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.
RankMovie (Year)UMR Co-Star LinksAdjusted B.O. Domestic (mils)Box Office Rank By YearCritic Audience RatingOscar Nom / WinUMR Score
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)Alec Guinness & Directed by David Lean$473.401st of 195888.0%08 / 0783.56
Network (1976)Faye Dunaway & Robert Duvall$167.0014th of 197688.0%10 / 0481.64
Sunset Blvd. (1950)Gloria Swanson & Directed by Billy Wilder$117.9029th of 195090.5%11 / 0374.61
Born Yesterday (1950)Judy Holliday & Directed by George Cukor$206.506th of 195181.0%05 / 0174.55
Sabrina (1954)Humphrey Bogart & Audrey Hepburn$209.4018th of 195484.5%06 / 0173.71
The Country Girl (1954)Bing Crosby & Grace Kelly$361.306th of 195577.0%07 / 0273.44
Stalag 17 (1953)Directed by Billy Wilder$140.5018th of 195389.5%03 / 0173.14
The Towering Inferno (1974)Paul Newman & Steve McQueen$555.302nd of 197569.0%08 / 0370.68
Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955)Jennifer Jones$185.3033rd of 195568.5%08 / 0368.17
Picnic (1955)Kim Novak & Rosalind Russell$294.106th of 195665.0%06 / 0267.40
The Bridges of Toko-Ri (1954)Grace Kelly & Mickey Rooney $261.8014th of 195573.0%02 / 0166.71
Dear Ruth (1947)Joan Caulfield$234.0017th of 194774.5%00 / 0066.02
The World of Suzie Wong (1960)Nancy Kwan$261.808th of 196168.5%00 / 0063.20
Executive Suite (1954)Barbara Stanwyck$140.4031st of 195480.5%04 / 0061.20
The Horse Soldiers (1959)John Wayne$152.5018th of 195976.0%00 / 0059.36
The Wild Bunch (1969)Ernest Borgnine & Warren Oates$89.9022nd of 196989.0%02 / 0057.81
The Proud and Profane (1956)Deborah Kerr$170.8020th of 195662.5%02 / 0056.65
Rachael and the Stranger (1948)Robert Mitchum$133.1044th of 194869.5%00 / 0053.29
The Moon Is Blue (1953)Maggie McNamara$174.1015th of 195352.5%03 / 0052.86
Apartment For Peggy (1948)Jeanne Crain$152.5027th of 194861.0%00 / 0052.31
Our Town (1940)Martha Scott$53.5083rd of 194086.0%00 / 0051.71
The Fleet's In (1942)Eddie Bracken$145.3042nd of 194259.5%00 / 0050.48
The Counterfeit Traitor (1962)Lilli Palmer$86.7031st of 196271.0%00 / 0046.81
Casino Royale (1966)David Niven & Woody Allen$172.003rd of 196742.0%01 / 0046.80
Blaze of Noon (1947)Anne Baxter$113.9083rd of 194762.0%00 / 0046.79
The Devil Brigade (1968)Cliff Robertson$77.2026th of 196868.0%00 / 0043.93
Toward The Unknown (1956)James Garner$96.3040th of 195661.5%00 / 0043.83
Dear Wife (1949)Joan Caulfield$93.9058th of 195062.0%00 / 0043.69
I Wanted Wings (1941)Ray Milland$92.3068th of 194162.0%00 / 0043.45
The Key (1958)Sophia Loren$88.3039th in 195862.0%00 / 0042.83
The Golden Boy (1939)Barbara Stanwyck$90.9055th of 193956.5%01 / 0041.05
The Man From Colorado (1948)Glenn Ford$110.9050th of 194950.5%00 / 0040.93
Escape from Fort Bravo (1953)Eleanor Parker$64.9079th of 195465.0%00 / 0040.61
S.O.B. (1981)Julie Andrews$45.1052nd of 198170.0%00 / 0040.51
Union Station (1950)Nancy Olson$71.5080th of 195061.5%00 / 0039.98
Damien: The Omen Part II (1978)Lee Grant$96.5020th of 197852.0%00 / 0039.40
Force of Arms (1951)Nancy Olson$57.80110th of 195161.0%00 / 0037.63
Streets of Laredo (1949)Macdonald Carey$117.1035th of 194941.0%00 / 0037.42
Submarine Command (1951)Nancy Olson$52.00111th of 195260.5%00 / 0036.50
Fedora (1978)Marthe Keller$8.00115th of 197874.5%00 / 0036.26
Invisible Stripes (1939)Humphrey Bogart$43.1086th of 193962.5%00 / 0036.06
Paris When It Sizzles (1964)Audrey Hepburn$51.2046th of 196459.0%00 / 0035.67
The Lion (1962)Trevor Howard$38.5067th of 196362.0%00 / 0035.11
Breezy (1973)Directed by Clint Eastwood$25.3069th of 197466.0%00 / 0034.94
Miss Grant Takes Richmond (1949)Lucille Ball$19.10167th of 194968.0%00 / 0034.92
The Earthling (1980)Ricky Schroder$1.50201st of 198073.5%00 / 0034.77
Boots Malone (1952)Stanley Clements$29.80120th of 195263.5%00 / 0034.46
The Remarkable Andrew (1942)Brian Donlevy$33.20123rd of 194262.0%00 / 0034.29
Those Where The Days! (1940)Bonita Granville$32.30100th of 194062.0%00 / 0034.15
Arizona (1940)Jean Arthur$84.8056th of 194043.0%00 / 0033.35
Forever Female (1953)Ginger Rogers$34.70109th of 195359.0%00 / 0033.11
The 7th Dawn (1964)Susannah York$20.50103rd of 196462.0%00 / 0032.32
The Revengers (1972)Susan Hayward & Ernest Borgnine$22.5074th of 197259.0%00 / 0031.22
Texas (1941)Glenn Ford$72.4087th of 194142.0%00 / 0030.96
Young And Willing (1943)Susan Hayward$39.10112th of 194352.0%00 / 0030.50
The Turning Point (1952)Edmond O''''Brien$17.00141st of 195259.0%00 / 0030.37
Open Season (1974)Peter Fonda$6.20139th of 197461.0%00 / 0029.63
Father is a Bachelor (1950)Coleen Gray$32.80108th of 195050.0%00 / 0028.58
Satan Never Sleeps (1962)Clifton Webb$41.7053rd of 196246.5%00 / 0028.32
Wild Rovers (1971)Ryan O''''Neal$27.9059th of 197150.5%00 / 0028.06
The Dark Past (1948)Lee J. Cobb$29.10139th of 194850.0%00 / 0028.01
Alvarez Kelly (1966)Richard Widmark$26.8082nd of 196650.5%00 / 0027.89
Meet The Stewarts (1942)Frances Dee$27.40141st of 194250.0%00 / 0027.75
The Christmas Tree (1969)Virna Lisi$7.90125th of 196952.5%00 / 0025.89
Ashanti (1979)Michael Caine$5.70145th of 197943.0%00 / 0021.09
When Time Ran Out (1980)Paul Newman$12.80109th of 198032.5%01 / 0018.59

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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94 thoughts on “William Holden Movies

  1. 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.

  2. HELLO AGAIN STEVE

    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!

    BOB

  3. PS STEVE

    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?”

  4. HI STEVE

    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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