Holiday is a gem of a film which is not seen or appreciated nearly enough. Although not as widely available today as The Philadelphia Story (1940) or as celebrated as Bringing Up Baby (1938), Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn are perhaps best paired in this, the third or their four films together.
Grant plays free-thinking, ambitious bachelor Johnny Case. During the first vacation of his long working life, he meets and falls in love with Julia Setton (Doris Nolan), not knowing she is from one of the richest families in New York. Julia’s sister Linda (Hepburn) takes an instant liking to Johnny, who tells her of his plan to “retire young, work old” saving money in order to take time of work and enjoy life, but part of the young part, and go back to work when he knows what he is working for. Julia’s father is apprehensive of the young suitor, seeing him as representative of a “strange new spirit in the world, a spirit of revolt,” but reluctantly consents to their proposed marriage. Linda wants to plan an intimate party to announce the engagement, but their father throws a New Year’s Eve gala instead. During the party, Linda hides out in her favorite room in the house, where she is joined by brother Ned, a talented musician who sheepishly submits to his father’s demands that he go into business. The party away from the party is rounded out by Johnny’s friends the Potters (Edward Everett Horton and Jean Dixon), who are free spirits much like Linda. When Johnny also decamps to the playroom, it becomes clear he has much more in common with Linda than Julia, who can’t comprehend his plan to give up business to enjoy life.
Hepburn puts in one of her most emotionally rich performances of her early career, and the scenes of her and Grant together are simply priceless.