Pauline Kael dubbed Cary Grant as "The Man from Dream City," and to a certain extent, William Holden was a product of the same place, only perhaps a tad more accessible and a good deal more leathery.
The Film Society of Lincoln Center is currently exploring the many sides of Holden - his leading man dreaminess, his everyman accessibility and the way he turned leading roles into rough-hewn character parts - in a substantial tribute that plays at the Walter Reade Theater (65th Street at Amsterdam) through July 15th.
Yes, the usual suspects are on hand - the debut film, "Golden Boy," the humbling "Our Town," the Oscar-winning "The Bridge on the River Kawi," the Peckinpah ("The Wild Bunch"), the Edwards ("S.O.B."), the Wilders ("Sunset Blvd," Sabrina" and "Stalag 17"), "Network" and the very essential, hugely arousing "Picnic," with Kim you-know-who.
But so are "The Lion" (the Jack Cardiff film which apparently was very personal to Holden, an avowed wildlife perservationist) and "Breezy" (the underrated Clint Eastwood film with Kay Lenz, equally underrated) and "The Key" (Sir Carol Reed's stark take mortality) and the terrific "The Counterfeil Traitor" (George Seaton's compulsively watchable wartime drama co-starring the greeat, envaluable Lili Palmer).
Best of all, there's Wilder's forgotten "Fedora," based on the book by Thomas Tyron, which Holden and Wilder use as a vehicle to hauntingly recall "Sunset Blvd." in particular and old Hollywood in general. It's exquisitely decrepit and, once seen, impossible to shake.
(Artwork: Vintage Holden, a classic)