I LOVE William Holden. He is one of my favourite American actors from the classic film era. He’s such a likeable actor and makes his acting look effortless. He is also someone who I will watch in any kind of film. I like how he could so easily switch between dramatic and comic roles and convince in those varied roles. He could be suave, smooth and funny in one film, and then in the next he could become someone much darker and far more complex.
I’m going to talk about my five favourite William Holden films. Not only do I love these films and his performances in them so much, but I also think that these five films highlight his range as an actor.
5 – Sunset Blvd (1950)
This masterpiece is really where William’s career took off big time in my opinion. He is superb as Joe Gillis, the struggling screenwriter desperate for money. I love how he conveys to us how conflicted and desperate Joe is.
William makes sure that Joe has our sympathy for much of the film, but when Joe becomes just another user of the damaged Norma, he loses much of my sympathy.
All of the characters in this film are complex and fascinating. Joe Gillis is one of the most fascinating characters of them all. Does he feel something for Norma? Is he filled with some self loathing at what he is doing to her? Does he hate the profession through which he earns his living? These are the questions that William makes us ponder as we watch him in this film. He more than holds his own against the mighty Gloria Swanson, who it is fair to say is the real highlight of the film as the deranged and damaged Norma Desmond. William delivers one of his best performances in this film.
4- Sabrina (1954)
This is the film that made me a fan of William Holden’s for life. He is perfect as the suave and dashing David Larrabee, the charming playboy who is the object of Sabrina’s affections.
I like how David starts off as this fun figure, but then later in the film becomes much more mature. This change allows us see that there is so much more to him than first meets the eye.
William makes David quite an irresistible character. It is not hard to see why so many women fall for this guy. He is charming, he is classy, he is fun, and he has that ability to make each of the women he dates feel special and as though they are the only woman in his life. We may not approve of how he moves on from woman to woman, but we can’t hate him because he is not a callous or cruel man. I’m sure that is the way David was written to be, but William makes it very clear to us that David is a nice guy despite his faults and flaws. I can’t imagine anyone other than him in this role.
3 – Breezy (1973)
I think that William shows a vulnerability here that audiences had never seen in him before. He is terrific as the middle aged Frank Harmon, a man very much set in his ways, who learns to love life and be more chilled out.
The reason for his transformation is Breezy, an older teenager who falls in love with him. Despite their age gap, the pair develop genuine romantic and emotional feelings for each other. Frank struggles with what other people will think of their relationship, while Breezy doesn’t care and doesn’t understand why there has to be such a fuss made about age in relationships. I agree with her; if a relationship is consensual on both sides and the couple are happy, then why should anyone else care if there is an age gap between a couple?
William plays Frank as being quite tentative and not the one in control during the course of the developing relationship. This tentative and vulnerable quality is the complete opposite of many of the romantic characters William had played before this; men who were charming ladies men and who knew just what they were doing, both romantically and also sexually. I think it was quite a brave role for him to take really, because he’s showing us an inner vulnerability and really changing his screen image quite a bit in the process.
2 – Stalag 17 (1953)
In the film that won him his first and only Acdemy Award, William Holden delivers one of his very best performances. He is terrific as the cynical and watchful J.J. Sefton. You can’t take your eyes off him when he is in a scene. He has your attention even when he is doing nothing more than lying down or looking at someone.
Set in a German POW camp during WW2, Sefton is an American prisoner who barters openly with the guards for things like food. His fellow prisoners are suspicious of him, and become even more suspicious when they believe he told the guards there was an escape attempt being carried out, an attempt which resulted in the murder of the two escapees. Sefton however certainly isn’t the traitor and he has no love for the Germans. I love how William plays this role. His performance is subtle(watch his eyes when he’s watching other people)and it’s interesting to see him playing a much tougher and colder character than he had ever played before.
1 – Paris When It Sizzles (1963)
We finally come to my favourite William Holden performance. In this hilarious, and seriously underrated spoof about making films, William gets to play quite a wide variety of different characters.
