With Christmas just around the corner, we are now well and truly in the season of putting up Christmas decorations and snuggling up, away from the cold to watch all the best Christmas films and TV specials. You may have already made your list of festive films you’d like to get through before the big day arrives – and possibly even checked it twice – and we can bet that ‘The Holiday’ might feature among it.
The 2006 film stars Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, Kate Winslet and Jack Black in a romantic Christmas comedy in which two women (Diaz and Winslet) casually swap homes for the holidays, travelling across oceans to get away from their relationship issues. If you’ve never seen it before, we won’t spoil the whole story and simply say that it is one of our favourite Christmas movies ever, so it’s definitely a must-watch.
It features idyllic country homes, the most wondrous play tent you could imagine, cameos from the likes of Dustin Hoffman and plenty of festive fun (like Jude Law’s Mr Napkin Head). What’s more, it’ll get you crying, if not for the wholesome story arc then for the utterly beautiful music from Hans Zimmer – all in all it’s a classic.
Then what on earth are we on about and why are we writing this article, we hear you say. Well, for us Bristolians – and even for those in the West Country as a whole – there are a few moments of this film that make it really hard for us not to just switch it off and stop watching completely.
The first (and arguably lesser of the two evils) comes as Cameron Diaz’s character Amanda is searching for a place to escape to on the internet. After finding things all too depressing when imagining herself alone on a tropical beach, she opts for somewhere a bit cosier (and somewhere that speaks English) and clicks on a few options in, well, England.
One of which happens to be in The Cotswolds which, as we all know, is one of the most beautiful areas in the country and is home to the most beautiful village in England. But, when clicking on the image of the advertised property (which in fairness is a bit of a dilapidated container-type building and definitely not typical of what The Cotswolds has on offer), she describes what she sees as like something from “the Valley”, with a look of disgust on her face.
She then finds the iconic cottage that is home to Kate Winslet’s character, Iris, in Surrey. And, while we’re sure Surrey is a beautiful place (the film was partly shot there after all), we’re angry that they would do such an injustice to our neck of the woods.
What’s more – and this is where things get really unforgivable – later in the film, Iris is chatting with her new movie star pal and neighbour, Arthur (who happens to be played by Hollywood legend Eli Wallach, who starred in ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ among others). Arthur asks Iris where in England she is from, to which she replies ‘Surrey’ and – this is where every Bristolian watching lets out a loud huff of utter horror – the Academy Award winner and somewhat of a knowledgeable Hollywood historian proclaims that “Cary Grant was from Surrey”.
“Yes, he was”, Iris replies. “NO HE WASN’T” every single Bristolian watching yells at their screens.
And this is what we’re talking about when we say that we have to put all our strength into not reaching for the remote and sticking on ‘Love Actually’, or The Office Christmas Special (the British one), instead. Cary Grant, named as the second-greatest male star of Golden Age Hollywood cinema (after Humphrey Bogart) was born and raised right here in Bristol.
In fact, he was born Archibald Alec Leach on January 18, 1904, at 15 Hughenden Road in Horfield – that’s about 100 miles from Surrey, just for your information. He went to Bishop Road Primary School, his mother was admitted to Glenside Hospital – a mental institution – he was inspired to go into theatre when he saw a show at the Bristol Old Vic and in 1915, Cary Grant won a scholarship to attend Fairfield Grammar School in Bristol, but was expelled at the age of 14!
And, while he was eager to leave Bristol and travel the world – ending up in the USA and leaving a Hollywood legacy behind – nods to Cary Grant’s upbringing here in our city are still enjoyed to this day. There’s a statue of Cary Grant in Millennium Square and even a biennial ‘Cary Comes Home Festival’, established here in 2014.
If all that wasn’t enough, one of the characters in the film – Amanda’s heavily pregnant colleague played by actress and comedian Kathryn Hahn – is even named Bristol. Couldn’t they have done a switch and named her ‘Surrey’ instead?
What are your thoughts on this mega movie mishap? Know any others that really make you mad? Let us know in the comments below.