Mannequin (1937)

Director:

Frank Borzage

Cinematography by

George J. Folsey

Joan of the Slums

19 December 2005 | by bkoganbing (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

In doing Mannequin, Joan Crawford was kind of poaching on the roles that Sylvia Sidney did, the girl from the slums who’s looking to break out. She isn’t half bad in it.

When you think about it her part her is a kinder gentler version of the role she did in The Women. A girl looking to step up in class. But in this she’s not looking to steal someone’s husband to do it. She’s more used than the user in Mannequin.

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She’s from Hester Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, living at home with parents and a kid brother. She’s got a good looking boyfriend though in Alan Curtis who’s got less than meets the eye in character. They get married.

Soon she catches the eye of millionaire Spencer Tracy who comes from the same area, but who worked his way up to owning a fleet of freighters. Spence is smitten with her.

In a reverse of Indecent Proposal, Curtis is quite willing to play on Tracy’s obvious interest in Joan, but she now recognizes Curtis for what he is.

This is definitely a Crawford picture. Tracy underplays it in his usual style and has some moments, but he’s clearly in support of Crawford.

Alan Curtis’s part is unusual. He still loves Crawford no matter what, but he’s shallow and his own interests come first. If this were done at 20th Century Fox, Tyrone Power could easily have done this role. He did a kind of variation on it in Rose of Washington Square. Curtis is never shown as violent in any way and that in fact makes him all the more smarmy in his charm.

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One of the best roles in the film comes from Leo Gorcey as Crawford’s younger brother. He’s a tough slum kid with a big mouth and you don’t like him. But he actually is very shrewd in sizing up the shortcomings of those around him, like his father Oscar O’Shea and Curtis.

The title Mannequin comes from the fact that at one point Crawford works as model in a fashion show. Of course this put into the context of the story, giving Crawford the Adrian fashions to wear that she was known for.

Fans of Joan Crawford will be pleased with this.

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Effective Rags to Riches Story.

7/10
Author: nycritic
23 August 2005
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Even though the material is not as great, MANNEQUIN (not to be confused as the 1987 movie), manages to convey a deal more. This is mainly because of the teaming of Spencer Tracy with Joan Crawford. He being an actor of restraint who could convey so much more than any actor of his time, brings in Crawford a similar chemistry in which she wisely opts not to out-act him (or her own fiery self), and for all of MGM’s false production values set aside for once (Crawford as an Lower East Side resident screams false at every turn, more so when seeing her “tenement” apartment), their performances come true and the movie, for all its escapism, works. Scenes linger in the mind, like the inconclusive subway scene in which Crawford underplays her sadness, or the plausible turmoil in which Tracy’s character goes through once he realizes he’s lost everything. I found that despite the sore-thumb presence of Alan Curtis as the guy Crawford impulsively marries and the irritating acting of Mary Phillips, the main characters actions were pretty consistent and not forced to comply with an obligatory happy ending. Overlooked by the Oscars, its only nomination was in the Best Song category for “Always and Always.”

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lovely film

7/10
Author: blanche-2 from United States
11 September 2005

“Mannequin” is a charming, Joan Crawford rags to riches story set in New York City. Desperate to get out of her family’s Hester Street apartment, Jessie talks her boyfriend Eddie into getting married a little sooner than planned. At her wedding dinner in a Chinese restaurant, she is spotted by the very wealthy, well known John Hennessy (Spencer Tracy) who falls in love with her immediately. He’s also impressed by the depth of her love for Eddie. But it’s obvious to all but Jessie that Eddie is a jerk.

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This is not a big, splashy film, but a more intimate one, with a marvelous, heartfelt performance by a young Spencer Tracy, who plays a lonely man to perfection. His sincere performance drives the film. Crawford is photographed beautifully, all gorgeous eyes and softness. I’m not sure how many animals died so Crawford could be dressed so opulently in fur, but once she gets into modeling and then hits the big time, she wears some very expensive clothes. Curtis is an attractive louse, and Leo Gorcey is great as Jessie’s impossible brother. Elisabeth Risdon gives a wonderful performance, with a poignant monologue to her daughter at one point.

A sweet and satisfying film.

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Looking for Trouble (1934)

 

Directed by William A. Wellman
Cinematography James Van Trees

Looking for Trouble is a 1934 American Pre-Code crime film directed by William A. Wellman and starring Spencer Tracy, Jack Oakie and Constance Cummings. After he is rejected by a woman, a man leaves his safe job and joins a gang that robs banks. The film features actual stock earthquake footage.

A rarely seen comedy/drama by Wellman

7 June 2006 | by Jenny Paxson (jennyp-2) (Culpeper, Virginia) – See all my reviews

For whatever reason, LOOKING FOR TROUBLE doesn’t show up on television and isn’t available on video, but I was lucky enough to catch it at Cinevent in Columbus.

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Jack Oakie

LOOKING FOR TROUBLE is given the genre classification of crime drama in the AFI Catalog, but there are healthy doses of wit throughout. With the affable Jack Oakie as second banana, what would you expect? Tracy and Oakie play easygoing telephone linemen troubleshooters with Constance Cummings and Arline Judge as their respective girlfriends. Tracy’s disreputable ex-partner Dan Sutter gets fired for his involvement in an illicit gambling joint, and blames Tracy for squealing on him. Cummings sides with Sutter and ends up working for him at the real estate office he opens. She refuses to listen to Tracy’s suspicions that her boss is a crook. All sorts of excitement follows as Tracy and Oakie investigate Sutter, including a fire, a murder and an earthquake! The earthquake sequence was a recreation of the immense quake that hit Long Beach on March 10, 1933 – just seven months before filming began on the picture. According to Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, which gives LOOKING FOR TROUBLE 3 stars, actual footage of the earthquake was used in the film. The AFI states: “The scene in which Tracy is caught in the quake has been included in numerous documentaries on both Hollywood film-making history and earthquakes.”

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Spencer Tracy got his big break in pictures in 1930 when director John Ford, impressed by Tracy’s performance as a Death Row inmate on Broadway, got Fox to sign him for a prison movie he was making. Tracy made an impression with audiences in UP THE RIVER (along with fellow new-comer Humphrey Bogart), but the role got him type-cast as thugs for the next few years. He grew increasingly unhappy with the parts he was given and became difficult to work with. His Fox contract was coming to an end when he was loaned out to Darryl F. Zanuck at 20th Century Pictures for LOOKING FOR TROUBLE (working title, TROUBLE SHOOTER) to be directed by William Wellman. Soon after he left Fox, Irving Thalberg signed Tracy to a long-term contract at MGM where his talents were put to better use.

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Charles Lane

“Wild Bill” Wellman (so-named for his daring aerial feats while in the Lafayette Flying Corps. in WW1) owed his start in films to his friendship with Douglas Fairbanks. Stories vary on how the two met (one account has it that Wellman made a forced landing on the actor’s property), but it’s a fact that after Wellman saw himself on screen in Fairbanks’ film KNICKERBOCKER BUCKAROO (1919), he decided that he would rather be behind the camera. He worked his way up from prop man, to assistant director and finally to director of Buck Jones westerns at Fox. In the years before LOOKING FOR TROUBLE, Wellman directed such notable films as WINGS (1927), the first picture to win an Academy Award; BEGGARS OF LIFE (1928) with Louise Brooks and THE PUBLIC ENEMY (1931). The latter helped to launch the popularity of the gangster movie and the career of James Cagney.

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Jack Oakie

It’s always a treat to see the smart and striking Constance Cummings in a featured role. Like Tracy, the Seattle-born actress started in theater. She was discovered while on Broadway by Sam Goldwyn who brought her to Hollywood. Columbia signed her up and cast her as prison warden Walter Huston’s naïve daughter in THE CRIMINAL CODE (1931). After 10 films in two years with the studio, Cummings went freelance. It was during this period that she made perhaps her best picture, MOVIE CRAZY (1932) with Harold Lloyd. She moved to England in the mid 1930’s with her husband, English playwright and screenwriter Benn W. Levy. There, she continued acting in films and on the stage. In 1974, Cummings was made a Commander of the British Empire for her contributions to the British entertainment industry. She died on November 23, 2005 at the age of 95.

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Remarkably, another member of the cast is still with us as of this posting. Hatchet-faced, bespectacled prolific American character actor Charles Lane (billed here as Switchboard Operator) turned 101 on January 26, 2006! Other notables to look for in uncredited parts are Bryant Washburn, star of early Essanay films from the 1910’s, as “Richards, Long Beach Manager,” and Jason Robards Sr. as “Shotgun Henchman.”

Mordaunt Hall in The New York Times gave the film a mixed review, finding the amusing scenes with Tracy and Oakie “highly entertaining, but when it tackles the plot and the inevitable spat between the romantic couple, it slumps.” He added that the earthquake scenes “…are done extraordinarily well.”

