Golden Boy

William Holden in his first starring role as a ghetto boy who turns in his violin for a pair of boxing gloves. Columbia was attacked for softening Clifford Odets's famous stage play, though at worst it's an exchange of naive Broadway cynicism for naive Hollywood optimism—a fair trade, I'd say. The film is actually one of Rouben Mamoulian's more restrained and responsible jobs of direction—he hasn't overloaded Odets's rhetorical flourishes with his own customary explosions of style. But the material remains too stagebound and too naggingly didactic to really take off. With Barbara Stanwyck, Adolphe Menjou, and Lee J. Cobb (1939).

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