William plays a weary and cynical screenwriter, a spy, a criminal and even a vampire! He gets to be romantic, tender, serious, a man of action, cynical, weary, funny and very mysterious too.
I think it’s great to see him get the chance to show so much acting range, and to do so all in one film too! I love that this film allows him to show how funny he could be. I think it’s a shame that he didn’t get offered more comic roles.
I also like that there is an added poignancy in the scenes where his main character, Richard Benson, longs for Audrey Hepburn’s character. William and Audrey had an affair when they made the film Sabrina. Bill never stopped loving her. It must have been agony for him to be around her again during this film. I believe that his sorrowful and tender expressions/gestures in their romantic scenes are his real feelings for her showing through to us.
What are your favourite William Holden performances?
“I am big. It’s the pictures that got small!” These words are spoken by Norma Desmond, a former American screen queen who longs to be back in the Silent film era. Norma thinks longingly back to a time when actors used their faces and emotions to convey the plot. She also longs to be back in the era when dialogue and effects were not needed or relied upon on in films.
Sunset Blvd is one of my favourite classic era films. It was one of the first classics that I ever saw and it really did make quite an impression on me.
I love Sunset Blvd’s blend of drama and Noir. I love the stunning photography by John F. Seitz. I love the performances and the sad and tragic tale that the film depicts.
This film also opened my eyes to the darker side of the film industry, especially how the people working in this industry can be used and then discarded.
This is also the film that made me aware of Silent films. I was in my mid teens when I first saw this film. Before I watched this film, I didn’t even know that there had once been Silent films. I’m well aware that may sound pretty dumb to some reading this, but before this film, I had had no reason to ever imagine that there had even been a time when films were Silent.
I also love this film because it brought to my attention people like Cecil B. De Mille, Gloria Swanson, Billy Wilder and Buster Keaton. This film encouraged me to give Silent films a go, and I am forever thankful that I did, because I now love them to pieces. 🙂
Superbly directed by Billy Wilder, Sunset Blvd is a warts and all portrait of Hollywood. Wilder wrote the screenplay, along with Charles Brackett(who was the regular collaborator on so many of Wilder’s films), and D.M Marshman Jr. Billy Wilder’s depiction of the darker side to the glamourous perceived image of the American film industry, wasn’t very well received by Hollywood upon its release. I guess some people didn’t like, or simply flat out refused to acknowledge and accept the truth that Billy Wilder so boldly served up to them with this film.
Wilder’s film showed the Hollywood community the unpleasant truth about itself. The film shows us the sad truth that once great stars get tossed aside like rubbish, that people think only of themselves at the expense of others, and that people use others in order to further their careers and get to the top. The film also reminds us that fame and stardom rarely lasts all that long (no matter how much you believe otherwise when you are enjoying it). Wilder’s film is difficult to watch at times because it is so sad and dark. His film is spot on though and that is what makes it so worth watching. The film deals with ruined lives, damaged people and also looks at mental illness.
Gloria Swanson steals the show as the damaged and deranged Norma. She cannot accept that her fame has gone, that she is all but forgotten about, and that everything she once held so dear has now vanished. Swanson was one of the biggest and most talented stars of the Silent era, she also had one of the most expressive faces and she uses that face to its full effect in this film.
The irony of her playing this role can not have been lost on Gloria because she had once been one of the biggest stars in American Silent films. Unlike Norma though, Gloria Swanson (thankfully)was able to work in films and on Television throughout the sound era.Gloria was also able to very successfully bring a blend of Silent and sound era acting techniques to her performance in this film. Gloria is phenomenal in this role and I consider it to be the best performance she ever gave. Her performance is all in the eyes. Watch those eyes of hers, because they really do speak volumes when you look at them.
William Holden is both likeable and not so likeable, as the down on his luck scriptwriter, Joe Gillis. Joe is a man who seizes on an opportunity with Norma and uses her to ensure he gets some money. Joe starts out eager, outgoing, and also with some degree of control over his own life. As the film goes on, William shows us Joe is becoming desperate, on edge and depressed.