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Mild mixture of comdy and drama helped by a mix of two different personalities.

5/10
Author: mark.waltz from United States
29 March 2013
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The lives of telephone repair men are explored in an overly plotty comedy with contrasting types playing off of each other with both tough and humorous dialog. Spencer Tracy and Jack Oakie reminded me of Bing Crosby and Bob Hope in the best “Road” movies with their quite opposite personalities. Tracy is hard and cynical, while Oakie is a good-natured jokester who lightens up his initially unamused partner quite a bit in spite of the fact that they both love the same woman. During the course of the movie, they discover a dead body, get involved in a bank heist and manager to get out of a burning building where they were held hostage. The clever dialog helps the film rise above its convoluted plot which runs all over the place in a short running time. A hard-boiled dame played by Judith Wood adds some zest to the conclusion, the other women in the plot not very interesting.

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This one really, really heats up near the end!

6/10
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
16 February 2016
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Initially, I didn’t like this film very much. After all, Joe (Spencer Tracy) was a one-dimensional guy who spends so much of the film getting angry and socking people. This sort of character sure is much different from the subtle and well-acted characters Tracy is famous for performing over the years…most likely because this is early in his career and he hadn’t yet established himself as a top actor. I was almost ready to turn it off, actually, but fortunately stuck with it and I am glad I did. It wasn’t so much because the story about wire tappings was that great but because the studio was able to take actual footage of a real earthquake and seamlessly integrated it into the film…making for a really exciting finale that catches you by surprise. Worth seeing.

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By the way, although it’s not a severe example, the film clearly is a Pre-Code picture (coming out just a few months before the toughened Production Code was enforced). When Jack Oakie’s character is calling various phone numbers, one turns out to be for a brothel…and he saves that number for later!

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The Public Enemy (1931)

Directed by William A. Wellman

The Public Enemy (released as Enemies of the Public in the United Kingdom) is a 1931 American all-talking Pre-Code gangster film produced and distributed by Warner Bros.. The film was directed by William A. Wellman and stars James Cagney, Jean Harlow, Edward Woods, Donald Cook, and Joan Blondell. The film relates the story of a young man’s rise in the criminal underworld in prohibition-era urban America. The supporting players include Beryl Mercer, Murray Kinnell, and Mae Clarke. The screenplay is based on a never-published novel by two former street thugs — Beer and Blood by John Bright and Kubec Glasmon — who had witnessed some of Al Capone‘s murderous gang rivalries in Chicago.

As a tsunami, nothing was able to stop Cagney once he was aroused, and no one even thought to try…

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“Public Enemy” brought two things to the screen: the little tough guy, fast-talking, unscrupulous gangster characterization by James Cagney which was to follow him throughout his entire screen career, and the grapefruit scene…

Though “Public Enemy” created the Cagney image, he had already appeared in two other gangsters films for Warners, as a murderer prepared to let someone else pay for his crime in “Sinner’s Holiday,” and as a double-crossing hoodlum in “Doorway to Hell.”

“Public Enemy,” however, was a bigger-budget production, directed by William Wellman, and it contained all the elements of success… It is the story of two brothers who become Chicago booze barons in the Twenties… One was Cagney, the other Edward Woods…

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It is sometimes claimed that the story of “Public Enemy” is based on that of “Little Hymie” Weiss, leader of the North Side Chicago gang after the murder of Dion O’Banion by the Capones in 1924… What is more likely is that the Cagney characterization is based on “Little Hymie”; the plot itself is pure fiction…

When Cagney, in his striped pajama, sat opposite Mae Clarke at breakfast and decided he had had enough of this boring broad, he wasted no time… He picked up half a grapefruit and planted it full into Clarke’s face… It was a piece of screen action which has lasted down the years as the ultimate in violence from the gangster to his moll…

Of course, it isn’t – it just seems that way… Since then gir1s have been slapped, kicked, beaten up, run over, shot, stabbed and raped, all in the tradition of mobster violence…

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But at the time this scene was daring, and the more daring because it was totally unexpected… We remember Mae Clarke in “Public Enemy,” yet forget that Jean Harlow was in it, too… There may have been good reason… The New York Times, reviewing the film in 1934, commented: “The acting throughout is interesting, with the exception of Jean Harlow, who essays the role of a gangster’s mistress.”

Cagney made violence and a life of crime magically seductive, and “Public Enemy” made him Warners’ number 2 gangster, second only to Edward G. Robinson…

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A Thug’s Life

Author: lugonian from Kissimmee, Florida
1 May 2004

THE PUBLIC ENEMY (Warner Brothers, 1931), directed by William A. Wellman, is a prime example of how a motion picture produced in the early sound era can still hold up today. A worthy follow-up to the studio’s most recent gangster outing, LITTLE CAESAR (1930), that elevated Edward G. Robinson to stardom, THE PUBLIC ENEMY brought forth another new screen personality, James Cagney, displaying a different kind of movie thug: rough, with guys who betray him; tough, with women who get on his nerves or play him for a sucker; and ready, to succeed by socking, punching, slapping or killing anybody who gets in his way. His only soft spot for his mother, but far from being a “Momma’s Boy.”

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Through its passage in time element starting in 1909 Chicago, THE PUBLIC ENEMY plays in the biographical mode, displaying the origins of its main characters, Tom Powers and Matt Doyle, as boys (Junior Coughlan and Frankie Darro), leading to their adult lives (James Cagney and Edward Woods) as tough thugs. Tom Powers character, regardless of his fine upbringing, indicates he was born … to be bad. He has a brother, Mike (Donald Cook) who knows of his activities, while their mother (Beryl Mercer) may suspect but overlooks his actions. As things start going well for Tom and Matt in the bootlegging racket under Paddy Ryan’s (Robert Emmett O’Connor) leadership, Scheiner Burns, a rival gang leader, attempts on taking over Ryan’s establishment, leading to more gun-play, especially for Tom, quick on the trigger, only to have things backfire on him.

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If not the most famous of the early gangster films, THE PUBLIC ENEMY is one of the most revived. Quite frank in its actions, and adult for its intentions, much of the then so- called violence occurs out of camera range. Yet, whatever is displayed on film is something not to forget. These days, there isn’t a year that goes where THE PUBLIC ENEMY isn’t televised. Whenever a topic pertaining to THE PUBLIC ENEMY arises, it’s not the story that immediately comes to mind, but Cagney’s individual scenes consisting of squirting beer from his mouth into the bartender’s face; Tom’s cold-blooded killing of Putty Nose (the man who let him take the rap for a crime) while playing his last song on the piano; and Tom’s off-screen shootout with a rival gang in a fancy nightclub, stumbling out in the pouring rain saying to himself, “I ain’t so tough.”

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All these scenes pale in comparison until reaching its most chilling climax ever recorded on film. Yet, the one where Tom, at the breakfast table, pushes a grapefruit into his mistress Kitty’s (Mae Clarke) face, never has such a brief scene have such an long impact. Other than Clarke’s famous few minutes of grapefruit glory, Mia Marvin (whose face resembling Maureen “Marcia Brady” McCormick from TV’s 1970s sit-com, “The Brady Bunch”) playing a slut named Jane, is one who gets her face slapped after getting Tom drunk enough to seduce him. The second billed Jean Harlow doesn’t get any abuse from her leading man as did the other two actresses receiving no screen credit for their trouble. While Harlow’s performance has been criticized as one of her worst, chances are her portrayal might have been intended to be enacted in that manner. Harlow’s Gwen Allen is an uneducated blonde floozy with her gift for attracting men. What possibly hurts the film is not Harlow herself, but the inane dialog she recites, (“Oh Tommy, I can love you to death!”. Joan Blondell’s limitations on screen is mostly one involving her relation with Tom’s pal, Matt.

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Edward Woods, whose has almost equal screen time with Cagney, is a Hollywood name very few recollect today. Several documentaries profiling gangster films have indicated Woods as the initial star of THE PUBLIC ENEMY with Cagney assuming the subordinate role, with director Wellman seeing an error with the casting and wisely having these actors switch roles. While a smart move on Wellman’s part, he failed to switch roles on the boy actors who portrayed them, especially a keen observer noticing Frankie Darro playing Matt, not Junior Coughlan playing Tom, performing in the Cagney manner. Donald Cook, Beryl Mercer and Robert O’Connor appearing in subordinate roles, are essential with their parts, but never outshine Hollywood’s finest movie thug, a/k/a Public Enemy, James Cagney, whose tougher roles, ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES (1938) and WHITE HEAT (1949) were years into his future. With limited underscoring, the theme song, “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles,” like Cagney and his grapefruit, has long become associated with THE PUBLIC ENEMY.

