Top of the World: 20 William Holden Films


Today marks what would have been the 102nd birthday of my second most favourite actor, the one and only Golden Boy; William Holden! As you know, I’ve hosted a blogathon in his honour for four consecutive years. Sadly, I am not able to make it this year due to being  very busy with my master thesis, but I thought it would be fun to create a little something on my blog to celebrate him. Of course, this doesn’t mean it will be the end of the Golden Boy Blogathon. I hope to be back with it next year as it is one of my very favourite blogathons to host.

To prove you that William Holden is someone that I always value a lot, blogathon or not, I thought today would be a good occasion to present a top list of my favourite William Holden films! He’s probably the actor I’ve seen the most films of, and I realized that I had never made an official top list for those, and you know how I love doing that on my blog.


Before going through the list, here are a few reminders:

This is a list showcasing my personal tastes, so it’s very subjective. My top 5 might not be the same as yours, but that’s ok! I’m also not claiming that these are the best, simply that there are my personal favourites.

I’ve seen a total of 35 William Holden films so as this is a top 20, 15 of them aren’t part of the list. It doesn’t mean that I don’t like them, maybe just a little less than the first 20. Yes, I could have made a top 35 as this is a nice and round number, but since this is a list of favourites, I think it would have been weird to include something like The Turning Point (William Dieterle, 1952) or Boots Malone (William Dieterle, 1952) that are films that I don’t like a lot (I guess 1952s Dieterle films with Holden aren’t my thing!).

But if a film you love is not on the list, it’s possible that I just haven’t seen it.


Ok, here we go!

20- Invisible Stripes (Lloyd Bacon, 1939)


Long before Humphrey Bogart and William Holden starred alongside each other in Sabrina! I wonder if they already hated each other back then.

19- Damien: Omen II (Don Taylor, 1978)


Yeah, that is sort of a guilty pleasure! It’s interesting that Don Taylor directed the film years after he starred alongside Holden in Stalag 17!

18- Union Station (Rudolph Maté, 1950)


People don’t talk enough about William Holden’s pairings with Nancy Olson!

17- The Remarkable Andrew (Stuart Heisler, 1942)


Bill is absolutely adorable in this film. I just realized that the screenplay was by Dalton Trumbo. I didn’t remember that!

16- The Counterfeit Traitor (George Seaton, 1962)


This is the last film starring William Holden that I saw. As part of it takes place in Stockholm and was shot there, it was totally appropriate (as I’m currently living there until June).

15- Forever Female (Irving Rapper, 1953)


I’ve got to admit, I don’t remember this film so much, but I remember loving it, so I had to include it on my list!

14- Sabrina (Billy Wilder, 1954)


Probably one of the loveliest films ever made thanks to Audrey Hepburn, but I’ve got say, David Larrabee is not my most favourite William Holden character! As a matter of fact, I think this is the first Holden film I ever saw, and I sadly didn’t immediately become a fan.

13- The World of Suzie Wong (Richard Quine, 1960)


This film was a great surprise. I thought I wouldn’t like it so much, but I was completely wrong.

12- The Bridges at Toko-Ri (Mark Robson, 1954)


This is the kind of film that I love more and more on each viewing.

11- The Country Girl (George Seaton, 1954)


The fact that the two Holden-Kelly films follow each other on my list is totally coincidental!

10- Breezy (Clint Eastwood, 1973)


Perhaps one of the most underrated films directed by Clint Eastwood.

9- Network (Sidney Lumet, 1976)


A masterpiece of performances.

8- The Devil’s Brigade (Andrew V. McLaglen, 1968)


I know a lot of people compare this film to The Dirty Dozen. While I’ve seen both, I actually prefer this one. Don’t get me wrong, Aldrich’s film is great too.

7- Stalag 17 (Billy Wilder, 1953)


When William Holden finally got his Oscar. Well-deserved, but he should have gotten one for Sunset Boulevard as well.

6- Dear Ruth (William D. Russell, 1947)


If you want to see a funny William Holden, there’s your film.

5- The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah, 1969)


Oh, and probably my second favourite western after High Noon (Fred Zinnemann, 1952).

4- Golden Boy (Rouben Mamoulian, 1939)


The film that put William Holden on the map. We have to thank Barbara Stanwyck for that!

3- The Towering Inferno (John Guillermin, 1974)


Yes, yes, it might come as a surprise that I rank this film so high, but it would be lying to say that it’s not a film that I can watch over and over without getting tired of it!

2- Father Is a Bachelor (Abby Berlin and Norman Foster, 1950)


A lovely and endearing family picture that deserves much more attention.












1- Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950)


I don’t think my number one really comes as a surprise. I mean, although this is a subjective list,  I consider this the best film ever made. It’s simply perfect on every level. It’s also the film that started my love for William Holden.

I have to give honourable mentions to Picnic (Joshua Logan, 1955) and Fedora (Billy Wilder, 1978), that are, in my opinion, much better than what people say.


That’s it! This list, yes, includes some famous classics but also some lesser-known ones, so I hope it made you discover a few films! Don’t hesitate to tell me what are your favourites in the comments!

Happy heavenly birthday Golden Boy!


7 thoughts on “Top of the World: 20 William Holden Films

  1. When I began my blog almost a decade ago, Holden was one of the first Golden Age actors I grew attached to. I had spent many years in video retail, so I had already seen some of his big hits, but once I reacquainted myself with them, plus other films of his, like EXECUTIVE SUITE (not on your list, I see) and GOLDEN BOY, I gained a new respect for him. And we’re in total agreement regarding SUNSET as the best film ever.

    Blogged about DEAR RUTH a few years ago. Couldn’t buy the premise but it did have some funny moments.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve seen Executive Suite but despite the marvelous casting I didn’t like it so much. I wish I had! Thank you for your comment! I will have to check your post on Dear Ruth. It’s certainly not a masterpiece I agree, but it’s a fun film 🙂


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