I’m William Holden. Who are You?

Who am I?  As a movie actor, I mean.  For years it was Robert De Niro but then, slowly, it shifted away.  The fit wasn’t right.  He’s too quiet and his characters too crazy.  No, no, it wasn’t him.  I was just confused because I liked him so much as an actor.   See, throughout my lifetime of loving the cinema, I’ve come to identify with actors in such a way that there are certain ones that give me great comfort when I watch them on the screen, to the point where I want to emulate them.  De Niro, for his talent and skills did that for years but I never really identified with him, I just loved his acting chops.  In fact, there are plenty of actors, from Walter Huston to Marlon Brando to John Wayne, whose appearance onscreen pretty much makes the movie worth watching even if the movie stinks.  That doesn’t mean I necessarily identify with them on a personal level, just that they project something onscreen that I like, no matter what the context.  Another one is Charlton Heston.  Say what you will about the guy (and I’ve said a few things myself) I can watch Chuck in damn near anything.  That stoic, solemn but slyly cynical way he had of delivering every line went a long way in my liking him.  But who I am isn’t who he is and so the search continued.  And that’s kind of what led me to the actor who I found worked for me on a personal and professional level.  It was the cynicism he projected but something more.  There was fatigue, too and disillusionment.  He had it in spades and as I got older I finally realized, “It’s William Holden, that’s who I am!”

I love William Holden and I always have but it wasn’t until reaching middle age that it really started to make sense for me.  There’s an honesty about his characters that I really admire.  There’s a no B.S. quality to them that, no matter how they’re written, he makes work.  Not every single character, of course.  Like any actor, he had roles that demanded he play against type or just, generally speaking, roles that don’t fit the mold of what I’m talking about.  But also like any actor, he had a specific type of role he excelled at and it’s that role that returns me to him time and time again.

The role Holden excelled at was an honest one.  He was cynical, beaten down and maybe even a liar, but he was honest.  I know, that last part doesn’t make any sense so let’s look at his last role for a clue.   In Blake Edwards S.O.B., Holden plays director Tim Culley and though the film wasn’t among the best of his career, I like it and most of all, I think it’s a final performance that almost perfectly sums up the best of everything Holden achieved as an actor.  He’s intelligent, cynical, realistic, loyal to his friends and principled.  In one scene he asks his friend, producer Felix Farmer (Richard Mulligan), “To your knowledge, have I ever lied to you?”  Farmer replies “no” and tells Culley he knows he’s always been honest with him.  Culley then says, “Well I have.  Many times, in fact.  But the fact that I’m telling you that right now should indicate to you that I’m an honest man.”

And somehow, it does.

It does because William Holden said it and his delivery and fortitude make you believe in the character of a known liar.  And when he says that you know what he really means is “Now I’m going to give it to you straight.   I may be unreliable on things trivial but on the stuff that counts, you’ll get the truth from me.”

In Bridge on the River Kwai, As Commander Shears, he lies about who he is (in the hopes of being treated better as an officer which doesn’t turn out to help) but despite that, he’s the most honest character in the movie.  He doesn’t pull punches.  He tells you what he thinks and what he thinks often has little to do with what you want to hear.   Everyone else, even the doctor who tries to get Colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinness) to see reason, backs down when their mettle gets tested.  Not Shears.  He tells the Colonel he has no intention of doing anything with that bridge and will escape the first chance he gets.  By the time he sees him again during the thrilling climax and Nicholson greets him with a stunned, “You?” Shears returns the greeting with a “You” so dripping in hateful vengeance one can only imagine Nicholson got lucky it wasn’t Shears dies in the river before reaching him.   Better to face bombs and machine gun fire than an angry William Holden with a knife, ready to carve out an education you’ll never forget.

But that’s the Holden I first admired, the one who tells it like it is.  Something his character in Stalag 17, J.J. Sefton, does without relent.  Even when it clearly upsets or downright angers his fellow bunk mates, he tells it like it is.  He’s dishonest in all the things that don’t matter: dealing with Nazis for eggs, duping guys on sucker bets.  But when it comes to anything that matters, honesty is his first and only policy.

The Other Holden, the one I enjoyed when I was younger but didn’t connect to until later, is the one that also admits openly to anyone who’ll listen that he ain’t worth a bucket of warm pig spit.   He doesn’t go around parading his wisdom before the masses, he goes around telling everyone he’s completely full of crap.  Look at the way he kicks that manuscript of his memoirs off the table in Network before giving it to himself as a fraud, phony and washed-up hack.  His criticism of you stings because he never holds back on himself either.

In Bridge on the River Kwai, he happily admits his plan to dupe the Japanese by pretending to be an officer was pointless and in Sunset Boulevard he doesn’t seem to suffer from any delusions that he alone got himself into this mess and nobody else.

As Pike Bishop in The Wild Bunch, he’s seen it all, heard it all and done it all.  He’s looking for one last heist to coast him into his golden years.  The thing that bothers him the most about a person?  When they don’t learn from their mistakes and let pride get in the way.  One of his best exchanges comes in a scene with his partner, Dutch, played by Ernest Borgnine.  They tried to rob a railroad’s payroll but got burned, badly.  Dutch wants to know why the railroad went to such lengths to dupe them.  Pike tells him about Harrigan, the railroad man Pike had made a fool of years ago.