Joe becomes a man with no control and no power. He is being used by Norma to bring her soul back to life (watch how she brightens up once he comes into her life)and even if he is unhappy he now can’t be allowed to leave this woman. We sympathise with him for much of the film, but my sympathies start to wane when he uses Norma and can’t see how he much he is hurting her.
It should also be noted that as much as we may pity Norma, we should never forget that she is using Joe just as much as he is using her. Norma uses his script expertise to her own advantage, and she uses her position of power over Joe (as his employer) to call the shots and keep him near her. She sees him as as opportunity to get back into the film industry, and she also sees him as a source of emotional (and it is strongly hinted)physical pleasure for her. In this film everyone is using someone else for something.
The film begins with a dead man floating in a swimming pool. The Police are gathered round the body trying to figure out what has happened.
This opening shot is one of the most impressive and memorable in film history. We see the body floating on the surface of the pool, then we cut to a shot seemingly from under the water looking up at it from underneath.
The dead man is Joe Gillis, and the film that we are about to watch will show us how he came to meet his watery death. Originally the film was to have opened in a morgue, with Gillis’s dead soul talking to the other dead people in the morgue, and explaining to them how he met his fate. This opening was scrapped in favour of the opening we see in the film.
Joe Gillis(William Holden) is a film scriptwriter who needs some money fast. By accident he meets former silent film star, Norma Desmond(Gloria Swanson). She has written the screenplay of a version of Salome, she wishes it to be directed by Cecil B. DeMille and to be her glorious return to the screen. Joe gets himself hired (to get some money)to work on her script for her. He works on it at Norma’s home(a fading luxury mansion, that I see as representing the luxury and excess of the 1920’s film star lifestyle.)
As he spends more time with Norma, Joe soon realises that she is falling in love with him and also that she is completely detached from reality.
Things get complicated when Joe falls in love with Betty(Nancy Olsen), who is an outgoing young studio writer. Betty offers Joe an escape from the possessive nature of Norma.
Betty offers Joe love, fun, friendship, and above all some happiness. Joe’s desperation for a career opportunity and for money, means that he leaves Betty and returns to the wealth, glamour and supposed opportunity that Norma can offer him.
Joe becomes Norma’s kept man. In many ways he becomes no different than the beloved monkey she once had as a pet. Norma dotes on Joe, splashes out money on him, and he can’t stand it.
As he spends more time with Norma, Joe soon realises that she is falling in love with him and that she is also completely detached from reality. Things get complicated when Joe falls in love with Betty(Nancy Olsen), a young and outgoing studio writer. Betty offers Joe an escape from the possessive nature of Norma. Betty offers Joe love, fun, friendship, and above all some happiness.
Joe’s desperation for a career opportunity and for money, means that he leaves Betty and returns to the wealth, glamour and supposed opportunity that Norma can offer him.
Norma becomes suspicious of Joe and Betty, and her anger and distress begins to steadily build up within her and will lead to one of the most tragic and unforgettable finales in film history.
The scenes between Norma and Joe play out like some sort of horror film. Norma appears almost vampire like in certain scenes, and many of her hand gestures appear claw like and grotesque.
Norma sucks Joe in with promises of fame and fortune, he gets caught up in her delusions, and he can’t escape her, no matter how much he might try to do so.Norma is also something of a grotesque character in as much as she is getting old, but she won’t accept it, and she still dresses and makes herself up to be young. Norma and her home(and it could also be said her acting style)are starting to fade away and crumble into non existence and irrelevance.
Joe’s relationship with Norma becomes all consuming and changes who he is as a person. He becomes bound to Norma and cannot escape her, he may try to do so, but when he does he cannot find any peace or happiness because her shadow looms large over any joy he may find.
