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Death Takes a Holiday (1934)

Passed | | Drama, Fantasy, Romance | 30 March 1934 (USA)
The Grim Reaper (Frederic March) 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 »

Photos

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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)
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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:

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

Genres:

Drama | Fantasy | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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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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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

Duke Lambert: I've had a glimpse of deep waters tonight, and I didn't like it.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in M*A*S*H: Death Takes a Holiday (1980) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

 
The Grim Reaper vacations in Italy
30 March 2005 | by jotix100See all my reviews

"Death Takes a Holiday" was based on a play, and it's interesting that another playwright was called upon to adapt it for the screen. The original piece by Alberto Casella feels almost Pirandellian, in that it elevates every day things into a philosophical realm. Maxwell Anderson's respect for the original text shows in his elegant treatment of the material. The film is greatly enhanced by Mitchell Leisen's direction.

The people behind this 1934 film gathered an interesting cast to play Mr. Casella's characters. The idea of making death a human being was a novel idea. When the Grim Reaper becomes real in the person of Prince Sirki, it opened the possibilities for how he looked at life from this new perspective.

The idea of bringing Prince Sirki into the Duke Lambert's palatial home was the right setting, for it gives the movie an elegance that only in that context could be achieved. It's clear that Prince Sirki falls for the beautiful Grazia instantly. Grazia is almost engaged to Corrado, the Duke's son.

It's a joy to see these aristocrats at play when they encounter the figure of the prince. Only the Duke knows about him and is always by the prince's side in order to help him grasp the earthly nuances that supposedly, Sirki knows nothing about.

The ensemble performances Mr. Leisen achieved from his cast shows on the finished product we see. Fredric March makes an elegant presence as Sirki. The beautiful Evelyn Venable is perfect as Grazia. Guy Standing makes the most of his Duke Lambert. Henry Travers, Kent Taylor, Gail Patrick and Katherine Alexancer are seen in minor parts.

How can anyone compare this elegant production with the recent remake of this film? It is a puzzle to this observer, at best.


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