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THE PUBLIC ENEMY, which has become one of the first major movies from the Warner Brothers library to be distributed on video cassette (consisting mostly of prints from slightly edited reissues), and later on DVD (with either edited or restored prints), can be seen quite frequently on Turner Classic Movies. It might not have the realistic violence as any crime film of today, but THE PUBLIC ENEMY presents itself as a gangster drama that doesn’t have to be all blood and guts to become successful. Good acting, fine story, interesting characters supplied with tight action is all what is needed to make a good movie. Being a natural talent, Cagney makes THE PUBLIC ENEMY all it’s worth. (***)

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83 minutes of Cinematic Bliss

Author: J. Wellington Peevis from Malltown
9 August 2003

Larger than life classic that chronicles the life of a street hustler turned crime lord in prohibition Chicago, based loosely on the various antics of the Irish mega-hoodlums, O’Bannon and Moran.

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While we may never literally create a time machine, these old movies give you the miracle of observation at least of what life was once like. Sadly many of the old films have been destroyed through neglect, so the pickings are very slim. Public Enemy is one of the best old movies available. For only the sheer pleasure of seeing what all the fuss was about in Cagney and Harlow, it’s worth a viewing. Director Wellman creates some extremely lasting images you won’t want to miss, and it almost makes me think of the original Frankenstein for that reason. The final sequence especially is a dramatic example of lasting imagery in film, quite an unforgettable experience. If you like Godfather, Scarface, Goodfellas, and who doesn’t, you owe it yourself to watch what may be the patriarch of the entire genre. Interestingly, while the film has a campy disclaimer demonizing the subject matter and mandating public action in order to address the evils of organized crime, it’s rather obvious that the producers new exactly what they were really doing by making a film like this. Brutal as some of the action is, Cagney’s charisma glorifies the gangster as much as Coppola, Scorsese and all the rest glorify modern organized crime. See it for yourself!!

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Libeled Lady (1936)

Libeled Lady is a 1936 screwball comedy film starring Jean Harlow, William Powell, Myrna Loy, and Spencer Tracy, written by George Oppenheimer, Howard Emmett Rogers, Wallace Sullivan, and Maurine Dallas Watkins, and directed by Jack Conway.

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A galaxy of stars in a delightful comedy

23 September 2005 | by jotix100 (New York) – See all my reviews

The beginning of “Libeled Lady” shows its four stars walking arm in arm toward the camera. The stars being Jean Harlow, William Powell, Myrna Loy and Spencer Tracy, some of the best actors working in Hollywood in the thirties!

Only a studio like MGM could pull this coup. They had in its heyday some of the best and more radiant figures in its payroll. As a studio, it could gather the best talents working in those days and create fabulous vehicles for them to shine, which is the case with this film. This delightful screwball comedy with romantic overtones has kept its luster even after almost seventy years since it was produced. Jack Conway directed with a light touch.

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“Libeled Lady” got away with a lot having been filmed before the Hays Code got its grip in everything that was produced in Hollywood in the succeeding years. The dialog is quite frank and sophisticated, even for that era.

Jean Harlow had perhaps her best moment in the movies playing Gladys Benton, the woman who is engaged to be married and has her wedding postponed. William Powell, who was at the height of his career, and popularity, plays Bill Chandler, the man who is called to do a favor to the man that has fired him, by taking an interest in an heiress who is notorious for suing any newspaper that dares to print anything about her that is not true. Myrna Loy is the heiress, Connie Allenbury, who falls for the ruse that Bill Chandler is made to perform, but deep down she has fallen in love with him. Spencer Tracy is the editor of the newspaper in question, who concocts the plan to get the paper off the hook in paying the five million dollars.

 

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In supporting roles we get to see some of the best actors of the time: Cora Witherspoon, William Connolly, Charlie Grapevine, William Benedict, Bunny Beatty, and others that enhance the film with their presence.

The film will not disappoint. It is one of the funniest comedies of that period.

A film with four stars of this magnitude was an event in 1936 and, indeed, it still is in 2004. Though the subject matter is slight and the acting is not too terribly taxing on the affable quartet, it was well-thought-of-enough to rate a Best Picture Oscar nomination. Tracy plays a newspaperman whose own wedding plans are interrupted by the fact that his paper has mistakingly run a libelous story about the daughter of one of his competitors. Loy, as the daughter, slaps a $5 million libel suit against Tracy’s newspaper which, if won, will sink it. Since he knows he will lose, he rehires former employee Powell, who he feels will be able to charm Loy into an indelicate situation, thus rendering her reputation spoiled enough to cost her her libel suit. Part of the scheme, however, to make it seem legitimate is to marry off Powell to his own fiance (Harlow.)

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It is here that the film gets a lot of its laughs as desperate-to-wed Harlow finds herself getting married……but to the wrong man! Powell and Loy get most of the sparkling dialogue and sophisticated repartee, but contemporary audiences are likelier to get a kick out of mouthy, hilarious Harlow. Her comedic gifts (and her ample physical assets) are on prime display, notably when the judge says it’s safe to kiss the bride and in a later scene where Powell is learning to fly-fish. All of the stars do very well and each gets a chance to rub up against the others. Powell and Loy are a legendary pairing with 14 films to show them off. Tracy does a slick job and shows his versatility. They are aided by a stable of amusing character actors, the type of people Hollywood was famous for and can no longer provide with regularity. (Today, almost any character actor that scores a hit is thrust into his/her own TV show, TV talk show or lead role in a film!) The film offers both wit and slapstick, wrapped up in some gorgeous sets and costumes. (The MGM gloss is fully in place.) Sadly, the light that was Harlow would be dimmed in just a year after this, but audiences are still able to enjoy her fine work in films like this.

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The film went into production in mid-July 1936 and wrapped on September 1. Location shooting took place in Sonora, California. Lionel Barrymore was originally cast as Mr. Allenbury, and Rosalind Russell was originally considered to play Connie Allenbury.

Harlow and Powell were an off-screen couple, and Harlow wanted to play Connie Allenbury, so that her character and Powell’s would wind up together.MGM insisted, however, that the film be another William Powell-Myrna Loy vehicle, as they originally intended. Harlow had already signed on to do the film but had to settle for the role of Gladys Benton. Nevertheless, as Gladys, top-billed Harlow got to play a wedding scene with Powell. During filming, Harlow changed her legal name from her birth name of Harlean Carpenter McGrew Bern Rosson to Jean Harlow. She would make only two more films before dying at the age of 26 in 1937.

It has been rumored that Loy and Tracy had an affair during the shooting of the film

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It’s always a pleasant surprise to run into one of Myrna Loy and William Powell’s legendary pairings. “Libeled Lady” was even more pleasant than usual! Spencer Tracy is marvelous as the too smooth operator, while Harlow shrills her way through the film, stealing every scene.

Still and all, the real selling point of this film is the clever drawing room dialogue and rat-a-tat-tat delivery! One does not see this type of intelligent comedic script come out of Hollywood these days. Full of double entendre, perfectly honed sarcasm and beautifully timed quips, this film keeps you smiling, even as you wince at Powell’s adept physical comedy, full of falls and falls and falls.

As for his co-star, watching Loy glow on screen is always magic, the moments that she raises an eyebrow and drops in a gem of a line, well, there’s the real abracadabra…

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Snack, Crackle, Pop!

8/10
Author: puzzow from United States
23 August 2007

One might wonder about casting 4 heavyweights in the same film– any one of the leads could carry a film by themselves– but all together you’re afraid that they might either weigh down the film or, ala the “Dream Team” 1990, fail to live up to expectations. But this is one time you time you will not be disappointed– with hysterical antics by Jean Harlowe, the always dependable repartee between classy Myrna Lowe and suave William Powell, and Spencer Tracy proving for the first time that he can handle snappy dialogue like the best of ’em– the chemistry between the cast makes every scene in this film a delight.

The banter flies so fast you’ll miss it– this is the height of screwball comedy. When people say they don’t write them like this anymore, alas, they really don’t.

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Evelyn Prentice (1934)

Evelyn Prentice is a 1934 film starring William Powell and Myrna Loy. and featuring Una Merkel and Rosalind Russell in her film debut. The movie was based on the 1933 novel of the same name by W. E. Woodward.

The neglected wife of an attorney begins a flirtation with another man, who turns out to be a gigolo. After it appears that she shot him when he attempted to blackmail her, another woman is charged with the crime.

