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Golden Boy (1939)


brackenhe
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I'd never seen this film before yesterday because for some reason TCM hasn't shown it much (or ever before recently) but I didn't care for this film much. Lee J. Cobb should be embarrassed by his performance (if he were still with us) and the dialog was so over the top. The only person who came out of this film with their dignity in tact was Adolph Menjou.

 

I'd heard so much about this film that I was sadly disappointed in a major way.

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I find the film pretty much hopeless. It's starts with Cobb's performance which comes across as part Luigi from Super Mario Brothers and part Chico Marx. I keep expecting him to accompany Holden by playing the piano with one finger.

 

Then there's that bit with the daughter saying to her father (about her husband) "He can hit me anytime he wants."

 

I'll confess though that I find Odets to be a horrid playwright and one whose works have all the subtlety of a sledgehammer.

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I'm going to get the reputation on this board of being obstinate....I seem to have opposing views to every thread & opinion.

 

I saw Golden Boy for the first time many years ago because I had heard so much about it-William Holden in particular. I hated it. I wondered how the heck he ever became a star, it was so insulting a film. Well, I watched it again this past Sat. Only a second viewing, but what a difference. I actually enjoyed it. A LOT.

 

First, I was struck by how much my beloved William Holden resembled the idiotic Tom Hanks with that curly dark hairpiece. Amazing and fascinating at the same time. Holden aged like a prince, while Hanks has deteriorated to well, repulsive.

Holden's acting was stilted, but you could definitely see he would soon be the powerhouse he became. Plus, any time he's shirtless it's always a bonus.

 

Sure, the "Eye-talian" charactor overacting was a bit much, especially the wife hitting and huge arm waving gestures. But ever watch Paul Muni? It was the acting style of the times coupled with the stereotype of the times. Let's compare this to insulting portrayals of black housekeepers or porters of the day. Keep it in context.

 

I liked the Adolph Menjou/Barbara Stanwyk story line, also very typical of the day. In fact, I'd say Stanwyk's performance saves the film (as usual) She plays her typical "bad girl is only my cover for the sentimental sop underneath" as she does in Baby Face and Remember the Night.

 

No, these movies were no GWTW, but that's why GWTW was so spectacular. Movies of those days were simple morality tales, not power blockbusters. It's fun to watch them in context of the day and imagine how teens & adults alike could enjoy the storylines & portrayals.

 

Sure it's corn, but most classic movie lovers enjoy a little corn, don't we?

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> {quote:title=TikiSoo wrote:}{quote} I'm going to get the reputation on this board of being obstinate....I seem to have opposing views to every thread & opinion.

 

That's OK. If everybody always agreed with everybody else it would be pretty boring around here.

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What she says is same problem I have with Tomcat Cruise...neither Hanks or Cruise have the ability to make the audience suspend belief.

 

When Cagney or Robinson played gangsters...you could believe they WERE gangsters.

 

Could anyone believe Cruise was a jet pilot, or race car driver? I couldn't.

 

Tom Hanks as an infantry officer slogging away on Omaha Beach on D-Day?

 

NEVER!

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Any boxer whose hair looks like that deserves to be pummeled. I actually like the play. Odets IS heavy-handed. This play is less preachy than some of his works. But the movie doesn't come through. The acting looks like ACTING. Especially Holden. The staging is cut and dried. The hair cut and curled. It would be a good ten years, more even, before Hollywood's best "everyman" came into his own.

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I happened to catch the last bit of this movie this past weekend and I must say "Geez Louise, what a turkey!"

 

I love Bill Holden so much I read Bob Thomas' biography also titled "Golden Boy." In it he mentions Holden's feelings about his first feature film and how nervous he was.

 

Unfortunately he was given alcohol to take the edge off so he could feel more comfortable in front of the camera. Sadly, it did nothing for his performance, but may have been the start of what triggered his lifelong battle with booze.

 

I just wonder what the likes of Menjou, Stanwyck and Cobb (in a real ham of a performance) thought as they were making the film.

 

The final scene is so over the top in its imagery of the "poppa" in his home, it is amazing. Normally if a movie features an actor who I like I will give the film another go. This one was better left where I found it.

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the blame, if you ask me, lies 100% with CLIFFORD ODETS:the DREARIEST, MOST PRETENTIOUS, MOST OVERRATED, CLUNKIEST, HITS YOU OVER THE HEAD WITH HIS SOCIALIST ANTI-CAPITALIST TWADDLE screenwriter/ director of the 30's-50's.

 

If you thought the movie was bad, you should see how the play ends! The "Golden Boy" commits a murder/suicide, killing himself and the stanwyck character!

 

seriously!

 

GOLDEN BOY stinks. THE BIG KNIFE stinks, "none but the lonely heart" SUPER stinks, HUMORESQUE stinks. "CLASH BY NIGHT" stinks.

 

btw, did anyone else notice this movie is SO "Humoresque" with boxing?!

 

Although, I thought Stanwyck did fine with the leaden dialogue.

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Odets style was better suited for theatre than film. And, certainly, his themes were more relevant to The Depression. AWAKE AND SING is a good play. So is WAITING FOR LEFTY. There's a socio-political message, but it's also human drama. ROCKET TO THE MOON has less impact. But it's an entertaining, if not inspired, story of family conflict. There are playwrights I like better. But I have some appreciation for his work.

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