Celebrating Judy Garland with a First Viewing of “A Child Is Waiting”

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Oh that it seems far away, that time when Judy Garland was gambolling on the yellow bricks road and singing “We’re Off to See the Wizard” when you look at her years later in John Cassavetes’s A Child Is Waiting (1963)! If this film was among her lasts before her premature death in 1969, it was one of Cassavetes’s first. But the two managed to mix their respective talents for a worthy result. To that was added a glimpse of always-great-on-screen Burst Lancaster and a beautiful supporting cast composed by Elizabeth Wilson, Gena Rowlands (John Cassavetes’s wife from 1954 to his death in 1989), Bruce Ritchey, Steven Hill, Lawrence Tierney, Barbara Pepper, John Marley and Paul Stewart. The film was produced by Stanley Kramer. Even if Cassavetes lost power as a director under the production of Kramer and wasn’t satisfied with the final product, A Child Is Waiting remains, on many levels, a masterpiece, but, a forgotten one. Indeed, when one thinks of its two main stars, Garland and Lancaster, this is rarely the first film that we think about.

I must admit, as odd as it seems, I’ve only seen two Judy Garland’s films: The Wizard of Oz (obviously) and this one (I also saw some parts of Meet Me in St. Louis). As a matter of fact, when Crystal from In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood announced that she’ll be hosting the Judy Garland Blogathon in honour of this musical entertainer’s birthday, I thought that it would be a good occasion for me to finally watch this film who was on my to-watch list for quite some time. This was due to the presence of Burt Lancaster, and actor I adore, but also to this review written by Crystal herself and the simply good occasion to discover another Garland’s film.

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Yesterday, the lovely Judy would have been 95 and a blogathon is, of course, the best way for us, bloggers, to honour her memory.

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From the first minute of A Child Is Waiting, I knew this would be a film I would like. I hope I’m not too weird by saying that, but I’ve always liked psychological movies or movies that take place in a psychiatric institution, a mental hospital, etc. I simply find these fascinating, especially for what concerns the way the patients evolve in this environment.

A Child Is Waiting takes place at the Crawthorne State Mental Hospital. Judy Garland plays Jean Hansen, a newcomer among the staff of the hospital. Due to her musical background, she is hired as a music therapist. The psychologist, Dr. Matthew Clark, is played by Burt Lancaster. Jean becomes fond of a little boy named Reuben Widdicome who suffers from a mental retardation. The child, who hasn’t seen his mother since two years, easily finds a friend in Jean who has a real maternal instinct. She and Dr. Clark are put in opposition in what concerns their ideal for the child’s development. If she believes he will improve his condition by seeing his mother, the doctor believes he should not and that he must learn to live with different people.

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The film is a special one as its extras include real mentally-challenged children from Pacific State Hospital in Pomona, California, just like Milos Forman would use real mentally hill patients in his highly acclaimed One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. This creates a sense of authenticity and realism. Concerning these children, I particularly appreciated the inclusion of Burt Lancaster in this film as I don’t remember having seen him interact often with kids on screen. He is presented as a man with a calm temperament. He can get angry,  but he’ll never scream at someone. As always, Mr. Lancaster loves to show his teeth when he talks, but that’s how we love him! His acting is well calculated, without  unnecessary extravagances. The child, who is for him (the doctor) a hopeless case, is played by Bruce Ritchey, who certainly breaks our hearts with his sad eyes. If A Child Is Waiting is credited as his only major film role, and the child actor is quite forgotten today, it goes without saying that his performance is one that we don’t easily forget. Playing people mentally ill never seems to be an easy task for the simple reason that it would be “dangerous” to be too cliché. But Ritchey keeps it simple and his acting full of sensibility almost makes us forget the film’s two big stars, Burt Lancaster and Judy Garland.

