William Holden was what some people call a “man’s man.” Not in the John Wayne shoot-em-up kind of way, but in a solid, securely masculine way. He seemed to dominate any scene he was in, which must be the highest compliment a movie star can receive. Yet he often wasn’t a “hero”; he frequently played cynical or detached men who fought against established forces. He made some terrific movies, and was one of the leading actors of his time.
He made two dozen movies before his breakthrough part came in Sunset Boulevard. His memorable films include:
- Sunset Boulevard (1950 – Nomination)
- Born Yesterday (1950)
- Stalag 17 (1953 – Academy Award)
- Sabrina (1954)
- The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1954)
- Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955)
- Picnic (1955)
- The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
- The Wild Bunch (1969)
- Network (1975 – Nomination)
Looking at that list, the obvious omission is Holden not receiving an Oscar nod for The Bridge on the River Kwai. (His co-star Alec Guiness earned Best Actor.) In the American Film Institute’s list of 100 Years…100 Stars, Holden appeared at number 25.
Check out this charged dance scene (of all things!):