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Golden Boy is a 1939 American drama romance sports film directed by Rouben Mamoulian and starring Barbara Stanwyck, Adolphe Menjou and William Holden.

Golden Boy
Original poster
Directed byRouben Mamoulian
Produced byWilliam Perlberg
Screenplay byLewis Meltzer
Daniel Taradash
Sarah Y. Mason
Victor Heerman
Based onClifford Odets
play of the same name
StarringBarbara Stanwyck
Adolphe Menjou
William Holden
Music byVictor Young
CinematographyNicholas Musuraca
(as Nick Musuraca)
Karl Freund
Edited byOtto Meyer
Columbia Pictures
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • September 5, 1939 (1939-09-05) (United States)
Running time
99 minutes
CountryUnited States



Young, promising violinist Joe Bonaparte (Holden) is in financial difficulties and is faced with the question of whether he should earn money as a boxer, but risk hand injuries, or do without the big money. His father, Mr. Bonaparte senior (Lee J. Cobb), wishes his son to continue training his musical talent and buys him an expensive violin, but Joe Bonaparte persuades the almost bankrupt manager Tom Moody (Menjou) to let him try his hand at boxing and rises quickly here. When he decides otherwise, Lorna (Stanwyck), Moody's girl, keeps him busy on Moody's behalf for a while. But after gangster Eddie Fuseli (Joseph Calleia) has expressed a desire to participate in the win or "buy a piece of Joe," and after Joe has fatally injured an opponent in the ring, both his and Lorna's attitudes change. He retires from boxing and returns to his father and the music.


William Holden and Lee J. Cobb in Golden Boy


Golden Boy features William Holden in his film debut, the role that made him a star: a promising violinist who wants to be a boxer. Barbara Stanwyck plays his love interest. The supporting cast includes Lee J. Cobb in an unusual role as the bewhiskered Italian immigrant father of Holden's characher.

The producers were initially unhappy with Holden's work and tried to dismiss him, but Stanwyck insisted that he be retained. Thirty-nine years later, when Holden and Stanwyck were joint presenters at the 1978 Academy Awards, he interrupted their reading of a nominee list to publicly thank her for saving his career.


Victor Young received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score.[1]


On January 7, 1940, Stanwyck performed a parody of Golden Boy on The Jack Benny Program.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Golden Boy". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
  2. ^ Jack Benny on the Old Time Radio Network

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