Holiday (1938) – The Katharine Hepburn Project #3

It’s time for another installment of The Katharine Hepburn Project! I expected to watch Bringing up Baby next, but as it turns out, iTunes only has that film available to buy–there’s no rental option. I’ve already seen it several times and never really liked it, so I decided to skip it and jump straight to one of my favorite classic films: 1938’s Holiday.

Holiday

Holiday is a film I loved and lost. I’d seen it on American Movie Classics or Turner Classic Movies and enjoyed the heck out of it, but I never caught the title (or I did and forgot it because Holiday is such a weird and generic title for this film). Anyway, I saw it a few more times, and the name never stuck. I just thought of it as “that Cary Grant/Katharine Hepburn movie I liked a lot”. Imagine my delight when I discovered this movie, Holiday, is the one I loved so much way back when! I was so excited I bought the thing on iTunes so I can rewatch to my heart’s content.

[SPOILERS AHOY]

At the start of the film, Johnny Case (Cary Grant) has just come back from a holiday where he got engaged to the love of his life, Julia (Doris Nolan). They don’t know much about each other yet, and that becomes a problem fast. Julia wants him to go into the banking business with her father. Johnny wants to quit working as soon as possible so he can travel and “find himself”. Meanwhile, Johnny gets along with Julia’s sister Linda (Katharine Hepburn) like a house afire. Linda thinks Johnny’s plan is fantastic and that it would be wonderful for Julia. Julia disagrees—so much so she sends Johnny away without her in the end. Linda has (of course) fallen in love with Johnny, but she’s too devoted to Julia to do anything about it until she realizes Julia doesn’t really love Johnny after all—she’s relieved to get rid of him. So Linda packs up and heads for the boat to join Johnny and his friends as he sails away into happily-ever-after.

I remembered Holiday as a lighthearted comedy, but there’s a lot of darkness in this film. On the surface, it’s a screwball romantic comedy (light on the screwball, heavy on the romance–just the way I like ‘em), but you don’t have to dig far to find a depressingly and disturbingly dysfunctional family. Linda and brother Ned are artistic types, beaten down by the stuffy money-first lifestyle their father has enforced since the death of their mother. They both hate it, but they cope with it in different ways. Linda withdraws into the one comfortable room in the house, while Ned crawls into the bottle.

Every Ned scene tears my heart out. He’s clearly a musician by temperament, and his bitter asides about the family make me want to hug him…and then kick him. He’s far too comfortable with his riches (and too weak-willed) to strike out on his own and try something else, a fact that’s hammered home at the end of the film when Linda offers to take him with her. I love how she cheerfully declares she’ll be back for him. If anyone can make that happen, it’s Linda. I wish they’d made a sequel where she did just that. Lew Ayres is terrific as Ned, and I think a piece led by him along with Hepburn and Grant (or even just the brother-sister team of Hepburn and Ayres) would have been delightful.

In a way, Ned is the Greek chorus of this film. His observations are clearer than anyone else’s. Linda’s devotion to Julia blinds her to who Julia really is. Linda wants to think her sister is a free spirit like her, but Ned points out she’s rather a dull girl. Linda is the one with intelligence and drive. She should be out in the world, not hiding away and chafing at her life. And the scene where Ned explains what it’s like to be drunk…well, just…wow.

Hepburn gets a few heart-tearing scenes too. She’s crushed after her father and Julia sabotage her New Year’s Eve party, and she really lets him have it in that almost-over-the-top Kate way. But my favorite moments are the quieter ones, when she’s talking to Johnny and making light of her situation. She’s joking, but there’s such steel and sorrow underneath. It’s a great example of the depth one can find hidden in “light” movies of the 30s and 40s. That’s one of the things I love best about movies of this era. The emotion bites harder because it’s surrounded by so much laughter and fluff.