I like how the film also shows us the two different acting styles of the silent era and the sound era. Holden and Swanson both deliver equally excellent performances showing us these opposite acting styles and techniques. Swanson and Holden get strong support from film director Eric Von Stroheim, who appears as Norma’s loyal butler Max.
Von Stroheim was one of the greatest Silent era directors and he famously made a film called Greed, which originally ran for nine or ten hours! His directorial career ended soon after he directed Gloria Swanson in Queen Kelly. That film is the film that Norma watches on her private cinema screen with Joe at her side.
Max was once married to Norma and he now works for her and cares for her. He fakes thousands of fan letters which he delivers to Norma, so that she actually feels like she is still remembered and valued by fans.
I think Max is a very interesting character because he still loves Norma very much, and he will do anything to keep himself near her.
Max doesn’t care about his low status, nor does he care that Norma views him as a servant only. He is happy to just be in her presence on a daily basis, even if she has no feelings for him anymore.
Max’s reasons for being in Norma’s life are certainly selfish ones, but I don’t think that he would ever knowingly hurt or betray Norma. He is really the only one in her life who knows full well her former high status in life, and he shares her view that she deserves to be back in the spotlight again.
Von Stroheim is excellent as a proud man brought low. I think that Von Stroheim also cannot have missed the irony of his casting. He was once a man of power and influence and here he is now playing a former director, turned servant/carer working for one of his former stars.
Nancy Olsen is terrific as keen, pure, passionate and gentle Betty. She offers Joe an escape from Norma. Nancy’s character is a lifeline for Joe, and she lets us see that Betty is falling for Joe and that they would be good together. She isn’t on screen all that much, but when she is she sure makes a strong impression. Betty is an interesting character because she is seemingly the only truly decent character in the film.
Silent era legends H.B Warner, Buster Keaton and Anna Q. Nilsson all have terrific cameos in the film playing “the Waxworks”. This group are some of Norma’s Silent era colleagues who drop in to see her. The irony of their appearance in this film cannot have been lost on any of these three actors.
I also like how real people and films are mentioned and shown throughout this film. Greta Garbo is mentioned by Norma as being a current actress (Garbo had been retired for about a decade by this time, so this shows how out of touch Norma is with current events)who had the same face and acting style of the Silent era.
Interestingly Greta Garbo was one of the few Silent stars who successfully made the transition to the sound era, and she also retained the same level of fame from the Silent era to the sound era. Director Cecil B. DeMille (who appears as himself) is another Silent era individual who successfully transitioned and retained his fame and influence.
The scene between Norma and Cecil B. DeMille (appearing as himself) is one that I’m not ashamed to admit always makes me tear up a bit.
Norma is warmly welcomed back by former colleagues, crew, and the studio staff. She sees that there are some who still hold her in affection and high regard.
This scene is also important because De Mille could easily have ignored Norma, or sent his assistants to deal with her when she comes to the studios, but instead he greets her with tenderness and affection. He respects Norma and he treats her as she deserves to be treated.
De Mille also utters a line of dialogue here that I think is quite interesting. When asked by an assistant if it was true that Norma was difficult to work with, he replies “only towards the end. A dozen press agents working overtime can do terrible things to the human spirit”.
To me those words from De Mille indicate that something in Norma’s life had been seized on by the press and that stories were being run. Press intrusion is another dark aspect of Hollywood(both then and now), with careers and reputations being ruined and lost due to scandals, and mere rumours and accusations being splashed over front pages and being believed as fact. Maybe this intrusion is what began Norma’s descent into madness?
Thanks to this film, we hopefully now have an understanding of how brutal Hollywood can be to its own, and how awful it must be when a big star falls from their pedestal and becomes yesterday’s news.
The final shot is one that stays in the mind long after the film has finished. In this scene the now truly deranged Norma gets the fame and attention she has been so long starved of. The trouble is it is the wrong kind of attention. We know that she now only has an institution to look forward to (unless Max can pull some strings and keep her at home being looked after there)and that she will certainly never be able to act again.
Norma finally gets that close-up she’s been dreaming of. Screenshot by me.