Pike:  There was a man named Harrigan. Used to have a way of doin’ things. I made him change his ways. A hell of a lot of people, Dutch, just can’t stand to be wrong.

Dutch: Pride. 

Pike: And they can’t forget it… that pride… being wrong. Or learn by it. 

Dutch: How ’bout us, Pike? You reckon we learned – bein’ wrong, today? 

Pike:  I sure hope to God we did. 

But it’s in his last role again, Tim Culley, that he has one of his best lines ever.  It’s a line I’ve repeated myself dozens of times and kind of live by while chanting it silently as a mantra.  It comes when Felix Farmer is trying to come up with a sex angle to sell the movie they did together that flopped.  Sex sells, Felix tells Culley, but Culley isn’t so sure they can sell it.   But, Felix says, “Sex is where it’s at.”  Culley replies, “It’s been my experience that every time I think I know where it’s at, it’s usually someplace else.”

Man, if that doesn’t sum up most every thought I’ve had on popular culture since the nineties.

Even in Towering Inferno, his character, building owner James Duncan, blows off the fire threat until it’s unavoidable and once it is, he tells the truth to his guests.  He even tells his cowardly son-in-law that the two of them are evacuating last.  What a great guy.

There are so many great Holden roles and performances that I could go on forever but it’s more than just the characters Holden played.  It was also who Holden was.   Who he was in real life.  He lived hard, drank heavily and told it like it is, often.  Like when he told Sam Peckinpah, on the set of The Wild Bunch, after listening to him berate crew and cast for two hours, that if that’s how it was going to be he’d rather not make the movie and started to leave.  Peckinpah kept it under control, at least in front of Holden, from that point on.  Or at the 50th Academy Awards, in 1978, when William Holden took time out before presenting an Oscar with Barbara Stanwyck to tell everyone watching how awesome she was.    He didn’t have to but he wanted to.  He wanted everyone to know how generous and helpful and encouraging she had been with him at the start of his career.    You can watch the whole thing here.  Whenever I watch it, it makes me feel good.  On top of that, they cut to a shot of Chuck Heston right afterwards which makes it doubly good.

So there you have it.  If I had to choose who I am as an actor (read: would like to be but in reality probably come nowhere close), it’d be Holden.   Oh, I’m not saying I come anywhere near his level of cynical coolness, just that I’d like to.   Close runners-up would be Spencer Tracy and, just because his country life off the soundstage sounded so damn peaceful and charming, Peter Cushing.  But Holden’s the winner.   If I had to eulogize Holden with only one line, it would be the line he delivered as Tim Culley: “When it comes to the crunch I can handle myself with an acceptable degree of integrity.”   That’s me…  I hope.  Who are you?

0 Response I’m William Holden. Who are You?
Posted By swac44 : March 21, 2012 9:40 am

I’d love to be William Holden (if only to watch Kim Novak make that entrance in Picnic), but part of me suspects that deep down inside, I’m probably closer to Franklin Pangborn.

On the bright side, this post really makes me want to finally throw on that DVD of Breezy that’s been in my “to watch” pile for so long.

Posted By swac44 : March 21, 2012 9:40 am

I’d love to be William Holden (if only to watch Kim Novak make that entrance in Picnic), but part of me suspects that deep down inside, I’m probably closer to Franklin Pangborn.

On the bright side, this post really makes me want to finally throw on that DVD of Breezy that’s been in my “to watch” pile for so long.

Posted By Marty : March 21, 2012 9:50 am

Greg:
As far as I’m concerned, Bill Holden was IT. His contract was shared 50/50 by Paramount and Columbia, which is why he made pictures for both early in his career — even after Sunset Boulevard.
You can see his skin crawl both inside and out in Sunset Boulevard. Norma Desmond creeps him out and you can see it in his facial expressions and body posture. AND you can tell he is feeling the self-loathing as he plays the lover’s role and ALMOST comes to enjoy it.
Then there’s Stalag 17. All of his contemporaries turned it down — amazing — Heston, Kirk, Burt. Holden grabs it and wins an Oscar.
He goes to MGM and makes Executive Suite and in that picture, he gives a summation that sneers at the early Eisenhower era complacency that plagued Treadway and Avery Bullard — and wins the Presidency of the company. It’s a precursor to “The Torch Has Been Passed” Kennedy Moment 7 years later.
He produces and stars in one picture on his own — Toward The Unknown — another of my favorites — about a mentally and physically scarred Air Force Major who tries to re-ignite his career in test flying. The same year he makes The Bridges at Toko Ri — an absolute superior picture and performance. Check out the scene early in the picture when, after ditching, he is called to the Admiral’s (Fredrick March)stateroom. In that short scene, they lay out the domino theory. There is his death in a Korean ditch fading over a his carrier. And The Country Girl.
Bridge On The River Kwai, super again.
There is a long fallow period, Paris When it Sizzles, Casino Royale’s cameo, The Wild Rovers (butchered by the studio. Then the actor’s skill and material come back together in The Wild Bunch, Fedora and of course, SOB.
Yes, I like Kirk and Burt but they are tied for second place behind Bill Holden. As Billy Wilder said about Holden’s passing from a drunken fall…”What a lousy fade-out for a great guy.”

