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HOLIDAY (1938)

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Discussion before

The understudy took over the lead when director George Cukor insisted on casting Katharine Hepburn in this adaptation of Philip Barry’s hit comedy. Hepburn had understudied for the role of a lost society woman rebelling against her conservative family when the play opened on Broadway in 1928. When it was first filmed in 1930, blossoming talkie star Ann Harding earned an Oscar nomination as the lead. Seven years later, Columbia bought the rights, hoping to re-team Cary Grant and Irene Dunne after their success in The Awful Truth (1937). Cukor insisted on casting Hepburn, whom he had brought to Hollywood in 1932. It was their fourth of eight films (and two television movies) together, and her third of four with Grant. Cukor knew how to get quality performances out of both stars, helping Grant find the right insouciant air for a self-made success eager to retire while young enough to enjoy it. For Hepburn, Cukor managed to showcase her athleticism and wit, along with the sensitive soul beneath. This graceful film won great reviews, but Depression audiences weren’t in the mood to sympathize with the wealthy. Over time, however, it has come to be regarded as a high point in the director’s and stars’ careers, meriting this world premiere restoration. (d. George Cukor, 95m, DCP)

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