The Third Golden Boy Blogathon: A William Holden Centenary Celebration…

Audrey and Bill
source: Paramount Pictures

Is it really a true classic Hollywood film unless your two leads have an affair?

From Bogart and Bacall, Crawford and Gable, Kelly and well, just about everyone (allegedly), having an affair with your co-star is as common as putting cereal before milk.

One tryst that I’ve always liked was the short-lived relationship between Audrey Hepburn and William Holden.

Audrey and William
source: Paramount Pictures

Let’s travel back to 1954.

The Korean war has ended, Eisenhower was president, and Audrey Hepburn was Hollywood’s hottest commodity.

Coming off an Oscar win for 1953’s Roman Holiday, Hepburn threw herself into her work, starting with the Billy Wilder romantic dramedy Sabrina.

It’s on this set where she meets and subsequently falls in love with Hollywood’s ‘Golden Boy’ William Holden.

Sabrina was Holden‘s third film with Wilder, making him a mediator whenever there were disagreements between Bogart and Hepburn on set. Since Holden was notorious for having on set affairs, it was only a matter of time until Hepburn fell for his charms.

One thing led to another and Hepburn eventually caved in. Their on-set rendezvous, however, caused frustration among the crew – particularly Bogart who was still bitter about his wife Lauren Bacall being passed over the title role of Sabrina.

William and Audrey 2
source: Audrey and ‘Bill” having a rather flirty conversation during one of their breaks on the set of 1954’s Sabrina

Their heated affair lasted until the end of filming.

According to multiple biographies, Audrey ultimately wanted Holden to divorce his wife and move in with him, inevitably having his children.

Hah!

Holden unintentionally ruined their future together when he had an impromptu vasectomy after his two sons were born. This left Audrey rather distressed and heartbroken. She finally ended their relationship when Holden admitted he wouldn’t divorce his wife for her.

Luckily, filming was completed relatively swiftly, leaving Hepburn with time to mend her shattered hopes and dreams.

William and Audrey 3
source: Paramount Pictures

The next time Holden and Hepburn crossed paths was in 1964, 10 years after the filming of Sabrina when they co-starred in the romantic comedy Paris When It Sizzles.

The movie wasn’t too great, but what it lacked in the on-screen plot was more than made up in the crazy behind the scenes drama involving their relationship and Holden‘s rampant alcoholism.

Director Richard Quine commented on this, saying that Holden “was like a punch-drunk fighter, walking on his heels, listing slightly, talking punchy. He didn’t know he was drunk.”

This downfall was partly due to Hepburn‘s presence.

Holden fell for Hepburn – hard.

Apparently, every so often, Holden would send letters and flowers to Hepburn even though she’d been married to fellow actor Mel Ferrer for 10 years.

Holden would later recall his first time seeing Audrey after 10 years, saying, “I could hear my footsteps echoing against the walls of the transit corridor, just like a condemned man walking the last mile. I realized that I had to face Audrey and I had to deal with my drinking. And I didn’t think I could handle either situation.”

William and Audrey 5
source: Audrey and William having a laugh during their downtime on the set of 1954’s Sabrina

I suppose that’s the saddest part of this entire ordeal. If wasn’t for Holden‘s ‘surprise’ vasectomy and his alcoholism, he probably would’ve married Hepburn.

Who knows what they would’ve become? The next Newman and Woodward or Burton and Taylor? Would he have cheated on her like he did with his wife or would he treat her differently?

I’d like to think so, considering how deeply affected he was after seeing her again after 10 years.

In the end, Holden and Hepburn went their separate ways. Hepburn with Mel Ferrer and Holden with Brenda Marshall until their divorce in 1971.

 

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The Third Annual Bette Davis Blogathon…

source
source: 20th Century Fox

The Star is a peculiar movie in Bette Davis‘ filmography.

It earned her an Academy Award nomination, but also some of the worst reviews of her career. Some may say that the film is a “stain” on an otherwise flawless movie career by Davis, but I believe it’s probably the most interesting.

The plot is fairly simple, it’s your typical Tinsel town story about an out of work film star and her struggles to keep hold of the fame that she once had.

Seeing as this film stars Davis, I find it hard to believe that movie doesn’t have parallels to the real-life crossroads Davis was feeling at the time.

The Star 1952
source: 20th Century Fox

It’s 1952.

Bette Davis has just turned the dreaded age of 44.

In classic Hollywood terms, that means she’s well past her ‘expiration’ date. Not unlike Joan Crawford (who The Star‘s script is inspired by), Davis was at a turning point in her career.

After rising to fame in the 30s, winning two Oscars and enjoying the bulk of her success in the 40s, Davis only made 10 films in 1950s, with All About Eve being the standout.

It appeared to be a theme in Davis‘ later career to choose scripts that had aging actresses in the beginning stages of a mid-life crisis; The Star is another example of this.

Co-starring alongside Sterling Hayden and Natalie Wood, Davis once called the film’s script, “one of the best ever written about a movie-mad actress.”

It’s funny that she would say that.

Even though Davis has been quoted multiple times saying the script is based on the ‘many faces of Joan Crawford‘ she could’ve easily been talking about herself.

Both she and Crawford were known to be rivals during their hay-day, but what if The Star was indicative of a larger problem that both women were facing at the time.

The Star 1952 2
source: 20th Century Fox

Hollywood has never been kind to older actresses. The studio system during the ‘Golden Age’ was no exception to this phenomenon.

The Star portrayed the lengths that someone would go through just to hold on to the last vestiges of fame they had left.

By 1952, Bette Davis was in the same predicament. Struggling to find work and deemed, washed up by Hollywood, she grappled with producers, forcing her way into any every script she could find.

