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!