more satisfying "journey." I may be biased since a viewing of it at a very young age is what made me fall in love with "the movies" and I've never gotten over it. I've always loved it.

    There are many practical reasons, unrelated to quality, that may have made it more of a success, however, not the least of which is that, by 1938, HOLIDAY was already a ten year old play with seemingly outdated ideas. PHILADELPHIA STORY, on the other hand, was a Broadway smash in the spring of 1939 and, after making the movie in Hollywood, Hepburn toured with it extensively in 1940-1941. It was more immediate and more of a part of the current cultural "zeitgeist" when the movie was released.

    It also served to "redeem" Hepburn's screen persona (which was Philip Barry's goal) via Tracy Lord in an undeniably terrific way. In addition to the fast, brittle dialogue, the audience is in on the joke at Hepburn's expense and allows us to "forgive" her. It makes us want to lift her up and say, "see, just have a little humility Katie and it won't be so bad." It's like catnip.

    HOLIDAY "is" a better, weightier play (with something to say) while the other is just a comic star vehicle, though a ferociously adept one. They are entirely different beasts even though they both spring from the same playwright's mind. It's why we rarely see revivals of PHILADELPHIA STORY (without Hepburn it doesn't gel, just ask Blythe Danner) but people still take a crack at HOLIDAY. As films go, however, for my money I still think it's PHILADELPHIA STORY by two lengths (but your individual mileage may vary.)

  27. Clearly it's a personal thing because Philadelphia is such a beloved film. But after Hepburn meets with Stewart and Hussey I find it pretty tough going. Holiday sails from beginning to end.
    Also I find the whole we've got to bring Kate down a peg or two for the mass audience condescending and a bit embarrassing but obviously they all knew what they were doing. The glamorous glossy MGM look and starry cast doesn't hurt.
    You're right though that it never gets revived except for the Danner revival decades ago. For such a beloved film which had been a smash hit Broadway play people don't seem to want to see it on stage. Unlike say comedies like You Can't Take it With You, The Man Who Came to Dinner and The Front Page.

  28. roxy1927

    Clearly it's a personal thing because Philadelphia is such a beloved film. But after Hepburn meets with Stewart and Hussey I find it pretty tough going. Holiday sails from beginning to end.
    Also I find the whole we've got to bring Kate down a peg or two for the mass audience condescending and a bit embarrassing but obviously they all knew what they were doing. The glamorous glossy MGM look and starry cast doesn't hurt.
    You're right though that it never gets revived except for the Danner revival decades ago. For such a beloved film which had been a smash hit Broadway play people don't seem to want to see it on stage. Unlike say comedies like You Can't Take it With You, The Man Who Came to Dinner and The Front Page.

    It certainly is a personal preference. I watched "The Philadelphia Story" several times as a kid and it became one of my favorite classic films of all-time. I only watched "Holiday" a few times during that same time period. The latter film bored me to death. I had that same feeling for a good 45-50 years before I started to come around on "Holiday" over the last five years or so. I still don't regard it as highly as "The Philadelphia Story", but it doesn't bore me any longer and I do see it's film qualities more today than I did 50 years ago.

  29. roxy1927

    Clearly it's a personal thing because Philadelphia is such a beloved film.

    I think it all comes down to the personal, but it certainly doesn't make not liking it any less valid. There are plenty of people who don't love PHILADELPHIA STORY and plenty of "beloved" films that I can't bear (BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S? Blech)

    Is there any hobby that's more personal than loving the movies? 😛

    roxy1927

    Also I find the whole we've got to bring Kate down a peg or two for the mass audience condescending and a bit embarrassing

    No doubt. That's the most common criticism I see leveled against it and it's a valid one. It was a product of a specific time and specific set of situations.

    roxy1927

    You're right though that it never gets revived except for the Danner revival decades ago. For such a beloved film which had been a smash hit Broadway play people don't seem to want to see it on stage. Unlike say comedies like You Can't Take it With You, The Man Who Came to Dinner and The Front Page.