Posted By Marty : March 21, 2012 9:50 am

Greg:
As far as I’m concerned, Bill Holden was IT. His contract was shared 50/50 by Paramount and Columbia, which is why he made pictures for both early in his career — even after Sunset Boulevard.
You can see his skin crawl both inside and out in Sunset Boulevard. Norma Desmond creeps him out and you can see it in his facial expressions and body posture. AND you can tell he is feeling the self-loathing as he plays the lover’s role and ALMOST comes to enjoy it.
Then there’s Stalag 17. All of his contemporaries turned it down — amazing — Heston, Kirk, Burt. Holden grabs it and wins an Oscar.
He goes to MGM and makes Executive Suite and in that picture, he gives a summation that sneers at the early Eisenhower era complacency that plagued Treadway and Avery Bullard — and wins the Presidency of the company. It’s a precursor to “The Torch Has Been Passed” Kennedy Moment 7 years later.
He produces and stars in one picture on his own — Toward The Unknown — another of my favorites — about a mentally and physically scarred Air Force Major who tries to re-ignite his career in test flying. The same year he makes The Bridges at Toko Ri — an absolute superior picture and performance. Check out the scene early in the picture when, after ditching, he is called to the Admiral’s (Fredrick March)stateroom. In that short scene, they lay out the domino theory. There is his death in a Korean ditch fading over a his carrier. And The Country Girl.
Bridge On The River Kwai, super again.
There is a long fallow period, Paris When it Sizzles, Casino Royale’s cameo, The Wild Rovers (butchered by the studio. Then the actor’s skill and material come back together in The Wild Bunch, Fedora and of course, SOB.
Yes, I like Kirk and Burt but they are tied for second place behind Bill Holden. As Billy Wilder said about Holden’s passing from a drunken fall…”What a lousy fade-out for a great guy.”

Posted By Andrew : March 21, 2012 11:43 am

Just happen to watch The Horse Soldiers last night, really liked how low key William Holden was able to hold is on on screen with brash blustery John Wayne. Really enjoyed the movie, BTW.

Posted By Andrew : March 21, 2012 11:43 am

Just happen to watch The Horse Soldiers last night, really liked how low key William Holden was able to hold is on on screen with brash blustery John Wayne. Really enjoyed the movie, BTW.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 21, 2012 1:32 pm

Swac, I love that hand-clapping descent onto the dock to dance with Holden. And hey, in reality, I’m probably Thomas Mitchell.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 21, 2012 1:32 pm

Swac, I love that hand-clapping descent onto the dock to dance with Holden. And hey, in reality, I’m probably Thomas Mitchell.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 21, 2012 1:36 pm

Marty, I’ve never seen Toward the Unknown. I’m not sure how available it is but if so, I’ll give it a look. Holden went from “actor I like” to “an all-time favorite” around my mid-thirties or so. As I get ever older, he becomes more of a favorite. And Fedora I haven’t seen in decades. I’ve mentioned it here before that it’s one of those movies not available that I’d love to see again.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 21, 2012 1:36 pm

Marty, I’ve never seen Toward the Unknown. I’m not sure how available it is but if so, I’ll give it a look. Holden went from “actor I like” to “an all-time favorite” around my mid-thirties or so. As I get ever older, he becomes more of a favorite. And Fedora I haven’t seen in decades. I’ve mentioned it here before that it’s one of those movies not available that I’d love to see again.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 21, 2012 1:37 pm

Andrew, yet another I haven’t seen. Just put it in my Netflix queue. The big question here is, if it’s directed by John Ford and stars John Wayne and William Holden, why haven’t I seen it yet?!

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 21, 2012 1:37 pm

Andrew, yet another I haven’t seen. Just put it in my Netflix queue. The big question here is, if it’s directed by John Ford and stars John Wayne and William Holden, why haven’t I seen it yet?!

Posted By Marty : March 21, 2012 1:56 pm

I saw many of these pictures first run in the theaters when I was a kid…Bridge On The River Kwai,The Horse Soldiers, Suzie Wong, The Counterfiet Traitor, even Casino Royale.
I had forgotten to mention Picnic, which I view frequently. It’s another of his Columbia pictures and he lights up the screen with Kim Novak, giving one of her only two great performances — in Picnic and in Vertigo.

Posted By Marty : March 21, 2012 1:56 pm

I saw many of these pictures first run in the theaters when I was a kid…Bridge On The River Kwai,The Horse Soldiers, Suzie Wong, The Counterfiet Traitor, even Casino Royale.
I had forgotten to mention Picnic, which I view frequently. It’s another of his Columbia pictures and he lights up the screen with Kim Novak, giving one of her only two great performances — in Picnic and in Vertigo.

