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The Ex-Mrs. Bradford (1936)


Kid Dabb
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It's interesting to see that this Thin Man-esque film was made right in the middle of William Powell's Thin Man series of films. Probably, the studio was riding and capitalizing on the coat-tails of the popular Thin Man series. I don't know if they were testing for other, more compatible co-stars.

 

There is also Penthouse (1933) with Myrna Loy taking her turn as her yet to be Nora Charles character. But of course this pre-dates the Thin Man film series.

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It's interesting to see that this Thin Man-esque film was made right in the middle of William Powell's Thin Man series of films. Probably, the studio was riding and capitalizing on the coat-tails of the popular Thin Man series. I don't know if they were testing for other, more compatible co-stars.

 

There is also Penthouse (1933) with Myrna Loy taking her turn as her yet to be Nora Charles character. But of course this pre-dates the Thin Man film series.

 

The Ex-Mrs. Bradford is an RKO film.   Arthur was loaned out by Columbia  and Powell requested that Arthur be given the part.   

 

RKO was trying to capitalize on the fame of MGM's Thin Man series and Arthur is no second-fiddle to Loy;  I.e.  I can't think of a better substitute and MGM wasn't going to provide top female talent like Loy or Harlow to RKO for the film.    

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The Ex-Mrs. Bradford is an RKO film.   Arthur was loaned out by Columbia  and Powell requested that Arthur be given the part.   

 

RKO was trying to capitalize on the fame of MGM's Thin Man series and Arthur is no second-fiddle to Loy;  I.e.  I can't think of a better substitute and MGM wasn't going to provide top female talent like Loy or Harlow to RKO for the film.    

And yet, here we have William Powell in the middle of MGM's Thin Man series doing his "Thin Man" routine for RKO - hmmm...

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William Powell starred in a number of murder mysteries as Philo Vance with early sound starlets that had nothing to ask from Miss Loy:

 

The Canary Murder Case (1929), with Jean Arthur.

 

The Greene Murder Case (1929), again with Miss Arthur.

 

The Kennel Murder Case (1933), partnered with Mary Astor.

 

 

And one more, not as Vance:

 

Star of Midnight (1935), with Ginger Rogers.

 

 

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And one more, not as Vance:

 

Star of Midnight (1935), with Ginger Rogers.

 

STAR OF MIDNIGHT is another RKO production. 

 

Yes, RKO wanted to jump on the mystery comedy bandwagon. As previously stated, Arthur was loaned by Columbia for THE EX-MRS. BRADFORD, while Powell was loaned by MGM for both these pictures. But I'm sure it cost RKO a lot of money to borrow their services which cut into the profits.

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And yet, here we have William Powell in the middle of MGM's Thin Man series doing his "Thin Man" routine for RKO - hmmm...

 

Powell was loaned-out;  He had to do it or face suspension.   Actors had little control over what they did or didn't to during the studio-era unless they were brave enough to be independents.   

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Powell was loaned-out;  He had to do it or face suspension.   Actors had little control over what they did or didn't to during the studio-era unless they were brave enough to be independents.   

I just find it curious Powell was being utilized simultaneously by more than one studio as (basically) the same character. 

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I just find it curious Powell was being utilized simultaneously by more than one studio as (basically) the same character. 

 

As TB indicates,  RKO saw the magic in The Thin Man,  but didn't have an actor like Powell under contract,  so why not get the actual goods.    But I do find it curious that MGM loaned him out;  he made a lot of films for MGM in 1936 so he was busy,  but I guess the offer from RKO was one MGM just couldn't refuse. 

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As TB indicates,  RKO saw the magic in The Thin Man,  but didn't have an actor like Powell under contract,  so why not get the actual goods.    But I do find it curious that MGM loaned him out;  he made a lot of films for MGM in 1936 so he was busy,  but I guess the offer from RKO was one MGM just couldn't refuse. 

It's a puzzler. Maybe someone owed somebody a favor.

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It's a puzzler. Maybe someone owed somebody a favor.

 

Yes, we are left with riddle;  I checked to see if MGM got someone from RKO in return (E.g. MGM released a film in 36 \ 37 that starred an RKO contract player),  but I couldn't find anything.    

 

Note that I was thinking about this related to the Bogie \ Columbia film; Dead Reckoning;   Why did WB loan Bogie out for that?   Bogie was a major WB star and I don't see what WB got in return for the loan out other then money.     Of course Bogie wanted Bacall to play the femme fatale but WB wasn't going to let another studio make a 'B&B' film,  and Columbia already had Liz Scott for the role.

 

Maybe the simple answer is best;  there was nothing in the hopper for the actor, so why not loan them out and make some cash.

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Yes, we are left with riddle;  I checked to see if MGM got someone from RKO in return (E.g. MGM released a film in 36 \ 37 that starred an RKO contract player),  but I couldn't find anything.    

 

Note that I was thinking about this related to the Bogie \ Columbia film; Dead Reckoning;   Why did WB loan Bogie out for that?   Bogie was a major WB star and I don't see what WB got in return for the loan out other then money.     Of course Bogie wanted Bacall to play the femme fatale but WB wasn't going to let another studio make a 'B&B' film,  and Columbia already had Liz Scott for the role.

 

Maybe the simple answer is best;  there was nothing in the hopper for the actor, so why not loan them out and make some cash.

 

Cash works for me.

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As TB indicates,  RKO saw the magic in The Thin Man,  but didn't have an actor like Powell under contract,  so why not get the actual goods.    But I do find it curious that MGM loaned him out;  he made a lot of films for MGM in 1936 so he was busy,  but I guess the offer from RKO was one MGM just couldn't refuse. 

 

Powell also made a 1933 romance drama with Ann Harding called DOUBLE HARNESS at RKO. He might have still been under contract to Warner Brothers at that time. But he obviously had a relationship with RKO when he made the pictures with Rogers and Arthur.

 

Another thing to keep in mind is that in the mid-30s he was still at the beginning of his contract with MGM. So probably the arrangement favored Mayer over him. But by the early 1940s, Powell's contract at the lion had been renewed, so I'm sure the second deal allowed him more latitude to pick and choose the films he wanted to do. If you notice, he had only one loan out in the late 30s and early 40s (it was to Fox for THE BARONESS AND THE BUTLER).

 

It wasn't until he parted company with MGM in 1947 and went back to Warners to make LIFE WITH FATHER that he became a freelancer. He would soon sign a multi-picture deal with Universal, and he would not work for MGM again until 1953 when he returned to play Liz Taylor's father in the remake of A FREE SOUL.

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