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"Death Takes a Holiday" (1934) Alert

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Since I read a post in which my pals Path and Stoneyburke were talking about this film, I wanted to alert my fellow-buffs, especially the 1930s fans, about this wonderful movie, which is scheduled on the following dates (EASTERN time):


03/06/2005 01:30 AM

03/29/2005 08:00 PM


I had the luck of buying this unique movie in the year 2001 (now it's out of print). It is also included in the special DVD edition of "Meet Joe Black", because both are based in Alberto Casella's play, although it's really not proper to say the Brad Pitt film is a remake of "Death Takes a Holiday" and IMHO, the latter is far the superior adaptation of the play.


"Death Takes a Holiday" tells the story of Death coming to earth "on vacation", in human form, as Prince Sirki (Fredric March). He arrives to a Villa or Palace in Italy, where he meets people from the highest ranking nobility, dukes, counts and among them, Grazia (Evelyn Venable).


The acting, especially by March, who carries the film all the way, is excellent. Venable as Grazia is ethereal and beautiful, and the rest of the cast is equally perfect: Sir Guy Standing, Gail Patrick, Henry Travers et al.


A most unusual and unique film.

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Thank you Fernando for your kind words!


I don't just love this movie, I LOVE this movie. Fantasy afterlife movies are one of my very favorite categories (I await Stairway to Heaven very anxiously, someday perhaps tcmprogrammer?), and this is one of the best, one of THE best!!


path, you're gonna love it!:)


Okay, now I'm overdoing it, right?


I have to go ask Mongo if March was a happy man. I hope he was, anyone who could act like that deserved happiness.

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Welcome pals!


And Stoney, I bet March was a happy man throughout his life. He was married to the same woman for most of his life, actress Florence Eldridge, with whom she co-starred frequently: "Mary of Scotland", "Christopher Columbus", etc.


He seemed to be a very conservative man, at least regarding marriage, although I've read from other sources that he was a notorious womanizer.


What is true about him is that he was one of the most talented actors ever...He starred in such excellent films as "Dr. Jekyll and Mr.Hyde", "The Barretts of Wimpole Street", "The Sign of the Cross", "The Affairs of Cellini", "Les Miser?bles", "Anna Karenina", "Best years of Our Lives", etc.


I could try checking anything in particular you'd like to know Stoney, in my book "The Films of Fredric March" :).

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ah, I envy the lucky people who were able to see "Death Takes a Holiday" for the first time late last night. Though I'm bleary eyed today since I just had to stay up for this presentation, I don't regret missing a few winks. IMHO, Fredric March as Death captured the essence of the German word "Weltschmerz". He expresses worldweariness untainted by cynicism, yet infused with a romantic longing for experience. Evelyn Venable's sensitive performance as Grazia had a similar ethereal quality. I also enjoyed Gail Patrick as the somewhat jaded society woman who thinks she wants to dally with March--until she sees him as he really is.


Of course, I guess no one could get away with this kind of material today, (see the fairly leaden "Meet Joe Black" for evidence), but I do think that this gossamer bit of cinema--as delicate as a cobweb, interestingly directed by Mitchell Leisen, and strangely powerful--might touch a modern viewer's heart.


Thanks for posting this particular alert.

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I just wanted to thank everyone for this alert. Though the film was on several nights ago, I just had a chance to view it last evening. I had seen "Meet Joe Black" with Brad Pitt, and was so glad to see that this film was different enough to hold my interest. In fact, it's QUITE a bit shorter than the more recent movie, running under 80 minutes, I believe.


Of course, Fredric March is great, as always. I had also just seen "It's a Gift" with W.C. Fields, so I recognized Kathleen Howard (this was her FIRST movie) as Ms. Veneble's character's mother. In fact, I just watched (& reviewed) Ms. Veneble in "Vagabond Lady" with Robert Young as well.


I did enjoy THIS film. In fact, the dialogue was particularly clever, I thought, and the special effects (though brief) weren't bad either. I did find that the last 20 minutes or so got a little "talkie", but that would be my only complaint. It was also nice to see Henry Travers in something, he's not as prolific as a lot of other familiar character actors we know and love.


Thanks again for the recommendation stoney, feito, and moira!

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