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Una Merkel,   Myrna Loy

Hot Coffee

8/10
Author: marcslope from New York, NY
28 June 2005

Lenore Coffee was a prolific screenwriter whose specialty was the “women’s picture,” and she writes a honey of one here. William Powell is a too-busy lawyer who’s dallying with client Rosalind Russell and who neglects his family (and boy, can I identify with that), to the point where good wife Loy is momentarily distracted by a lounge-lizard poet with a busy black book. Disastrous complications ensue. William Howard’s direction is workmanlike at best, but Coffee keeps the fireworks popping. She balances things expertly between smart, sassy dialog and courtroom melodramatics, and she can write persuasively for tart-tongued best friends (a soignee Una Merkel), wide-eyed daughters (a relatively unannoying Cora Sue Collins), wronged women (a heavy-lidded Isabel Jewell), and a supporting cast of New York sophisticates. The windup is a little fast and the idyllic fadeout not entirely convincing, but in these days of overheated trials and yellow Murdoch journalism, it’s not entirely implausible, either. A very fast and smart comedy-drama, and I didn’t mind the absence of the Nick and Nora personas, or Asta, one bit.

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Myrna Loy. ,  Una Merkel

Style and substance

Author: jaykay-10
7 January 2004

This is an absorbing, intelligent picture, bolstered by sensitive performances and adept handling of an adult story. Its fundamentals may be overly familiar, and perhaps a bit too much plot gets in the way of believable, touching characterizations. But you will care about the main characters, whose weaknesses and oversights lead them to the brink of ruin – even if (in a questionable decision by the film makers) they are given the trappings of art deco luxuries, instead of being brought closer to a lifestyle familiar to the audience.

Powell and Loy, alone and together, are fine, as always. Credit Isabel Jewell with a low-key, yet emotionally-charged performance. Jessie Ralph is excellent is one extended scene in which she babbles and equivocates as the tension builds to a quiet frenzy. Una Merkel softens her familiar screen mannerisms to play the character, rather than vice versa.

Not a well-known film, “Evelyn Prentice” is most definitely worth your while.

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Inbetween The Thin Man

Author: wrbtu from Long Island Motor Parkway
14 May 2001

“Evelyn Prentice” starred William Powell & Myrna Loy, who were inbetween working on the first & second movies in “The Thin Man” series. There are similarities between their roles in this movie & their roles in that series. In both cases, they’re debonair rich folks with fancy clothes & a beautiful home. In both cases, Powell plays a character who likes to drink (more so in “The Thin Man”) & is involved with solving a murder mystery. But “The Thin Man” series is more light-hearted, with more flippant, snappier dialog, & is generally more enjoyable than “Evelyn Prentice.” Astra the Dog is missed, & replaced by the couple’s young daughter. But this is a good movie, & has a more surprising plot twist than any entry in “The Thin Man” series. The plot here has more typical pre-code elements than the later “Thin Man” entries, which I won’t mention here because I don’t want to give away the storyline. Una Merkel is good as Loy’s wisecracking friend. Isabel Jewell is very convincing in her role (I didn’t think so at first, but as I began to watch her more closely, I started to think that she’s a really good actress). I rate it 8/10

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Rosalind Russell

Tolerable film, but not the best of the Loy and Powell pairings.

6/10
Author: CindyH from Mobile, AL
24 October 2010
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I disagree with planktonrules’s review for a variety of reasons. While it is true that this was obviously not a grand film, it is still worthy of a casual peek. After all, Loy and Powell fans will always appreciate seeing them together on the screen, even if it is not perfection.

The plot does sound interesting. John Prentice (William Powell) is an affluent lawyer who not only neglects his wife Evelyn (Myrna Loy) but has an affair with a client. In the mean time lonely Evelyn meets an apparently charming Lawrence Kennard who, unbeknownst to her, has only one motive: money.

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Rosalind Russell

Evelyn Prentice innocently corresponds with Mr. Kennard who uses the letters as leverage for his blackmail. While the letters are innocuous, the wording can be understood as either confirming an affair or only confirming a friendship. Naturally Mr. Kennard plans are to use them to confirm a non-existent affair.

When John wishes to reconcile with his wife, Evelyn notifies Mr. Kennard that their friendship is over. Infuriated, Mr. Kennard says he wants money in exchange for the letters; an amount that Evelyn cannot possibly pay. Grabbing a gun from an open drawer, Evelyn demands the letters. When he refuses, a gun shot is heard and Evelyn is seen leaving Mr. Kennard’s apartment.

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Guilt ridden after hearing that a woman has been accused of Kennard’s murder, Evelyn asks her husband to take her case and even more twists are to come.

Unlike what planktonrules claims, it is entirely believable for that day in age. While overdone, perhaps, the plot is neat and does work.

I don’t give it a terribly high grade, but I do feel that the acting was very well done, the plot was clear and the ending was satisfying. That makes it a sufficient film, deserving any time spent viewing it.

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The Thin Man (1934)

Directed by W. S. Van Dyke

The Thin Man is a 1934 American Pre-Code comedy-mystery film directed by W. S. Van Dyke and based on the novel of the same name by Dashiell Hammett. The film stars William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles; Nick is a hard-drinking, retired private detective, and Nora is a wealthy heiress. Their wire-haired fox terrier Asta is played by canine actor Skippy.

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Reception

The film was released in May 25, 1934 to extremely positive reviews and was a box office hit with special praise for the chemistry between Loy and Powell. Mordaunt Hall of The New York Times called it “an excellent combination of comedy and excitement”, and the film appeared on the Times year-end list of the ten best of the year. “The Thin Man was an entertaining novel, and now it’s an entertaining picture”, reported Variety.

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“For its leads the studio couldn’t have done better than to pick Powell and Miss Loy, both of whom shade their semi-comic roles beautifully.””The screen seldom presents a more thoroughly interesting piece of entertainment than this adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s popular novel”, raved Film Daily. “The rapid fire dialogue is about the best heard since talkies, and it is delivered by Powell and Miss Loy to perfection.”John Mosher of The New Yorker wrote that Loy and Powell played their parts “beautifully”, adding, “All the people of the book are there, and I think the final scenes of the solution of the mystery are handled on a higher note than they were in print.” Louella Parsons called it “the greatest entertainment, the most fun and the best mystery-drama of the year.” The Chicago Tribune said it was “exciting”, “amusing” and “fat with ultra, ultra sophisticated situations and dialog.” It also called Powell and Loy “delightful”. Harrison Carroll of The Los Angeles Herald-Express wrote that it was “one of the cleverest adaptations of a popular novel that Hollywood has ever turned out.”

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The first, and the best, in a very good series

17 April 2001 | by Paul Dana (crystalseachurch@juno.com) (San Francisco, CA, USA) – See all my reviews

There’s a story, perhaps apocryphal, that when Ian Fleming was first introduced to the actor who would bring his 007 to life in “Dr. No,” his immediate reaction was a loud and emphatic, “Oh, NO! Anybody but HIM!” Luckily, of course, no one paid him any attention, and a largely unknown actor and former bodybuilder named Sean Connery was off and running toward stardom. Likely enough, had anyone thought to run the idea of William Powell as Nick Charles past Dashiell Hammett — always assuming, somewhat blithely, that the author would have been sober at the moment — his reaction would have been identical to Fleming’s years later.

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Powell, insouciantly dapper and suave, almost as slender as the silly mustache he affected, was virtually the complete antithesis of Hammett’s concept of Charles, the hard-drinking, two-fisted former New York detective who married an heiress much younger than he and yet somehow managed to remain uncorrupted by his good fortune. Yet Powell — as would Humphrey Bogart several years later, when similarly physically miscast as Sam Spade in the third film version of “The Maltese Falcon” — went on to make the character of Nick Charles so totally his own that even today, six films and almost sixty years later, it is well-nigh impossible to envision anyone else in the role.

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Powell was always at his best when playing opposite a strong leading lady — i.e., Rosalind Russell, Carole Lombard, Irene Dunne — yet he was never better than when paired with Myrna Loy as Nora in the six “Thin Man” films. Every bit his equal at the backchat and martini-tossing, Loy proved the perfect collaborator in making the Charleses lovely people to visit (but you wouldn’t want their livers) time and time and time again. Particularly in this, the adaptation of Hammett’s novel, which created the audience demand for the ensuing series. And which also shows that, even if you do consult the writer, it’s not necessarily wise to give him/her final approval over casting.

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Puts modern movies to shame

10/10
Author: Minty-5 from Sydney, Australia
18 January 2000

“The Thin Man”, a deliciously superb mix that keeps getting richer becomes better with every single viewing. The first time I missed a bit of the murder plot, but repeated viewings just enhance the movie.

It has started making me wanted to go out, get a terrier and call it Asta, drink too much for my own good and become a private eye detective. And move to New York. The lovable couple make it all look fun, and even if they do drink too much. Only after I have snapped out of admiration mode for the movie I remember that they were highly paid actors following a script in a hit film of 1934, and I’m living in the year 2000, cannot get a dog, am living in Sydney, and worst of all, I’m fourteen, so I can’t drink or become a detective. Such is the modern manner of the movie. It is one of the very few films of its time that retains its freshness, intrigue and brilliant humour.

