The comedy classic you don’t know

The new DVD release of Holiday has such a dopey tagline on its package — “Every day’s a holiday… when you’re in love” — that we can imagine droves of potential buyers and renters hastily putting it right back on the shelf. Yet another vault-clearing DVD release of yet another vaguely amusing old romantic comedy, right?

Nope. Holiday is not only one of the all-time great screen comedies, it’s one of the rare smart American films about class. And it has great performances by its co-stars: Katharine Hepburn as Linda, the restless, unhappy daughter of a financial tycoon, and a never-better Cary Grant as Johnny, the free spirit who thinks he’s going to marry Linda’s conformist sister Julia.

Part of the fun, of course, is watching the spark between the desperate, hard-boiled Hepburn and the frisky, gallant Grant develop into a slow-burning fire, stoked by George Cukor’s masterly direction. But the real payoff is in the nonstop, rapid-fire, high-comic dialogue, much of it from the original Philip Barry play. Essentially, if you like The Philadelphia Story — the more famous Cukor-Grant-Hepburn film adapted (by the same screenwriter) from a Barry play — you’ll really like Holiday.

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