Holiday is a 1938 film directed by George Cukor, a remake of the 1930 film of the same name. Set in New York, it stars Cary Grant as Johnny Case, an emerging businessman who is more concerned about making a career out of something he wants to do, and not what he should do in order to make money. While he takes a holiday, he meets Julia Seton ( Doris Nolan), the two fall in love and go back to New York to tell Julia’s father. What he doesn’t know is that Julia comes from an extremely rich family, and while he is shocked and amused by the fact, he finds himself taken with the other members of Julia’s family; Linda Seton (Hepburn), Julia’s free-thinking and dramatic sister, and brother Ned Seton (Ayres) a kind but stern alcoholic. He has a plan: save up a little money then retire young, experience the world and then, when he’s run out of money and has an idea of what he wants to do with his life, come back and go to work doing what he wants to do. Now all he has to do is explain it all to Julia. And to her father. And all while trying to deny the fact that he’s attracted to Linda. Cukor takes a lighthearted approach to this story, which keeps it cheerful and entertaining, and he laces it with warmth and humor that’ll give you some laughs and put a smile on your face.
But beyond all that, Cukor shows some real insight into human nature and the ways of the world. But what really makes this one special are the performances of Grant and Hepburn. Grant is as charming as ever, but just a bit looser and slightly less stylish than he is in most of his later roles. He bestows Johnny with youthful enthusiasm, good looks and personality, as well as a carefree yet responsible attitude that makes him someone you can’t help but like. And Hepburn fairly sparkles as Linda, a role she was born to play; this young woman filled with a zest for life and an indomitable spirit.
Like certain other comedies of its time, Holiday stands out due to its noteworthy serious streak in the midst of the comic funniness and silliness. The film’s underlying themes of rebelling against claustrophobic conformity and convention, the rejection of materialistic lifestyles and class struggles are particularly poignant in a current day context, as it becomes extremely clear how ahead of its time such messages and the film in general were.