Talking about Judy, if this one was particularly known for her musicals, this film allows us to discover her talent as a dramatic actress. We become easily fond of her as she gives to her character a beautiful aura of kindness and chooses a type of acting that fits perfectly the mood of the film. Even if A Child Is Waiting isn’t a musical, we even have the occasion to hear Mrs. Garland’s beautiful voice in a brief moment of the film. Sadly, if she delivers a thoughtful performance, Mrs. Garland had important personal problems at the time and this can be felt in her acting. There is the impression of a certain discomfort, but, luckily, this one is easily forgotten. Anyway, let’s not talk too much about Judy Garland’s life problems on her celebration! Judy Garland and Burt Lancaster were reunited before in Stanley Kramer’s Judgement at Nuremberg (1961).

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On the set of the film with director John Cassavetes

Interestingly, A Child Is Waiting marks the first cinematographic collaboration between John Cassavetes and his beautiful wife actress Gena Rowlands. She plays Reuben’s sad mother and her supportive presence is nothing but a strong addition to the film.

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As always, I’m always talking too much about the actors, so I will stop here. Nothing bad to say about the rest of the cast, they were all good.

Another thing that particularly struck me about this film is the music. First, in the opening titles embellished with naive children’s drawings, we hear an a capella chorus of children (which can make us think of the famous school scene in Hitchcock’s The Birds) which indicates us the importance of these children in the film. The rest of the score was composed by Ernest Gold (who was not at his first, nor last collaboration with Stanley Kramer) and there’s something about it that represents quite perfectly the mood of the film, but also Reuben’s psychological states. One one side, there’s something somehow disquieting about it, but on the other one, it’s always a calm melody.

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Composer Ernest Gold

If John Cassavetes was fired from the production when editing time came (…), there’s nothing really bad to say about this editing, but we feel it’s not a John Cassavetes’ one. I’m not a Cassavetes expert, but from what I know of his methods, we feel that his editing would have been more creative. Here, no particular liberties are taken nor creativity shown. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily affect the quality of the film, but maybe Cassavetes’ editing would have accentuated the psychological side of the film and give it a different meaning. Just an idea…

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A fun moment between Burt, Judy and John on the set of the film!

What disappointed me about the film is the development of the characters. We actually don’t really feel there is one. If that was the intention, then ok, but I think more efforts could have been put on this level. This doesn’t only concern Reuben, who, unfortunately, never really seem to change as a patient (this doesn’t necessarily have to be a positive change. It can be a bad one too), but also for the doctor and Jean. We always feel Jean is about to tell us something crucial about her past life, but no… This constant impression could have been avoided as, here, it is only annoying. Also, at the end, we don’t really know what will happen with each of the characters. I’m all for open endings, but here it doesn’t seem that necessary.

But, apart from that, I highly enjoyed the film!

On its released, A Child Is Waiting sadly was a commercial failure. On another side, it received some good reviews.

It is difficult to know why the film is forgotten nowadays at it reunites a masterful team. So, if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. It is the perfect film for those who like thoughtful, but not too mentally extravagant films (even if this one takes place in a mental hospital, it remains quite sober on that level). Fans of Garland, I’m sure, will appreciate it as it shows a different facet of her acting.

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Before leaving you, I want to thank Crystal for hosting this lovely event and, of course, wish a happy (belated) heavenly birthday to the celebrated star. Happy birthday Judy, wherever you are!

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Don’t forget to take a look at the other entries, here!

My! This is the first article I was writing since mid-April (blogathon announcements don’t count). I hope I haven’t lost my touch!

See you!

 

Coming Soon: The 3rd Wonderful Ingrid Bergman Blogathon!

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I just came back from a wonderful one month trip to Spain (where, in Seville, I saw two places where Lawrence of Arabia was filmed)! And I must admit I already missed it and I’m bored with Montreal’s undesirable weather. But, if there’s something I missed during my trip, it’s watching classics and blogging, that’s for sure. However, I must admit, I had the chance to see Trouble in Paradise at the Cine Doré in Madrid!

