Holiday vs. Holiday

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The remake is so much better. While Ann Harding in 1930 makes a capable lead, and Mary Astor gives the selfish, materialistic Julia shades and coloring Doris Nelson in 1938 couldn’t even dream of, the whole affair is so stagy, and Robert Ames lacks the requisite charm and liveliness. Grant in the second film version is the perfect Johnny, and has excellent chemistry with Katharine Hepburn in one of her best performances from that period. Lew Ayres adds a tragic dimension to the drunk, probably gay Ned, and the Potters are sensibly transformed from socialites to middle-class academics, making the story significantly less stuffy. In the ‘30 film, and I’m assuming, the stage play as well, there’s a lot of talk about having fun and really living, but here, in the playroom scenes, you actually see some of the characters doing it, if only just for a moment.