In his 7.2 piece about William Holden and the ongoing Holden retrospective at Lincoln Center (which goes until 7.15), Michael Atkinson hits the nail on the head in discussing the brusque anxiety and rattled melancholia that always simmered in the characters Holden played — there, obviously, because they defined Holden himself.

“Truth be told, Holden’s character-role capacities ranged only from narcissistic American jerk to self-loathing American lug,” he writes, “but his best movies are implicit inquisitions into that personality — like Sunset Blvd., Sabrina [and] Mark Robson‘s The Bridges at Toko-Ri.
“By the time of David Lean‘s The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), a big-budget production looking for a disillusioned American Everyman sickened by his own lack of heroism needed only go to Holden.
“As Holden aged, his richest vein was the bitter personification of the costs of progress and the loss of frontier — he became, almost inevitably, the angry Old Guard facing melancholy supersession by the young, by modernity, and by the press of time.”
And yet Atkinson doesn’t mention Holden’s performance as Frank Harmon, a cynical L.A. real-estate agent in Clint Eastwood‘s Breezy (’73), which is part of the retrospective. Atkinson obviously thinks little of the film but his “angry Old Guard” comments about Holden fit Harmon to a T. Breezy is just pretty good — mature, straight, measured — but Holden’s acting lends a solid gravity force in every one of his scenes.