Some films like All About Eve and The Star were fantastic; others, like Another Man’s Poison and The Catered Affair, fell flat.

The Star reflected the struggles of not only Bette Davis, but every actress of the age of 35. The movie might’ve done poorly at the box office, but its importance goes far beyond any critical and commercial praise.

It brought a sensitive subject out to the open, it broke a taboo and that’s why this movie is so important, even though some critics might not think so.

 

 

The Second Annual Doris Day Blogathon…

Midnight Lace
source: Universal Pictures

Doris Day.

Happy Birthday, first of all. Secondly, give yourself a pat on the back.

She really outdid herself this time.

The Doris Day that we like to remember is the girl next door. She’s everyone’s best friend, she’s one who married her child high school sweetheart and bakes cookies for her children’s school bake sale.

Perhaps that facade gets masks the true hidden talent in Day‘s acting arsenal.

In the thriller Midnight Lace, the ‘Hitchcock Day™‘ (something, I dubbed her after watching The Man Who Knew Too Much ) was out in full force.

The film follows newly-wed Kit Preston and her struggles to adjust to life in England. Not only does she have to deal with the melancholic weather and a different culture, she’s also being phone stalked by a man who’s threatening to kill her.

Her husband Anthony ‘Tony’ Preston, played by Rex Harrison, insists that it’s just a practical joke and tries to calm her down with an extended honeymoon to Venice.

Midnight Lace 1960 2
source: Universal Studios

The next day Kit prepares for this trip by buying a variety of clothing. During her shopping spree, she nearly gets hit by a falling girder from a nearby construction site. This is where we get introduced to Brain Younger, played by John Gavin.

He quickly takes an interest in Mrs. Preston, acting as a guardian angel of sorts, whenever she gets in trouble.

The phone calls continue, getting more and more hostile as the days roll on. It gets so bad that Tony takes the initiative and gets Scotland Yard involved. Immediately they bombard Mrs. Preston with a litany questions. Ranging from, ‘do you have any enemies?’ to ‘are you happy in your marriage?’

Naturally Tony takes offense and that leads the head detective, played by John Willams, to question him, insinuating that he may behind this entire ‘stunt.’

As if things can’t get any worse for Kit, Tony cancels their trip to Venice, claiming that work has got him extraordinarily busy.

midnigh lace 1960 3
source: Universal Studios

Luckily, a few days later Kit’s vivacious Aunt Bea, played by Myrna Loy, shows up for an extended stay at her flat.

Things progressively get stranger as the weeks go on. It starts with Kit getting stuck in an elevator and having a panic attack. What she believes is her stalker is actually Brian apologizing for his construction site cutting off the electricity. Next, she gets pushed in front of a moving bus in front of a crowd of strangers The final straw is when the people around start to doubt her, calling her delusional and paranoid.

Tony and Bea take her to a physician where he clears her of all potential ailments.

Seeing as though there’s nothing wrong, Tony decides to re-schedule their trip to Venice, at the insistence of Aunt Bea.

A couple of days pass without calls and the Preston’s deduce that they must’ve stopped. It isn’t until late one night when Tony’s due at a business meeting across town that the calls continue. This time, Tony actually hears the threats. He quickly tells Kit that he’ll cancel his meeting and they’ll devise a plan on how to catch the stranger.

Tony plans to walk out of the building, in plain sight, sneak back in and catch the killer in the middle of his act.

He does just that and this is where the film gets even crazier.

Midnight Lace 1960 4
source: Universal Studios

They wrestle for a while until the “stranger” gets shot with his own weapon. I put “stranger” in quotations because he isn’t a stranger at all but the naval husband of Kit’s supposed best friend and next door neighbor Peggy Thompson, played by Natasha Perry.

This is important because she’s being used as a witness in Tony’s plot to kill Kit while making it look like an accident. You see, Tony recently found that one of his employees’ embezzled one million pounds away from his company. The only way to get that money is to, apparently, kill his wife.

Her husband Roy Ash, played by Anthony Dawson, has been stalking Tony’s movements ever since he returned home from the war. He believed that they were having an affair, and that’s why he’s been so secretive.

Stuck at crossroads, Kit sprints towards her bedroom where she screams out for help. Once again, Brian is there to save the day, conveniently walking out of the pub just in time to help Kit cascade down the scaling safely.

Moments later the police arrive, arresting Tony, Peggy and getting medical help for the wounded ‘intruder’ lying on the ground so desperately needs.

The final shot of the film has Brian and Aunt Bea walking off in the distance comforting Kit with words of encouragement.

Conclusion

midnight-lace-the-end
source: Universal Studios

As I stated earlier, Day‘s dramatic acting skills are very underrated.

During the entire film, I was in shock at how well she carried the heavier, fear-inducing scenes.

I suppose that’s a testament to the director, David Miller.

His use of shadows and darkness to create a frantic mood truly terrified me. As for the acting performances, Rex Harrison was positively unsettling. I always suspected he was up to something, It didn’t surprise me when he revealed himself to be the ‘bad guy’ at the end.

I AM surprised that Doris didn’t receive a nomination for her role as Kit. I thought she did a phenomenal job, acting alongside Myrna Loy certainly isn’t an easy task, but she pulled it off flawlessly.

Speaking of Myrna Loy, I absolutely adored in this movie. Her delivery was quick, witty and at time heartbreak (when we reach the film’s climax, anyway.)

As the film ended, I couldn’t help but think that Day‘s character would bounce back that ordeal.

In my mind, she’d fly back to the States with Aunt Bea for a period of time while they clean out her old apartment, keeping in touch with Brian through a letter correspondence. After a couple of weeks in the US, she’ll return to England where she and Brian will move in together, eventually marrying months later.

One can only hope, right? Please tell me I’m not the only one who believes this?