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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.37:1 Standard
  • English PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Holiday (1930), a previous adaptation of Philip Barryís play, directed by Edward H. Griffith
  • New conversation between filmmaker and distributor Michael Schlesinger and film critic Michael Sragow
  • Audio excerpts from an American Film Institute oral history with director George Cukor, recorded in 1970 and í71
  • Costume gallery
  • An essay by critic Dana Stevens

Holiday

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: George Cukor
1938 | 95 Minutes | Licensor: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #1009
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: January 7, 2020
Review Date: January 6, 2020

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SYNOPSIS

Two years before stars Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant and director George Cukor would collaborate on The Philadelphia Story, they brought their timeless talents to this delectable slice of 1930s romantic-comedy perfection, the second film adaptation of a hit 1928 play by Philip Barry. Grant is at his charismatic best as the acrobatically inclined free spirit who, following a whirlwind engagement, literally tumbles into the lives of his fiancťeís aristocratic familyósetting up a clash of values with her staid father while firing the rebellious imagination of her brash, black-sheep sister (Hepburn). With a sparkling surface and an undercurrent of melancholy, Holiday is an enchanting ode to nonconformists and pie-in-the-sky dreamers everywhere, as well as a thoughtful reflection on what it truly means to live well.


PICTURE

George Cukorís Holiday receives a new Blu-ray edition from The Criterion Collection, presenting the film on a dual-layer disc in the aspect ratio of 1.37:1. The 1080p/24hz high-definition presentation comes from a new 4K restoration performed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. This restoration was sourced from a 35mm nitrate duplicate negative and a 35mm nitrate print.

The final presentation is really nothing short of miraculous. I was a bit surprised by just how grainy the film ended up being, but does it ever look good! Itís rendered so cleanly and naturally, never looking noisy or blocky, giving the image a wonderful texture, in turn delivering a nicely detailed and clean looking image. I donít know if Iíd ever say the image is super-sharp and crisp, but itís still beyond impressive, delivering a stunning level of detail, right from stray hairs (and fuzz on jackets!) found in close-ups, to all of the intricate details of the filmís enormous central mansion during long shots. Blacks are deep and rich, whites are bright without blooming, and the grays in between nicely blend, all of which lead to the wonderful photographic look.

There is a noticeable shift in quality when the source changes (grain can get a bit heavier, contrast shifts a bit) but itís subtle and not a glaring issue. But most impressively I donít recall any severe issues with the source, the restoration looking to have wiped out just about every blemish. Itís just a stunner in all around!

9/10

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AUDIO

The filmís lossless PCM 1.0 monaural soundtrack is quite impressive for the filmís age. There can be some mild background noise but there are no severe drops or pops of any sort, and I was surprised to find decent range a fidelity behind everything.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Criterionís special edition comes off a bit underwhelming at first, but it does include one significant addition. Things start off with a new interview between critic Michael Sragow and filmmaker/distributor Michael Schlesinger, who both discuss the original play for Holiday, this adaptation, and then the 1930 adaptation. They end up comparing the two film versions, first to show how Cukor made a less stage-y version with his thanks to some more lavish settings and more camera work, and then how the depression influenced his film. The two also talk about The Philadelphia Story (another Hepburn/Grant/Cukor collaboration) and compare the two, giving the feeling that Holiday has been overshadowed a bit by that more successful follow-up. Itís a fun, loose discussion, running a breezy 35-minutes.

Criterion also manages to dig up excerpts from audio interviews featuring George Cukor, recorded for the AFI between 1971 and 1972, Cukor talking about adapting the play for a new film version, bringing up the 1930 version and its issues as an early talky (stiff and feels more like a stage play), which would need to be corrected. This 21-minute feature is then followed by a small gallery featuring the filmís costume designs by Robert Kalloch III. This gallery shows some design drawings with photos or film stills to show the final product. Some of the drawings are also accompanied by publicity descriptions. And insert also features a new essay by Dana Andrews.

These features are all nice, if slight in the end, but a significant inclusion is the 1930 version of the film, directed by Edward H. Griffith and starring Mary Astor, Ann Harding, and Robert Ames. Itís also a bit amusing to see Edward Everett Horton appears in this version as well, even playing the same character he does in the 1938 version, which has the added bonus of seeing an actor play the same character a bit differently. Rather impressively, the presentation looks pretty good, delivering a wonderful looking encode (damage is still fairly heavy mind you), but everything forewarned in the previous features are true: itís a pretty stiff and stagey film, the definition of a ďfilmed play.Ē I canít say I cared for it all that much, and chances are Iíll never watch it again, but having this version allows you to see what Cukor brought to his film to make it less stiff onscreen, primarily by expanding things out from the household when he was able to, moving the camera more during scenes, adding a New Yearís party and some other moments (that are not in the 1930 version) to pump up the energy a bit, and so on. For that I appreciate Criterion going to the trouble of including it and it helps make up for the lack of much else on here.

7/10

CLOSING

A gorgeous looking restoration and the inclusion of the 1930 version of Holiday make this release an easy recommendation.


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