For one brief moment though, Norma shines again, and the cameras roll to capture her emotions and her every move. Her name will never be forgotten once this story makes the headlines. Is that a blessing or a curse though?
Norma will certainly get her fame back when this story breaks, but her illness and despair will be milked to sell papers, and she will most likely be ridiculed too.A sad end, and one that really makes you think about just what you are witnessing.In the end this is a film all about victims, and about how they are used and how they suffer.
The film could almost be viewed as a warning about getting into the film industry. If you do get in you may well get fame and fortune, but at what cost will these be achieved? Can you stand what happens once your star starts to fade? I think this is one of Wilder’s best films. Sunset Blvd is certainly the best film about Hollywood that I’ve ever seen.
My favourite scenes are the following. Norma’s charades performance for Joe. The New Year’s Eve party with Joe and Norma being the only guests. Joe discovering what Norma has done to herself in her despair. The “I’m ready for my close up” scene. Joe at the crowded party in the apartment. Joe and Norma’s first meeting. Norma returning to the film studios and being warmly welcomed and getting to sit on the set of De Mille’s latest film.
The Flapper Dame and Phyllis Loves Classic Movies are hosting this blogathon all about screen duos who only ever made two films together. Be sure to visit their sites to read all the entries. I can’t wait to read them all myself.
I’m writing about one of my favourite screen couples. Who are they? That couple are William Holden and Audrey Hepburn. They were two of the most popular American film stars of the 1950’s and 60’s, and they sure did have some amazing chemistry with one another. You would have thought that they would have been paired together more regularly, sadly that was just not to be.
They only ended up working together twice in their entire careers. I like them so much because they have such incredible chemistry, they really make you feel and believe their respective characters growing feelings for one another. There are some romantic screen teams out there that fit together like hands in gloves; Myrna Loy and William Powell, Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, Walter Pidgeon and Greer Garson etc. I consider William and Audrey to be one of those types of screen couples.
The couple were first paired together in Sabrina (1954). This charming romantic comedy tells the story of a chauffer’s daughter (Audrey Hepburn) who is in love with two wealthy brothers (William Holden and Humphrey Bogart). They both love her in return, but which of the two will end up capturing her heart forever? If you haven’t seen the film I won’t spoil the final outcome for you.
Audrey and William shine in their shared scenes together here. There is a real warmth and tenderness between them that really helps in their romantic scenes. During the making of this film the pair fell in love and had a brief affair, so their chemistry is the real thing and it really does show on screen.
Sadly their real life relationship didn’t have a happy ending. Audrey was desperate for children and William having had a vasectomy couldn’t give her that which she desired above all else. Plus William was also married at the time which put an obstacle in their path of happiness, but he certainly fell hard for Audrey no doubt about it.
In this film I love them the most in the dance scene out on the terrace, they fit together perfectly and look so at ease in each others arms. I think that it is more than simply acting between them in that scene, there is a real connection between them that you can see. The way William looks at her I think it’s like he’s looking into her soul, and she looks at him with such adoration and joy in her face. I could watch these two dance and flirt forever and still feel that magical connection and still be enchanted by them.
I also really love them in the scene outside the train station where Holden’s car screeches to a halt when he sees Audrey waiting for a taxi. Their comic back and forth banter in the sequence is a real joy, and once again their reactions to one another are so genuine.
The couple were reunited on screen ten years later. This time to star in the extremely underrated Paris When It Sizzles, a romantic comedy that is also one big in joke about filmmaking. The film pokes fun at many different film related things, from method acting, to how scriptwriters come up with their stories.
A secretary (Audrey Hepburn)is sent to Paris to type up the latest script from a famous film screenwriter (William Holden). She gets drawn into his imagination and the two also find themselves falling in love. We also see all the possible plots he comes up with acted out by William and Audrey playing the different characters from the screenplay.
It was difficult for William to make this film as he still had feelings for Audrey, and at this time he was also drinking rather heavily.There are moments in this film when he looks at her and you can tell that it is not his character looking at her with longing, it is William himself looking at the woman he loves.
