Top of the World: 20 William Holden Films

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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.

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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.

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Ok, here we go!

20- Invisible Stripes (Lloyd Bacon, 1939)

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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)

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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)

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

17- The Remarkable Andrew (Stuart Heisler, 1942)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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

11- The Country Girl (George Seaton, 1954)

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

10- Breezy (Clint Eastwood, 1973)

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

9- Network (Sidney Lumet, 1976)

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A masterpiece of performances.

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

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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)

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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)

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

5- The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah, 1969)

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

4- Golden Boy (Rouben Mamoulian, 1939)

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

3- The Towering Inferno (John Guillermin, 1974)

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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)

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

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1- Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950)

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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.

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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!

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