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Death Takes a Holiday

Death Takes a Holiday

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Death Takes a Holiday is a 1934 romantic drama starring Fredric March
Fredric March
Fredric March was an American stage and film actor. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1932 for Dr. Jekyll and Mr...

, Evelyn Venable
Evelyn Venable
Evelyn Venable was an American actress. In addition to starring in several films in the 1930s and 1940s, she is notable as the voice and model for the Blue Fairy in the Walt Disney's Pinocchio....

 and Guy Standing
Guy Standing
Commander Sir Guy Standing KBE RNVR was an English actor.-Biography:Standing served in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve throughout the First World War, reaching the rank of Commander. In 1918, he was part of the British War Mission to the United States...

, based on the Italian play La Morte in Vacanze by Alberto Casella.

Synopsis


After years of questioning why people fear him, Death
Death (personification)
The concept of death as a sentient entity has existed in many societies since the beginning of history. In English, Death is often given the name Grim Reaper and, from the 15th century onwards, came to be shown as a skeletal figure carrying a large scythe and clothed in a black cloak with a hood...

 (March) takes on human form for three days so that he can mingle among the mortals and find an answer. He finds a host in Duke Lambert (Standing) after revealing himself and his intentions to the Duke and takes up temporary residence in the Duke's villa. However, events soon spiral out of control as he falls in love with the beautiful young Grazia (Venable), the only woman unafraid of him. As he falls in love with her, Duke Lambert, who is also the father of Grazia's mortal lover Corrado (Taylor), begs him to give Grazia up and leave her among the living. Death must decide whether or not to seek his own happiness, or sacrifice it so that Grazia may live.

Releases


The theatrical release of the film was on March 30, 1934. The home video releases have been: as part of the Meet Joe Black Ultimate Edition

Reception


The film was an enormous critical and commercial success. Time called it "thoughtful and delicately morbid", while Mordaunt Hall for the New York Times wrote that "it is an impressive picture, each scene of which calls for close attention". Richard Watts, Jr for the New York Herald Tribune
New York Herald Tribune
The New York Herald Tribune was a daily newspaper created in 1924 when the New York Tribune acquired the New York Herald.Other predecessors, which had earlier merged into the New York Tribune, included the original The New Yorker newsweekly , and the Whig Party's Log Cabin.The paper was home to...

described March's performance as one of the film's "chief virtues".

Remakes and adaptations


It aired as the drama of the week on Cecil B. DeMille
Cecil B. DeMille
Cecil Blount DeMille was an American film director and Academy Award-winning film producer in both silent and sound films. He was renowned for the flamboyance and showmanship of his movies...

's Lux Radio Theatre on March 22, 1937 and starred Fredric March
Fredric March
Fredric March was an American stage and film actor. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1932 for Dr. Jekyll and Mr...

 as Death and his wife, actress Florence Eldridge
Florence Eldridge
Florence Eldridge was an American actress.-Personal life:...

, as Grazia. (Listen to it online here.).

Universal Studios
Universal Studios
Universal Pictures , a subsidiary of NBCUniversal, is one of the six major movie studios....

, which acquired the rights to the film in 1962 following a merger with then-owners
EMKA, Ltd.
EMKA, Ltd. is an in-name-only division of Universal Studios' television unit whose sole function is overseeing Paramount Pictures' pre-1950 sound feature film library. EMKA was formed by MCA in 1957 .In the aftermath of the landmark 1948 United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc...

 MCA, made a 1971 television
Television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

 production featuring Yvette Mimieux
Yvette Mimieux
Yvette Carmen Mimieux is a retired American movie and television actress.-Early life and career:Yvette Mimieux was born in Los Angeles, California, to a French father and Mexican mother, Carmen Montemayor...

, Monte Markham
Monte Markham
Monte Markham is an American actor. During his career, Markham has appeared in film, in television, and on Broadway.Markham was born in Manatee County, Florida, the son of Millie Content and Jesse Edward Markham, Sr., who was a merchant.Of his television roles, Markham is perhaps most famous for...

