IMDb > Golden Boy (1939)
Golden Boy
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Golden Boy (1939) More at IMDbPro »

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Lewis Meltzer (screenplay) &
Daniel Taradash (screenplay) ...
View company contact information for Golden Boy on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
5 September 1939 (USA) See more »
A Famous Play.....Now A Great Picture! See more »
Despite his musical talent, Joe Bonaparte wants to be a boxer. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Nominated for Oscar. See more »
(24 articles)
User Reviews:
A golden boy plays a golden boy See more (34 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Barbara Stanwyck ... Lorna Moon

Adolphe Menjou ... Tom Moody

William Holden ... Joe Bonaparte

Lee J. Cobb ... Mr. Bonaparte

Joseph Calleia ... Eddie Fuseli
Sam Levene ... Siggie
Edward Brophy ... Roxy Lewis (as Edward S. Brophy)
Beatrice Blinn ... Anna
William H. Strauss ... Mr. Carp

Don Beddoe ... Borneo
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Charles Halton ... Newspaperman (scenes deleted)
Stanley Andrews ... Driscoll, Fight Official (uncredited)
Gordon Armitage ... Fighter (uncredited)
Earl Askam ... Policeman (uncredited)
Al Bain ... Fighter (uncredited)
Don Brodie ... Reporter (uncredited)
Dora Clement ... Ill Ringsider Who Won't Leave (uncredited)
Irving Cohen ... Ex-Pug (uncredited)
Eddie Coke ... Photographer (uncredited)

Dorothy Comingore ... Fight Spectator (uncredited)
Onest Conley ... Jimmy, Chocolate Drop's Brother (uncredited)
Sayre Dearing ... Reporter (uncredited)
Eddie Fetherston ... Reporter Wilson (uncredited)

Tommy Garland ... Fighter (uncredited)
Mickey Golden ... Fighter (uncredited)
Alfred Grant ... Daniel, Chocolate Drop's Older Brother (uncredited)

Joe Gray ... Fighter (uncredited)
James 'Cannonball' Green ... Chocolate Drop (uncredited)
Kit Guard ... Ringsider (uncredited)
Sam Hayes ... Broadcaster (uncredited)
Frank Jenks ... Pepper White (uncredited)
Anne Kay ... Fat Woman (uncredited)
John Kerns ... Fighter (uncredited)

Charles Lane ... Reporter Drake (uncredited)
Al Lang ... Fight Second (uncredited)
Ian McEwing ... Referee (uncredited)
Larry McGrath ... Referee (uncredited)
Pat McKee ... Fight Spectator (uncredited)
Alex Melesh ... Stranger (uncredited)
Frank Mills ... Fight Spectator Rapidly Chewing Gum (uncredited)
Bruce Mitchell ... Guard (uncredited)
Roy Moore ... Lucky Nelson (uncredited)
Lee Phelps ... Ring Announcer (uncredited)
Charles Randolph ... Referee (uncredited)
Cyril Ring ... Extra in Moody's New Office (uncredited)
Clinton Rosemond ... Chocolate Drop's Father (uncredited)
Robert Ryan ... Referee (uncredited)
Syd Saylor ... Ringsider Next to Pa Bonaparte (uncredited)
Cy Schindell ... Fighter (uncredited)
Charles Sherlock ... Reporter Saying 'That's Too Bad' (uncredited)

Robert Sterling ... Elevator Boy (uncredited)
Landers Stevens ... Ringsider with Ill Woman (uncredited)
Jack Stewart ... Policeman (uncredited)
Charles Sullivan ... Referee (uncredited)
Harry Tyler ... Mickey, Pepper White's Handler (uncredited)
Minerva Urecal ... Grocery Customer (uncredited)
Dave Willock ... Arena Call Boy (uncredited)

John Wray ... Chocolate Drop's Manager (uncredited)

Directed by
Rouben Mamoulian 
Writing credits
Lewis Meltzer (screenplay) &
Daniel Taradash (screenplay) &
Sarah Y. Mason (screenplay) &
Victor Heerman (screenplay)

Clifford Odets (play)