Posted By Tom S : March 21, 2012 2:12 pm

As someone who is overpoweringly arrogant, self involved, and a relentless failure, I’d like to think that I’m James Mason. His screen persona had those things going, but he did them with style.

Posted By Tom S : March 21, 2012 2:12 pm

As someone who is overpoweringly arrogant, self involved, and a relentless failure, I’d like to think that I’m James Mason. His screen persona had those things going, but he did them with style.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 21, 2012 2:18 pm

Marty, I love Novak in both Picnic and Vertigo. I also like her in Bell, Book and Candle and Kiss Me, Stupid.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 21, 2012 2:18 pm

Marty, I love Novak in both Picnic and Vertigo. I also like her in Bell, Book and Candle and Kiss Me, Stupid.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 21, 2012 2:23 pm

Tom – Ah, James Mason. He’s also a charming drunk in A Star is Born so I’ll think of you that way.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 21, 2012 2:23 pm

Tom – Ah, James Mason. He’s also a charming drunk in A Star is Born so I’ll think of you that way.

Posted By Kingrat : March 21, 2012 7:26 pm

I think Holden does self-loathing better than any other actor, period: SUNSET BOULEVARD, PICNIC (when Rosalind Russell attacks him for being too old to behave like a kid), THE KEY (great film). So perhaps I have a darker view of Holden. He’s also believably heroic in THE 7TH DAWN, so check that one out if you haven’t seen it.

I’m probably more of a Don McKellar with James Wood moments.

Posted By Kingrat : March 21, 2012 7:26 pm

I think Holden does self-loathing better than any other actor, period: SUNSET BOULEVARD, PICNIC (when Rosalind Russell attacks him for being too old to behave like a kid), THE KEY (great film). So perhaps I have a darker view of Holden. He’s also believably heroic in THE 7TH DAWN, so check that one out if you haven’t seen it.

I’m probably more of a Don McKellar with James Wood moments.

Posted By Kingrat : March 21, 2012 7:27 pm

That should, of course, be “James Woods moments.”

Posted By Kingrat : March 21, 2012 7:27 pm

That should, of course, be “James Woods moments.”

Posted By Tom S : March 21, 2012 7:56 pm

The secret shame of my gender, generation, and class is that we’re all basically Michael Cera or Jesse Eisenberg. And that’s on our good days.

Posted By Tom S : March 21, 2012 7:56 pm

The secret shame of my gender, generation, and class is that we’re all basically Michael Cera or Jesse Eisenberg. And that’s on our good days.

Posted By maroon5gurl88 : March 22, 2012 1:11 am

I’ve written numerously on Holden (more than I’m sure is healthy). As a female, he’s a true ladies man. I’ve watched movies like The Moon is Blue, Sunset Blvd, and Sabrina, no man was smoother than Bill Holden!

Posted By maroon5gurl88 : March 22, 2012 1:11 am

I’ve written numerously on Holden (more than I’m sure is healthy). As a female, he’s a true ladies man. I’ve watched movies like The Moon is Blue, Sunset Blvd, and Sabrina, no man was smoother than Bill Holden!

Posted By Tom S : March 22, 2012 1:29 am

Haha, I can’t say that watching Sunset Blvd made me thing Holden was a smooth smooth, he’s playing a weak-willed half gigolo who can’t pull himself away from a trainwreck and who doesn’t really have any good qualities in that movie

Posted By Tom S : March 22, 2012 1:29 am

Haha, I can’t say that watching Sunset Blvd made me thing Holden was a smooth smooth, he’s playing a weak-willed half gigolo who can’t pull himself away from a trainwreck and who doesn’t really have any good qualities in that movie

Posted By dukeroberts : March 22, 2012 2:01 am

I love Holden for the same qualities you mentioned, Greg.

Myself? I’m probably a mix of Eddie Bracken and Lionel Barrymore. Figure that one out.

Posted By dukeroberts : March 22, 2012 2:01 am

I love Holden for the same qualities you mentioned, Greg.

Myself? I’m probably a mix of Eddie Bracken and Lionel Barrymore. Figure that one out.

Posted By Christopher : March 22, 2012 2:39 am

Holden had the distinction of having a rugged man’s man appearance with the gift delivering dialog like it was Shakesphere without the theatrics…A little like an american Olivier..

Posted By Christopher : March 22, 2012 2:39 am

Holden had the distinction of having a rugged man’s man appearance with the gift delivering dialog like it was Shakesphere without the theatrics…A little like an american Olivier..