It’s quite painfulto watch them at times actually in this one because you feel his longing, and when you know what was going on behind the scenes your heart goes out to him. It must have been agony for him to have been so close to her and knowing he couldn’t have her. That agony and longing in a weird way actually works for the film. William’s character finds himself more and more attracted to Audrey’s secretary, but he finds it difficult to pursue his feelings when they have work to do and he’s also not sure if she returns his feelings.
There is still that genuine warmth and magic between Audrey and William on screen here, and they both look like they are enjoying the opportunity to have lots of fun in the scenes such as the vampire at the grotto, and the scene when they order room service (I love the way Audrey makes that order and the look on William’s face when he hears her place the order.) 🙂
I love them the most in all the scenes in this where they kiss, those kisses are so tender and passionate. I also love them in the scene where they are playing the rich couple who both mention having had giraffes as children, the way they act in that and deliver the lines cracks me up every time I watch that film.
Perfect timing, natural chemistry and genuine affection for each other help these two become a perfect screen team. I was so disappointed when I first found out that they only made two films, I was so looking forward to seeing them in more films.Oh well, at least their screen magic can be enjoyed over and over again in these two films.
Well those are just a few of the reasons why I love these two so much. If you have never seen William and Audrey act together, I suggest that you take a look at the films I mentioned and watch them together for yourselves. I hope you like this screen duo as much as I do. Happy viewing. 🙂
Any other fans of William and Audrey? Please leave your comments below.
Virginie over at The Wonderful World of Cinema is hosting this blogathon about William Holden. Check out her site to read all the other entries. I can’t wait to read all the other posts about Holden’s films and life.
Instead of just talking about one specific film or role, I’d like to discuss William as an actor and to talk about two of my favourite performances from him.
William Holden is one of my favourite actors, he is always watchable and I will always check out a film if I see he is in it. I love his earlier films but I much prefer him in his later career.
As William’s film career went on, I think that his acting talents grew and improved. I think it’s fair to say that in some of his early films he looked a little stiff, uncomfortable even on screen, but what I like is that you can see him grow in confidence as the years and the films go on.
In a way this acting growth makes me like him even more. I can take a journey with him and witness his acting ability grow and improve simply by watching his films. I think he looks more comfortable on screen the older he got. He could effortlessly switch between comic, romantic and dramatic roles. He could play emotionally reserved and devastatingly charming men and make you believe both types of performance.
In the late 1960’s, and into the 1970’s, Holden continued to act on screen often in more supporting roles than lead ones. I especially like his performances in two later dramatic films Network and Breezy. I think it is such a shame that we lost him when he did. I have no doubt he would have continued turning in fine performances for many more years. I think he could have easily settled into a very successful career of supporting/character actor in his later years.
Charming, handsome, smooth and having the gift of making everything he did appear effortless about sums up William Holden in a nutshell. Born on April 17th, 1918, in Illinois, he would go on to become one of the most popular stars of the 1950’s and beyond.
There was much more to Holden than good looks, and a warm smile though; he could give a real depth to his characters with just a small look or expression.
In 1939 he made a name for himself when he starred alongside Barbara Stanwyck in Golden Boy. This boxing classic sees a baby-faced Holden play Joe Bonaparte, a violinist turned boxer. Holden and Stanwyck became good friends, and he was forever grateful to her for persuading producers to take a chance on him. Holden put a lot of heart into this performance and it placed him on the path to stardom.
By the time he was cast in Sunset Blvd (1950), Holden had really honed his acting skills; his character in that Joe Gillis, is torn between his growing feelings for Norma(Gloria Swanson) and what she can offer him(fame, wealth, status)and his desire for a normal life/relationship. Holden does such a good job of letting us really feel what Joe is experiencing inside, and he also crucially doesn’t get overshadowed by the great Gloria Swanson as the deranged Norma.
