Last Holiday (1950)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Black Comedy  |   Release Date - May 3, 1950 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 89 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

Like the earlier Nothing Sacred, Last Holiday deals with a person who has been misdiagnosed with a fatal disease and opts to go out with a bang. Unlike Sacred, however, the misdiagnosis does not get cleared up until late in the film; more importantly, while Holiday is definitely a comedy, there's a palpable undercurrent of melancholy, sadness and regret that gives it a unique and appealing flavor. Like much of screenwriter J.B. Priestley's work, the script is somewhat too schematic and the structure is not always as well disguised as one might wish. This is especially true when the film reaches it ironic ending; however, over all, it works well. It's also a plus that the author's political views are presented in a fairly understated manner, adding rather than detracting from the proceedings. Holiday's biggest asset is its star. Alec Guinness gives another of his well-drawn, acutely observed performances that combine a naturalness with an awareness of pacing, theme and the need for a star performance to hold a picture together. He is well supported by the sympathy-rousing Kay Walsh, who melds both vulnerability and a crusty shell very effectively. Guinness would follow the quite-good-but-not-great Holiday with a series of superior films, including The Man in the White Suit.