Looking Backward: Holiday (1938)

23 Jun

I am evermore impressed when a movie can plausibly result in (75-year-old spoiler) an interfamilial partner swap. I never watched much Jerry Springer, but I understand it happens all the time.

Annex - Grant, Cary (Holiday)_07My last viewing of Holiday was when I was about thirteen or fourteen, which in the case of a movie like this is like not having seen it at all. It’s all very well for folks to bemoan an ancient G-Rated age of classics, but this is undeniably for grown-ups. I still remember loving it (and The Philadelphia Story, which for obvious reasons is in the same category, though I somehow managed to memorize that one almost in its entirety).

But from a too-youthful viewing perspective, this is the sort of movie that leads to a dangerous and beautiful romanticism. Not the romance kind, though the connection between Hepburn and Grant is lovely. I refer to the sparkly and shiny dialogue that though I didn’t get it all gave me high hopes for what adult discourse would entail…as unreasonable an assumption, as it turns out, as watching Shakespeare and expecting everyone to speaking in connotative and layered verse.

(Horton’s line, “You’d better be a good little girl and eat your porridge,” gave me an unavoidable flashback to an even earlier Fractured Fairy Tales age.)

Furthermore, Oscars, schmoscars: this is, I’m convinced, high on the list of Katherine Hepburn’s finest work, in that while I appreciate and in fact prefer pre-Method/”naturalism” film acting, this performance manages to have it both ways, even trickier in a “those poor rich folks” story.

Anyway, I’m thrilled to have had a chance to revisit this in this way, with a memory of what would happen but a chance to let adult understanding dawn as I watched. Fine work, all.

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