The Holly and the Ivy (1952) Movie Review Movie Review

The Holly and the Ivy (1952)   4/54/54/54/54/5

Celia Johnson and Ralph Richardson in The Holly and the Ivy (1952)

The Truth Will Set You Free

Christmas is coming and Rev. Martin Gregory (Ralph Richardson - The Fallen Idol), having been widowed in the last year, is looking forwards to the family descending on his home in Wyndham, Norfolk from his children to their aunts and cousins. For Martin's daughter Jenny (Celia Johnson - This Happy Breed) things are coming to a head as she wants to marry boyfriend David (John Gregson - Genevieve) but with no one to look after her father she can't, especially as David has been offered a job abroad which will mean five years away. Jenny's sister, Margaret (Margaret Leighton - The Constant Husband), also returns but with her own life in the city finds it stifling and has problems of her own to contend with.

Over the years I have watched a number of Christmas reunion movies, you know the sort where the children and other relatives return to their parent's home for Christmas and we get a series of confrontations, secrets as well as issues worked through. Well that is essentially what you get in "The Holly and the Ivy", but an awfully British take on it with a drama which takes place in a rural community with characters who have some old fashioned/ traditional values. As such what you don't get in "The Holly and the Ivy" is the raucous nature of modern dysfunctional family dramas.

Celia Johnson and John Gregson in The Holly and the Ivy (1952)

But there is such a beauty about "The Holly and the Ivy" with this glimpse not only at the past but also of these various characters. Take Martin who despite not liking delivering Christmas day sermons is focused solely on his life as a pastor and is oblivious to the feelings of his family and how Jenny is going to end up an old maid because she feels obliged to care for him. Ralph Richardson plays him perfectly so that he is naive to the world and set in his ways. As such we get to see how his other children; Margaret and Michael are gripped by issues when it comes to their father and how he treats them.

Now I could go on and reveal how this family drama plays out but let me just say that every actor in this plays their part brilliantly. That is especially the case when it comes to Celia Johnson as Jenny as whilst she was a lot older than her character it comes in to play as it makes it feel believable that she is already becoming an old maid with her devotion to her father whilst also trying to keep peace between the rest of the family.

What this all boils down to is that "The Holly and the Ivy" is a really beautiful Christmas movie with a rich tapestry of characters and drama which makes it fantastic to watch. Plus this delivers a bygone British Christmas not yet destroyed by commercialism.

Tags: Christmas Movies