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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.


40 thoughts on “holiday

  1. I’m on your side ……and I so relate. Beautifully said, as always.

    By the way, In the booth was particularly good this week! Can’t wait to see Arbitrage!

    I love you more than painting.

    Mama xoxox

    • NOw i am aching to watch HOLIDAY. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Katherine Hepburn although when i first learned of her i was little and saw her in the movie On Golden Pond. So now i am over the years of a crazy busy life(battling the same issues as Johnny and Linda) trying to discover all the oldies but goodies:) Thanks for sharing:) I have a feeling im gonna love this one

  2. Thanks. Enjoyed the post. Congrats on the FP! Just to extend your point in a different direction, have you ever seen how these same stories that we connect to easily and which give us hope are turned into something inane and stupid in the badly made movies? The same characters then appear silly, stupid or directionless and make us feel silly for watching them? I wonder what it is exactly that makes these movies classics and others foolish.

  3. Awww! I started watching this movie and never finished! I will have to rent it… Movies can be like good friends. I think of A Wonderful Life like that!
    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  4. It’s also important to recognize that the backdrop of this story is the depths of the Great Depression and Europe on the brink of another world war.

    Johnny’s situation is not unlike many folks’ today. He is making a decision to give up work and pay and stability, something few people had so many consider crazy to part with, to search for a life with deeper meaning.

    The quest grows out of the fact that Johnny saw the First World War as a child, saw a totally unstable, lawless America in his teens (the bootleg – Bonnie and Clyde years), and spent his twenties struggling to survive after the world economy crashed and burned. This is the world Johnny and the audience inhabit.

    He knows the life of wealth is ephemeral (though pleasant). Julia does not. He understand the world is on the brink and will crash again — as everyone in the audience knows. So he yearns for a life that may be externally shattered but remain internally solid, a life that’s core stability is him being his true self.

    Small wonder the film resonates with audiences today! It’s a great pick for #1!

  5. This poor old computer won’t allow me to ‘like’ you. I’ll fix that when I get home. In the meantime can I say great post. I don’t know that movie and I’m a big fan of Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn so must look it up.
    Once upon a time when I was young, people would ask if I had a boyfriend, then they wanted to know when I was getting married, when was I going to have a child, then when was I was going to have another child, to keep the first one company. Do you get what I’m saying? They were well meaning people but I was never going to please them. When you’re young you let those people get to you. When you are older you tend to ignore such things. I suggest that you skip the agony stage and ignore them now. Friends and family worry, they mean well most of them, but it’s your life to live. 🙂 🙂 There, if I can’t like you yet, I’m giving you two smiles.

  6. We’re on the same page about The Princess Bride, so now I have to watch Holiday. I love classic movies, but somehow I’ve never seen this one. Inconceivable! Thanks – and congrats!

  7. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) is my favorite movie! This bracingly unsentimental celebration of family, friends and the power of one good man (James Stewart) to change many lives has been remade but never bettered!

  8. Your post caught my eye. I don’t know too many people who have seen Holiday, or watched it more than once. I discovered that movie years ago, and I found it intriguing, especially since Hepburn and Grant were both actors who took risks, and did not follow the prescribed Hollywood star formula. My favorite scene is their acrobatic performance, which both Hepburn and Grant performed themselves. Natural athlete and natural acrobat- unique individuals. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Any film with Katherine Hepburn is worth watching. My favorite film she did, from the mid-30’s (her first or second film I think) Miss Adams. The early work with cinematography is exquisite. She is so delicate…like a violet (if you watch it you’ll get that bit). You can grab it from Netflix. Check out the synopsis – sounds like it might be right up your alley.

  10. Princess Bride was a classic in our household for many years. Thanks for this post. Now to keep an eye out for how I can again see Holiday. As a child I was in love with Carey Grant and his oh so charming voice.

  11. Oh, I’m so happy to see this film getting its due. It’s one of my favorites as well, and for a film with such a bangup lead couple it’s kind of obscure. Just reading your synopsis and love for it made me get goosebumps and all kinds of squishy feelings inside. Thank you!

  12. i just jumped into your blog from Freshly Pressed and, honestly, i don’t know you at all; but let me say that i’m absolutely related to what you wrote. thank you for brightening my heart. i hope you’ll meet more of other beautiful souls because yes, it is quite lonely sometimes to be against the mainstream. 🙂

  13. I absolutely LOVE this movie and am surprised and delighted to see someone write about it since I know very few people who ever heard of it! Congrats on being FP…

  14. Thank you for posting this. I am trying to get together a list of old movies that I haven’t seen and Cary Grant is one of my favorites. I’ll definitely check it out.

  15. I also love good movies, and I think you might be like me – you are *picky* and like to make up your own mind about what to watch and what to love. Keep up the good work 🙂

  16. You just can’t go wrong with either Cary Grant or Katherine Hepburn! And may I also suggest Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, if you haven’t seen it yet?

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

  17. Cary Grant gives me butterflies…and I feel a kinship with Katharine Hepburn because we’re both from Connecticut. They were so dynamic together. It’s nice to see that people still watch these movies!

  18. I feel very lucky to have seen Katherine Hepburn in person several times when I lived in New York. And to have seen Cary Grant in person years earlier in California. Yes, I’m name dropping. And maybe one day I’ll post the two separate stories. Till then, suffice it to say they are two of my favorite actors. Thanks for the reminder of how timeless they are.

  19. The Princess Bride and Cary Grant are probably two of my favourite things in life! I have yet to see Holiday but from your comments above I can trust your judgement, looking forward to watching it now! Thank You!

  20. I feel the exact same way!!! I watched the Princess bride 5 or 6 times in a row. It’s one of those movies that you can just never get tired off. I haven’t watched the Holiday but I guess I need to after reading your review. I am in the foreign film mode these days…will get round to it!!! Looking forward to seeing what other movies are on your favourites list!

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