93. “Holiday”, George Cukor (1938)

Part of The 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Ever Seen list.



dir. George Cukor (1938) scr. Donald Ogden Stewart and Sidney Buchman based on the play Holiday (1928) by Philip Barry cin. Franz Planer with. Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant

In 100 words: On the surface, Holiday glows with warmth and effervescence that few films can match. Its cast banters with witty abandon and its magnetic lead stars frolic with acrobatic grace. Its beats may be familiar but the script runs away from the safe and obvious. Yet beneath its joyful exterior, there’s a sad undercurrent nested in its pessimistic view of wealth that makes it different from genre mainstays. Not to mention Cukor directs the hell out of this: precise editing and smart mise en scène reveal characters’ shifting relation to their environment. Hepburn and Grant make a timeless and luminescent couple.

Other Movies for Context: Ah the Golden age of Romantic comedies, back when it was not a toxic genre, was full of interesting films that had something interesting to say about wealth amid the Great Depression. I’m thinking right now of Leo McCarey’s The Awful Truth (1937) and especially Gregory La Cava’s My Man Godfrey (1936). The Hepburn-Grant-Cukor-Barry team will make another film that summons the same magic they cast here: The Philadelphia Story (1941). Grant and Hepburn also teamed up for Howard Hawks’ real oddball Bringing Up Baby (1938) too. Among the modern films, look no further than the essential perfectness of Rob Reiner’s When Harry Met Sally (1989), a film I found difficult to leave off this Top 100 list.