William "Bill" Holden was indeed a handsome and pleasant young star during his days as a Paramount contract player, starring in such comedies as Those Were the Days ( 1940 ), Meet the Stewarts ( 1942 ), The Fleet's In ( 1942 ), and The Remarkable Andrew ( 1942 ). After his marriage to Brenda Marshall in 1941, he even gained a reputation as being a devoted family man. It was not until he was cast as Joe Gillis, the ambitious screenwriter, in Sunset Boulevard ( 1950 ) that he received recognition for his dramatic acting ability.
One of the best of his "handsome and pleasant young man" portrayals was that of Lieutenant Bill Seacroft in Paramount's Dear Ruth, released in 1947.
Dear Ruth centered around the Wilkins family, primarily their teenage daughter Miriam ( Mona Freeman ). Believing it to be her patriotic duty to support the morale of soldiers overseas, she begins writing letters to an Air Force lieutenant, Bill Secroft ( William Holden ), signing them with her older sister's name - Ruth. As might be expected, when the airman gets his leave he decides to make a surprise visit to meet the girl he has fallen in love with through her letters. Ruth ( Joan Caulfield ), surprised and unaware of Miriam's military pen-pal, decides to play along with the charade only until the soldier's leave is up, much to the chagrin of her fiance ( Billy De Wolfe ). Only it becomes apparent that Bill's intentions are marriage, and Ruth finds she does not want to brush off the soldier after all.
Director William Russell kept the cast busy throughout handling one comedic situation after another in the film. Edward Arnold and the inimitable Billy De Wolfe stole all the scenes, but it was William Holden who really shined as the bewildered airman.
Seacroft was a part that suited William Holden to a tee ( in real life he served in the Air Force during WWII as a lieutenant ) and he brought an innocence to the role that made audiences, just like Ruth, feel sorry for him and yet love and admire him at the same time.
The film's success with the movie public left it wide open for a sequel and it arrived, albeit two years late, in the equally amusing Dear Wife ( 1949 ) with, thankfully, the complete cast intact. This film focused on Bill and his father-in-law, Judge Wilkins ( Edward Arnold ), vying for a Senatorial seat.
If William Holden's roles in comedies are unfamiliar to you, then I would highly recommend viewing Dear Ruth and Dear Wife. Both of these films showcase Holden in top form and at his most endearing.
This post is our contribution to The William Holden Blogathon being hosted by The Wonderful World of Cinema. To read more posts on the life and films of William Holden simply click here.