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UNION STATION (1950) Theatrical Trailer - William Holden, Nancy Olson, Barry Fitzgerald

Quick! Name a 1950 noir starring William Holden and Nancy Olson. Probably the vast majority will immediately think of Billy Wilder's immortal Sunset Boulevard, but there's actually another film that meets that criterion, the (much) lesser known Union Station. Set in Chicago (and largely in the Windy City's main train terminal), Union Station deals with a hardnosed cop named William Calhoun (William Holden) whose beat is the train station. Calhoun is a no nonsense kind of guy who upbraids a new underling who has the temerity to question Calhoun's modus operandi (and to mention Calhoun's nickname), but Calhoun is also a soft touch when it comes to damsels in distress, and that's where comely young secretary Joyce (Nancy Olson) comes into the story. Joyce is convinced she's seen some bad guys getting away from a crime scene and then boarding her commuter train, and she reports that information to Calhoun. That turns out to be at least a bit of a red herring in terms of the actual focus of Union Station, for what ensues is a kidnap drama that involves the blind daughter of Joyce's wealthy employer. Truth be told, Union Station really only flirts with some noir staples, mostly in terms of how it deliberately shades the actions of the police to make them only slightly less reprehensible than the bad guys. It's rather unusual to see Holden playing a role like this, though if one thinks of that other 1950 film he starred in with Olson, it becomes apparent that despite his usually heroic trappings, he was an unusually nuanced actor who often played roles that had troubling characteristics. Calhoun rides roughshod over not just his underlings (less so with his city inspector partner, played by Barry Fitzgerald), but (not to state the obvious) the various villains that permeate this film. Despite its somewhat claustrophobic feeling, especially in the train station segments, this is probably a too "wide open" film to really be considered a traditional noir. (Fans of Hugo may get a kick out of one of the hiding places from which the police spy on the goings on in the station.) Still, it's an often exciting little action film with some great performances. It's a minor outing in Holden's oeuvre, but one which shows what a perhaps unexpectedly versatile performer he really was.
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