Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Day 21- Favourite film from your favourite actor/actress

Favorite film with William Holden? That's easy. The first film I knew him from, The Horse Soldiers (1959).

This is one of those movies I don't really have any memory of seeing for the first time, because it was part of the John Wayne round-up of films we watched whenever they came on TV. When I was little, I loved Constance Tower, in her gorgeous dress, cleverly scheming to find out the Yankee plan. I loved her spitfire attitude, her attempts to escape or warn the Confederate soldiers, how she changes as she witnesses war and its cost. But I never did understand why she fell for John Wayne and not that other guy, the doctor, the one who was so good-looking and willing to go toe-to-toe with John Wayne. That William Holden guy.

I loved his character of Major Kendall. He starts out friendly, here to do his job, but Colonel Marlowe (John Wayne) just lays into him from the get-go. Kendall's not one to let it wash over him, so the animosity between the two men grows. This is one of those movies that even though I own it on DVD, I can't just scene jump to the "good parts" at the end. There's quite a few movies like that, where jumping ahead just ruins the ending, because what makes the ending work so well is sitting through the rest of the movie to get to that point. You gotta have the build up. Like Flight of the Phoenix... I can't jump to the starting of the plane, even though I've seen the movie fifty times. When that engine finally catches, what makes it so satisfying is what you've gone through to get there. Gladiator's like that, and a bunch of others. Payoffs have to be earned.

The Horse Soldiers is that way for me too. My favorite part is when William Holden finally gets pushed too far and dashes his drink in John Wayne's face. And off they go to duke it out. And it gets better when Holden asks him what the rules of the fight will be, and Wayne says "Just make up your own." So Holden slugs him on the spot. Very satisfying. Alas, their fight is way too short, interrupted by battle, but that just leads us to an even better scene, when Wayne gets shot and Holden gets to treat him. Hah. I love it.

The rest of the film has nicely spaced action scenes, cool scenery, a catchy main theme that I will find myself singing for the next two weeks after a viewing of it. I love that the love story is understated, that it just happens quietly, almost in the background, the characters conveying emotions with looks and actions more than words. I love that William Holden stays behind with the wounded soldiers at the end. And I really love the Wayne/Holden actor combo. They sell this story to me.


  1. (Hope you don't find my commenting on a super old post weird, but I recently watched this movie and I wanted to share a few of my thoughts.)

    I thought that William Holden's character was awesome (and much different from his roles in Stalag 17 and Sabrina where he plays a jerk) and probably the best part of this movie - it's definitely not a re-watch for me. :P Hamlette has tried before to make me see the good in John Wayne, but I can't seem to warm up to the characters he portrays. *sigh* (Though, admittedly, I've only seen a couple of his movies.)

    I know exactly what you mean about 'payoffs have to be earned'. I feel that way about a few movies, particularly The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Not that I don't enjoy the movie as a whole, but everything from 'The Ecstasy of Gold' to the end is, in my opinion, ten times better than the rest of the film. (And the Civil War scenes still bore me and yank me out of the story.)


    1. Of course I don't find comments on an old post weird! Kind of cool that you went back to check it out.

      Yeah, different actors work for different people. That's perfectly okay! So many I can't stand are other people's favorites, but I love that about the world. Like Hamlette, I love John Wayne. Grew up on a multitude of his movies, he's one of my dad and mom's favorite actors, and I think I've enjoyed every one of his films I've ever seen. (Coincidentally, I was just watching The Spoilers today with my parents, with him and Randolph Scott. They hadn't seen it before, and I own it on DVD.)

      Yay! Yeah, the endings of some movies are just so great, but they fade to meh if you don't watch the whole movie first to get there properly. Taken on its own, the scenes are still great, but they loses significance and satisfaction without the preceding two hours to lead up to them properly. I do love that Good, Bad and the Ugly made such an impression on you! Dig it!