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In Holiday (1938) a working class Cary Grant gets engaged to a wealthy socialite played by Doris Nolan only to gradually realize that their ideologies are odds. As the life of a Manhattan socialite drives a wedge between the couple Grant begins to fall for his sweetheart’s sister (Katharine Hepburn). Unwilling to give up his dreams Grant calls it off with Nolan and sets sail on an adventure with Hepburn.

This George Cukor classic follows a formula that was very popular during the Great Depression wherein a poor but intelligent protagonist convinces a wealthy love interest that there’s something chic about blue collar living. One sees this trend in It Happened One Night (1934), My Man Godfrey (1936) and Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1938) as well as Holiday. While Holiday may not broadcast its socialist philosophies like some of these other films, it nonetheless carries that influence.

Cukor’s workmanlike approach to filmmaking privileges his performers but it can’t disguise Holiday‘s roots as a play. Most of the film transpires in Hepbrun’s playroom with only brief sequences located elsewhere. Holiday is a very talkative feature that could have benefitted from fewer two-shots. Compared to other films of this kind, particularly Design For Living (1933), Holiday feels uncomfortably immobile and impersonal. Cukor is perhaps more invested in the class warfare of the piece than the intimate struggles of the characters.

Grant and Hepburn are, however, up to the challenge of creating an intimate space without the aid of Cukor’s framing. These two performers, each startlingly magnetic on their own, are irresistible when together. Hepburn’s chemistry with Grant is second only to that of her work with Spencer Tracy. In Holiday they shine even more brightly than in The Philadelphia Story (1940); also directed by Cukor from a stage play. But for chemistry neither Holiday nor The Philadelphia Story begin to rival this duo’s work in Howard Hawks’ Bringing Up Baby (1938).

Holiday is a solid middle of the road kind of picture. It isn’t one of the best romantic comedies of Hollywood’s golden age and it isn’t bad either. Holiday will have its appeal to fans of Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn but it isn’t likely to top anyone’s “best of” list for either actor.