Holiday. George Cukor. 1938. ⚄

We continue the “George” series with another Cukor movie…

… which also features Hepburn and Grant! Yay! The previous one was a bit of a disaster, but I have great hopes for this one.

Hm… so… preserved… but this DVD doesn’t look very good. It’s like they concentrated on restoring all the grain, so it looks like a swarm of bees is constantly flying in the background. Very badly done.


[two minutes pass]

Edward Everett Horton! Yay! The movie is saved!

[fifteen minutes pass]

Oh, this is delightful. Everybody’s on top form; repartee is flowing faster than should be possible. I can’t believe I haven’t seen this already — it seems like such a classic screwball comedy. Unless it goes awry or something.

[the end]

I really, really enjoyed watching this movie — it’s got scenes that are beyond delightful — but it’s not perfect. The main plot element here, where the Grant character is hot for one sister, but then it turns out the other sister is more fun (I’m slightly condensing here)… is a bit… icky? But everybody pretends not to notice?

And there’s also huge pacing problems. The first two thirds of this movie is just one amazing scene after another, but then everything gets bogged down in the third part. The drama is way more dramatic than it needs to be, really: We get where this movie is going, and the hand-wringing could have been cut down by at least ten minutes without any loss off cohesion.

Still! It’s fun. And the performances are everything.

Sylvia Scarlett

Sylvia Scarlett. George Cukor. 1935. ⚁

I think… I’m gonna watch a bunch of movies directed by people called “George”. That’s as good idea as any? So here’s G. Cukor.

[fifteen minutes pass]

Katharine Hepburn sure is fun to watch, but I’m not quite sure about the guy playing her dad… He’s so… over the top. And Cary Grant playing a London wise-guy? That’s not a very good fit… He’d only been in movies for three years at the time, so…

Oh! So had Hepburn!

But it’s quite fun so far, and I’m wondering where it’s all going, because that’s not very obvious so far. I mean, except for Grant and Hepburn gettin it ooown.

[fifteen minutes pass]

I don’t… I don’t get it. I mean, I don’t get why this movie doesn’t work. It’s about a gang of likeable grifters, carrying out er heists with no great success. But it’s just not funny. I’m sitting here going “hm… I can see what they’re going for…” instead of TEE HEE HEE. And that’s not good.

I don’t understand why this isn’t a success. It’s got two of my favourite actors, really putting their all into it: I don’t think I’ve seen either Hepburn or Grant just being… up for it… like they are here. And Cukor is a good director, and…


Scenes that should be hilarious just aren’t.

But Hepburn does look amazingly like David Bowie ca. 1975.

[fifteen minutes pass]

Oh wow:

After a disastrous test screening, Cukor and Hepburn reportedly begged producer Pandro Berman to shelve the picture if they agreed to make their next film for free. According to RKO records, the film lost a whopping $363,000, and thus began a downturn in Hepburn’s career (causing her to be branded “box office poison”) from which she would eventually recover.

Contemporary reviewers seem to like it, but I wonder if that’s because they feel like they should or something.

It’s just such a disappointment. It’s got all the ingredients for a swell comedy: Hepburn (as a girl pretending to be a boy) playing against Grant (as a London hoodlum) should be hilarious. And they try so hard! But it’s just leaden.

It’s literally incredible that this movie doesn’t work.


Dennie Moore is fab, too.

This is an interesting article about the movie:

Collier, whose stories tended towards the macabre and unconventional, wanted to begin the film in medias res, with Hepburn already in boy drag, and force viewers to work their way through the narrative. This and other ideas made the studio suspicious, so Cukor added two Hollywood screenwriters—the chewily named pair of Gladys Unger and Mortimer Offner—to the mix, who added the film’s corny prologue and a somewhat baffling new ending, which, in its final version, communicates mostly the sense that the filmmakers have thrown up their hands.

The Ex Live at Cafe Oto

The Ex Live at Cafe Oto. Seán Zissou. 2015. ⚅

Oh, right; this isn’t a straight-up live recording: It’s edited down from three nights at Cafe Oto into 90 minutes, so we get a bewildering super-studded cast of performers, like Mats Gustavsson and Ken Vandermark and John Butcher etc etc. This blog has more details.

Anyway, the audio quality is absolutely fantastic, and the performances are amazeballs. They have so many people up on the er stage of Cafe Oto that there’s room for approx three audience members (I’m counting), mostly squashed together in the bar area.

I’m just exaggerating the normal amount!

Anyway… it’s sure nice to be back at Oto… even if only via DVD.

I’m pumping the volume up and using ear plugs to emulate the experience, though.