William Holden Blogathon

A Wild Bunch…

WildBunchWow…the third time that I’m having a chat about William Holden. But the weird thing is that I’ve only ever seen him in westerns (I’ll try change that for next year’s Blogathon). To me, he’s always that aging mature cowboy or outlaw (even father).**

Seriously, all three of his roles he’s been thoughtful, mostly level headed, even while on the run. He’s calm and collected. And in The Wild Bunch (1969), he’s no different. Yes, he’s an outlaw who’s pulled off some mighty big jobs and is planning one last big one…but, there is always a controlled air to him. And that approach of a planner.

the-wild-bunch-original+posterWhat a movie this is. The opening was quite hefty…wow. And visually…it is something else. The imagery is so well done. I mean really…just think about those poor scorpions being eaten alive by ants…to be burnt to a crisp. It sets the scene for what is to come more than any other scene ever could. What also struck me is the use of laughter…have you noticed how many scenes have big loud, overstated laughter…

Oh…I forgot to tell you…William Holden plays Pike Bishop, the gang leader who, with his men is fleeing from a group of bounty hunters led by his former partner Deke Thornton (played by Robert Ryan). Across the Rio Grande, they steal some weapons (that must be the best executed railway robbery I’ve ever seen) for a Mexican officer (he’s a nasty piece of work) and a whole lot of double-crossing and shooting ensues. That’s roughly the story.

Holden is the perfect fit for his role – a  leader who is firm and fair, believable yet has enough meanness in him to be a successful (?) outlaw.

While I “enjoyed” (not sure “enjoy” is the right word for this one) this movie, I found the violence extremely brutal and I was struck by how much torture was presented in this one (be it animal or human torture). Add all the “massacre” scenes and it makes for viewing that you really need to be in the mood for. (I believe it was/is quite controversial because of all this violence) But don’t get me wrong…it is an excellent movie.

Directed by Sam Peckinpah, it also stars Ernest Borgnine (I always enjoy watching him especially in The Revengers which also starred William Holden),  Edmond O’Brien, Warren Oates, Jaime Sánchez, Ben Johnson, Emilio Fernández amongst others. The musical score is fantastic and deserves the Oscar nomination. Likewise the Oscar nomination for screenplay is well deserved.

To change the topic…I really want to know which movie this banner comes from because darn, I want to watch that one…clearly not the aging cowboy:

Golden Boy banner_Picnic

Head on over to The Flapper Dame, Love Letters to Old Hollywood or The Wonderful World of Cinema to read some more about William Holden.

And for my past entries into this blogathon, click here for The Revengers and here for Wild Rovers.

**Ooh…I lie…I did see him in The Bridge on the River Kwai…aeons ago.

Wild Rovers with William Holden

The second round of the Golden Boy Blogathon has arrived. This year I decided to tackle Wild Rovers. Another one my parents had on Super 8 but I honestly couldn’t remember it (I know I’ve watched it though). So, nothing better than a Blogathon for some motivation. Time to give it another watch.

Often, when re-watching, bits come back but not with this one at all…well, except for the last 20 minutes or so. Amazing how some scenes suddenly stick. Oh, and the one where William Holden chases a herd of wild horses.

William Holden plays Ross Bodine, an aging cowboy who dreams of retiring in Mexico but doesn’t have the money to do so. Frank Post (Ryan O’Neal) is half Ross‘ age with dreams of his own. One night the two get involved in a fight at the local saloon and to pay for damages, boss and ranch owner Walt Buckman (Karl Malden) informs the two that deductions will be made from their salary. It is at this point that they decide to rob the bank in town. The rest of the story is about their ride to Mexico with Walt‘s sons, John and Paul (played by Tom Skerritt and Joe Don Baker respectively) on their trail.

While this isn’t a fast-paced Western, to me, it is more about the journey and decisions made by the two men (and others). William Holden is fantastic as the older, wiser more level-headed Ross. He fits the role perfectly. Being reasonable or firm when he needs to but adding some wonderful lighter moments in other circumstances. He is the perfect balance to Ryan O’Neal‘s arrogant, sometimes thoughtless and wilder Frank. I found myself smiling so often at the way Ross “reels in” Frank when he gets a bit too hot-headed. And William Holden‘s facial expressions are wonderful in this one.

Directed by Blake Edwards, it looks like this western didn’t do too well when it was released. Running at just over 2 hours, this was meant to be a 3 hour epic but never made it and was even cut down to just over 1 hour 40 minutes or so for the theatrical release.

I covered William Holden in The Revengers for last year’s Golden Boy Blogathon. Before you know it, the 3rd one will be upon us. Ok, ok…it’s only April. But can’t wait anyway. Thanks for hosting Virginie.