To say this Monday’s lineup of films on TCM for William Holden is perfection is honestly an understatement. It starts off with three essential films in Holden’s body of work. It’s his greatest hits that begins with his breakthrough Sunset Boulevard at 8 PM, followed by his Oscar winning performance in Stalag 17 at 10 PM and then The Bridge on the River Kwai at 12:15 AM, a picture Holden made when he was at the top of his game. But after these three well-known films, you have two lesser known gems that are significant.
Toward the Unknown was the first and only film Holden produced and then there’s Force of Arms, a special film directed by Michael Curtiz. These are two different and special films. In Toward the Unknown, Holden plays a test pilot during the Korean War who was captured, tortured and released from a prison camp. He attempts to clear his name and in this journey, Holden captures his desperation and stress from it all. The flight sequences are also very impressive for the era. The film isn’t shown as often as it should be and doesn’t have a DVD release, so you’ll definitely want to have it on your radar. It will air at 3:15 AM on Tuesday, April 10.
Force of Arms is the third pairing of Holden and Nancy Olson. Their first collaborationwas in Sunset Boulevard and in this film it’s nice to see them in a straight-up romantic drama. This movie is so beautiful. In this war movie, Holden is a GI on leave in Italy who meets and falls in love with WAC Olson. Their chemistry together had promise in Sunset Boulevard, and in this film it’s showcased. The film is ripe with emotional, romantic dialogue between the two but what could come off as corny in the hands of other actors is just fine for these two. You get invested in their love story because they’re so good at creating a build up and pay off. To balance the romance, this war film also features some very good action sequences that show what life is like in a war torn country. Force of Arms airs at 5:15 AM on Tuesday, April 10.
As a special feature for this week’s Holden100 guide, I spoke with New York Film Festival director and filmmaker Kent Jones about Holden’s legacy. You can listen to the interview below:
For more of Holden100, click here.