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 22, 2012 7:59 am

I think Holden does self-loathing better than any other actor, period

I love his self-loathing. It’s what I was getting at with “admits openly to anyone who’ll listen that he ain’t worth a bucket of warm pig spit.” If I didn’t have my share of self-loathing I wouldn’t like him so much. Of course, he does it much better than me.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 22, 2012 7:59 am

I think Holden does self-loathing better than any other actor, period

I love his self-loathing. It’s what I was getting at with “admits openly to anyone who’ll listen that he ain’t worth a bucket of warm pig spit.” If I didn’t have my share of self-loathing I wouldn’t like him so much. Of course, he does it much better than me.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 22, 2012 8:01 am

maroon5gurl88 and Tom – I don’t know. I think that self-effacement mixed with cynicism mixed with charm makes him smooth in a way. I guess just not in a traditional way. More of a “he’s so flawed and yet…” kind of a way. But, hell, what do I know. I’m probably just reaching here.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 22, 2012 8:01 am

maroon5gurl88 and Tom – I don’t know. I think that self-effacement mixed with cynicism mixed with charm makes him smooth in a way. I guess just not in a traditional way. More of a “he’s so flawed and yet…” kind of a way. But, hell, what do I know. I’m probably just reaching here.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 22, 2012 8:02 am

Myself? I’m probably a mix of Eddie Bracken and Lionel Barrymore. Figure that one out.

Wait… I thought you were John Wayne.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 22, 2012 8:02 am

Myself? I’m probably a mix of Eddie Bracken and Lionel Barrymore. Figure that one out.

Wait… I thought you were John Wayne.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 22, 2012 8:06 am

Holden had the distinction of having a rugged man’s man appearance with the gift delivering dialog like it was Shakesphere without the theatrics…A little like an american Olivier..

Well said. He was rough and craggly so he could play someone like Pike Bishop with ease but also had the urbanity to play Sabrina or Executive Suite with equal agility.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 22, 2012 8:06 am

Holden had the distinction of having a rugged man’s man appearance with the gift delivering dialog like it was Shakesphere without the theatrics…A little like an american Olivier..

Well said. He was rough and craggly so he could play someone like Pike Bishop with ease but also had the urbanity to play Sabrina or Executive Suite with equal agility.

Posted By dukeroberts : March 22, 2012 11:23 am

I would love to think that I was like John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart or Gary Cooper, but there are certain things missing about me that cause me to come up short, height being one of them.

Posted By dukeroberts : March 22, 2012 11:23 am

I would love to think that I was like John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart or Gary Cooper, but there are certain things missing about me that cause me to come up short, height being one of them.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 22, 2012 12:04 pm

Well, hey, I’m not going by physical aspects here. I’ve got nothing in common with Holden there. I’m not particularly craggy or rugged looking for one thing. For me, it’s more of an attitude or something you want to emulate. Of course, by those standards, Eddie Bracken and Lionel Barrymore work like gangbusters too.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 22, 2012 12:04 pm

Well, hey, I’m not going by physical aspects here. I’ve got nothing in common with Holden there. I’m not particularly craggy or rugged looking for one thing. For me, it’s more of an attitude or something you want to emulate. Of course, by those standards, Eddie Bracken and Lionel Barrymore work like gangbusters too.

Posted By dukeroberts : March 22, 2012 12:27 pm

Well, height was just a minor difference. The more important aspects and characteristics match more closely to Bracken and Barrymore. Wow. They sound great together. If they had ever made a movie together I could totally see that on a poster or trailer.

Posted By dukeroberts : March 22, 2012 12:27 pm

Well, height was just a minor difference. The more important aspects and characteristics match more closely to Bracken and Barrymore. Wow. They sound great together. If they had ever made a movie together I could totally see that on a poster or trailer.

Posted By Susan Doll : March 22, 2012 1:33 pm

If you were William Holden, I would be at your house with a bottle of wine and old Sinatra records.

Posted By Susan Doll : March 22, 2012 1:33 pm

If you were William Holden, I would be at your house with a bottle of wine and old Sinatra records.

Posted By Emgee : March 22, 2012 4:30 pm

One of the many things that appeals to me about Holden is that he seems to be completely himself in every role, and i mean that as a compliment. There’s never a hint of Acting going on, and that’s pretty rare. I love Alec Guinness, but compare the two in Kwai and you may see what i mean. The way he died is one of the saddest episodes in Hollywood history.

Posted By Emgee : March 22, 2012 4:30 pm

One of the many things that appeals to me about Holden is that he seems to be completely himself in every role, and i mean that as a compliment. There’s never a hint of Acting going on, and that’s pretty rare. I love Alec Guinness, but compare the two in Kwai and you may see what i mean. The way he died is one of the saddest episodes in Hollywood history.

Posted By muriel : March 22, 2012 7:26 pm

Very nice post. I like Holden for the same reasons.
I imagined myself like Alida Valli. I always admired her performance in The Paradine Case. Plus she is so beautiful, but I am more like Marie Dressler.
I watched the clip with Holden and Stanwyck – that was very nice.

Posted By muriel : March 22, 2012 7:26 pm

Very nice post. I like Holden for the same reasons.
I imagined myself like Alida Valli. I always admired her performance in The Paradine Case. Plus she is so beautiful, but I am more like Marie Dressler.
I watched the clip with Holden and Stanwyck – that was very nice.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 22, 2012 9:45 pm

Suzi, I had no idea such perks* came with being William Holden.

*btw, I spelled “perq” properly, as it is short for “perquisite,” and was told by spellcheck that it was incorrect, so I caved and used the common parlance. I don’t know if Holden would’ve done that or not.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 22, 2012 9:45 pm

Suzi, I had no idea such perks* came with being William Holden.

