CAROLE LOMBARD - My Favorite Actress

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Stanwyck may headline Golden Boy, but it's William Holden who shines the most.

Golden Boy
Another golden film from that golden year of 1939 is Golden Boy, starring Barbara Stanwyck (my classic movie goddess of the month) and introducing William Holden in his first major starring role as boxer/violinst Joe Bonaparte. And what a performance Holden gives. He is truly electrifying as the hot tempered but music loving Joe who is torned between boxing, which he is really good at, and playing the violin, which he is even better at. Enter Tom Moody (played by Adolphe Menjou) as his boxing promoter, who decides to put Joe into a fight when his regular fighter is injured during a practice bout with Joe ironically enough. Moody is not really game to do it, until his long suffering girlfriend Lorna Moon (Stanwyck) convinces him otherwise. Lorna sees Joe as her meal ticket to win some fights and make Tom some money, so he can finally divorce his wife and marry her. The plan is going well until Joe's father gets wind and doesn't like the fact that Joe has all but given up on music. The father is played by Lee J. Cobb, who gives a strong performance as well.

Golden Boy is top notch entertainment fro yesteryear. And even though it's story is about boxing, it doesn't concentrate solely on it. In fact you only see one boxing match at the end of the film, that's a pretty good one. For most of the film, the drama comes from the characters and the situations they are put in. Look out for smooth Joseph Calleia as mobster Eddie Fuselli who wants a piece of Joe to make him some money. Golden Boy gets a magnificent performance by Holden. It would be 20 more years later before he would deliver a performance that matches this one. I'm talking about Stalag 17 in case you were wondering. But here, Holden is very powerful as Joe, as he is always on a slow simmer, ready to boil over. He does calm down though when in the presence of Lorna. Stanwyck is perfect as usual, with her Lorna being the girl who has seen it all and pretty much as given up on finding real love. Her heart has been hardened due to her dealings with crooked promoters, gangsters, and married men. So when she finally meets Joe, her outlook on life begins to change. Her chemistry with Holden is amazing, as she petitioned the studio to choose Holden for this part and the rest is history. Golden Boy is one of the greatest films I  have ever seen. It doesn't get any better than this and it's cool to see a star in the making with Holden's truly amazing performance. This is why he is one of my favorite actors,  because of his intensity and laid back demeanor. Golden Boy is in a class all by itself.

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