But now I’m back anyway! Admit, you missed me? 😉 And back in strength as I’m here to announce the coming of my 3rd Wonderful Ingrid Bergman  Blogathon, which will celebrate this most talented and beautiful actress at the occasion of her 102th birthday, but also her 35th death anniversary.

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As this is the 3rd edition of this blogathon, I’m sure many of you are familiar with it. If not, you are of course most welcome to join us in the festivities. The more the merrier!

There are some simple rules to follow for this blogathon and here they are:

1- Choose a subject. You can write about anything related to Ingrid Bergman. My only request is the usual one: no duplicates (vive la variété!) You are welcome to write more than one entry, but as I don’t allow duplicates, please limit yourself to two.

2- You can submit your subject in the comments section of this post or via Twitter (@Ginnie_SP), email (virginie.pronovost@gmail.com), or via The Wonderful World of Cinema facebook page. Please provide your subject, the name of your blog and your blog URL.

3- Can I participate even if I don’t have a blog? Yes! You are most welcome to. Here is how we’ll proceed: send me your text via email and I will add it to my blog and credit you as the writer.

4- Once your subject has been accepted and confirm, grab one of these banners to put on your blog in order to help me promote the blogathon. As you can see, I used only pictures of Ingrid’s profile. Ouuuu concept!

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5- Like the previous years, the event will start on August 27 and end on August 29…2017!!

6- On the first day of the blogathon, I will update a new post for the entries where you’ll be able to submit your post. If you could give me your Twitter handle with it, that would be great!

7- If you have any question, don’t hesitate to ask!

Have fun!


Here is the roster:

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See you on the 27 to honour the wonderful Ingrid Bergman!

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Many Thanks from me and Golden Holden!

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Just like its first edition, my 2nd Golden Boy Blogathon was a success and I’m forever thankful to all the great bloggers who participated with articles of top quality! I host a few blogathons, but this one might be my favourite. 😉 Anyway, it’s great to see that Bill is not forgotten today, that he is still loved, admire and, despite his personal problems, respected.

He certainly was one of a kind and, as Emily at The Flapper Dame said, I’m sure he would have been the most handsome 99 years old man!

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You might like to know that your articles have all individually been shared, not only on Twitter, but also in a great William Holden Tribute group on Facebook where fans truly appreciated what they read! If you are on Facebook as well, come say hello. We’re nice! 😉

If you still didn’t have the time to publish your article, no worries! I will gladly add it to the roster and promote it on Twitter/Facebook, but well, don’t wait next month either lol because I’ll be in Spain!!

To read all the entries, please click here.

And, once again, a big thanks from me and Bill!

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My Favourite Golden Holden Moments