At times Holden makes us dislike Joe for his treatment of Norma, he comes across as selfish and taking advantage of someone with obvious issues. At other times he makes you really feel for this Joe’s situation and we pity him as much as we do Norma. I’m not sure another actor could have portrayed all of that in quite the same way.
Many other hits followed for him after this. Stalag 17 (for which he won the Best Actor Oscar, and famously delivered one of the shortest ever Oscar speeches, simply saying “Thank You”.) Sabrina, Picnic and The Bridge on the River Kwai. He became one of Hollywood’s most popular actors.
Holden showed his funny side in 1955, when he appeared as himself in an episode of I, Love Lucy. He is clearly having a ball as he gets his own back on Lucy after she stares at him for ages, whilst he is trying to eat lunch in a restaurant. Every time I watch this episode I crack up, I think he showed great comic skills in this and it’s a shame he didn’t get to tap into those skills more often on screen. As funny as the episode is, I think it really does a good job of making us aware how annoyed celebrities must be at being endlessly gawped at or approached when out in public.
Yes of course you’ll be excited if you come across someone you’re a fan of, but I really don’t agree with approaching them unless it is at events like backstage signings or film premieres. They are people with lives just like us and they deserve their privacy and space too. This episode shows us how we’d feel if the tables were turned.
I’d like to talk now about two of my all time favourite William Holden performances.
Sabrina, 1954, directed by Billy Wilder.
This was the first of his films that I ever saw. I not only fell in love with the film but it also made me an instant fan of William Holden. I didn’t find myself thinking I had to see more of his work before deciding if I liked him or not. I liked him right away and was determined to check out more of his films to see what else he did.
Audrey Hepburn plays Sabrina Fairchild, the daughter of the chauffer to the wealthy Larrabee family. Sabrina finds herself falling in love with the Larrabee brothers; the elder, serious, businessman, Lionel(Humphrey Bogart)and the handsome, fun loving, playboy youngest brother, David( Holden).
From the first time we see him Holden makes us aware that David is a man who women fall hard for, he doesn’t treat his women badly, but he doesn’t commit to them easily either.
William makes David a fun and charming character and you like him(despite his seeming indifference to Sabrina earlier in the story.)
I love his reaction when he sees Sabrina(now elegant and wearing Paris fashions)at the train station; slamming on the breaks of his car, reversing and turning on the charm full volume he offers her assistance, all the while being oblivious to who she is. It’s a funny scene and he makes it so.
I love the scene where David tells Lionel some home truths and receives a punch on the nose. It is a powerful moment because David(and Holden)is deadly serious for the first time in the film. He is not joking, he knows the truth and we also see that he has been paying attention to his families business all these years too. I love the scene where he takes charge and we believe he knows what he is doing after all. Holden makes this character development believable and that helps the scene immensely.
I never get tired of watching this charming romantic film. I love all the cast and the story, but Holden’s performance is a big reason this became a favourite.
Breezy, 1973, directed by Clint Eastwood.
The story sounds cliché, but the film ends up being anything but. Free spirited Breezy(Kay Lenz)meets a middle aged estate agent, called Frank Harmon(Holden). The two slowly become friends and then slowly begin to fall in love. There is trouble and heartbreak ahead though. Frank’s friends don’t accept his relationship with Breezy, and Frank himself has doubts that this May-December romance can last. Breezy has no such doubts, she loves Frank and she doesn’t care about their age gap.
Holden is so moving in this. Perfectly conveying his character tentatively allowing himself to fall in love and be vulnerable for the first time in years. Holden lets himself appear nervous, hesitant and vulnerable on screen. I love him in this role because he makes what Frank is going through believable, and you really feel his hesitation and conflicted emotions.
I think it is quite a brave role for him to have taken actually. He isn’t a movie star in this, he is just a regular guy undergoing a transforming event in his life. He really makes you feel what Frank is going through.William acts his age here, his character is not a dashing ladies man in control of this situation.