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William Powell and Myrna Loy are incredibly likeable, the wisecracking darlings of society who we all want to know. Their performances were both absolutely brilliant! Some of their antics are a good deal wilder than those we are used to, but in fear of being caught up in murder would keep me away from them, but not long enough. I don’t believe there are any shallow characters at all. Thank goodness for “The Thin Man”. One of the first to show an affectionate couple in love, I’m still scanning for the same in movies of the 50s.

W.S Dyke is of course not one of the most remembered directors of his time, but for this alone he could be considered a great director. He was not Alfred Hitchcock, but he successfully combined high comedy, crime and thrills into one film. No wonder the major film studios were hot after this property. And Dyke didn’t have to rely on the excruciatingly hilarious elements of slapstick. A married couple and a dog was all that was needed. Such a simple thing to emphasise on, and how well it worked! Could there be a more stolen plot of today?

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Unfortunately, MGM, despite creating one of the best teamings of the era by putting the platonic Powell and Loy together, released this film in 1934. A nominee for Best Picture, Actor and Director, among other things, it was Capra’s “It Happened One Night” that made history by becoming the first film in history to sweep the five major categories at the Oscars. If it had been released in 1933, it would have beaten the now forgotten “Calvacade”, in 1935 it may have swept some Oscars up against “Mutiny on the Bounty”. I wonder why Loy was not nominated. The film simply could not have been done without her.

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Powell and Loy went on to make many movies together. Asta, appeared again as George in the 1938 slapstick masterpiece “Bringing Up Baby”.

Although we need some good movies now, no one should even think contemplate for a split second on a remake. There is no way justice could be done to this film. It is a comic masterpiece that continually tricks the viewers, and without a doubt, one of the very best and brightest movies of the 1930s.

I hope I can watch the other “Thin Man” movies. I will definitely be reading the book. The film ended half an hour ago, but I already feel like going back for a second helping.

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One of the funniest films ever made…

9/10
Author: A-Ron-2 from Storrs, CT
14 July 2000

I am not really a fan of comedies, but I can definitely appreciate a good one when it comes along. Often times comedies only really work when they are combined with another genre (in the case of this film, the ‘hard-boiled detective’ film)… and sometimes they achieve brilliance.

In what might have otherwise been a sort of mediocre movie, Bill Powell and Myrna Loy breath a phenomenal life into the roles of Nick and Nora Charles, a rich woman and her dandyish (but dangerous) lush of a detective husband. This film entertains on so many levels and establishes (not exploits) so many cliches that it should be mandatory viewing in any introductory film class.

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The plot of The Thin Man is pretty much peripheral to the performances by Low and Powell, but it is involving in its own way. Murder, loose women, police brutality (fun police brutality), adultery, polygamy, science, swindles, two dinner parties and drinking… lots and lots of drinking… all combine into one hell of fun movie. There is even a fair amount of tension in the film and all kinds of great one-liners and set-ups.

This is quite simply a phenomenal film, lots of fun (even for Gen Xers like myself), and well worth watching.

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Classy, sassy fun

8/10
Author: FilmOtaku (ssampon@hotmail.com) from Milwaukee, WI
22 January 2005

W.S. Van Dyke’s 1934 film “The Thin Man” stars Myrna Loy and William Powell as Nora and Nick Charles, upper class sleuths who unwittingly become caught up in the case of a missing friend and former client. Nick is a former detective who has been in retirement for the last four years, living the high life with Nora when Dorothy Wynant (Maureen O’Sullivan) implores with them to help find her father, who has been missing for three months. Throughout the investigation, Nick and Nora rarely are without a drink in their hands, are forever trading bons mots and getting themselves into comical situations; they even get their terrier Asta in on their investigation.

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“The Thin Man” is a great detective story that is enhanced by its classiness and humor. Powell is definitely the physical comedian of the pair, with Loy looking stunning and conveying so much with the looks she gives him. I honestly found myself guessing the outcome until the end, which culminates in a deliciously wonderful dinner party where all of the guests are suspects. It is stunning that this film was made in 1934, because it seems so ahead of its time; which is probably just one reason why it is so highly regarded and remains on many critics’ lists. “The Thin Man” is so thoroughly enjoyable, and its stars (including Asta) are so engaging that I look forward to seeing more in the six-film series. Rent this one or catch it on Turner Classic Movies, like I did. It is well worth seeing, and surely an inspiration to many film genres ranging from screwball comedies to detective stories. A very strong 8/10.

–Shelly

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Red Dust (1932)

Director:

Victor Fleming

Cinematography by

Harold Rosson (photographed by)
Arthur Edeson (uncredited)

Red Dust is a 1932 American pre-code romantic drama film directed by Victor Fleming and starring Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, and Mary Astor. The film is based on the 1928 play of the same name by Wilson Collison, and was adapted for the screen by John Mahin. Red Dust is the second of six movies Gable and Harlow made together, and was produced during the pre-code era of Hollywood. More than 20 years later, Gable starred in a remake, Mogambo (1953), with Ava Gardner starring in a variation on the Harlow role and Grace Kelly playing a part similar to one portrayed by Mary Astor in Red Dust.

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Mary Astor and Clark Gable in Red Dust Steamy sizzling – Harlow outdoes Gable

20 February 2002 | by A M BOYD (USA) – See all my reviews

Red Dust without a doubt is the best movie Harlow and Gable ever made together or separate! Harlow is magnificent and looks like a dream. She puts Gable in his place every time he utters a word. But together, they are magic – such chemistry! The rest of the cast just fades when these two melt together. Two scenes that are memorable – Harlow bathing in the water barrel and cleaning out the parrot’s cage. Wow! She is dynamite. There is no other blonde bombshell that even comes close to this original!

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Gable & Harlow without interference from the Production Code

9/10
Author: (stwhite) from Indiana, USA
30 August 2003

For those that have never seen a pre-Code film, RED DUST is a great film to begin with. It certainly isn’t shy about dealing with adultery, prostitution, or heavy drinking. Although it was made over 70 years ago, it holds up extremely well by today’s standards. This is due to a well written script that dealt with these subjects directly and wasn’t restrained by the Production Code that was enacted 2 years later. Later films either didn’t deal with this type of content or did so in a way that was ridiculous. It is also due to the performances of a rugged and virile Clark Gable and a strong willed and street smart Jean Harlow and a strong supporting cast.

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There is no doubt as to the sexual stamina of their two characters. We find this out early and often. One example is when Gable tucks money down Harlow’s dress and says, “It’s been nice having you.” and spanks her behind. Most modern films would have shown a sex scene while films subject to the code would have treated its audience as children and made us aware in a ridiculous way that would satisfy the censors. The scene where he warns her against misusing the plumbing and attempts to pull her out of the water barrel(yes, she’s naked, but we don’t see the nudity) while the society woman he is trying to seduce watches on is hilarious. Clark Gable and Jean Harlow made one the better on screen couples of that time.

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It is a shame that her career was tragically cut short. I also enjoyed the scene where a frightened Mary Astor slaps him across the face for his indifference to the plight of her sick husband and he responds with a smug and confident grin. The movie also gives one an appreciation of the primitive conditions people lived in on a rubber plantation during that time. RED DUST is directed by Victor Fleming who would later direct THE WIZARD OF OZ and Clark Gable in GONE WITH THE WIND. People have complained that this film is racist, but need to realize that the world was a much different place in 1932 than in 2003. If you can do that, you’ll probably enjoy this film. 9/10

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One of My Favorite Pre-Code Films

10/10
Author: Claire (cng4) from Los Angeles, CA
4 June 2003

To me this is one of the films that defined the Pre-Code Era. Complete with prostitution, adultery, sex as a major plot point, partial nudity (well, much more than was allowed during the Code enforcement), drunkenness, and strong women characters, this film has it all. Plus, it has an extremely engaging storyline, interesting setting, and an explanation of how rubber is made. Aside from the racism present, this film is great. One of the most interesting things about this film, which I have studied a great deal as a part of my senior thesis in undergrad film school, is the freshness of the dialogue. Coming only a few years after the addition of sound to films I was shocked to find how fun and refreshing the dialogue was. Whereas lots of films these days disappoint me in that the dialogue is so overly cliched and stale, Red Dust has lines about favorite cheeses and stories read about bunnies– how fun!

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All and all, this movie is terrific. Clark is as virile as anything and Jean Harlow is full of strength and sass and dimensions– just a great female character. And hell if she isn’t going to fight for her man! Mary Astor’s character is also very well done as we see and believe that Clark is just so tempted by her and she by him. I recommend this movie to anyone and everyone– It’s a 120 times better than its remake, Mogambo, which despite Gable’s presence just totally loses everything that Red Dust had.