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As I told you during last year’s edition of the Golden Boy Blogathon, William Holden is an actor I snub for a much too long time, and he finally became my 2nd favourite actor (behind James Stewart). In the text tribute I wrote in his honour, I explained how he became one of my most favourite actors, why I love him, etc. Today, in honour of what would have been his 99th birthday, I wanted to do something similar, but different of course. I didn’t really feel like doing a movie review or focus on only one of William Holden’s performances. So, I thought it would be fun to present you my favourite William Holden movie moments! I once thought of doing this with my favourite movie moments in general, but this was too difficult. So, why not focus on a more precise subject? Why not William Holden? These are all movies moments that make me love and admire our Golden Boy more and more. Moments that make me recognize, not only his talent but that also make me be fond of him and realize how he can be so appreciated. Moments that makes him one of a kind. In other words, these will be various. It could be funny, sad, serious moment, it doesn’t really matter.
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I’ll present these in chronological order (according to the movie) and will try as much as possible to give an explanation to why each of these moments is a favourite.
By the way, I prefer calling them “moments” instead of “scenes” because these can last only a few seconds.
Ok, here we go!
Golden Boy ( Rouben Mamoulian, 1939)
His first entrance: When our Golden Boy first put the foot on the imaginary side of the movie industry. Well, not exactly has he had minor roles in two other films before but was uncredited. Anyway, that was the first time we were seeing him in a way to remember. The William Holden of Golden Boy was young, only 21, with an innocent look on his face and curly hair. What I absolutely love about this entrance is that it is a very spontaneous one. He interrupts Barbara Stanwyck and Adolf Menjou, who are about to kiss each other, by entering in the room in quite an energetic way. A remarkable entrance indeed!
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When he plays the violin: I love these moments (because there are more than one) because he expresses a beautiful vulnerability that we often find in some of his early roles. There’s a lot of sensibility in him and we can feel the emotions through his closed eyes.
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Every time he says “papa”:  Well, I just think that’s sweet. It makes a change from the usual “daddy”, “dad”, “father”, etc. I call my dad papa! (Well, I’m francophone so it’s normal). It’s also a good way to show the Italian blood of his character. Oh, and that’s one thing I like about Joe Bonaparte, because I have Italian blood too!
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When they sing “Funiculi Funicula” : Ok, that’s not only a “William Holden moment” as it involves all his family in the film, plus Barbara Stanwyck, but it’s one that I couldn’t overlook because it’s so much fun! Despite Golden Boy being a drama, it contains its moments of joy like this one where Lorna Moon (Barbara Stanwyck) is invited in Joe’s Italian family for supper. After eating, they decide to play music and joyfully sing “Funiculi Funicula”. You really wish you were here with them because they seem to have a really great time!
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Our Town (Sam Wood, 1940)
When he cries… : In this scene, George (William Holden)’s father tells him that his mother had to chop wood because he forgot to. Full of remorse, he starts to cry quietly. Poor Bill! 😥 This is both a sad and beautiful scene as it shows the vulnerability of his character and proves us that men can cry too! And they have the right to!
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The Remarkable Andrew (Stuart Heisler, 1942)
When he does his morning exercise at the beginning of the film: this scene makes me laugh so much. He’s just so adorable and funny, especially when he jumps around the room like a frog. Hahaha! He also does some weird sounds with his mouth, which makes the thing even more hilarious than it already is.
Just look at the beginning of this clip for this scene!
When Andrew Jackson asks him for a drink and he offers him some grape juice:
