Golden Boy starring Barbara Stanwyck as Lorna Moon and William Holden as Joe Bonaparte (in the film that made him a star) was released in 1939 based on the Clifford Odets play of the same name.
The film also stars Lee J. Cobb as Holden's Bonaparte's middle age father (although Cobb was actually only six years older than Holden); Adolphe Menjou as Tom Moody, his manager; Sam Levene (best known as playing Lt.Abrams in a couple Thin Man movies) as his brother-in-law Siggie; and Joseph Calleia as Eddie Fuseli (best known from Gilda, The Glass Key and Another Thin Man), a gangster who takes over Bonaparte's management.
The film also contains a classic appearance by Charles Lane as a reporter.
Victor Young was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score.
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 Academy Awards, he interrupted their reading of a nominee list to publicly thank her for saving his career and also sent her flowers every day on the anniversary of the films release to thank her.
A very young William Holden "hits" the bulls-eye on this one. And, I always love to see Barbara Stanwyck's hard, street smart "heart of stone" turn to mush as she falls for the young boxer.
Joe Bonaparte, a promising violinist feels his music career is going nowhere, so he turns to boxing. Joe Bonaparte's father wants him to pursue his musical talent; but Joe turns his back on his father's dream and signs with near-bankrupt manager Tom Moody to give him a chance and Joe quickly rises in his new profession. When he has second thoughts Moody's girl Lorna uses feminine wiles to keep him boxing. But when tough gangster Eddie Fuseli wants to "buy a piece" of Joe, Lorna herself begins to have second thoughts...for that and other reasons.
I finally got to see this movie last night and it was another example of 1939's great year of movies.