    It's like FUNNY GIRL. Without Streisand, it's a chore.

    The others are all character plays that are eternal (though I did see a recent revival of the FRONT PAGE and, my God, the seams are really starting to show, lol.)

  30. Yeah Philadelphia was for me a what's the fuss about movie. And then Holiday which I had barely heard of was a wow where have you been all my life revelation. Thank you Frank Rowley wherever you may be.

  31. bujaki

    I didn't see the Danner revival, but Danner IS a Goddess. I can even forgive her Gwyneth.

    AGREED!

    Strangely, that revival wasn't Blythe's FIRST time playing "Hepburn." She had been in a TV show of ADAM'S RIB in the early 70's which was my first TV heartbreak (along with PLANET OF THE APES) when it got cancelled :unsure:

    I loved it and can remember the theme song to this day, lol.

  32. Reuniting her with Ken Howard! Certainly one of my happiest memories of movie going when I was young was seeing Blythe on the Music Hall screen in 1776. Not a large role but in Radio City she was incandescent.

  33. I know we are deviating from Holiday, but I must say that Blythe (so close to Bliss) is incandescent on screen and on stage. I had the good fortune to see her on stage when she (and I) was young; and later in life when she was a woman in her 60s (I was a tad younger), and she had lost none of her radiance. And that voice…
    Definitely a Goddess.
    BTW, I love Laura Linney as well, and I also saw her on stage. She's another talented lady!

  34. I saw Blythe in the revival of Follies (the one that wasn't recorded), and while she was the best of the four leads, she just didn't have the deeply acidic sting of Alexis Smith (whom I also saw). Blythe also played with her hair too much in the role.

    I think that's the only time I ever saw her on stage. LOVED her in Adam's Rib, and, of course, 1776 where I was first introduced to her.

  35. I love both Holiday and The Philadelphia Story. I think TPS is a better movie, but my favorite is Holiday (,I think being born on New Year’s Eve May be a factor). One of my top movie quotes of all time is “for the love of Pete… it’s the witch and Dopey!”

    As for comparison with the 1930 version – I’ve only seen the abysmal Youtube version. Harding is very good – different from Hepburn – not better or worse. However the chemistry between Grant/Hepburn far, far outshines Harding/Ames. Astor is much better than Nolan, but almost too strong a character. Ayres steals all his scenes over the Broadway original what’s-his-name. And EEH is, well EEH.

  36. Did anybody have any kind of success in Philadelphia Story outside of Hepburn? Even Funny Girl which was mentioned above continued a long successful Broadway run after Streisand left with Mimi Hines and had a national tour with Barbara Cook. It was the movie that cemented her in the role. Remember she wasn't even a shoo in for the movie. Film exhibitors didn't want her and without signing the multi film contract with Stark there was the real possibility she wouldn't get it. She was loathe to sign it but it was the only thing that would assure her the role on film.
    But then Hepburn as she admitted if she had not held the rights to TPS she would not have gotten it despite her enormous success on stage. Louis B had his pick of his movie stars to choose from and somebody like Shearer would have gotten it..

  37. Matt Hough

    I saw Blythe in the revival of Follies (the one that wasn't recorded), and while she was the best of the four leads, she just didn't have the deeply acidic sting of Alexis Smith (whom I also saw). Blythe also played with her hair too much in the role.

    I think that's the only time I ever saw her on stage. LOVED her in Adam's Rib, and, of course, 1776 where I was first introduced to her.

    I too saw both productions of Follies that you mention. Blythe also headlined the original production of Pinter's Betrayal, which co-starred Raul Julia and Roy Scheider, and which I also saw. Danner also starred in a BAM revival of The New York Idea. In this one she exhibited superb and sophisticated comic timing in a drawing room comedy from the first decade of the 20th century.

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