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Did William Powell Ever Play a Heavy?


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We see him tonight in Godfrey. I saw him earlier today in Star of Midnight. We know him from Double Harness, the Kennel Murder case, and the Thin Man movies. We've seen him as a huckster and con man. But did he ever play the murderous villain? Seems his smooth urbane manner would make for a fine one.

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I don't know if Powell ever played a murderer, but I believe that during the silent era he was dastardly on occasion. Certainly he played a cowardly sneak in the 1926 version of Beau Geste, opposite Ronald Colman (the same role that would be played by J. Carrol Naish in the Gary Cooper remake, if you're familiar with that film).

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I don't recall Powell ever playing a murderous villain, but I wanted to murder him myself for his role as Elizabeth Taylor's unctuous stuffed shirt father in The Girl Who Had Everything. That one was just a stinkeroo all around, but Powell gave off the worst odor.

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I have forgotten the specifics, but in One Way Passage, he was trying to avoid arrest because he knew he was going to get the death penalty. I'm not sure if it's ever specified in the film what he was supposed to have done.

 

It never was specified, and in any case Powell plays his role with such grace and acceptance that whatever crime he committed in the past is relegated strictly to the background. His attempts to avoid capture are depicted as more of a raffish cat-and-mouse game than the actions of a dangerous criminal.

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I don't know if he was a heavy or not, but he was a Spanish bandit in this 1927 film, THE SENORITA:

 

http://gallopingtintypessilents.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/senorita-bebe-daniels-william-powell-1927-06.jpg

 

He played the bandit Ramon:

 

http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/500425/Se-orita/

*Meanwhile, Roger Oliveros returns from Europe, unaware of his cousin Ram?n's scheming and banditry, and falls in love with Francesca (out of disguise).*

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William Powell played a villain in "Feel My Pulse" in 1928. Later that year he played an unlikeable scoundrel although not the actual villain of the film in "Interference". That might have been Paramount's first talking film. In 1924's "Romola" he was also the villain, although I have not seen that film. It seems that Powell was the heavy pretty much throughout the silent era, but once sound came in his voice was just too refined for him not to be the debonair protagonist with shades of gray in his character.

 

P.S. - In Interference he actually does murder someone, but you'll probably have mixed emotions about it given his motive.

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The only film you ever liked Powell in was "Life With Father"??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? That is undoubtedly the most amazing and shocking post I have ever seen on this forum!!! Wow is all I can say. To each his own. I am just very surprised.

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I can't say that I liked all of Powell's movies equally. But of the 30-odd of those I've seen, the only one where I *didn't* like his performance was in The Girl Who Had Everything, and even there it was more the script to blame than Powell. How could anyone *not* love Powell and Myrna Loy in any of the 14 movies they made together as the most perfectly matched screen couple ever?

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>calvinnme:

>once sound came in his voice was just too refined for him not to be the debonair protagonist

 

That's just what made me wonder about him playing the villain. That suave, sophisticated manner in an evil-doer would be delightfully diabolical.

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Powell's on the wrong side of the law in "Jewel Robbery" (and even disarms his foes by giving them cigarettes laced with "wacky tobacky"), but I don't believe his character resorts to violence in order to get what he wants. And Powell is so debonair doing it that you really don't perceive him as a villain.

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>Yes, he is the criminal, but his is a sympathetic character.

 

And in this vein, slayton, he was once again perfectly cast in the 1937 remake of "The Last of Mrs. Cheyney" as the suave, cool and sympathetic thief in cahoots with Joan Crawford.

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