William Holden Movies

William Holden in 1969's The Wild Bunch

William Holden in 1969’s The Wild Bunch

Want to know the best William Holden movies?  How about the worst William Holden movies?  Curious about William Holden’s box office grosses or which William Holden movie picked up the most Oscar® nominations? Need to know which William Holden movie got the best reviews from critics and audiences and which got the worst reviews? Well you have come to the right place….because we have all of that information.

This William Holden page comes from a suggestion from fellow movie watcher mckbirdbks, as well as lots of Holden support from more movie lovers Steve Lensman, Flora Breen Robison and BERN1960 (whose every comment lately has been…”still waiting on that William Holden page”). So without any further delay…here is a movie page on the one… the only…. William Holden.

William Holden (1918-1981) was an Oscar® winning actor who appeared in motion pictures from 1939 to 1981. After appearing in two uncredited parts, Holden got his big break in 1939’s Golden Boy. Golden Boy was not a huge hit, but people became aware of William Holden the actor. For the next 10 years, he appeared in numerous movies, but it is safe to say his career was disappointing. That changed when Holden appeared in 1950’s Sunset Boulevard. He received his first Oscar® nomination for that role and it started a 10 year run for Holden that was filled with classic blockbuster movies. He won an Oscar® for 1953’s Stalag 17, appeared in the box office hits….1954’s Sabrina, 1954’s The Bridges of Toko-Ri, and 1955’s Picnic. He also helped Grace Kelly win her Oscar® for 1954’s The Country Girl and was the lead actor in 1957’s The Bridge on the River Kwai…which won the Oscar® for Best Picture.

From 1962 to 1981, Holden would appear in almost one movie a year. During this time period only three movies really stand out….1969’s The Wild Bunch, 1974’s The Towering Inferno and 1976’s Network….for which Holden would receive his final Oscar® nomination. William Holden passed away in November 1981 from injuries from a fall and his ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean. And finally…… one of my father’s favorite movies was The Bridge on the River Kwai….so I am sure he would be happy to see that it finished ranked number one of all of Holden’s movies according to Cogerson Movie Score.

His IMDb page shows 77 acting credits from 1938-1981. This page will rank 66 William Holden movies from Best to Worst in six different sortable columns of information. Television shows, cameos and his uncredited or bit roles were not included in the rankings.

What a cast! Bogart, Hepburn and William Holden in 1954's Sabrina

What a cast! Bogart, Hepburn and William Holden in 1954’s Sabrina

William Holden Movies Can Be Ranked 6 Ways In This Table

The really cool thing about this table is that it is “user-sortable”. Rank the movies anyway you want.

  • Sort William Holden movies by co-stars of his movies.
  • Sort William Holden movies by adjusted domestic box office grosses using current movie ticket cost (in millions)
  • Sort William Holden movies by yearly box office rank
  • Sort William Holden movies how they were received by critics and audiences.  60% rating or higher should indicate a good movie.
  • Sort William Holden movies by how many Oscar® nominations and Oscar® wins each movie won received
  • Sort William Holden movies by Ultimate Movie Rankings (UMR) Score.  UMR Score puts box office, reviews and awards into a mathematical equation and gives each movie a score.
  • Use the search and sort buttons to make this table very interactive.  For example type in “Barbara Stanwyck” in the search box…and up pop the 2 Holden/Stanwyck movies.

Stats and Possibly Interesting Things From The Above William Holden Table

  1. Twenty-four William Holden movies crossed the magical $100 million domestic gross mark.  That is a percentage of 36.36% of his movies listed. The Towering Inferno (1974) was easily his biggest box office ht when looking at adjusted domestic box office gross.
  2. An average William Holden movie grosses $106.10 million in adjusted box office gross.
  3. Using RottenTomatoes.com’s 60% fresh meter.  43 of William Holden’s movies are rated as good movies…or 65.15% of his movies. Sunset Blvd. (1950) is his highest rated movie while When Time Ran Out (1980) was his lowest rated movie.
  4. Eighteen William Holden movies received at least one Oscar® nomination in any category…..or 27.27% of his movies.
  5. Eleven William Holden movies won at least one Oscar® in any category…..or 16.66% of his movies.
  6. An average Ultimate Movie Rankings (UMR) Score is 40.00. 34 William Holden movies scored higher than that average….or 51.51% of his movies.  The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) got the the highest UMR Score while When Time Ran Out (1980) got the lowest UMR Score.
William Holden in his Oscar® winning performance in 1953's Stalag 17

