Death Takes a Holiday

Death Takes a Holiday

Director: Mitchell Leisen, Fredric March, Evelyn Venable, Guy Standing

Cast: Mitchell Leisen, Fredric March, Evelyn Venable, Guy Standing

     
 

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In this adaptation of Alberto Casella's stage play, Death assumes human form in order to discover why men fear him. Posing as a Prince Sirki (and played by Fredric March), Death appears as a house guest at the villa of an Italian duke. While "Sirki" is present, Death takes his titular holiday, and no one on Earth dies. Grazia (Evelyn Venable) the fiance of the duke's

Overview

In this adaptation of Alberto Casella's stage play, Death assumes human form in order to discover why men fear him. Posing as a Prince Sirki (and played by Fredric March), Death appears as a house guest at the villa of an Italian duke. While "Sirki" is present, Death takes his titular holiday, and no one on Earth dies. Grazia (Evelyn Venable) the fiance of the duke's son, becomes attracted by the strangely ethereal Sirki. Against his better judgment, Sirki falls in love, and Death for the first time experiences Humanity. Disturbed by the sensation, he decides to shuffle off his mortal coil, but before leaving he tries to shun Grazia, who insists upon going with him. The duke, who has been in on Sirki's secret all along, begs Death not to take away the girl. To scare her off, Death assumes his actual form, only to discover that this is how Grazia has always seen him. Determining that love is as strong as death, Death allows the willing Grazia to accompany him into the nether world.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
A curiously affecting serio-fantasy, Death Takes a Holiday has lost some of its impact over the years (due to increasing familiarity with its basic premise), but it remains an intriguing and charming experience. Maxwell Anderson's screenplay (co-written with Walter Ferris and Gladys Lehman) suffers from some of the author's patented overblown dialogue, but less so than in other films, perhaps because the fantasy trappings are a better setting for Anderson's style. Mitchell Leisen directs in a heavier style than would become his custom in following years; occasionally that light touch is missed here, but for the most part his work is solid. Death's biggest asset is its title player. Fredric March, looking every inch the matinee idol, makes a visually inviting Death; more importantly, his performance is soulful yet restrained, dashing yet somewhat menacing, and he provides the film with an invaluable anchor. March's leading lady, Evelyn Venable, is not quite his equal, but she is undeniably attractive, and her acting is adequate if uninspired. Death also benefits from marvelous camerawork by Charles Lang (especially an upside-down sequence involving reflections in a pond) and lovely costumes from Edith Head and Travis Banton.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/07/2014
UPC:
0025192052002
Original Release:
1934
Source:
Universal Mod
Presentation:
[B&W]
Time:
1:20:00
Sales rank:
3,874

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Fredric March Prince Sirki
Evelyn Venable Grazia
Guy Standing Duke Lambert
Katherine Alexander Alda
Gail Patrick Rhoda
Helen Westley Stephanie
Kathleen Howard Princess Maria
Kent Taylor Corrado
Henry Travers Baron Cesarea
Otto Hoffman Fedele
Edward Van Sloan Doctor Valle
Hector V. Sarno Pietro
Frank Yaconelli Vendor
Anna de Linsky Maid
G.P. Huntley Eric

Technical Credits
Mitchell Leisen Director
Maxwell Anderson Screenwriter
Travis Banton Costumes/Costume Designer
Hans Dreier Art Director
Ernst Fegte Production Designer
Walter Ferris Screenwriter
Edith Head Costumes/Costume Designer
Charles B. Lang Cinematographer
Gladys Lehman Screenwriter
E. Lloyd Sheldon Producer

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