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 Baby. Holiday 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.