I love movies, and when pressed to name my favorites, it’s always a difficult list to compile. I mean, how can you compare The Red Shoes with Cool Hand Luke or The Thin Man? Where do I even begin ranking Meek’s Cutoff, The Last Days of Disco, Notorious and In The Mood For Love? For many years, The Princess Bride has reined supreme as my all-time favorite movie, because I just love it, and I can watch it a million times and never get sick of it. I can quote the entire thing and never get annoyed at myself (although I can’t speak for those around me).
George Cukor’s Holiday starring Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn is creeping in for a tie as #1. I can watch it again and again, and each time I am moved to tears, laughter and deep thoughts about my life. I am Johnny Case and Linda Seaton (Grant and Hepburn’s characters). I get this movie, and it gets me, in a deep and ancient way.
Cary Grant’s character, Johnny Case, falls for a pretty girl named Julia, who turns out to be super rich and have a sister named Linda, played by Katherine Hepburn. Johnny has worked hard all his life, is doing pretty well now at age 30, and he wants to quit and see the world, figure out life, start working again once he finds out what he’s working for. This is a crazy notion to his new fiance Julia, who wants him to work for her father at the bank and make millions. Her sister, Linda, the black sheep of the family, understands Johnny’s dream and wants something similar for herself.
Johnny and Linda are fighting against a society that wants them to behave according to certain rules. But they have a different idea, one that is crazy and might not work but they want to try anyway. I tear up watching Linda try to explain her desires to her sister and father: realizing they do not understand, not knowing how to break away from them, seeing her brother Ned who has already given up. And when Johnny decides to stay and work at the bank, looking so dejected, my insides clench up, knowing that conflict between his own desires and what others want him to do.
I feel like my life is often in conflict with the world, with society. So many people tell me what I “should” do, or ask when I’m going to get a “real” job or ask me what my “plan” is. There’s this thing that I want, this desire, this crazy idea that burns inside me. Sometimes it almost feels physical, wanting it so badly. I make decisions that often seem strange or illogical to others, in order to live the life I want. And I work really hard to make it happen. But I’m doing it.
And then I find those other beautiful souls who want this thing too, like Linda and Johnny who recognize that burning in each other. When I meet these people my heart brightens, I almost want to cry because it can feel so lonely sometimes.
Holiday puts that burning on the screen. This movie is a friend, a keepsake, a good luck charm I want to keep in my pocket and rub between my fingers when I get scared or cold.