*btw, I spelled “perq” properly, as it is short for “perquisite,” and was told by spellcheck that it was incorrect, so I caved and used the common parlance. I don’t know if Holden would’ve done that or not.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 22, 2012 9:47 pm

Emgee, so sad. I’ve read the details a hundred times and it still hits hard. I just wish someone had been with him. And 63! That’s so young. He could’ve done so much more.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 22, 2012 9:47 pm

Emgee, so sad. I’ve read the details a hundred times and it still hits hard. I just wish someone had been with him. And 63! That’s so young. He could’ve done so much more.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 22, 2012 10:00 pm

Muriel, I just like how he called attention to someone in Hollywood, in this case Stanwyck, standing up for someone new and helping them out. Not something people usually associate with Hollywood.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 22, 2012 10:00 pm

Muriel, I just like how he called attention to someone in Hollywood, in this case Stanwyck, standing up for someone new and helping them out. Not something people usually associate with Hollywood.

Posted By Emgee : March 23, 2012 5:48 am

He was also an early campaigner for wildlife preservation; onscreen and offscreen integrity, what’s not to admire about this man?
Another actor that gets my undying admiration is Paul Newman. Again, an effortlessly seeming acting style and great personal integrity combined. Always a joy to watch, and, like in Holden’s case, not just because of looks.

Posted By Emgee : March 23, 2012 5:48 am

He was also an early campaigner for wildlife preservation; onscreen and offscreen integrity, what’s not to admire about this man?
Another actor that gets my undying admiration is Paul Newman. Again, an effortlessly seeming acting style and great personal integrity combined. Always a joy to watch, and, like in Holden’s case, not just because of looks.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 23, 2012 8:21 am

Agreed on Newman. One of the best both on and off the screen.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 23, 2012 8:21 am

Agreed on Newman. One of the best both on and off the screen.

Posted By MedusaMorlock : March 23, 2012 9:53 am

Greg, Suzi, I and probably every *other* classic film lovin’ gal would be at your place if you were Holden. I am so into him, too. I love him in so many things — “Picnic” (even though he was too old), “Sunset Blvd”, so many others, and of course when he was completely delightful and absolutely hilarious in his “I Love Lucy” episode.

What a guy! A great choice, and he was as interesting offscreen as he was on, evidently.

Terrific post, Greg!

Posted By MedusaMorlock : March 23, 2012 9:53 am

Greg, Suzi, I and probably every *other* classic film lovin’ gal would be at your place if you were Holden. I am so into him, too. I love him in so many things — “Picnic” (even though he was too old), “Sunset Blvd”, so many others, and of course when he was completely delightful and absolutely hilarious in his “I Love Lucy” episode.

What a guy! A great choice, and he was as interesting offscreen as he was on, evidently.

Terrific post, Greg!

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 23, 2012 10:58 am

Thanks! Here’s that clip of Bill Holden on I Love Lucy. I love all episodes of that show but this one is particularly classic.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 23, 2012 10:58 am

Thanks! Here’s that clip of Bill Holden on I Love Lucy. I love all episodes of that show but this one is particularly classic.

Posted By dukeroberts : March 23, 2012 11:01 am

I love how he just stares at her over the seat. That is one of the greatest episodes of any show ever. My personal preference however, would be the episode with John Wayne.

Posted By dukeroberts : March 23, 2012 11:01 am

I love how he just stares at her over the seat. That is one of the greatest episodes of any show ever. My personal preference however, would be the episode with John Wayne.

Posted By Jenni : March 23, 2012 1:32 pm

Love those I Love Lucy’s when she and Ricky go to Hollywood; the episodes with Holden, Wayne, and Charles Boyer are my faves. Holden fan here, too, and I think my favorite role is his Oscar winning role from Stalag. Cynical, smart, but determined to get at the truth as to who the informant in the POW camp is. An earlier role I have always enjoyed him in is Rachel and the Stranger. Poor Loretta Young having to choose between William Holden and Robert Mitchum!

Posted By Jenni : March 23, 2012 1:32 pm

Love those I Love Lucy’s when she and Ricky go to Hollywood; the episodes with Holden, Wayne, and Charles Boyer are my faves. Holden fan here, too, and I think my favorite role is his Oscar winning role from Stalag. Cynical, smart, but determined to get at the truth as to who the informant in the POW camp is. An earlier role I have always enjoyed him in is Rachel and the Stranger. Poor Loretta Young having to choose between William Holden and Robert Mitchum!

Posted By dukeroberts : March 23, 2012 4:08 pm

He played so many great parts, but my two favorites are in Sunset Boulevard and Executive Suite.

My favorite scene in Sunset Boulevard is where Joe goes shopping with Norma. You can tell he is extremely uncomfortable with the situation, made no better by the slimy salesman who suggests he take the vicuna coat “Since the lady’s paying…”. He is somewhat shocked and appalled at the suggestion, but it is after this that we see him kind of settle into the life of being a kept man. It’s a great scene for Holden.