I have to give a special mention to Edward Everett Horton and Jean Dixon as Nick and Susan Potter, Johnny’s good friends. Every scene they’re in is laugh-out-loud funny—mostly due to exquisite deadpan delivery of witty dialogue. Susan: “I have a terrible run in my stocking.” Nick: “We’re ruined.” And the way they take to Linda immediately is the true heart of this film. Watching her blossom in the face of kindred spirits is perhaps the most heartwarming element of the movie. The love story is fine and dandy, but seeing Linda “find herself” takes the cake.

I’m relieved and thrilled to have finally come across a Katharine Hepburn film I not only like, but love. I’ll admit it was Cary Grant who drew me to it in the first place, but I find it hard to picture anyone else doing Kate’s part as well as she. She’s lovely. And as I said, I bought the thing, so I can revisit it again and again. Don’t think I won’t.

About the Patron:

Erik Stadnik (@sjcaustenite on Twitter) is one of my favorite people in the world. I met him in person the same weekend I met my spouse, and I fell in love with both of them in different ways. In fact, Steven and I chose Erik to perform our wedding ceremony. He did it perfectly. He is also the intelligent, well-spoken co-host of three excellent podcasts, The Doctor Who Book Club, Doctor Who: The Writers’ Room, and The Classic Horror Cast. His always erudite and insightful blog can be found at erikandhispointlessblog.blogspot.com.

The Boys from the Dwarf and a Big Polymorph

Time for another patron-inspired post! Want to get in on the action? Check out my Patreon page!

Red Dwarf Polymorph

I came to Red Dwarf by possibly the worst-best route ever. Technically, the first bit I ever saw was a very short (baffling) bit of “Meltdown” from series IV, but the first episode I ever watched properly was the final ep of series VI: “Out of Time”. My siblings and I were flipping through channels, and landed on PBS shortly after the episode started. We were riveted! When it ended, on one helluva cliffhanger, we dove for the TV Guide* to see when Red Dwarf would be on next.

(If you’re familiar with Red Dwarf, you probably know where this is going. Sigh.)

We dutifully hit the couch the very next week, ready to find out what happened after the explosion that seemingly killed the wacky characters we’d quickly come to love—only to be very confused. The episode title was “The End”. That in itself kinda made sense, but it most emphatically did not pick up where the previous episode left off. In fact, it soon became clear we were watching the very first episode of Red Dwarf ever. What the heck?

After a bit of research (which was much harder in those days!), we discovered not only had we caught the last episode of the most recent series (and PBS was wrapping around to start at the beginning of series I), but the show had been cancelled, and there were no more new episodes coming! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!** Continue reading

Kickstarting a Long-Neglected Skill

Uncanny Mag KS Pic

I’m going to start at the end. The pic above is from the latest fundraising video I’ve put together. I’ve written before about how proud I am to be on the staff for Uncanny Magazine. And right now we’ve got a Kickstarter going to fund Year Two of the magazine. There are some awesome stretch goals we’re still hoping to hit, so please take a look! This video is “the end” because it’s the most recent of the very few videos I’ve produced in the last several years. The opportunity to use these skills again is just one more reason I’m grateful to Uncanny.

Dusting off old skills is a weird thing. I hesitate to use the phrase “it’s like riding a bicycle” because it’s been so long since I’ve ridden a bicycle, I suspect I’d fall right off if I tried. When it comes to video editing, however, I am happy to report that I didn’t fall on my face. In fact, the experience was more like riding swiftly downhill on a beautiful day. Okay. I’m getting sick of this metaphor. Let’s just say I remembered more than I expected and had much more fun than I imagined I would.

As you may know, my bachelor’s degree is in Communication Arts with a concentration in Radio, TV, and Film. I focused heavily on the video production side of things—taking as many production classes as I could (both in the studio and out). I even did a couple semesters of independent study for credit—producing (and co-starring in) a movie-review show for the local cable access channel.* Continue reading

Cool People Doing Cool Things – Issue V

Today’s quick roundup of my cool friends and their cool creations is writer-focused, which I find very exciting. Reading is one of my favorite pastimes, so I’m always grateful when one of my pals creates something new for me to read. Come to think of it, there’ve been rather a lot of writing-based creations in these posts. Check out the first, second, third, and fourth installments and see for yourself!


