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William Powell's Best


lydecker
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TCM celebrates William Powell's 129th birthday with a day's worth of WP films. Sit back and enjoy! One of my absolute favorite actors.   Some of his best (IMHO) are:  The Thin Man, Star of Midnight, My Man Godfrey, Jewel Robbery, Crossroads, The Kennel Murder Case, Double Harness, Evelyn Prentice, Mr. Roberts and the list goes on and on and on.  What are your favorites?

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Adding to the fine list of films already mentioned I would add;

Manhattan Melodrama  (with Gable and Loy)

The Great Ziegfeld  (with Luise Rainer

The Ex-Mrs Bradford (with Jean Arthur,  their only film together and they make a fine pair)

The Last of Miss Cheney (with Joan Crawford)

Libeled Lady (with Loy, Tracy and Harlow)

The Girl that has Everything (with Liz Taylor as his daughter).

 

 

 

 

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I'm a fan and love all of his pictures you listed.  Recently re-watched and enjoyed two of his later movies:  1955's   Mr. Roberts with Henry Fonda, James Cagney and Jack Lemmon and 1953's How to Marry a Millionaire with Betty Grable, Marilyn Monroe and Lauren Bacall.   Besides The Thin Man series, 1936's  Libeled Lady with Myrna Loy, Jean Harlow and Spencer Tracy is a favorite.

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I feel it would be slightly unfair for me to select a single movie as best because his performances were uniformly brilliant and any assessment I made would center more on the movie as a whole rather than only his work in it.

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OK I'm going to chime in here with an unpopular opinion: I don't care much for the Thin Man movies because I find the Nora Charles charactor bossy & smug. I've noticed these unflattering charactor traits in other early female roles with Jean Arthur, Jean Harlow, Kay Fwancis & especially Roz Russell. 

As for William Powell, he's a household favorite. I don't actually know why, he seems to not be acting, just reading lines.  But if you watch his face, all is shown there as if you could read his thoughts by his facial expression. His handsome appearance & demeanor just translate well on the screen and the roles always seem to fit him like a glove.

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Incredibly, I've never seen LIFE WITH FATHER. About time.

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2 hours ago, TikiSoo said:

...Incredibly, I've never seen LIFE WITH FATHER. About time.

Oh yes Tiki! You need to remedy that posthaste! This film is a pure joy to watch.  The argument in logic and finance about a "little pug dog" and a "new suit of clothes" between Powell and Irene Dunne is worth it by itself.  One of the funniest scenes ever and just like you said, it's all due to Powell's facial expressions and mannerisms.

Excellent movie!

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2 hours ago, TikiSoo said:

OK I'm going to chime in here with an unpopular opinion: I don't care much for the Thin Man movies because I find the Nora Charles charactor bossy & smug. I've noticed these unflattering charactor traits in other early female roles with Jean Arthur, Jean Harlow, Kay Fwancis & especially Roz Russell. 

As for William Powell, he's a household favorite. I don't actually know why, he seems to not be acting, just reading lines.  But if you watch his face, all is shown there as if you could read his thoughts by his facial expression. His handsome appearance & demeanor just translate well on the screen and the roles always seem to fit him like a glove.

tumblr_ns98w3DWPq1s2f16eo6_r1_400.gifv

william-powell-wink-gif.gif?w=560?w=245

tumblr_na295bm7MX1tujnioo1_250.gif

 

tumblr_ns8gnq3J6b1s2f16eo2_r1_400.gifv

Incredibly, I've never seen LIFE WITH FATHER. About time.

Argh!!!  I love Nora Charles though her character was best in the  early Hackett/Goodrich films.  Post Hackett/Goodrich, there seemed to be much more "making fun" of Nora Charles   --  trying to turn a witty sophisticate into a silly meddler while Nick does all the crime-solving.  She was truly annoying  in "The Thin Man Goes Home" where she gives that endless monologue about Nick to Harry Davenport and goes on a wild goose chase after Ed Brophy.  But we have the early films to love the true Nora Charles.  