My favorite scene in Executive Suite, which I cannot recommend enough, is the climactic boardroom scene where he passionately makes his case why he, and not Fredric March, should be the president of Treadway. It is my favorite Wiliam Holden scene ever and he is wonderful in that scene. That honesty we’ve been discussing, along with his character’s own humility, are on full display and I never get tired of watching that scene.

Posted By dukeroberts : March 23, 2012 4:08 pm

He played so many great parts, but my two favorites are in Sunset Boulevard and Executive Suite.

My favorite scene in Sunset Boulevard is where Joe goes shopping with Norma. You can tell he is extremely uncomfortable with the situation, made no better by the slimy salesman who suggests he take the vicuna coat “Since the lady’s paying…”. He is somewhat shocked and appalled at the suggestion, but it is after this that we see him kind of settle into the life of being a kept man. It’s a great scene for Holden.

My favorite scene in Executive Suite, which I cannot recommend enough, is the climactic boardroom scene where he passionately makes his case why he, and not Fredric March, should be the president of Treadway. It is my favorite Wiliam Holden scene ever and he is wonderful in that scene. That honesty we’ve been discussing, along with his character’s own humility, are on full display and I never get tired of watching that scene.

Posted By jbryant : March 23, 2012 7:26 pm

He’s my favorite, too. Nice to see all this love for him. Aside from the acknowledged classics, THE KEY is one of his more underrated films, as Kingrat suggested. Holden is great in it, as are Sophia Loren and Trevor Howard. I’ve always liked THE COUNTERFEIT TRAITOR as well. I discovered BREEZY and THE HORSE SOLDIERS more recently, and love ‘em. The latter, like the late work of many great directors, is sometimes dismissed as minor, but I think it’s really fine.

As long as Kim Novak has been mentioned, I’ll add that I think her best performance may be in STRANGERS WHEN WE MEET, an excellent, beautifully made melodrama that ranks with the best of Sirk and Minnelli.

Posted By jbryant : March 23, 2012 7:26 pm

He’s my favorite, too. Nice to see all this love for him. Aside from the acknowledged classics, THE KEY is one of his more underrated films, as Kingrat suggested. Holden is great in it, as are Sophia Loren and Trevor Howard. I’ve always liked THE COUNTERFEIT TRAITOR as well. I discovered BREEZY and THE HORSE SOLDIERS more recently, and love ‘em. The latter, like the late work of many great directors, is sometimes dismissed as minor, but I think it’s really fine.

As long as Kim Novak has been mentioned, I’ll add that I think her best performance may be in STRANGERS WHEN WE MEET, an excellent, beautifully made melodrama that ranks with the best of Sirk and Minnelli.

Posted By dukeroberts : March 23, 2012 10:34 pm

I really like The Horse Soldiers too. What’s not to like? You’ve got the Duke, Bill Holden, it’s directed by John Ford and Constance Towers weren’t too bad neither. I loved it when Duke co-starred with another big star, like with Jimmy Stewart in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, with Kirk Douglas in The War Wagon and with Bob Mitchum in El Dorado. And of course there was also Dean Martin in Rio Bravo and The Sons of Katie Elder. The Horse Soldiers is no exception.

I’ve never seen Breezy, but I should so that I can consider myself a Clint Completist.

Posted By dukeroberts : March 23, 2012 10:34 pm

I really like The Horse Soldiers too. What’s not to like? You’ve got the Duke, Bill Holden, it’s directed by John Ford and Constance Towers weren’t too bad neither. I loved it when Duke co-starred with another big star, like with Jimmy Stewart in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, with Kirk Douglas in The War Wagon and with Bob Mitchum in El Dorado. And of course there was also Dean Martin in Rio Bravo and The Sons of Katie Elder. The Horse Soldiers is no exception.

I’ve never seen Breezy, but I should so that I can consider myself a Clint Completist.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 23, 2012 11:10 pm

Just to backtrack for a second to the I Love Lucy show, I wanted to say as a lover of modernist design that I love their CA digs.

Now then, as already revealed here, I haven’t seen The Horse Soldiers and apparently, I’m the only one. Can hardly wait for the DVD now.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 23, 2012 11:10 pm

Just to backtrack for a second to the I Love Lucy show, I wanted to say as a lover of modernist design that I love their CA digs.

Now then, as already revealed here, I haven’t seen The Horse Soldiers and apparently, I’m the only one. Can hardly wait for the DVD now.

Posted By swac44 : March 24, 2012 7:15 am

For those who don’t have an aversion to Wal-Mart, I just got back from the U.S. and spotted blu-ray copies of The Horse Soldiers in the bargain bin for around $7 or $8. I already have it on DVD and didn’t feel the need to upgrade, and I’ve read it’s not the kind of dazzling transfer that The Searchers is, but worth picking up at that price.

Posted By swac44 : March 24, 2012 7:15 am

For those who don’t have an aversion to Wal-Mart, I just got back from the U.S. and spotted blu-ray copies of The Horse Soldiers in the bargain bin for around $7 or $8. I already have it on DVD and didn’t feel the need to upgrade, and I’ve read it’s not the kind of dazzling transfer that The Searchers is, but worth picking up at that price.