, Myrna Loy
Myrna Loy
Myrna Loy was an American actress. Trained as a dancer, she devoted herself fully to an acting career following a few minor roles in silent films. Originally typecast in exotic roles, often as a vamp or a woman of Asian descent, her career prospects improved following her portrayal of Nora Charles...

, Melvyn Douglas
Melvyn Douglas
Melvyn Edouard Hesselberg , better known as Melvyn Douglas, was an American actor.Coming to prominence in the 1930s as a suave leading man , Douglas later transitioned into more mature and fatherly roles as in his Academy Award-winning performances in Hud...

 and Bert Convy
Bert Convy
Bernard Whalen "Bert" Convy was an Emmy Award winning American actor, singer, game show host and panelist known for his tenure as the host for Tattletales, Super Password, and Win, Lose or Draw.-Early life:...

. Loy related in her biography that the production was marred by a decline in filming production standards; she described a frustrated Douglas storming off the set and returning to his home in New York when a tour guide interrupted the filming of one of his dramatic scenes to point out Rock Hudson
Rock Hudson
Roy Harold Scherer, Jr., later Roy Harold Fitzgerald , known professionally as Rock Hudson, was an American film and television actor, recognized as a romantic leading man during the 1950s and 1960s, most notably in several romantic comedies with Doris Day.Hudson was voted "Star of the Year",...

's dressing room.

The film was remade by Universal again in 1998 as Meet Joe Black
Meet Joe Black
Meet Joe Black is a 1998 American fantasy romance film produced by Universal Studios, directed by Martin Brest and starring Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins and Claire Forlani, loosely based on the 1934 film Death Takes a Holiday...

starring Brad Pitt
Brad Pitt
William Bradley "Brad" Pitt is an American actor and film producer. Pitt has received two Academy Award nominations and four Golden Globe Award nominations, winning one...

, Claire Forlani
Claire Forlani
Claire Antonia Forlani is an English actress.-Early life:Claire Forlani was born in Twickenham, London, the daughter of Barbara , who was English, and Pierluigi Forlani, a music manager from Ferrara, Italy. At the age of 11, Forlani entered the Arts Educational School in London, where she began to...

 and Anthony Hopkins
Anthony Hopkins
Sir Philip Anthony Hopkins, KBE , best known as Anthony Hopkins, is a Welsh actor of film, stage and television...

.

It was adapted into a musical by Maury Yeston
Maury Yeston
Maury Yeston is an American composer, lyricist, educator and musicologist.He is known for writing the music and lyrics to Broadway musicals, including Nine in 1982, and Titanic in 1997, both of which won Tony Awards for best musical and best score. He also won a Drama Desk Award for Nine...

 with the book by Peter Stone
Peter Stone
Peter Hess Stone was an American writer for theater, television and movies.-Life and career:Stone was born in Los Angeles. His mother, Hilda , was a film writer, and his father, John Stone was the writer and producer of many silent films, including Shirley Temple and Charlie Chan movies...

 and Thomas Meehan
Thomas Meehan
Thomas Meehan , was a noted British-born nurseryman, botanist and author. He worked as a Kew gardener in 1846–1848, and thereafter he moved to Germantown in Philadelphia...

. It began previews Off-Broadway
Off-Broadway
Off-Broadway theater is a term for a professional venue in New York City with a seating capacity between 100 and 499, and for a specific production of a play, musical or revue that appears in such a venue, and which adheres to related trade union and other contracts...

 on June 10, and officially opened on July 21, 2011, in a limited engagement through September 4, in the Laura Pels Theatre at the Harold & Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre in a production by Roundabout Theatre Company
Roundabout Theatre Company
The Roundabout Theatre Company is a leading non-profit theatre company based in New York City.-History:The company was founded in 1965 by Gene Feist and Elizabeth Owens and now operates five theatres, all in Manhattan: the American Airlines Theatre ; Studio 54 ; the Stephen Sondheim Theatre The...

.