7.2/10
1,284
34 user 13 critic

Death Takes a Holiday (1934)

Unrated | | Drama, Fantasy, Romance | 30 March 1934 (USA)
Death decides to take a holiday from his usual business to see what it is like to be a mortal. Posing as Prince Sirki, he spends 3 days with Duke Lambert and his guests at his dukal estate.... See full summary »

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
Reviews

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Death Takes a Holiday (TV Movie 1971)
Fantasy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Death takes a human form and visits Earth to try to find out why humans want so desperately to cling to life. He unexpectedly falls in love with a beautiful young woman.

Director: Robert Butler
Stars: Yvette Mimieux, Monte Markham, Myrna Loy
Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

In early 19th Century France an ex-convict who failed to report to parole is relentlessly pursued over a 20 year period by an obsessive policeman.

Director: Richard Boleslawski
Stars: Fredric March, Charles Laughton, Cedric Hardwicke
Dodsworth (1936)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A retired auto manufacturer and his wife take a long-planned European vacation only to find that they want very different things from life.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Walter Huston, Ruth Chatterton, Paul Lukas
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

The adoptive father of a young woman is horrified to learn she plans to marry the son of the man who accidentally killed her mother years before.

Director: Sidney Franklin
Stars: Norma Shearer, Fredric March, Leslie Howard
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

An amnesiac World War I vet falls in love with a music hall star, only to suffer an accident which restores his original memories but erases his post-War life.

Director: Mervyn LeRoy
Stars: Ronald Colman, Greer Garson, Philip Dorn
Certificate: Passed Biography | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Elizabeth Barrett's tyrannical father has forbidden any of his family to marry. Nevertheless, Elizabeth falls in love with the poet Robert Browning.

Director: Sidney Franklin
Stars: Norma Shearer, Fredric March, Charles Laughton
Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A noblewoman discovers her husband is The Scarlet Pimpernel, a vigilante who rescues aristocrats from the blade of the guillotine.

Director: Harold Young
Stars: Leslie Howard, Merle Oberon, Raymond Massey
The Divorcee (1930)
Certificate: Passed Romance | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

When a woman discovers that her husband has been unfaithful to her, she decides to respond to his infidelities in kind.

Director: Robert Z. Leonard
Stars: Norma Shearer, Robert Montgomery, Chester Morris
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Chester Kent struggles against time, romance, and a rival's spy to produce spectacular live "prologues" for movie houses.

Director: Lloyd Bacon
Stars: James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler
Morning Glory (1933)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

When a naively innocent, aspiring actress arrives on the Broadway scene, she is taken under the wing of several theater veterans who mentor her to ultimate success.

Director: Lowell Sherman
Stars: Katharine Hepburn, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Adolphe Menjou
Private Lives (1931)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Divorced couple unexpectedly meet each other during their honeymoon and rekindle their love.

Director: Sidney Franklin
Stars: Norma Shearer, Robert Montgomery, Reginald Denny
Certificate: Passed Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Dr. Jekyll faces horrible consequences when he lets his dark side run wild with a potion that transforms him into the animalistic Mr. Hyde.

Director: Rouben Mamoulian
Stars: Fredric March, Miriam Hopkins, Rose Hobart
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Grazia
...
Duke Lambert (as Sir Guy Standing)
...
Alda
...
Rhoda
...
...
...
Corrado
...
G.P. Huntley ...
Eric (as G.P. Huntley Jr.)
...
Fedele (as Otto Hoffmann)
Edit

Storyline

Death decides to take a holiday from his usual business to see what it is like to be a mortal. Posing as Prince Sirki, he spends 3 days with Duke Lambert and his guests at his dukal estate. Several of the women are attracted to the mysterious prince, but shy away from him when they sense his true nature. But Grazia, the beautiful young woman whom the Duke thought was to marry his son, loves him even when she knows who he is. Written by John Oswalt <jao@jao.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

prince | guest | love | holiday | death | See All (49) »

Taglines:

HE LIVED FOR THREE DAYS...AND LOVED FOREVER! (original print ad - all caps) See more »

Genres:

Drama | Fantasy | Romance

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

30 March 1934 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Strange Holiday  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Edward Van Sloan was in studio records/casting call lists for the role of "Doctor Valle," but he never appears in the movie. See more »

Goofs

In one of the opening scenes, Grazia is praying in a Catholic Church. She makes the Sign of the Cross and is meditating when Corrado joins her. When leaving, she fails to genuflect , something they both would have done in real life. See more »

Quotes

Death: Grazia - my little love - it was NOT a jest!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Supernatural: Death Takes a Holiday (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Wein, Weib und Gesang (Wine, Women and Song), Op.333
(1869) (uncredited)
Music by Johann Strauss
Played as dance music at the party
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Despite its melodramatic and dated elements, this is a fascinating film…
14 February 2008 | by (Petersburg, Vasaria) – See all my reviews

Under the atmospheric direction of Paramount Pictures contract director Mitchell Leisen (who also directed Olivia de Havilland in an Oscar-winning performance in 1946's TO EACH HIS OWN), DEATH TAKES A HOLIDAY remains one of most unusual and unique films to come out of 1930s Hollywood. Although the film is quite dated due to its stage origins and the dialogue in Maxwell Anderson's adapted screenplay is quite melodramatic, the story of Death adopting a human form for three days and eventually falling in love with a mortal female is an intriguing one. Plus, DEATH TAKES A HOLIDAY clocks around at a brief 79 minutes and does not suffer the tedious three-hour length of its loose remake, MEET JOE BLACK (1998).

The cast is excellent. Although Fredric March hams it up sometimes as Death/Prince Sirki, he's a far more interesting presence than the bland Brad Pitt in the remake. One can feel Death's sense of despair and longing to explore the world of mortals in his first scene, whereas Brad Pitt displayed almost none of these qualities in his lifeless performance (pun intended). Evelyn Venable, who later provided the gentle voice of the Blue Fairy in Walt Disney's PINOCCHIO (1940), is a lovely love interest in this film. And Henry Travers, who played the angelic Clarence in IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946), is delightful as an old baron who believes that love, money, and war are the three things that make life meaningful.

The production values are lavish and film's atmosphere is eerie, strange, and deeply romantic. Even the opening credits are clever! The black-and-white cinematography is excellent under the hands of Charles Lang, who also provided the atmospheric cinematography for such fantasy films as PETER IBBETSON (1935), THE UNINVITED (1944), and THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR (1947). I especially liked the scene in which Death, partly transparent and completely shrouded in a black veil, visits Duke Lambert (Guy Standing) in the middle of a foggy night with a choir vocalizing over the soundtrack.

What's even better about DEATH TAKES A HOLIDAY is that Death really does take a holiday…throughout his three-day holiday there are worldwide reports of accidents and incidents in which the victims mysteriously survive unhurt. This element is absent in the remake and this film also contains the humor that the remake lacked. The film's conclusion, which was highly controversial at the time, had me think a little differently about death despite its melodramatic delivery.

Although this fascinating little film is nowhere near as famous as its lavish but bland remake, DEATH TAKES A HOLIDAY is well worth watching if you can tolerate the dated and melodramatic 1930s dialogue and acting styles.


6 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?