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Pre-code period piece melodrama with intelligent writing.

Author: (radkins@pacbell.net) from Toluca Lake, California
6 July 2002

Context is an important element in viewing any work of art or commerce and movies are both. “Red Dust” at it’s core is about human weakness and strength, in degree and in full force. Mary Astor, a star since appearing opposite John Barrymore in “Don Juan”, plays a repressed wife who doesn’t believe in the strength of her husband (Gene Raymond) nor her own weakness when it comes to resisting the animal magnetism of rubber plantation owner Dennis (Clark Gable). Conversely, Gable doesn’t realize his weakness in letting himself get involved with the ladylike Astor and underestimates the strength of prostitute Vantine (Jean Harlow) who, when Astor shoots Gable, gives witness to Raymond that his wife is innocent and that Gable deserved shooting. For it’s time, 1932, “Red Dust” is sexually progressive, showing the freely running passions of Gable and the two women, while in retrospect, it’s depiction of Asians is as poor stereotypes. Willie Fung, who plays Gable’s houseboy, is also derided as gay in the script by the line delivered by Jean Harlow. Harlow notices Fung giggling at her underwear, to which she replies “Gee…you even find them in the jungle.”

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“Red Dust” has a tremendous “back story” as well. John Gilbert was to play the part of Dennis originally as an attempt to bolster his masculine image which had been damaged by the higher-than-anticipated timbre of his voice as recorded by early sound equipment. With the sensation caused by Gable when he returned Norma Shearer’s slap in the face in “A Free Soul” Gable’s star rose mercurily. No “hero” ever countered the indignation of the leading lady before, and certainly not the divas at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Gable was a whole new breed of leading man. Jean Harlow’s star had been on the ascendant after scoring a huge hit in “Red Headed Woman” a scandalous story of a secretary who sleeps her way to the top. The realism of these two performers in those films made them a natural for the raw jungle tale of passion and betrayal. In the middle of the making of the film, Jean Harlow’s producer-husband, Paul Bern, was found dead. The scandal that followed frightened the studio who thought that Harlow’s career was over. Scandal had ruined the careers of Fatty Arbuckle and Clara Bow, causing their studio (Paramount) to loose millions on their films.

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M.G.M. was surprised when Harlow’s fame and popularity increased. For her part, Harlow returned to the studio and never spoke an unkind word about her late husband. Bern, it turned out, had a common law wife who had emerged from years-long institutionalization and confronted him about his new wife.

Racism is not a key element in the plot of “Red Dust”. For that, you would have to see “The Mask of Fu Manchu” where the Asians are neither lazy nor stupid, but sexual predators, instead. Or you could watch any number of other World War Two American movies with Asians in them. But for accurate Pre-censorship Hollywood adult dialogue and plot, “Red Dust” will do nicely, thank you.

© Copyright 2015 Corbis Corporation

1932 — Jean Harlow (l) as Vantine Jefferson and Mary Astor as Barbara Willis in the 1932 film Red Dust, directed by Victor Fleming. — Image by © Underwood & Underwood/Corbis

Harlow/Gable chemistry is unmatched in cinema

10/10
Author: oneway (regman2@aol.com) from Los Angeles, CA
19 December 1999

Red Dust is definitive proof that Gable and Harlow were a unique phenomena in the field of cinema chemistry. It is also stands as a prime example as to why Harlow became a star so quick. She is a loveable sex goddess, and there has simply been no other like her. The way she stares at and chides Gable, and the sheer image of delight which graces her expressive face when she’s in his presence, is something that couldn’t be taught in any acting college. It is pure Harlow. The production value is quite adequate for 1932, with Harlow playing a prostitute on the run who happens upon Gables rubber plantation.

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The arrival of Mary Astor and her husband played well by Gene Raymond, threatens Harlow’s chances with Gable, as he takes a liking to the pleasant demeanor of Astor. The rain-barrel scene in which gable scolds Harlow for being to “care-free” is one of Hollywood’s most memorable film moments. This film was remade as “Mogambo” by John Ford in 1953. The role of “Vantine” (occupied by Harlow) was assumed by Ava Gardner, and the Mary Astor role was assumed by Grace Kelly. Though more than competent in their roles, neither of these actresses could recapture the spark that made Harlow and Gable the “it” couple of the 1930’s.

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After the Thin Man (1936)

Directed by W.S. Van Dyke

Cinematography by

Oliver T. Marsh

After the Thin Man is a 1936 American film, starring William Powell, Myrna Loy, and James Stewart, that is the sequel to the film The Thin Man. The movie presents Powell and Loy as Dashiell Hammett‘s characters Nick and Nora Charles. The film was directed by W. S. Van Dyke and also featured Elissa Landi, Joseph Calleia, Jessie Ralph, Alan Marshal, and Penny Singleton.

This was actually the sixth pairing for Myrna Loy and William Powell. The two made 14 pictures together, six of them in the Thin Man series.

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William Powell, Myrna Loy

Storyline

Now back in San Francisco after their holiday in New York, Nick and Nora find themselves trying to solve another mystery. It’s New Year’s Eve and they are summoned to dinner at Nora’s elderly, and very aristocratic, family. There they find that cousin Selma’s husband Robert has been missing for three days. Nick reluctantly agrees to look for him but the case takes a twist when Robert is shot and Selma is accused of murder. Several other murders occur but eventually Nick gathers everyone into the same room to reveal the identity of the killer.

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“Come on, let’s get something to eat. I’m thirsty.”

23 May 2007 | by ackstasis (Australia) – See all my reviews

Some weeks ago I expressed my absolute enthusiasm for ‘The Thin Man (1934),’ a delightfully humorous murder mystery/comedy classic, starring the inimitable comedic marriage of William Powell and Myrna Loy as husband-and-wife detectives Nick and Nora Charles. This original film, after a solid box-office run and four Academy Award nominations, spawned a respectable five sequels, and a radio and television series. ‘After the Thin Man’ is the first of these sequels, released in 1936.

As the original trailer for the film proudly proclaims, ‘After the Thin Man’ brought back the three writers of the original hit (Dashiell Hammett, Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett), the same director (W.S. Van Dyke) and, of course, the three huge film stars in Powell, Loy and, of course, Asta the dog (the wire-haired terrier whose birth-name was Skippy). True to its promise, the film is every bit as witty, hilarious and suspenseful as its predecessor, masterfully melding Nick and Nora’s playful banter with another twisted mystery of love, betrayal, blackmail and murder. And look out for a memorable supporting performance from a young James Stewart, who was yet to hit it big with the likes of Frank Capra and Alfred Hitchcock.

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James Stewart

The sequel takes place just a day or two after where ‘The Thin Man’ left off, as Nick and Nora prepare to depart from the train that brought them back home to San Francisco. Like the original film, the actually murder mystery is quite a messy one, though the writers have luckily decided to tone down, just slightly, the number of interwoven threads this time around. With nothing in mind but sleeping for a month, our favourite detective couple are surprised to walk into a welcome-home party held by people they don’t even know, before they are invited to Nora’s Aunt Katherine’s (Jessie Ralph) house for dinner. Whilst there, Nora’s cousin Selma (Elissa Landi) reveals that her husband, Robert (Alan Marshal), has been missing for three days.

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The filmmakers have, once again, managed to round up a terrific cast to complement the talents of its two sparkling leads. I particularly enjoyed the contribution of Jessie Ralph as Aunt Katherine, who absolutely detests Nick and addresses him as “Nich-o-larse!” Nick’s obsession with alcohol also continues, though he maintains his uncanny ability to switch painlessly between a drunken stupor and completely alert sobriety. The good-natured inter-marital sledging that made the original film so enjoyable still carries a razor-sharp wit, and, in one hilarious sequence, Nick even goes as far as pretending not to recognise his wife so she can be temporarily detained in a jail cell.

‘After the Thin Man’ is one of those very rare occasions when a sequel is good enough to sit shoulder-to-shoulder with its predecessor. A mixture of clever writing, talented directing and an infectious chemistry between the cast members worked to ensure that the partnership between Nick and Nora Charles would be a prolonged one.

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Jessie Ralph

The best of the six Thin Man films

8/10
Author: mrsastor from United States
13 July 2005

Of the six entries in “The Thin Man” series that were released between 1934-1947, none of which are bad, this one is the best. This second entry has the most plausible story, best cinematography (San Francisco on a cold foggy New Year’s Eve night), and is perhaps the most amusing of the lot. This episode is noticeably longer than the other six, mostly due to an extensive homecoming sequence that opens the film, but this does not detract from the film in any way. And if you are a fan of Asta’s, he gets more screen time in this outing than any of the others (interestingly, in Dashelle Hammett’s book, Asta is female).

