Saturday, June 15, 2013

Holiday With Cary and Katharine

I suppose that, to movie audiences 75 years ago, it must have seemed that Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant were co–starring in movies all the time.

Early in 1938, Hepburn and Grant were featured in a screwball comedy called "Bringing Up Baby."

On this day in 1938, they appeared in another movie together — "Holiday."

Now, "Bringing Up Baby" is generally considered to be a classic, particularly of its genre, which enjoyed its greatest popularity during the Depression — although it can hold its own with other types of movies from other eras. The American Film Institute included "Bringing Up Baby" in its list of the top 100 movies of all time.

"Holiday" isn't as highly regarded, nevertheless, it has stood the test of time. I think it is already considered one of director George Cukor's best, and it starred one of Cukor's first proteges (Hepburn).

I don't think it would be regarded as a screwball comedy. Sure, Grant was Hepburn's co–star in both movies, but the roles were different. The role Grant played in "Holiday" was too assertive to be a plausible male lead in a screwball comedy.

Likewise, it would be a mistake to think that the roles Grant and Hepburn played were the same in both movies. The stories were different and, therefore, required different characters.

In "Bringing Up Baby," Grant played a nebbish scientist who was truly no match for Hepburn's conniving heiress.

In "Holiday," they were worthy adversaries, if you want to call them that. Hepburn was still an heiress, but she was the sister of Grant's original love interest and was initially supportive.

Grant's character was more well–to–do — a self–made man, in fact — but also quite free spirited — and, given his stated intention to take some time off from work while he was still young so he could "find himself," he was ahead of his time. He would have been right at home in movies made three decades later.

That independent streak in Grant's character led to the first cracks in his relationship with Doris Nolan, who played Hepburn's sister. Until Grant revealed his plans, Nolan's character was his ally in all things, even actively recruiting the allegiance of her brother and sister in the effort to win over their father, but she was too obsessed with wealth and its trappings.

Naturally, the story threw Grant and Hepburn together — but in significantly different ways than in "Bringing Up Baby."

Thus, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the movie was resolved in a significatly different way as well.