Holliday Affair

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Well here’s a charming thing — THE SOLID GOLD CADILLAC comes from a George S. Kaufman & Howard Teichmann play, stars Judy Holliday and Paul Douglas, and is directed by Richard Quine. A charming thing, maybe even a little classic.

Judy plays a pesky small shareholder of a huge company, Douglas plays the honest man who built the company, and there’s a delightful quartet of crooks who take over the business and hire Judy in order to stop her making a nuisance of herself at shareholders’ meetings. The crooks are, reading from left to right (1) blustering Fred Clark — a creep (2) dumpy Ralph Dumke — a dumkopf (3) oily Ray Collins — a louse, and (4) suave John Williams — a rotter. These guys are all tremendously good value, and though Judy has enough star power to keep the whole engine running beautifully by herself, it’s in the boardroom scenes with the wolves that Quine has fun with blocking, sliding his camera and his sleazeballs about in a graceful dance of deviousness.

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(1)                (2)               (3)               (4)

Quine’s formal prowess is also showcased in an ending which playfully blossoms into Technicolor™, some early freeze-frames on the rogues’ gallery, and a playful VO from George Burns. Elsewhere, office windows regrettably open onto grainy photographs of Manhattan, a cheapness which seems to have only materialised in the fifties (surely audiences have a right to expect sprawling miniature cityscapes with clouds moving on wires?).

The story is Capracorn with the corn seemingly reduced to homeopathic levels so that in fact the movie can pose as cynical and sophisticated, but thanks to Holliday and Douglas, who makes a genuinely affecting foil, it has a heart of pure mush. We found it delightful.

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13 Responses to “Holliday Affair”

  1. It’s all about Judy Holliday’s ineffable charm. Nobody quite like her. A sadly brief life, but the films she left behind are great.

  2. Shirley Booth starred in the Broadway play — which was quite big hit.

  3. It’s unbelievable how little of her work I’ve seen — I don’t even want to admit to it. Have immediately lined up a couple more JH movies to devour. Fiona was able to advise.

  4. chris schneider Says:

    It was Josephine Hull, of HARVEY and ARSENIC AND OLD LACE, who starred in the Broadway CADILLAC.

  5. Right. And then Booth took over. With Judy Holliday they lowered the character’s age significantly .

  6. If you haven’t seen them yet, rush to THE MARRYING KIND and IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU! Two great Cukor films!

  7. ….er, that’s actually, IT SHOULD HAPPEN TO YOU!

  8. You can basically assume I’ve seen nothing. Oh, I’ve seen Adam’s Rib. So I have plenty to look forward to.

  9. Two wonderful and somewhat underestimated actors.

  10. La Faustin Says:

    IT SHOULD HAPPEN TO YOU! Among its many charms is George Cukor shooting in New York (for which also see THE MODEL AND THE MARRIAGE BROKER with Thelma Ritter). The strapping youth given adorable but irrelevant prominence in the Central Park scene is a 19-year-old John Saxon.

  11. It’s such a pleasure just LISTENING to Holliday and Douglas — both have voices that can go from gravelly growls to mellifluous purrs in mid-syllable. And when he does his preposterous recitation, Spartacus To The Slaves, his ludicrously over-literal hand gestures nevertheless reveal that he’s rather graceful.

  12. He was graceful in Mankiewicz’s A Letter to Three Wives too.

  13. His finest role? Actually, considered purely as a Douglas thespic workout, Solid Gold Cadillac may even have the edge. Hard to choose between double-act of Douglas with Holliday and with the sublime Darnell.

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