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Of course the chemistry on screen between Myrna Loy and William Powell is unsurpassed, that’s why they would ultimately be cast together in 14 films during their careers. Besides the early and very well done performance of James Stewart, look for a young and brunette Penny Singleton (later “Blondie”), billed under her real name of Dorothy McNulty, playing the role of Polly for all it’s worth. It’s also fun to remember when you’re watching veteran character actress Jessie Ralph play the stodgy Aunt Katherine, you are looking at a woman who was born during the Civil War.

All of the key Thin Man ingredients are here: a clever who-dun-it (with more suspects than any other Thin Man film), beautiful photography, exquisite fashions and decor, jokes as dry and plentiful as the martinis, a performance or two of the popular music of the day, and an ending that will surprise you. As I said, all of these Thin Man films are great fun, but this one is the best.

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Sam Levene

More Nick and Nora fun!

7 June 2003 | by Andrew Norris (amhnorris) (New York, NY) – See all my reviews

I was spurred to watch this one after having seen David Niven and Maggie Smith’s spot-on parody of Nick and Nora in ‘Murder By Death’. Nick spends most of this one either drinking or drunk, but doesn’t let that prevent him from solving the crime of course. Myrna Loy is wonderfully aloof in a fine comic performance. Although it involves murder, the tone is almost exclusively light hearted. The plot was almost a little too complicated, the type of thing that ‘Murder By Death’ so effectively mocked. It seemed as though the script wanted to make it so that anyone could have been a suspect (one of which is James Stewart in a fun role)which normally would be a good idea, but can make it a little confusing (and I’ll admit that I wasn’t paying 100% attention, but the light-heartedness seems to almost encourage you not to take it all seriously…which is why ‘The Thin Man’ movies are so much fun in the first place!)

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Trivia

Though William Powell and Myrna Loy were very close friends off-screen, their only romantic moments together occurred on-screen. The public, however, was determined to have them married in private life as well. When the two stars showed up in San Francisco (where most of this film was shot) at the St. Francis, the hotel management proudly showed “Mr. and Mrs. Powell” to their deluxe suite. This was an especially uncomfortable moment as Jean Harlow, who was engaged to Powell, was with them, and the couple had not made a public statement about their relationship. Harlow saved the day by insisting on sharing the suite with Loy: “That mix-up brought me one of my most cherished friendships,” Loy said in “Being and Becoming”, her autobiography. “You would have thought Jean and I were in boarding school we had so much fun. We’d stay up half the night talking and sipping gin, sometimes laughing, sometimes discussing more serious things.” Meanwhile, Powell got the hotel’s one remaining room – a far humbler accommodation downstairs.

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Myrna Loy, Jean Harlow and William  Powell arriving in San Francisco to film ‘After the Thin man 1936

The greatest movie marriage

8/10
Author: FilmOtaku (ssampon@hotmail.com) from Milwaukee, WI
12 July 2005

In this first sequel to the celebrated film “The Thin Man”, detective Nick Charles, (Powell) his socialite wife Nora (Loy) and their beloved terrier Asta are on their way home to San Francisco after a long trip. Shortly after they arrive, Nora is invited to her wealthy aunt’s house for dinner where she is told by her cousin Selma (Landi) that her husband Robert has run off (again) and she needs Nick to find him.

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When Nick and Nora find Robert at a local nightclub that very evening, they soon discover that he is wrapped up in a situation with some shady people; he is soliciting David (a really young Stewart), an ex-beau of Selma’s who is still in love with her, for $25,000. In exchange for this $25,000 he will leave Selma’s life forever, will run off with his girlfriend, a singer at the nightclub, and David can then step in. The plan promptly goes sour when Robert is shot and killed, leaving five suspects in his murder, including Selma herself. It is up to Nick and Nora to help the police solve the crime and clear Selma’s name.

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I thoroughly enjoyed “The Thin Man”, and was absolutely charmed and delighted with this sequel. Nick and Nora Charles absolutely have to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest on screen couples in film history. Certainly, they take a back seat to the better known Hepburn/Tracy, Gable/Leigh, hell, even Curtis/Lemmon.

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But while the story itself in “After the Thin Man” was good, and strong enough to stand on its own merit, but the film itself is great because of Powell and Loy. Myrna Loy, one of my favorite classic film actresses, made a career out of being the non-plussed wife or object of affection to varying degrees of spastic leading men. (Particularly Cary Grant in “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House” and “The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer”, both films I would definitely recommend.) Loy’s straight-faced elegance is perfection as Nora Charles, a young and beautiful wealthy socialite who married Nick, a detective from the wrong side of the tracks who loves liquor and ribald humor. Powell is hilarious and charming as Nick, and they own the characters so thoroughly, I can’t fathom anyone else playing those roles.

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Much is made of “chemistry”, and the chemistry between our two main characters is electric. The material they had to work with certainly helped in the success of this film. Hammett’s story works as a good base, with Goodrich & Hackett punching up the script. Toward the beginning of the film, there is a scene where Nick and Nora are returning to their San Francisco mansion, completely exhausted and pledging to sleep for a month. When they open their door, however, they find their house filled with a couple of hundred people; apparently, friends of theirs were throwing them a surprise welcome home party, only no one there recognizes them as the guests of honor, so they non-chalantly begin to dance with everyone else until they are finally noticed by their servants. Describing the situation doesn’t do it justice, but it is just one example of the many charming scenes contained in this film. “After the Thin Man” also has some hilarious lines, and while a lot of the appeal is in the delivery, dialogue like a scene between Nick and Nora, who are waiting to be let in to her aunt’s house, (Nick and her aunt have a mutual dislike for one another) when Nora asks, “What ARE you muttering to yourself?” Nick replies, “I’m just trying to get all of the bad words out of my mind.” And then later, when reintroducing her husband to her aunt, Nora says, “You remember my husband, Nick…” her aunt replies with “Hello, NicholASS.” (And proceeds to call him that the entire film.)

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Even Asta has a subplot in this film; when they arrive home in the beginning of the film, he runs back to the kennel to see Mrs. Asta. Apparently Mrs. Asta has had a litter of puppies, and when they all come out black and white (with one fully black one) even though the Astas are fully white, he finds out that the culprit is a black dog from down the street. The two scenes involving this little side story are truly funny and fitting of a dog that has reached iconic status. (At least in the crossword puzzle world – his name is a clue in at least one crossword puzzle I do a week!) “After the Thin Man” has some corny moments, but they are few and so minor compared to the relative greatness of the rest of the film, that I don’t think I could truly single them out easily. (At least not with seeming needlessly picky) I would truly recommend this film series to anyone who enjoys classic films – I so thoroughly enjoyed this film that I plan to check out the rest of the sequels in the near future. The snappy & clever dialogue, great performances and good story truly make “After the Thin Man” a worthy sequel to its great predecessor. 8/10 –Shelly

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Handling It In The Family

8/10
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
11 November 2006

After solving the famous Thin Man case in New York and acquiring a trademark in the process, Nick Charles returns to San Francisco with wife Nora to spend some time with some of her family. As we learned in the initial film, Myrna Loy’s parents are both deceased, but she’s got one formidable aunt is Jessie Ralph and a cousin with a wayward husband in Elissa Landi.

Elissa prevails upon Myrna to get Bill to locate her husband who’s been missing for a few days. Powell and Loy do locate Alan Marshal the husband and the rat’s been living it up with nightclub chanteuse Penny Singleton. Marshal’s a playboy wastrel and hasn’t the slightest intention of returning to home and hearth. But in the wee small hours of New Year’s Day, he gets himself murdered on the streets of San Francisco and two more bodies turn up before William Powell solves the case.

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James Stewart appears in this second Thin Man film as Landi’s patient former boyfriend. In the films of James Stewart book, Stewart mentions that he wasn’t particularly happy with his work in this film though I’m sure it didn’t hurt his career any. He felt it was way too much at variance with what his fans expected from him. It’s reason enough to watch the film and see if you agree with Jimmy.

Sam Levene of the San Francisco PD isn’t any brighter than Nat Pendleton of the NYPD just a little more excitable. Powell shows them up all the time so much so that you wonder why he’s not made police commissioner of either city.

Asta the most famous terrier in the world gets a bit more screen time than usual for animal lovers. He’s got a Mrs. Asta and several pups and a black dog who keeps trying to cut in on his time. He also at one point provides the highpoint in comedy as he almost eats a clue which is in the form of a note thrown threw a window. Lots of fun as Powell and Loy try to get him to spit out the note. Handling that doggie drool soaked note musn’t have been fun for Loy and Powell.

After the Thin Man keeps up the high standards in film making set by the original Thin Man and shouldn’t be missed.

