A wealthy banker throws his wife's expensive fur coat off the roof of a building; it lands on the head of a stenographer, leading to everyone assuming she is his mistress and has access to his millions.
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 <email@example.com>
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 »
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 »
"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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