William Holden in his Oscar® winning performance in 1953’s Stalag 17

Possibly Interesting Facts About William Holden

1. William Holden was Ronald Reagan’s best man, when Reagan married Nancy Davis in 1952. Holden also did the honors for lifelong friend, Glenn Ford, when Ford married Cynthia Hayward in 1977.

2. According to the book, Golden Boy: The Untold Story of William Holden by Bob Thomas, William Holden and Audrey Hepburn considered getting married while filming the 1954’s Sabrina. Hepburn ended the relationship when she found out Holden could no longer have children. When Hepburn and Holden were filming 1964’s Paris When It Sizzles, Holden tried to rekindle the relationship. At one point, Holden climbed a tree outside Hepburn’s hotel window looking for a kiss from her. After the kiss, Holden promptly fell out of the tree and crashed landed on a parked car.

3. William Holden appeared on Quigley Publishing’s Top Ten Money Making Stars list six times between 1954-1961. In 1956 he appeared as the number one Top Money Making Star.

4. William Holden received 3 Oscar® nominations for acting. He won the Oscar® for 1953’s Stalag 17. His other two nominations were for 1950’s Sunset Boulevard and 1976’s Network. He never received a Golden Globe® nomination.

5. He was so grateful to Barbara Stanwyck for her insistence on casting him in 1939’s Golden Boy, that he sent her flowers every year on the anniversary of the first day of the filming. He was also grateful to Montgomery Clift for turning down the lead role in Sunset Boulevard. After Clift turned the role down, the role went to Holden. Sunset Boulevard is considered the turning point in Holden’s 40 year career.

6. Has one of the shortest acceptance speeches in the history of the Oscars®. When his named was called as Best Actor for Stalag 17, Holden walked to the podium, said “Thank you” and left the stage.

7. Entertainment Weekly voted William Holden as the 63rd Greatest Movie Star. Holden also finished 25th in the American Film Institute’s Greatest Screen Legends poll.

8. William Holden was married one time in his life. Holden married Ardis Ankerson in 1941. They divorced in 1971. William Holden had three children….sons Peter and Scott and daughter, Virginia. Virginia was Ankerson’s daughter from her first marriage. Holden legally adopted her.

9. Roles William Holden turned down or was seriously considered for: Strangers on a Train, North By Northwest, The Guns of Navarone, The Omen, The Americanization of Emily, Mister Roberts and The Trouble With Harry.

10. Check out William Holden’s career compared to current and classic actors.  Most 100 Million Dollar Movies of All-Time.

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95 thoughts on “William Holden Movies

  1. 1 Dear NOEL As one of my all time fictitious idols Dalton in Road House said “Opinions vary.” –
    (1) “The most underrated performance of a historical figure that I have ever seen was Brando’s Napoleon in Desiree” [Lord Laurence Olivier but maybe he knew nothing about acting!!]
    (2) ” And to think they put him down for that great performance in Mutiny on the Bounty.” Richard Dreyfuss.
    (3) “The best performance that I have ever got from an actor was Brando’s in 1967s Reflections in a Golden Eye” [John Houston]. “When one considers how Brando’s performance in that film was received it is no wonder that he seemed to lose interest in his craft for a time.” [Famed film historian and author David Shipman].
    (4) “ Though not a singer, in some strange way Brando was able to overshadow Sinatra in Guys and Dolls “ [David Shipman again]
    (5) “I have wanted to do more films and certainly when I watched Marlon Brando in the 1958 The Young Lions I wished that I could act like that.” [British comedian Max Bygraves].
    (6) All the cast of Superman the Movie seemed to be enjoying themselves but the greatest demonstration of old- fashioned Hollywood professionalism was provide by Brando in his 15 minute appearance at the start” [Newsweek USA Magazine]
    (6) The greatest performance by an actor in the entire history of the cinema was in my opinion Brando’s in Last Tango in Paris. [Alexander Walker renowned film critic of London Evening Standard.]
    (7) “Who’s the best actor ever ? Bud when he wants to be.” Hank Fonda