Ok, I didn’t remember this scene much, because I haven’t seen the film for a long time, but I read about it in my old William Holden Marathon article. Well, it goes without saying that this is completely adorable. William Holden was so young then!
You’ll find the moment in this clip from 3: 20 to 4: 08
Dear Ruth (William D. Russell, 1947)
Every time he kisses Joan Caulfield spontaneously :  This film certainly is the funniest of Holden’s films (in my opinion). He is so in love with Ruth (Caulfield) that his best way to express it is by kissing her all the times, everywhere. This gives us some hilarious moments and we certainly wished we could exchange places with Caulfield. 😉
I, unfortunately, couldn’t find a clip or a picture from these precise kissing moments, so here is a photo of them together.
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Father is a Bachelor (Abby Berlin and Norma Foster, 1950)
When he sings : Unfortunately, his voice was doubled (which is kind of odd, since I’ve been told that he had a fine singing voice), but, despite that, it remains something delightful. We don’t often see a “musical” Holden so that certainly is our chance. The singing moments are joyful ones and make this film the perfect family movie!
When he smiles to the old maid he is supposed to marry (not a very enthusiatic smile) : Toward the end of the film, he is supposed to marry one of the Cassin sisters in order to keep the poor Chalotte children under his guardianship. To determine which lady will marry him, they play a game of cricket. When Adealine wins, the smiles that Johnny (Holden) gives her is so forced and mixed with disgust that it automatically makes you burst into laughs. And it’s meant to as this film is a comedy! Believe it or not, Bill’s smiles are not always charming ones. 😉
When he makes a dress for May : By accident, Johnny burns little May’s dress. To fix his mess, he decides to confection one himself. He pretends he can, but that’s obviously untrue! The creating process, as well as the results, are pretty catastrophic and amusing. Poor May! Luckily, Johnny eventually manages to obtain a real pretty dress.
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Sunset Blvd (Billy Wilder, 1950)
When he kisses Nancy Olson on the nose: What I like about the scenes between Holden and Olson in this film is that, just like this one proves it, they are so sweet and simple. A kiss on the nose! Can you think of something lovelier?
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When he and Nancy are being theatrical “life!… can be beautiful”: In this false theatrical moment, Betty (Olson) and Joe (Holden) seem to be playing a scene from one of Joe’s films (but we are not 100 % sure). The theatricality is so intentionally exaggerated that it makes us feel the fun that these two can have together. I obviously think that Nancy Olson was one of the actresses with whom Bill had the best on-screen chemistry.
When he interrupts Max who is playing organ: Joe is angry in this scene as his luggage have been moved to his guest room (and he has NO intention to stay). He goes downstairs to ask Max (Erich von Stroheim) who did. This one is playing organ very loudly (what a pleasant way to be awake (!)). What I like about this scene is when he tells him  “Hey you! Max, whatever your name is.” This pretty much sums up his anger and the esteem he has for Max (!)… Also, Max doesn’t stop playing which makes us understand the delightful arrogance of his character!
Union Station (Rudolph Maté, 1950)
His final smile:  I don’t remember so much from this film (remember it was a good one), but this smile he does at the end is one I didn’t forget. It’s such a sweet and contagious one! The typical Golden Boy smile, you know!
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Stalag 17 (Billy Wilder, 1953)
When he discovers the guilty man and says “Ach so!” : This reminds me of my German classes as my teacher was saying that all the time. In this scene, he kinds of imitate Sgt. Johann Schulz (Sig Ruman) who is always saying that as well. We feel he is quite amused and satisfied as he will no longer be the accused one.
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When he cooks an egg: Just because this egg is cooked with so much style!
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Sabrina (Billy Wilder, 1953)