Produced by
William Perlberg .... producer
Original Music by
Victor Young 
Cinematography by
Karl Freund (director of photography)
Nicholas Musuraca (director of photography) (as Nick Musuraca)
Film Editing by
Otto Meyer 
Art Direction by
Lionel Banks 
Costume Design by
Robert Kalloch (gowns) (as Kalloch)
Makeup Department
Hollis Donahue .... hair stylist: Barbara Stanwyck (uncredited)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Gene Anderson .... assistant director (uncredited)
Sound Department
George Cooper .... sound recordist (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Ned Scott .... still photographer
Editorial Department
Donald W. Starling .... montage (as D.W. Starling)
Music Department
Morris Stoloff .... musical director (as M.W. Stoloff)
Leo Shuken .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Other crew
Abe Roth .... technical advisor (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
99 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Did You Know?

"Theater Guild on the Air" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on December 8, 1946 with Sam Levene reprising his film role.See more »
Errors made by characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers): When Tom, Lorna and Joe leave Tom's office in the first scene, they leave the office door open. The office door gets closed in all the rest of the scenes in the film.See more »
Mr. Carp:A man hits his wife, and it's the first step to fascism.See more »
Movie Connections:
We're in the Money NowSee more »


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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful.
A golden boy plays a golden boy, 28 December 2006
Author: blanche-2 from United States

Clifford Odets' play about a musician turned boxer was a natural for Hollywood, which has always loved boxing movies. Perhaps subliminally, Odets was inspired by the Fannie Hurst "Humoresque," first made into a film in 1920. When "Golden Boy" was done in 1938 as a production of the Group Theater, John Garfield hoped to play the role of Joe Bonaparte and was disappointed when the lead went instead to Luther Adler, with Garfield relegated to the role of Siggie. Garfield rectified this in 1952 when he played the lead on Broadway and also had his chance to play a boxer in "Body and Soul" and a violinist in "Humoresque." Tony Curtis is another who did the part of Joe as a young actor before going to Hollywood.

There are two ways of casting this role - the Garfield way - the streetwise fighter who happens to be a gifted violinist, or the reverse - the gentle violinist who just happens to be a gifted fighter. The latter is more interesting, as the audience is then able to see how the fight world changes an artistic soul.

Columbia took this route and chose 27-year-old Richard Carlson for the role, but he was appearing on Broadway at the time. After testing nearly everyone, the studio put 21-year-old William Holden in the role. His was a new face and a pretty one - he certainly didn't look like a fighter. A part like this for someone who had two uncredited film appearances had to have been like winning Scarlett O'Hara and just as daunting; were it not been for the help and intervention of Barbara Stanwyck, who played Lorna (originally done on stage by Frances Farmer) Holden would have been fired.

The theme of following your heart, so often explored by Eugene O'Neill, is another overriding theme in this story, with the character of Joe Bonaparte torn between his love for playing the violin and the appeal of making money as a fighter and being somebody. Joe comes from an immigrant family who all live together - seen so often in films from the '30s and '40s -- again, "Humoresque" comes to mind. This immediately dates the film and puts it right into its period. The other thing that dates it is the over the top performance of Lee J. Cobb as Joe's dad. Cobb was in the original play on Broadway but as another character; he would repeat his role as the father in the Garfield production. Undoubtedly this characterization worked better on stage and definitely worked better for a '30s audience.

William Holden gives a tender performance as Joe, an artist at heart who falls for his manager's girlfriend. Like Glenn Ford, he had one of those faces that changed so totally that he isn't even recognizable as William Holden in this film - even his voice is different. He's young, beautiful, with an unlined face and a higher voice. His performance opened up light leading man roles for him. It wasn't until 1950 that he had his second breakthrough film, "Sunset Boulevard" - which vaulted him into superstardom. That William Holden was virile, rugged, and handsome. It's an amazing transformation. Stanwyck is perfect as Lorna Moon - tough, sexy, and a marshmallow underneath. Her chemistry with Holden is excellent. He never forgot how much she helped him, and sent her roses each time she started a new film.

"Golden Boy" was turned into a Broadway musical as well - there's something enduring about the story of a man's struggle to find his true destiny. This is as good an example of that struggle as you'll find anywhere.

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