Tag Archives: William Holden

The Set of 400: #20 – My Favorite George Washington Bridge Joke

Today! Because the dollar buys a nickel’s worth, banks are going bust –

Network (1976)

Directed by Sidney Lumet (x4)

Starring William Holden (x2), Faye Dunaway, Peter Finch, Robert Duvall (x4), Ned Beatty (x5), Beatrice Straight (x2), Darryl Hickman, Wesley Addy, Arthur Burghardt, Marlene Warfield, Jordan Charney (x2), Conchata Ferrell, Ken Kercheval, William Prince

The most prescient movie of all time, Network manages to reflect modern television far better than the handful of channels existing in its day. Sure, the writing may have been on the wall that news could someday be weaponized and rolled into general entertainment, but the likes of CNN and FOX News was still years away when Paddy Chayefsky penned his masterpiece and Lumet so brilliantly brought it to life. You may come into Network for the acting – because those are some powerful, towering performances – but it stays with you for the depiction of the rabbit hole nightmare decades before its full impact was evident.

Now, despite winning three of the four acting Oscars in ’76 (the second and most recent movie to accomplish this feat, after A Streetcar Named Desire), this is not a group of particularly well-rounded characters. They more represent ideals than actual human beings, and so no one is very relatable, and the script goes bonkers with the monologuing. Beatrice Straight won Best Supporting Actress for basically one long scene where she yells at her philandering husband. Ned Beatty was similarly nominated for his apocalyptic speech breaking down corporate America in near biblical terms. The most famous sequence of the movie is an almost uninterrupted missive to the viewing audience as Finch’s cracked newsman Howard Beale gets mad as hell. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #150 – My Favorite Monkey Funeral

Today! Because I am big, it’s the pictures that got small –

Sunset Boulevard (1950)

Directed by Billy Wilder (x2)

Starring Gloria Swanson, William Holden, Nancy Olson, Erich von Stroheim, Fred Clark, Lloyd Gough (x2), Jack Webb, Cecil B. DeMille, Hedda Hopper (x2), Buster Keaton, H.B. Warner, Anna Q. Nilsson

Even for movies about movies, which lean heavy on this formula, Sunset Boulevard’s art-imitating-life bent is almost head-spinning. By many indications, Gloria Swanson was only amping up her own persona slightly in playing damaged, faded silent star Norma Desmond, while her former director turned butler Max Von Mayerling was played by accomplished Austrian actor Erich von Stroheim, who had himself directed Swanson in the 1929 drama Queen Kelly. Cecil B. DeMille appears as himself, as do Buster Keaton, H.B. Warner, and Anna Q. Nilsson. While Hollywood cameos in Hollywood-set films is nothing new, it’s the fact that these folks would play such degraded, forgotten versions of themselves in 1950, when former silent actors were basically out on the curb, that makes it all the more remarkable.

Aww, poor Buster

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