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Golden Boy

Director:  Rouben Mamoulian
Year Released:  1939
Rating:  2.5

How's this for an odd reversal: an Italian father (Lee J. Cobb) wants his young son (William Holden) to give up his dreams of being a successful boxer so he can be an unsuccessful artist! (Nice to see someone privileging the violin over pugilism!) Several critics point out how this is a mangled and neutered version of the original Clifford Odets play, but I'm unaware of the original work so it's difficult to compare - Holden holds his own (as does Barbara Stanwyck as his love interest), but the story's major message about sticking with one's passions instead of 'selling out' for silk shirts and fame is bland moralizing. It's got plenty of niggling little problems, too - repetitious dialogue, silly supporting performances - but is still passable Hollywood fare.

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