All good things must come to end and so it is, the final night of William Holden movies on TCM. The programming for his Star of the Month was a versatile mix that showcased why Holden was such a special performer. He brought honesty to each of his roles and it’s something you can feel in all of his movies. Tonight is a nice mix of not only Holden’s star power but how good he was as a supporting player in ensemble films.
My picks for tonight are the first three movies airing in primetime but I must point out that if you haven’t seen his final film, S.O.B. or The Earthling, you should definitely seek them out as they are not as well known. Both are great examples of the type of risks he was willing to take as an older man and how he used his older features to continue to breathe life to complex men.
Born Yesterday (1950, Dir. George Cukor)
Although this film belongs to Judy Holliday (in her Oscar winning role), Holden is a delight as Paul Verrall, the intelligent gentleman hired to tutor Holliday’s Billie Dawn. A bespectacled Holden is charming as he teaches Dawn about American history, politics and philosophy. What makes his character so likeable is how he never looks down on Dawn and how he ends up learning more about himself along the way.
Born Yesterday airs at 8 p.m.
Picnic (1956, Dir. Joshua Logan)
As a trouble drifter battling demons and questioning his place in the world, Holden thought he was much too old to play Hal Carter but he used that weariness and sex appeal to bring complexity to the role. This is peak ‘thirst trap’ era of Holden’s career as it followed Love is a Many-Splendored Thing meaning there are many scenes of Holden without a shirt. And as this studio still suggests, the shirt really didn’t want to stay on Holden’s chest anyway.
Picnic airs at 10 p.m.
Network ( 1976, Dir. Sidney Lumet)
In this loud and boisterous social satire, Holden has the quiet part of Max Shumacher, head of of the news division at the network, UBS. Holden is the soul of Network, a man who loses his way but eventually discovers the truth of who he is. Scenes where he talks about his fear of death now that he has aged and his confrontation with his wife after he has confessed his affair, you can’t help but feel that the character may have been a little too close to home for Holden in his real life. The pain in his eyes brings a truth to Max in a powerful way only Holden could deliver and he won his final Oscar nomination along the way.
Network airs at 12:00 a.m.
Although William Holden month may be over on TCM, Holden100 is a celebration for the entire year. The conversation will continue here on Flickin’ Out and on my social media channels by following #Holden100.
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