Bill and Minnie–The Thin Man Movies and Beyond

My entry for the CMBA Comedy Classics Blogathon is focusing on the films of William Powell and Myrna Loy–one of the great onscreen couples who, surprisingly enough, never did have a romance offscreen, despite a wonderful lifelong friendship. She called him Bill, he called her Minnie, and they seemed to just click.

Both beginning their careers in the late 1920’s, Powell and Loy’s first movie together was Manhattan Melodrama, an anything but comedic movie about a politician who ends up sending his best childhood friend to the death chamber. Despite the melancholy tone of the movie, the chemistry between Powell (who played the politician) and Loy (his wife) was evident. The next year they starred in The Thin Man, the first in a long series of collaborations as Nick and Nora Charles, the fun, modern, crime-solving husband and wife who really love their cocktails. Their dog, Asta, also plays an integral role.

Reflecting upon the 6 films in the series, Myrna Loy said in a later interview that she felt that the first three Thin Man movies were far superior to the last three, however, the series has remained popular to this day. I have often described them to film-illiterate friends of mine, and when I mention Asta, many of their faces light up.

Another favorite Powell and Loy film of mine is the zany Love Crazy, in which William Powell pretends to be insane in order to win back his wife (Loy), who has called off their marriage. Powell’s performance is not only charming in this quirky film, but one of true comedic flair. This scene could almost be out of a modern film–the comedy is timeless.

In I Love You Again, Powell is a survivor of a man overboard incident on a cruise ship who, after the fall, began suffering from amnesia. His identity as a businessman falls by the wayside and he reverts back to a previous identity as a rough-around-the-edges boozer and swindler. He doesn’t remember his wife, yet falls in love with her anyway.

Totaling 14 in all, the movies of William Powell and Myrna Loy continue to be moneymakers. The Thin Man movies have been released in a box set (set at an unusually high price), and are often played on Turner Classic Movies. Their non-Thin Man films have recently been released in their own box set, showing the world that there is more to Powell and Loy than Nick and Nora.

I leave you with one of my favorite scenes from The Thin Man. Thanks for reading, and thank you to CMBA for hosting this blogathon!


11 responses to “Bill and Minnie–The Thin Man Movies and Beyond

  1. Bill and Minnie were a wonderful onscreen pairing. I’ve never seen a film where they are the principle stars that I didn’t like. The Thin Man movies are favorites of mine.

  2. Well, what can you say – the were just the best, the tops, the bees knees! They were a peach of a pair and they fit together link a hand in a glove. Thanks for a lovely post showcasing their fabulous, magical chemistry!

  3. A great choice of subject for the blogathon–not a single movie but one of the great screen teams. William Powell and Myrna Loy were wonderful alone, but pairing them seemed to increase their appeal exponentially. It’s hard to think of them together as anyone but Nick and Nora Charles, so it’s good to be reminded how many films they did make together. I’d agree with Loy that the first three Thin Man movies are the best. After the first, my next favorite is 1939’s “Another Thin Man.” Just watched “Love Crazy” recently and though I found the film a bit strained (although not so much as” I Love You Again”–a sort of wacky precursor of “Random Harvest”) still enjoyed it. Seeing dignified, debonair William Powell behaving so buffoonishly (and making it convincing) was a treat. My favorite non-Thin Man movie of theirs is “Libeled Lady.”

  4. Nice of you to give some love to the lesser-known Loy-Powell films. I really enjoyed Libeled Lady; their timing together was perfect. I’ll have to check these other ones out. Thanks for the recommendations.

  5. Wonderful post spotlighting the, Thin Man Series, I agee.. a very entertaining collection of classic crime films. They are probably one of the most sophisticated couples of romantic comedies.

  6. Lara, I’m delighted to see that you love all the movies that dear “Bill and Minnie” filmed together, not just the THIN MAN movies, though those are among my absolute favorites of all time! In all their comedies in particular (I confess I’ve never seen MANHATTAN MELODRAMA), William Powell and Myrna Loy always had breezy chemistry to spare. Admittedly, I especially have a soft spot for the THIN MAN films, and I agree with everyone who cited the first three THIN MAN movies among their favorites (though I think all the THIN MAN films are worth watching and enjoying). The thing is, so many filmmakers seem to think that married couples in films somehow aren’t as interesting as unmarried characters. Happily, the THIN MAN movies prove that, when written and portrayed just right, a happily married screen couple can be far more loving, sexy, and fun to watch than the usual childish sparring that too many writers mistake for sexual tension. Also, I’ve always liked the fact that Powell and Loy were genuinely close platonic friends in real life. Your clips were a delight, too; kudos to you on a great post!

  7. No Comedy Blogathon would be complete without this talent duo! I love them together in every one of the collaborations, Thin Man or not! I grew up watching The Thin Man series with my mother who adores them to no end. So I would have to say that’s a pretty good introduction to Classic Cinema, Comedies.
    A very nice tribute and contribution to the Blogathon.

  8. I named my cat Asta so I guess that tells you whether I loved the Thin Man movies.

  9. Powell and Loy had such great chemistry! The “Thin Man” series is classic, and I’m eager to check out some of their other films that I have not seen.

  10. Lara, this was very enjoyable. Powell and Loy were one of those movie couples with incredible chemistry, and it shows in every movie they made. Thanks for a great ride through their films.

  11. I’m very late to this party, but I made it. Thanks, Lara, for a wonderful tour of the Wm. Powell/Myrna Loy partnership. They really were and still are one of the best screen couples. I discovered “I Love You Again” just a few years ago and was delighted by its quirky lunacy. Plus Frank McHugh. What is there to add about “The Thin Man” series, other than I love every entry, even those that came later and aren’t quite up to par.

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