When he tries to guess who this beautiful lady is (Sabrina):  When Sabrina (Audrey Hepburn) comes back from Paris, she is waiting at the train station for her father who is supposed to pick her. David (William Holden) who is driving by suddenly stops because this beautiful lady certainly grabs his attention. He doesn’t know that she is Sabrina, the daughter of his family’s chauffeur, who has secretly always been in love with him. He offers her a lift and tries to guess who she is. We and Sabrina are obviously quite amused by the situation and things become even more priceless when he finally discovers her real identity. To think that he ignored her all these years!
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When he dances with Sabrina: That’s a beautiful moment full of tenderness and, one more time, we wish we could exchange places with Holden’s female co-star.
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When he sits down on a glass: To prevent his brother to go dance with Sabrina (and spoil his engagement to Elizabeth Tyson), Linus (Humphrey Bogart) invites him to sit on a chair where he has put a glass. Poor David! The glass obviously breaks when he sits down on it and he is in for a long convalescence. We feel sorry for David, but we certainly can’t avoid a few laughs!
When he falls on his butt but after sitting on the glasses:  During his convalescence, David is once again hurt by falling on his already damaged butt. Another hilarious moment that proves that Holden had a perfect comedic timing.
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THAT SMILE when Audrey Hepburn arrives at the ball: Once again, that’s a typical Golden Holden smile and it’s perfectly adorable. But who wouldn’t smile at the sight of Audrey Hepburn?
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The Bridges at Toko-Ri (Mark Robson, 1954)
When Grace Kelly waves at him and he waves back from the boat (the smiles): A quick but sweet romantic moment that perfectly expresses the love that these two have for each other.
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The Country Girl (George Seaton, 1954)
When he kisses Grace Kelly passionately:  On my! There’s full of passion indeed, but also tension in this scene. They are quarreling and he suddenly kisses her. Well, we’re not sure at first if it’s a way to express his love for her or if it’s just a way to make her shut up, but, no matter what, it remains an unforgettable moment that leaves you speechless.
Paris When it Sizzles (Richard Quine, 1964)
When he becomes a vampire: I don’t remember much from this film, but this scene is one that nobody forgets. The theatrical acting is so exaggerated (in an intentional way) and the make-up is so cartoonish. It makes this moment an unforgettable one. And a purple vampire! :O (strange)
You’ll find this moment in this trailer!
The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah, 1969)
When he says “If they move, kill ’em!”: Wow! That’s a good way to chill our blood. This line is said without any pity and it immediately gives us the mood of the film. It also makes us realise that we are now far from the sweet Joe Bonaparte of Golden Boy.
Look at 2:10 to 2: 14 of this clip for this short line!
Every time he says let’s go: Robert Ryan says it too. It’s kind of something that unconsciously connects them. “Let’s go” is not something that seems quite extraordinary to say, but as it is said all the time in this film, it kind of became an iconic line(s). They even made a T-shirt out of it! 😉
Here is an example:
When he waves at Robert Ryan with his hat just before the bridge explodes: We (the spectators) know exactly what is going to happen so we can’t help anticipating this moment. This waving is full of arrogance which, one more time, perfectly shows us the nature of Pike Bishop (Holden).
Breezy (Clint Eastwood, 1973)
The most beautiful lines of the film:  When the two lovers find each other back at the end of the film, he tells her: “Hello, my love”, to what Breezy (Kay Lenz) answers “Hello, my life.” This is just one of the most beautiful moments from the film and it agreeably makes you sigh.
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The Towering Inferno (John Guillermin, 1974)
When he welcomes Paul Newman and they shake hands: Hum, nothing so extraordinary about that, but I guess I just like the idea of Holden and Newman shaking hands. Plus, this one is effectuate with an admirable determination. We like that.
When he feels guilty: It takes long before Jim Duncan (Holden) realises the extent of the catastrophe, but, when he does, he obviously feels guilty about it. He does that little move with his chin (a typical Holden gesture) and we almost have the feeling he is trying not to cry. Anyway, he looks very sad and that just breaks my heart. 😥
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When he punches Richard Chamberlain in the stomach : I know, violence is bad, but here I can’t help approving of this moment, because Roger Simmons (Chamberlain) certainly is one of the most annoying movie characters of all times.
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These are, of course, not all the William Holden’s movies I’ve seen, there are 14 more… And I probably have many other favourite moments that I’m not thinking of right now. You are more than welcomed to share yours with me and that might be a good way to refresh my memory!
To read the other wonderful entries for this blogathon, please click here.
Happy heavenly birthday dear Golden Boy! ❤
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A Golden Weekend for the 2nd Golden Boy Blogathon!

Hey everybody!

So, after two months of waiting patiently for this event, the 2nd Golden Boy Blogathon: A William Holden Celebration is finally here!

It is, of course, my honour to host this event for the second year as I, like many of you I’m sure, am always willing to celebrate the wonderful actor that William Holden was.

The event start today and will end on April 17 , 2017 on Bill’s birthday. Please submit your entry within those dates by commenting on this post or via email at virginie.pronovost@gmail.com, or Twitter@Ginnie_SP, or by messaging our Facebook page.

Your entry will be included to the roster as you submit it.

If you have a Twitter account, please include your Twitter handle in your submission. That would be great as it will help me to promote your entry!

To the readers (and bloggers) make sure to read all the wonderful entries that were written by these participants of quality. There is a lot of efforts put in our William Holden celebration!

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The Holdener’s entries

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A big thanks to all the participants. I’m sure William Holden would have been honoured by this collective tribute!

Happy heavenly birthday dear Golden Boy! ❤