Cool Person: Kelly McCullough

Kelly McCullough is a writer of science fiction and fantasy, herder and blogger of cats, and connoisseur of scotches. You may have read his Webmage and Fallen Blade books. Or you may have shared some delicious scotch with him at a convention. I highly recommend both activities. You know how you sometimes meet someone for the first time and go “Yup. This is a person I connect with. Thank you Universe/Fate/Random Chance for placing my path across his.” That’s how I felt after meeting Kelly.

Let me tell you, I was mightily relieved when I discovered he can write so well. Which brings me to…

Cool Thing: School for Sidekicks

metal porthole; Shutterstock ID 82146736

School for Sidekicks came out yesterday. I’m already three-quarters done with it. I’d be further along if I hadn’t fallen asleep reading it.

But WAIT! Let me explain how that’s a compliment. Continue reading

Webcomics – Prehistoric Edition

Dinosar Comics 1

I recently stumbled across my notes from an Incomparable episode we recorded way back in 2014. I thought I’d pull them together and flesh them out to make a series of blog posts because web comics are cool goshdarnit! Check out my posts on Sluggy Freelance, Questionable Content, and The Order of the Stick!

Dinosaur Comics

Dinosaur Comics is the brain child of Ryan North. He’s Canadian! But that’s not why I like the comic. I like it because it’s funny and inventive. Every strip uses the same artwork, so you might think it’s not exactly a haven for creativity. Au contraire! Being constrained by the form has made Ryan stretch to find other ways of making it interesting. And boy howdy, does he succeed. Continue reading

Alice Adams (1935) – The Katharine Hepburn Project #2

The Katharine Hepburn Project is alive and well! You may have noticed I didn’t stick to my pledge of one-movie-per-month in June. I thought I’d do two in July to make up for it, but I’m swiftly running out of time. We’ll see if that happens. If not, August becomes the double-up month! Anyway, on to our feature.

1935-alice-adams-2

Alice Adams, the next Katharine Hepburn movie available (chronologically) on iTunes, is a portrait of a young woman who wants desperately to belong to the “in-crowd”. Sadly, she can’t because her family is poor. The film opens with her preparing for and attending a dance at a rich girl’s house. She’s purchased a powder puff she’s very proud of, and she’s added new flounces to disguise a two-year-old organdy dress. To add insult to injury, her unwilling brother is her escort. He spends most of the night playing craps in the coat closet with the staff.

Alice spends most of the time hovering in the hallway, pretending to be waiting for her escort and looking longingly at the fellows passing by, hoping desperately that someone (other than “Fat Frank Dowling”) will ask her to dance. Eventually, our hunky male lead, Mr. Arthur Russell, does just that. This is the youngest I’ve ever seen Fred MacMurray, and golly gee whillikers does he look just like Benedict Cumberbatch. I have to admit I wasn’t a fan of this movie, but it gets a thumbs-up in the eye-candy department. Continue reading

Tweet-tiquette Missteps

Twitter logo-Whoops

This morning was a learning-morning for me. Those aren’t always fun, but they’re always good. I was having a bit of the old morning-anxiety-brain, and something I heard on a podcast really triggered it into high gear. The thing and the podcast are beside the point. My reaction is not. That reaction was to tweet about it. Sometimes that’s an okay thing to do, but as most celebrities and congressmen will tell you, it’s not always the smartest choice.

The problem was I came at it from a really selfish viewpoint. As if my reaction was universal (certainly not), or even common (who knows?). And the really dumb thing I did was tag the podcast and podcasters involved. Oy. My thought process at the time was this:

I love this thing SO MUCH I want it to succeed in every way possible! And there’s this thing that really bothered me that might make it less successful! I should shout it from the tweet-tops!

But outside of my head it looked like this:

I have a problem with how someone else does something so I’m complaining about it loudly on the internet! And not only that, but I’m telling someone else how they should make their own thing!

Duuuude. Not a good call. Continue reading