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William Powell


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Tomorrow some of William Powell's films air on TCM:















*RECKLESS (1935)*













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Just a heads up for William Powell fans:


CapitolFest a 3 day rare film festival held in a vintage picture palace is focusing on Powell this year.




It's rather inexpensive and tons of fun-there's decent meal breaks when you can sit down, eat and discuss film with fellow film fans.

I'll be attending all 3 days, so anyone interested, feel free to PM me for info or tips.

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>So I stay up late to watch Lauren Bacall and they show William Powell when I go to sleep. Thanks a lot TCM


HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE, the film you are referencing from last night, will be rebroadcast again. It is scheduled for March 23 and April 12.

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A review from Variety:




Another chill-and-chuckle play scoring a bullseye. Yarn was developed by Bella and Sam Spewack from a novel called American Black Chamber by Herbert O. Yardley, in the War Department intelligence office during the war.


William Powell is puzzle editor of a Washington newspaper who quits to enlist in the army. The day before he leaves he meets Rosalind Russell, whose uncle is one of the under-secretaries of war. Love develops in the speedy fashion of those times and she persuades her uncle that Powell will be more useful in decoding messages than in shooting at the enemy.


The comedy is cleverly worked into the action and becomes a part of it instead of an interpolation, and herein lies its success. Interest is never diverted from the thread of the story.


Powell is at ease as the nonchalant decoder who can face danger with a grin and teams perfectly with Russell. She has both looks and intelligence, playing the wilful girl with delightful spirit.


Rendezvous. (1935). Variety Movie Reviews, (1), 75.

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Can't imagine anyone NOT liking William Powell. I know somebody else wrote it, but he delivers one of my favorite observations in MR. PEABODY AND THE MERMAID, on turning the age of 50;


"50. The old age of youth. The youth of old age."



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Another review from Variety:




The script is inclined to be one of those far-fetched things, and there's a frequent stretch for laughs, but where there's a sufficient reelage of Lamarr no picture can be very far off the beam. The camera is particularly good to her in this one, and her clothes are also plenty eye-appealing.


Yarn attempts to tell what happens when the usual triangle evolves from a situation involving Lamarr and William Powell as the husband-wife, James Craig as an air-raid warden, and the astronomical pursuits of Powell. The crux of the story is woven around the fact that Powell works at night, as an astronomer, leaving his wife prey for prowling air-raid wardens. It may sound funny on paper, but it doesn't quite come off as expected.


The Heavenly Body. (1943). Variety Movie Reviews, (1), 36.

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From Variety:




Reckless is a hodge-podge of melodrama, backstage and quasi-musical. It includes a cinematic recreation of a recent newspaper melodrama involving a songstress (Jean Harlow).


Direction is as haphazard as the story. The showfolk are ridiculously white-washed and the socialites are made out consistently caddish. It's one of those things.


From the moment the infatuated Franchot Tone buys out the whole evening's performance and sops up champagne in the audience while solo-appreciating the performance, up until the elopement, which culminates in his suicide, it's ever make-believe. William Powell plays an equally vague character. A combination sportsman-philanthropist, he's subsequently influential enough to bankroll the musical comedy which spells the girl's professional comeback.


Rosalind Russell as a jilted girl and Robert Light as her brother alone make their chores ring true.


Reckless. (1935). Variety Movie Reviews, (1), 73.

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It helps that they were cribbing a fairly good story in *A Free Soul* when they made *The Girl Who Had Everything*.


What astonishes me is the use of top-tier talent in the form of Elizabeth Taylor in one of those B movies with a message that MGM was churning out in the early 50s presumably to subsidize the big-budget Technicolor musical spectaculars.

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THE GIRL WHO HAD EVERYTHING clocks in at 69 minutes, making it one of Elizabeth Taylor's shortest features. My guess is that it was originally somewhat longer, but portions may have been left on the cutting room floor. The courtship between Taylor and Lamas seems rushed, and Gig Young disappears in the later part of the story.


The reason this film does not really work for me, like it should, is not that they dropped the murder trial found in the original-- but because it is jarring to see William Powell have that shoving match with Lamas, and then he even berates his daughter (played by Taylor). William Powell is a bit nasty near the end of this film. Though he reconciles with his daughter after the mobster's death, he is almost not able to be fully redeemed. It's the wrong kind of part for Powell and an unsatisfying way to wrap up his career at MGM.


In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Powell was faring much better at Universal (where he had a multi-picture deal) and also at Fox and Warners where he worked as a free-lance artist, before calling it quits.


He never did television. There is a scene in THE GIRL WHO HAD EVERYTHING where he appears at a hearing in front of CBS and ABC television cameras, which I find interesting and ironic.

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