Spring of Cary: Holiday

Holiday poster Cary Grant

Lisa over at Boondock Ramblings nudged me a bit to join in with the “Spring of Cary” a couple of weeks ago. Since my library had both An Affair to Remember and Holiday, I figured “Why not?”. Last week’s discussion wit her and Erin from Cracker Crumb Life was a lot of fun, so here I am. 🙂

As usual, I knew nothing about the movie to start out with other than it came out in 1938. The plot of the movie revolves around Johnny Case, a young but “self-made” man, who meets a young woman named Julia while on vacation, and the two decide to get married. What he doesn’t know is that not only is she super-rich, her family is part of New York’s upper-crust society. As the film progresses, it becomes more and more clear that their vision for a shared life isn’t nearly the same. At the same time, Johnny meets Julia’s siblings, older sister Linda and younger brother Ned. Linda, coincidentally, was a student of one of Johnny’s mentor-friends.

Now, I kept believing that at some point, everybody was going to pack up and go “on holiday” or something, but, the spoiler alert is that they really don’t. There’s “Holiday” in the sense that this film takes place more or less over the “Holiday” of New Year, and then there’s the “holiday” that Johnny dreams of but it still seems like it’s an odd name for the movie. I read later that it was adapted from a play, which does a lot to explain the limited number of settings in the film.

As for the movie itself, Grant and Hepburn certainly were the stars. The 1930s “high style” was amazing – tails to church? Yes! – but it certainly does seem to belong to an era much, much earlier than the 1950s.

I’m not sure, though, what the movie was trying to say. I suppose the best I can come up with is Ace of Base’s age-old question – “Is enough enough?”

Obviously, the person that the audience is supposed to feel for is Johnny. He’s a man who, despite losing his parents early and having no money to depend on, started working at ten in order to make a life for himself. He’s done well, too – he’s got a good career, he’s educated (went to Harvard), and he wants more in life than what money can buy him. Above all else, he doesn’t want to wait until he’s retired to have a little “holiday”, he wants to get to a point where he can take some time off from the rat race and enjoy some time of his youth. He’d like to get married and Julia looks to be part of his plans.

However, Julia neglects to tell him that she’s from “old money” and he neglects to tell her about his dreams for a “holiday”. At the beginning of the movie, the viewer sees Johnny enter her house through the staff entrance because he doesn’t suppose that she does anything but work there. As the two meet, the issue about asking Julia’s father for her hand in marriage presents itself. At this time as well, Johnny meets Julia’s sister Linda and her brother Edward (called “Ned” by his family) and it becomes apparent that there’s quite a lot of dysfunctionality amongst the siblings.

While I am sure that Julia was happy to find someone who didn’t love her for her money or for her social circle, assuming someone would be happy to marry into that is a pretty big assumption. Johnny’s thoughts that there’s more to life than work and amassing wealth are admirable, but considering that this version of the film came out in the 1930s – the Great Depression – it smacks of being elitist and out of touch. Oh, poor Johnny! He can’t see himself working in business with a big house and servants because he needs a holiday first!

Obviously, one of the “lessons” of the story is that selling one’s soul to the gods of business and riches is awful. However, neither Johnny or Linda or Ned seem like they know the “better way” out, to not lose one’s soul in the middle of all of this. A lot of the film is Johnny and Linda (Katharine Hepburn’s character) going back and forth with these issues, and it’s obvious that the two of them start falling for each other.

Which makes me really wonder if this song was written after someone watched this movie:

I’m not going to spoil the ending here, so I won’t go into the end of the film, but I just wanted to note two small things that were interesting to me, at least.

In Julia’s family’s world (the Setons), there’s incredible formality. Yet Johnny is always called “Johnny” – I don’t know if it was unintentional or a thing to remind the viewer that he doesn’t inhabit the same social class as they do, but it got to be annoying. He’s a grown man in the 1930s – I’m sure that he’s “John” to all but his closest friends. What kind of drove this home was the switch between “Ned” and “Edward”.

Secondly, the writer gave Johnny the last name “Case”. Now, I don’t know about you, but “Case” at one point was one of the biggest names in American “royalty”, thanks to Jerome I Case, founder of Case threshers. However, he was king of Racine, Wisconsin, (even before S.C. Johnson) and that doesn’t count for much, apparently, with the who’s who in New York. It was probably just a coincidence, but part of me kept thinking that even the play’s writer couldn’t get past a real “New York” bias.

The other thing that was kind of interesting is that there is a little bit of “political” talk among the Seton siblings and their cousins, and I wonder if they’re referring to the communism or fascism (or both) sweeping across Europe in the 1930s. At one point, a number of the characters do something similar to a Hitler salute, but it’s with their left hands. Some people realized the dangers of both philosophies in the 1930s, but many were enamored of them as well.

I had fun with this movie; I realize that I probably over-analyze a lot! Thanks to Lisa for recommending it, and now to hop over here to see what she’s written https://lisahoweler.com/2023/05/04/spring-of-cary-holiday/ and I’ll post Erin’s review when I see it.

dore canto 31 white rose

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5 thoughts on “Spring of Cary: Holiday

  1. I lone that you over analyze! It is always so interesting. I learn something new every time! Like the thing about the Case family??! Wha—? So interesting. And I totally didn’t pick up on the salute. So very interesting too.

    I love when you do these with us. We had to delay this week because I got overrun with life but next week we are going Operation Petticoat. Don’t put any pressure on yourself. We are doing some of his dramas the weeks after – Notorious and Suspicion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I actually did watch Operation Petticoat this week (it’s on Pluto.tv) and I loved it. I did a little write-up, but saw that neither you nor Erin had posted, so it’s still sitting in “drafts”. It’s not a great review – this week has been INSANE, but the electrician got the power working in our family room and various other things got done – so I might re-watch and try to work on something a little better. I watched most of the movie whilst trying to clean our family room and move furniture so that all the outlets were accessible, so I’m sure that I missed a lot, especially visually.

      Liked by 1 person

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