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Death Takes a Holiday (1934)

Passed | | Drama, Fantasy, Romance | 30 March 1934 (USA)
The Grim Reaper takes the form of a Prince in an attempt to relate to humans and, along the way, also learns what it is to love.

Director:

Mitchell Leisen

Writers:

Maxwell Anderson (screenplay), Gladys Lehman (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Fredric March ... Prince Sirki / Death
Evelyn Venable ... Grazia
Guy Standing ... Duke Lambert (as Sir Guy Standing)
Katharine Alexander ... Alda
Gail Patrick ... Rhoda
Helen Westley ... Stephanie
Kathleen Howard ... Princess Maria
Kent Taylor ... Corrado
Henry Travers ... Baron Cesarea
G.P. Huntley G.P. Huntley ... Eric (as G.P. Huntley Jr.)
Otto Hoffman ... Fedele (as Otto Hoffmann)
Learn more

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Storyline

Death (Frederic March) 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 three days with Duke Lambert (Sir Guy Standing) 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 (Evelyn Venable), the beautiful young woman who 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

Taglines:

No one can die - while he makes love! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Fantasy | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Later adapted as the premise for Meet Joe Black (1998). 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: My holiday is just caprice - a mad joke that I play on life. But what a monstrous, what a sublime joke! I, Death, do hereby take on the World, the Flesh, and the Devil!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Cheers: Death Takes a Holiday on Ice (1989) See more »

Soundtracks

Etude in E Op.10 No.3
(1829-32) (uncredited)
Music by Frédéric Chopin
Played offscreen on piano
See more »

User Reviews

 
A Little Dance With Death
30 March 2005 | by gftbiloxiSee all my reviews

Based on an Italian play that performed on Broadway in 1929, the 1934 DEATH TAKES A HOLIDAY would be the inspiration for the 1998 Brad Pitt film MEET JOE BLACK--but whereas MEET JOE BLACK proved a highly literal interpretation of the theme, DEATH TAKES A HOLIDAY is unexpectedly lyric in tone.

The story is a fantasy. Death has grown weary of the fear he inspires in human beings, and in an effort to understand the tenacity to which they cling to life he decides to take a three day "holiday." He accordingly presents himself at the house of an Italian nobleman as "Prince Sirki," and soon discovers that human beings pass their lives in games, none of them of any great importance or interest. But there is one "game" he has yet to play: love.

Like many films of the early 1930s, the script is a bit talky and the cinematography a bit static; with the exception of Evelyn Venable (as Grazia) and Henry Travers (as Baron Cesarea) the cast, including the usually subtle Frederic March, tend to play in a somewhat theatrical manner. Even so, the overall tone of the film is unexpectedly touching, lyrical, and strangely lovely. It is also, on occasion, gently humorous. And before Death resumes his true identity and returns to the business of mortality, we receive unexpected food for thought.

The film is not widely available on either DVD or VHS, nor is it frequently televised. That is unfortunate, for fans of 1930s cinema will find it darkly charming. Worth seeking out!

Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

30 March 1934 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Strange Holiday See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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