Henry Kolker

Holiday 1938

Holiday (1938)

Johnny Case (Cary Grant) has been working since he was ten years old and now that he’s 30 years old, he dreams of being able to take a long vacation to find a more substantial meaning to his life beyond making money. When he meets Julia Seton (Doris Nolan), it’s love at first sight. Even though he doesn’t know much about her, he wants to marry her. He comes to visit Julia at her family’s home to meet her family and get her father’s blessing to marry her, and is shocked to discover Julia comes from a very wealthy family. Her father is Edward Seton (Henry Kolker), a prominent, very conservative banker who believes work is the meaning of life.

Julia also lives with her brother Ned (Lew Ayres) and her sister Linda (Katharine Hepburn). Ned has been defeated in spirit after years of working his father, while Linda is the rebel of the bunch who doesn’t care for the upper class lifestyle her family leads. Johnny finds a friend in Linda, who completely supports his idea of taking that vacation.

At first, Edward is hesitant to give Johnny his permission to marry Julia, but changes his mind when he finds out how hard Johnny has worked in his life. Although Linda has started falling in love with Johnny, she’s thrilled for her sister and wants to throw them a very small, informal, personal engagement party, more Johnny’s style. However, the party they end up having is anything but small and informal. Linda wants nothing to do with it and spends the party alone in the house’s playroom and ends up having lots of fun with some of Johnny’s friends and, eventually, Johnny. Just before their engagement is to be announced, Johnny tells Linda and Edward about his plan to take time off, which horrifies both of them. Their relationship becomes very strained, but is there hope for Johnny and Julia?

Mention Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn and they will likely think of The Philadelphia Story or Bringing Up BabyHoliday often seems to get lost in the shadow of those two, and that’s really too bad because Holiday is a very sharp, charming comedy with a lot of heart to it and a good dose of social commentary thrown in. It’s not a screwball comedy the way Bringing Up Baby and Philadelphia Story are, this is more of a grounded comedy. But that doesn’t mean Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn are any less charming. They shine as brightly as they ever did and have a tremendous supporting cast with Lew Ayres, Edward Everett Horton, Jean Dixon, Doris Nolan, and Henry Kolker. Not to mention excellent direction from George Cukor. It’s simply delightful.

Jewel Robbery (1932)

Baroness Teri (Kay Francis) has a life that many would envy.  She’s married to Baron Franz (Henry Kolker), who can easily afford to buy her all the furs and jewelery she could ever want.  There’s just one problem — he’s incredibly boring.  Teri desperately needs some excitement in her life, so she openly dates other men, but gets bored with them pretty quickly, too.

When Teri and Franz go to a jewelery store so that Franz can buy Teri a very large diamond ring, the store is robbed by an unnamed robber (William Powell).  This is no ordinary jewel thief, though.  He’s very suave, charming, and has the unusual habit of giving marijuana to the people he robs so they won’t call the police.  And it just so happens that this robber is exactly the type of man  Teri has been longing for.  He flirts with her as he steals her new ring from her, and she’s so enchanted with him that she doesn’t even need the marijuana to stop her from talking to the cops.

When Teri gets back home, she finds some mysterious flowers waiting for her and discovers that her jewelry safe has been opened.  However, nothing has been stolen.  In fact, something has been added to it — the ring that had just been stolen from her.  The robber sneaks up to her room and Teri tries to get him to take the ring back since there’s no way for her to wear it without raising suspicions.  He refuses, and it isn’t long before there’s a knock at the door from Detective Fritz (Alan Mowbray), who arrests Teri for being an accomplice to the robber.

It just so happens that Detective Fritz isn’t a detective after all, he’s actually working for the robber.  Fritz brings Teri to the robber’s apartment, where he spends the night wooing her and she falls even more deeply under his spell.  They make plans to run away to Nice together, but before they can leave, the real police show up.  The robber and his gang escape, but first, they tie Teri to a chair so the cops won’t accuse her of being an accomplice.  When all is said and done, her name stays clear, but she announces that she could use a vacation to recover from her “ordeal.”  Perhaps some time in Nice would do the trick…

If you know someone who thinks old movies were all super sanitized and boring, Jewel Robbery is the perfect movie to prove them wrong.  With its witty banter, infidelity, jewel heists, and drug use, Jewel Robbery is perfectly pre-code from start to finish.  The chemistry between Kay Francis and William Powell is phenomenal and it’s very hard not to laugh at the scenes of the jewelery store’s security guard acting high as a kite after the robber gives him that joint.  There’s nothing about it I didn’t like.  It’s a total delight to watch and is absolutely essential pre-code viewing.