Posted By dukeroberts : March 24, 2012 9:00 am

You’re right. It is worth picking up for $7 or $8. I do have that aversion though.

Posted By dukeroberts : March 24, 2012 9:00 am

You’re right. It is worth picking up for $7 or $8. I do have that aversion though.

Posted By Jenni : March 24, 2012 12:30 pm

No aversion to WM here, so thanks for the info on The Horse Soldiers, Swac.

Posted By Jenni : March 24, 2012 12:30 pm

No aversion to WM here, so thanks for the info on The Horse Soldiers, Swac.

Posted By Juana Maria : March 24, 2012 2:05 pm

William Holden who I always refer to as Bill Holden is one of my favorite actos! I love the article. I too love the episode of “I love Lucy” with Bill Holden, he is so cute looking at Lucy in the Brown Derby resteraunt. I love when Lucy catches her fake nose on fire! Too funny. My absolute favorite episode without a doubt is the John Wayne episode, before I saw that one it was the Fernando Lamas episode. I think Holden is wonderful in “Stalag 17″,too old for “Picnic” and “Sabrina” and “Paris When it Sizzles”,remember that one? It had Audrey Hepburn. She is always lovely. He seems like a complely different person in “the Wild Bunch” from his other earlier roles. In my opinion I would not have chose Bob Mitchum over Holden in “Rachel & the Starnger”,have you seen “Cape Fear”?This question goes out tto you, Jeni, watch “Cape Fear” Tues.Mar.27,2012 on TCM at 8pm(EST).You probrably won’t be able to look at Mitchum the same again! This article got me thinking what actor or actress am I like? Hmmm,when my hair was very long I would wear it in braids just like Dolores Del Rio in her Mexican movies. From what I have learned about Anthony Quinn, I much like him racially and in my personality. I can give looks like Katy Jurado did,especially in “High Noon” or her appearance on “The Rifleman”. I have a Mediterrean or Latin look about me, under 5 ft. tall,sorta a short version of Sophia Loren.Ha ha! I think I would most likely be an extra in a Western, either from Hollywood but more than likely a Spaghetti Western! Hopefully, one that features Lee Van Cleef. Yes,please. p.s I wrote in the article”Pinic-ing” about Holden having to shoer 3 time a day. I stil wonder how he could stand being in all those dusty sirty Westerns,hmm? Great article, thanks a million.

Posted By Juana Maria : March 24, 2012 2:05 pm

William Holden who I always refer to as Bill Holden is one of my favorite actos! I love the article. I too love the episode of “I love Lucy” with Bill Holden, he is so cute looking at Lucy in the Brown Derby resteraunt. I love when Lucy catches her fake nose on fire! Too funny. My absolute favorite episode without a doubt is the John Wayne episode, before I saw that one it was the Fernando Lamas episode. I think Holden is wonderful in “Stalag 17″,too old for “Picnic” and “Sabrina” and “Paris When it Sizzles”,remember that one? It had Audrey Hepburn. She is always lovely. He seems like a complely different person in “the Wild Bunch” from his other earlier roles. In my opinion I would not have chose Bob Mitchum over Holden in “Rachel & the Starnger”,have you seen “Cape Fear”?This question goes out tto you, Jeni, watch “Cape Fear” Tues.Mar.27,2012 on TCM at 8pm(EST).You probrably won’t be able to look at Mitchum the same again! This article got me thinking what actor or actress am I like? Hmmm,when my hair was very long I would wear it in braids just like Dolores Del Rio in her Mexican movies. From what I have learned about Anthony Quinn, I much like him racially and in my personality. I can give looks like Katy Jurado did,especially in “High Noon” or her appearance on “The Rifleman”. I have a Mediterrean or Latin look about me, under 5 ft. tall,sorta a short version of Sophia Loren.Ha ha! I think I would most likely be an extra in a Western, either from Hollywood but more than likely a Spaghetti Western! Hopefully, one that features Lee Van Cleef. Yes,please. p.s I wrote in the article”Pinic-ing” about Holden having to shoer 3 time a day. I stil wonder how he could stand being in all those dusty sirty Westerns,hmm? Great article, thanks a million.

Posted By missrhea : March 28, 2012 10:13 am

What a great post and great comments. I’ve always loved “Bridge on the River Kwai” and “Sunset Blvd” but the one I watch every time is “Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing”. I’ve seen that guy from FOX tell the story about Jennifer Jones hating him so many times that I just want to go back in time and slap her! His tribute/thank you to Barbara Stanwyck made him a Class Act in my book.

Posted By missrhea : March 28, 2012 10:13 am

What a great post and great comments. I’ve always loved “Bridge on the River Kwai” and “Sunset Blvd” but the one I watch every time is “Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing”. I’ve seen that guy from FOX tell the story about Jennifer Jones hating him so many times that I just want to go back in time and slap her! His tribute/thank you to Barbara Stanwyck made him a Class Act in my book.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 28, 2012 10:26 am

I love that moment at the Oscars. He was a great guy.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : March 28, 2012 10:26 am

I love that moment at the Oscars. He was a great guy.

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