Sunday, November 3, 2013

Film Pairing — William Powell and Myrna Loy, Not Always Nick And Nora

Non Nick & Nora Thriller
William Powell and Myrna Loy made 14 films together.  Six of them were part of what would now be called the Thin Man franchise.  In 1934, America’s favorite couple paired for Evelyn Prentice, a slightly tougher and less comedic film than those in the Thin Man series, which launched the same year. 

In Prentice, a courtroom thriller based on W.E. Woodward’s novel, Powell portrays a prominent defense attorney who finds himself dealing with two seemingly adulterous affairs. With a clever Hitchcockian twist, the attorney finds he must not only defend his client who is charged with the murder of conniving gigolo, but also his wife (Loy) who confesses to the crime.  Rosalind Russell makes her debut, and supporting actress Una Merkel, as Loy’s best friend, nearly steals the show providing needed comic relief.

Song of the Thin Man
Song of the Thin Man was the sixth and last of the series based on the popular characters in Dashiell Hammett’s last novel, The Thin Man.  Most fans will agree that the first films were the best (Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich wrote the screenplays). However audiences wanted more from the comically elegant Powell, the spirited and beautiful Loy and their dog Asta.  In this outing, 13 years after Powell and Loy teamed up for Prentice and The Thin Man, guns, gangsters, jewelry and jazz create an environment that is more fun than believable.  Still, the film, beautifully shot in black and white, is a pleasant escape.  Jayne Meadows, Gloria Grahame and Keenan Wynn have key roles.  A young Dean Stockwell plays Nick Charles Jr. And if you pay attention you’ll catch Julie Wilson (“My Friend Irma”) in a small role.

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