:Sigh: Tonight is the second to last night of William Holden movies on Turner Classic Movies. Where did April go? Tonight’s theme is westerns! Holden is not known for his westerns but he made 11 of them. Not all of them are winners but it’s another great example that Holden was comfortable in any role he played.
The night kicks off with The Horse Soldiers. The film, from 1959 and directed by John Ford, costars John Wayne in a story set in the Civil War. Holden plays a doctor who joins a Union calvary led by Wayne on a raid to destroy enemy railroads. But Holden’s character is constantly at odds with Wayne causing friction. Although based on true events, many have criticized the film for historical inaccuracies (but then again, when has Hollywood gotten any historical film completely right?), but Holden and Wayne are so good at bringing passion and heroism into their roles making this one of Ford’s most underrated films.
The Horse Soldiers airs at 8 p.m.
Arizona is Holden’s first western. It costars Jean Arthur, an actress I adore. In this film, Holden is a young, arrogant cattle rancher with a lot of charm. Arthur is the lead character as a ‘Calamity Jane’-type of western hero creating a quasi-feminist western with some dialogue that may surprise you. Another surprise in this film is a singing William Holden! He was obviously dubbed because it doesn’t quite match up and it shows there’s a reason he was never cast in a full blown musical. Holden is so young and easy-going in the part. It’s a snapshot of a Holden we rarely see so it’s nice to see him in a laid-back role with heroics sprinkled in. Arizona is a great adventure western film that packs suspense in the end, especially the final sequence.
Arizona airs at 10:15 pm.
Wild Rovers was originally intended to be a grand 3-hour epic by director Blake Edwards but unbeknownst to him, MGM heavily edited the film. Edwards was so upset, he disowned the film and took his anger out by making the film S.O.B, a satirical commentary at Hollywood. The film ends up being quite difficult to follow, however, the bond between Holden and Ryan O’Neil is worth the admission. I always love films that show the passing of the torch of one generation of Hollywood to another, and this is one of them.
Wild Rovers airs at 3:00 am
Escape from Fort Bravo
Eleanor Parker is one of my favorite underrated actresses. She is just so beautiful and tough. She could also play any role yet is so rarely talked about. Frustrating! Go watch her work other than The Sound of Music. This is another Civil War western and here, Holden is the ruthless captain in charge of a Union prison camp. Parker comes into the fray as she tries to free the camp but turning on the charm and having Holden fall in love with her. The Technicolor in this film is gorgeous but there are moments that make you feel sour as with most westerns, however the action and romance got me and I really enjoyed this one. I love Holden performances where he gets to play characters you can’t quite figure out and this is another great example of that.
Escape from Fort Bravo airs at 7 a.m. Tuesday.
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