Of the three Grant/Hepburn collaborations I’ve seen, Holiday is the weakest. That’s not saying much about its weaknesses, however, as the other two are The Philadelphia Story (1940) and the riotously funny, off-the-wall Bringing Up Baby (1938 – evidently a busy year for both).
In common with Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Holiday is about the plans of a couple who decide to marry after they’ve only known each other for ten days. Being a comedy it probably shouldn’t be analysed for its realism when compared with the more serious film, but… never mind!
This time Cary Grant is Johnny Case, a young man who’s worked his way from menial jobs all the way to the bottom rungs of high finance. He’s going places and he knows it. So does Julia Seton, the daughter of a millionaire who knows more than a thing or two about finance. He’s energetic and unorthodox, she’s… I don’t know… beautiful and in love with him? Perhaps he loves her because she loves him? Where does it all start? Oh gosh!
Naturally, there are obstacles in the way of such a seemingly mismatched pair marrying. There’s the father and… other things (is ten days enough to take such a big step?). Supporting their efforts at all times is Julia’s more carefree sister, Linda (Katharine Hepburn). She’s got the zest and determination to get anything done if she puts her mind to it and she loves her sister very much. Her rebelliousness and sense of fun keep Johnny amused while he shelters from the snootier events the prospective father-in-law organises. Another morale officer is her brother, Ned (Lew Ayres). He’s another creative, but one who’s accepted a dull life he doesn’t want. Drinking and blunt, cynical commentary about the goings on in his family keep him sane.
Holiday comes together very well. It’s a charming, fun film with interesting and comically mismatched characters. It doesn’t play for laughs an awful lot but amuses throughout. I’d recommend Bringing Up Baby and The Philadelphia Story first, however. Holiday is definitely the weaker of this trio and seems flatter on repeat viewing (although Lew Ayres and Cary Grant always amuse). It’s worth that first watch, though!