    2 However I will “defend to the death” your right to hold contrary opinions but if your description of Brando’s career accurately reflects the achievements of a performer whom Time magazine listed as one of the 100 MOST IMPORTANT people of the 20th Century then to paraphrase Sgt Bilko’s Colonel “They’ll be queuing up to see what those that didn’t make the 100 look like.” As it is Time Magazine put Brando in the general company of people like Albert Einstein and President F D Rosevelt both of whom headed the lsit However as you have also listed American Legend and box office giant Duke Wayne low at 186th perhaps there is a parallel universe somewhere in which the likes of Brando and Wayne have had different careers from the ones that seasoned observers, scholars and historians know about. Conversely “When the legend suits better than the truth print the legend” [The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” 1962]

  2. 47 for Bill Holden

    Apartment for Peggy (1948) – Edmund Gwenn
    Ashanti (1979) – Michael Caine, Peter Ustinov, Rex Harrison
    Blaze of Noon (1947) – Anne Baxter
    Born Yesterday (1950) – Broderick Crawford, Judy Holliday
    Casino Royale (1967) – David Niven
    Damien: Omen II (1978) – Lee Grant
    Executive Suite (1954) – Shelley Winters, Dean Jagger, Fredric March
    Fedora (1978) – Jose Ferrer
    Forever Female (1953) – Ginger Rogers
    I Wanted Wings (1941) – Ray Milland
    Invisible Stripes (1939) – Humphrey Bogart
    Love is a Many Splendored Thing (1955) – Jennifer Jones
    Network (1976) – Robert Duvall, Faye Dunaway, Peter Finch, Beatrice Straight
    Paris – When it Sizzles (1964) – Frank Sinatra, Audrey Hepburn
    Picnic (1955) – Cliff Robertson
    Rachel and the Stranger (1948) – Loretta Young
    S.O.B. (1981) – Shelley Winters, Julie Andrews
    Sabrina (1954) – Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart
    Texas (1941) – Claire Trevor
    The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) – Alec Guiness
    The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1954) – Frederic March, Grace Kelly
    The Counterfeit Traitor (1962) – Hugh Griffith
    The Country Girl (1954) – Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly
    The Devil’s Brigade (1968) – Cliff Robertson
    The Horse Soldiers (1959) – John Wayne
    The Key (1958) – Sophia Loren
    The Moon is Blue (1953) – David Niven
    The Revengers (1972) – Ernest Borgnine, Susan Hayward
    The Towering Inferno (1974) – Faye Dunaway, Paul Newman, Jennifer Jones
    The Turning Point (1952) – Edmond O’Brien
    The Wild Bunch (1969) – Ernest Borgnine, Ben Johnson, Edmond O’Brien
    Union Station (1950) – Barry Fitzgerald
    Variety Girl (1947) – Ray Milland, Burt Lancaster, Barry Fitzgerald
    When Time Ran Out (1980) – Ernest Borgnine, Paul Newman, Red Buttons
    Wild Rovers (1971) – Karl Malden
    Young and Willing (1943) – Susan Hayward

    1. Good total for Mr. Holden….you would think with 4 Oscar winners in the cast…there is no way Ashanti would be so bad….will I revisited that movie about a month ago…and it still stinks! I have not seen S.O.B. in years….I need to track that one down. I wonder if I would get the Hollywood inside jokes better now. Thanks for providing this Holden list.


    1 And there was me thinking that writing unflattering things about Mr M had formed the common bond between you and our modern Burt Lancaster! Still it’s interesting to learn how you two did get close.