William also shows us just how much effort Frank is putting in to try and change his introverted nature.Holden and Lenz work very well together, and there is a real tenderness in their shared intimate moments(both the emotional and the physical scenes.)
This film shows us that love is worth the risk. Who cares what other people think? Enjoy the remaining years of life and have fun. I am always left feeling exactly this at the end of this film. Life may not end up being perfect for this couple, but they’re certainly going to try and have a good time together.
I love Holden in the beach scene where Breezy kisses him for the first time. He is taken aback, then you see something on his face that makes you realise he has fallen for her just as much as she has for him.
This is a film very much deserving of much more recognition. Two fantastic lead performances, an adorable dog with the saddest eyes I’ve ever seen, and a poignant and funny story to tell. If you’ve never seen it before, I highly recommend watching it.
Maddy’s Five Favourite William Holden Films
1- Paris When It Sizzles
3- Golden Boy
5- The World Of Suzie Wong
For all the joy Holden brought to his fans, his own life was sadly not filled with much happiness. He became an alcoholic, and he physically aged long before he should have done. He and Audrey Hepburn fell in love when they worked together on Sabrina; Hepburn ended their relationship when she discovered Holden had had a vasectomy, which meant she would not be able to have had children with him(something she wanted more than anything else in life.)He found some joy in the last years of his life though, as the partner of Hart To Hart actress Stephanie Powers.
Holden was a dedicated conservationist and set up the Mount Kenya Game ranch. Following his death, Powers founded The William Holden Wildlife Foundation which is still working today.
On November the 12th, 1981, Holden fell at home and died after hitting his head. His body wasn’t found until four days later. A very sad end for one of Hollywood’s greatest stars.
Many thanks William for all the entertainment you have given me over the years. You are much missed. R.I.P.
Thanks to everyone for reading my post. Be sure to go and check out all the other entries over on Virginie’s site.
I’d like to start a series of posts about classic films that I think deserve some more attention. I’m starting with this romantic comedy starring William Holden and Audrey Hepburn.
Quite simply, I consider this to be one of the best and funniest films out there about the filmmaking process. Focusing on the screenwriting process, this film takes a look at all the film clichés and also at how quickly plot ideas can change, and how such ideas even come to be in the first place.
The film is also a very clever mix of genres. At one point it is a thriller, whilst another scene finds us firmly in horror territory. The film also features an hysterical cameo from Tony Curtis, as a young method actor featuring in several of the films possible script scenarios. The film is basically one big in joke about the process of making films, and about the people who work in this industry.
Featuring some gorgeous photography in and around Paris, lots of humour and romance, and Holden and Hepburn having a great deal of fun, what’s not to like?
Richard Benson (William Holden)is a cynical Hollywood screenwriter, a ladies man, who loves a drink or two, and is living in a Paris apartment. Hired months ago to write a new screenplay, he has in fact been spending his time having fun and hasn’t written a word! With his deadline fast approaching he hires secretary Gabrielle(Audrey Hepburn)to help him begin and finish on time.
As he comes up with possible scenarios we actually see his ideas as film scenes on screen, featuring Holden and Hepburn as the various main characters. While all this is going on, Benson is finding himself falling in love with Gabrielle, but does she return his feeling?
Holden has a ball playing various fictional adventurous leading men, and even a charming vampire! Hepburn shows a real gift for comedy as the secretary caught up in imagination, and as various fictional leading ladies.
The vampire grotto sequence is one of my favourites, as a romantic afternoon lunch suddenly takes a turn into the realms of darkness, when Holden’s charming playboy is revealed to be a vampire. It’s funny and ridiculous at the same time and just where is that beautiful waterfall/park they go into? It looks gorgeous. I also like the fountains featured in the final scene.
I also love the scene in the film studio featuring Audrey as a sexy woman of the streets taking a bubble bath on an exotic set.
Great fun, and highly recommended to fans of Holden and Hepburn. This flick deserves to be better known. Spread the word, folks!
If you’re already a fan of this one, please share your thoughts on the film.