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15 hours ago, lydecker said:

Forgot about that one.  Super cast with Kay Francis, Aline MacMahon and Frank McHugh.

 

Yes, One Way Passage is SO good.  Somehow Kay had this facility to pull off a melodrama and make it feel real and heartfelt. She is truly under appreciated and her turn in Jewel Robbery with Powell is wonderful as well.  Those two were just great together!

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Still trying to think if there's a Powell performance I DIDN'T like.  No luck so far.  ;)  But----

Nobody mentioned MR. PEABODY AND THE MERMAID with Ann Blyth?  :o  Contains one of my favorite movie observations(which I did discover was true!)

"50.  The old age of youth, the youth of old age."  ;)   

Sepiatone

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49 minutes ago, Sepiatone said:

Still trying to think if there's a Powell performance I DIDN'T like.  No luck so far.  ;)  But----

Nobody mentioned MR. PEABODY AND THE MERMAID with Ann Blyth?  :o  Contains one of my favorite movie observations(which I did discover was true!)

"50.  The old age of youth, the youth of old age."  ;)   

Sepiatone

Not crazy about Life with Father, but it's more about the film, than it is Powell's performance.  Just find it kind of silly and, shoot me, I prefer William Powell as a clever sophisticate,  as opposed to portraying an annoying old coot!

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On 7/30/2021 at 1:26 PM, lydecker said:

Not crazy about Life with Father, but it's more about the film, than it is Powell's performance.  Just find it kind of silly and, shoot me, I prefer William Powell as a clever sophisticate,  as opposed to portraying an annoying old coot!

I beg to differ, lydecker!  Powell actually IS sophisticated in this movie -- Mr. Day appreciates fine cuisine and can order in French, displays a physically passionate and youthfully ardent nature towards Vinnie (remember when he sweeps her up in his arms and says "We'll go on a holiday, just the two of us, without the children!", and has excellent taste in jewelry.   I don't think there's anything really fuddy-duddy about this character when you scratch the surface.   Yes, he's blunt, tempermental, somewhat quirky, and definitely overbearing, but....also a true gentleman.  

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On 7/30/2021 at 12:32 PM, Sepiatone said:

Still trying to think if there's a Powell performance I DIDN'T like.  No luck so far.  ;)  But----

Nobody mentioned MR. PEABODY AND THE MERMAID with Ann Blyth?  :o  Contains one of my favorite movie observations(which I did discover was true!)

"50.  The old age of youth, the youth of old age."  ;)   

Sepiatone

Oh I haven't seen that one in ages.   I love mermaid movies.  (Remember MIRANDA?  Charming, sophisticated, very British.  Glynis Johns plays the mermaid, and Margaret Rutherford is her "nurse")  

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Yes TikiSoo, you must see LIFE WITH FATHER immediately!

It might not be how you would want to "remember" William Powell (as the ostensibly "staid" and "stuffy" head of a 19th century family) but Bill himself coveted the role of Clarence Day, was thrilled when he got it, received an Oscar nomination but unfortunately was passed over when his good friend Ronald Colman won the top prize playing a schizophrenic Shakespearean actor in A DOUBLE LIFE.   Not to take anything away from Colman but that kind of emotionally tortured character was a slam dunk for any award in post-WWII Hollywood....

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I put off Life With Father for a long time because I thought it might too mawkish or something. It turned out to be a smash with me. One of the best of family depictions. Yes, it he was cantankerous but he undercurrent of comedy therein was decidedly present. He doesn't represent the "stronger" sex very well, he gets bested by the other half at every turn. But he sure scared hell out of that first maid. Excellent sequences there and hilarious. Elizabeth Taylor is adorable and her scenes with her "beau" are immensely cute. I'll say no more but those who haven't seen LWF ought give it a try.  Honest!

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I love many of Powel's films but I really have a soft spot for Godfrey in "My Man Godfrey".  I love how Godfrey teaches the rich, spoiled (and unhinged) family a few lessons while playing their servant.

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