    2 As Richard Nixon is supposed to have said as soon as he won the 1968 Presidential election and one of his aides was the first ever to address him as Mr President “Somebody should be taking a note of this.”

    3 I think that the last time that I was so interested in learning how a duo of the stature of Cogerson/Lensman or Lensman/Cogerson – compromise billing ! – came together was in relation to Woodward and Bernstein often credited with being Nixon’s Nemesis.

    4 Back to your own comments and I would say that on this occasion it’s not a case of all great minds thinking alike as I would have Golden’s Stalag 17 as No 1. However I was delighted that in your Top 30 was Holden’s little gem Escape from Fort Bravo. I vividly remember that one because Bill played an initially cruel Army office Captain Roper who strangely has a love of flowers and has a little flower garden on camp called “Roper’s Roses”. Also sticking in the mind
    is one of the other characters assuring him that despite attacks on the fort Roper will live to a ripe old age as “only the good die young.!”

    5 Anyway take care!



    I forgot to say the quote at the beginning of the Golden video contained some very choice words for an actor whom Bogie used to chide for having a ‘goody, goody’screen persona with Humph and Bill almost coming to blows for Bogie’s crack on the Sabrina set ” Done any more of your Smiling JIm roles lately?”


    1 The Golden Holden video is one of those with special appeal for me as to my mind Golden was as much a part of 50s stardom as the more publicised Burt, Kirk, Monroe and Mr M, the difference being that whilst there always seemed to be a hullabaloo surrounding those 4 Golden just went about quietly and without fuss doing what he was paid for and between Stalag 17 in 1953 and The World of Suzie Wong in 1960, his very peak years, gave us hit after hit.

    2 Extracting the appropriate stats from Bruce’s highly comprehensive table shows that in that 53-60 period Golden made 16 films which have an adjusted domestic gross of $3.2 billion, which is a staggering average of nearly $200 mil per movie. Your video includes 13 of the 16 and 11 of your 13 crashed Bruce’s now legendary 100 mil barrier . Glenn Ford proclaimed that Bill’s performance in Bridge on River Kwai was the finest he had ever seen on screen from an actor.[Of course that speech was made before Last Tango in Paris and Godpop were released !! ]

    3 To be honest watching the video was a bitter-sweet experience. On the one hand I enjoyed the usual stupendous art work on the posters and found the rankings and the scores very interesting but as the titles of the 50s movies rolled up I had to at times fight back tears of nostalgia and also wondered “Was Bill Holden one of those who stole my boyhood?” because I was certainly at the head of the queue for every Holden 1950s film in the video as well as for example most 50s Stewart/Peck/Widmark/Laddie films

    4 Next comes “A man gotta do what a man’s gotta do.” and you know who is most famous for epitomising that code of ethics !! Glad to see Randy is also now ready for viewing. Anyway well done again Steve andI think I’ll now bracket you along with Bruce as one of those who have been put here to “give us all a grand time”!

    1. Thanks Bob, I was lucky at hubpages finding a kindred spirit in ‘Cogerson’ as I was calling Bruce 5 years ago, before I knew his real name. We were both doing movie pages, he was interested in box office grosses and ratings and I was writing about my favorite movies. I remember one of our first email chats was about Variety’s yearly box office charts. I had some of the yearly issues he needed for his research.

      Thanks for checking out the Golden Holden video. It was basically a toss up between Sunset Boulevard and River Kwai for the number one spot, I gave it to Kwai. Bruce has Kwai at no.4 on the critics chart and no.1 on the UMR. Sunset tops the critics chart.

      The strangest thing about Sunset Boulevard – ‘Spoiler Alert’ – is that it’s narrated by a dead man, William Holden’s character. A device later copied by Sam Mendes for American Beauty. I bought Sunset on Blu-ray recently and have been perusing the extras. I also have Kwai and Stalag 17 on Blu.

      Thanks as always for the movie trivia. I enjoy reading your posts.

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