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Another Thin Man (1939)

Directed by W.S. Van Dyke
Cinematography

Another Thin Man is a 1939 American film, the third of six in the Thin Man series. It again stars William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles, and is based on the writings of Dashiell Hammett. Their son, Nicky Jr., is also introduced in the film. The cast includes their terrier Asta, Virginia Grey, Otto Kruger, C. Aubrey Smith, Ruth Hussey, Nat Pendleton, Patric Knowles, Sheldon Leonard, Tom Neal, Phyllis Gordon and Marjorie Main. Shemp Howard appears in an uncredited role as “Wacky”.vlcsnap-2016-09-30-04h19m20s462

Marjorie Main.

Plot

In this adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s “The Farewell Murder”, Nick (William Powell) and Nora (Myrna Loy) Charles are back in New York with Asta and a new arrival – Nicky Jr. They are invited by Colonel Burr MacFay (C. Aubrey Smith) to spend the weekend at his house on Long Island. McFay, the former business partner of Nora’s father, and the administrator of her fortune, desperately wants Nick to put his well-known detective skills to work, as he has been receiving threats from Phil Church (Sheldon Leonard), a very shady character. When MacFay is killed, Church seems to be the obvious suspect. However, Nick is skeptical. He suspects there is something far more complicated going on. MacFay’s housekeeper, his adopted daughter, and various hangers-on all may have had an interest in seeking the old man’s demise.

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Asta

The best intro to the Thin Man series

14 November 2003 | by paterm (McKinney, Texas) – See all my reviews

I’ve heard others state that “Another Thin Man” is good but not *as* good as the first two Thin Man films. Some of this may be because this film is in many ways different from the first two and as a result may fail to meet the expectations of some who view the films in order.

Some individual elements of “The Thin Man” may be stronger. However, as a stand-alone entity “Another Thin Man” it is the most entertaining film in the series and arguably has the most depth. This film succeeds with its dialog and its visuals, with its humor and its intrigue, and Powell and Loy are at their bantering best.

Watching the previous films is in no way a prerequisite for understanding and enjoying “Another Thin Man.” If you’ve never seen a Thin Man feature, watch this one first.

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William Powell

Portraying a peaceful weekend with the Charles

8/10
Author: Gary170459 from Derby, UK
29 May 2006

I hadn’t seen this one before, probably the thought of the Charles’ with a baby tagging along worried me. But although he formed a double act with Asta for the first half by the time the plot went into overdrive he was virtually ditched. And I’ve not come across this Hammett story, but with the comedy turned up to maximum there is so much going on in here I’m amazed it all got squeezed into 98 minutes. The complete box-set print is absolutely pristine and gleamingly atmospheric as was only achievable with nitrate stock.

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The plot you can liken to a game of keeping a ball in the air, the members of the cast who let it drop to the ground get murdered. It’s impossible to explain the complexities of it all – in short Nick’s trying to prevent a murder, then trying to catch the murderer – from a dizzying array of suspects. This is Red Herring City, right up to the very end when Nick unmasked the surprise murderer and even the housekeeper’s motives are explained in a dismissive sentence – but not corroborated. If you want to work out whodunnit for yourself my advice is keep a very open mind! If you don’t like whodunnits at all watch this solely for the astonishing dance routine by Rene & Estela – Fred & Ginger were awkward in comparison!

I’m going to have to watch this again, soon and sober to tie up some of the threads I lost along the way. I noticed Nick hardly drank at all in here – was that Hays Office pressure? All in all not quite as good as the first two but still one Hell of a ride!

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Myrna Loy

The last ‘good’ outing for the Charles’

8/10
Author: Scaramouche2004 from Coventry, England
4 October 2005

After the monumental success of The Thin Man (1934) and After The Thin(1936), William Powell and Myrna Loy reprise their roles as the movies most beloved and celebrated husband and wife super sleuths.

In their third mystery, Another Thin Man, Nick and Nora Charles with the newly arrived Nick Jnr, find themselves drawn into a web of intrigue and murder while visiting an old family friend in Long Island.

The friend is the aged and stuffy Col. MacFay (C. Aubrey Smith) who is being threatened, blackmailed and terrorised by ex-employee Phil Church (Sheldon Leonard).

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C. Aubrey Smith

When MacFay is murdered in the night, Church becomes the prime suspect, but the affable, scotch swigging Nick Charles believes otherwise. He intends to prove this by once again coming out of retirement and investigating the case as only he knows how.

All the great Thin Man ingredients are here, the suspense, the mystery, the romance, and above all the comedy as Powell and Loy, one of cinemas most frequently paired and enjoyable double acts once again spar off each other to perfection. Its plain to see why their films were so popular. Never before or since has Hollywood seen such a perfectly matched comedy partnership.

Suspects in this murder include Otto Kruger, Nat Pendleton, Tom Neal, Virginia Gray, Patric Knowles, Abner Biberman and Don Costello, and in a typical Thin Man ending, Nick gathers them together to pick out his man.

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Ruth Hussey

This movie maintains the wit and humour of the first two offerings, and Powell and Loy’s screen chemistry is never better. All in all, a great addition to the series and one in keeping with two previous movies, but alas all good things must end.

It was plain to see, that with the obvious war clouds looming, Nick and Nora’s sophisticated banter and well-to-do lifestyle would soon be out of touch and out of date with the difficult times that lay ahead. In point of fact I believe that when we watch this film, we are witnessing the last true great Thin Man film to be made.

The series struggled on through three more disappointing efforts, before ultimately being laid to rest, and I think the reason for their failure was purely down to changing times and attitudes. In the next two films Nick and Nora live in a modest flat, and references to their vast fortune, have been sensitively toned down if not obliterated as a nod to a sombre, struggling and rationed war-time audience.

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However the public could not accept The Charles family in a mediocre fashion so the films suffered as a result from the gesture.

By the time the final film, Song of the Thin Man was made in 1947, and with the war still fresh in the publics mind it was too late to bring back the humour and attitudes of the prosperous and carefree days of the late 1930’s and the Charles’ had irreparably lost touch with their audience.

Luckily we still have the first three movies to show us what a true screwball comedy mystery should be, and why William Powell and Myrna Loy will always be remembered as two of the greatest.

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Whether it’s solving a murder or sipping a Bacardi, Nick and Nora Charles are excellent company

7/10
Author: Terrell-4 from San Antonio, Texas
7 January 2007

When a movie begins with C. Aubrey Smith, that craggy paragon of old-fashioned values, beaten, shot and stabbed to death and then finishes with Shemp Howard, one of the Stooges, dandling a baby, you might believe you’re in some odd alternate universe. In a way, you are, but the universe is the world of Nick and Nora Charles and the movie is Another Thin Man. It’s the third film William Powell and Myrna Loy made about the debonaire amateur sleuth and his wealthy wife. If it doesn’t quite reach the heights of witty sophistication of the first two, it’ll do.

Nick and Nora, together with their new baby and Asta, are at the Long Island estate of the aging and imperious Burr MacFay (Smith), the partner of Nora’s father before her father died. He’s a financial wizard who still manages much of Nora’s wealth…and he believes he’s a man under a death threat. Within hours of their arrival, late at night, a fire starts in the ornate bath house, a fuse apparently blows taking out all the lights, the huge dog of the house is found killed…and MacFay is discovered shot, beaten and stabbed. Yet everyone seems to have an alibi. And what a bunch there is: MacFay’s adopted daughter, Lois MacFay; Dudley Horn, the man she plans to marry who seems to love her money as much as he says he loves her; Freddie Coleman, MacFay’s young, baby-faced secretary who is smitten with Lois; Mrs. Bellam, the curiously uncurious housekeeper; and Dorothy Waters, the nanny Nora engaged to help look after Nickie, Jr., who suddenly disappears. Those are the ones in the mansion. Lurking outside is a former employee of MacFay, Phil Church, who went to prison and now has schemes to cash in; his girl friend, his loyal goon and a slow-speaking piece of muscle who wears thick glasses.

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Virginia Grey

Nick and Nora head back to New York as soon as they can, but the mystery and the threats follow them. It takes a visit to the apartment of a woman no one seems to have met and some clever thinking before Nick brings everyone together in the Charles’ hotel apartment where the ruthless murderer is exposed. Even that is complicated by Nickie, Jr.’s boithday party thrown by some of Nick’s disreputable acquaintances and their kids.

In the meantime, we get to enjoy the imperturbable, affectionate and wittily ironic relationship between Nick and Nora, and delight in the expert playing of William Powell and Myrna Loy. Nick and Nora, especially Nick, enjoys his martinis and scotch, but this time around it’s a little less obvious and a little more fun. “A Bacardi,” says Nick to the waiter in a Latin nightclub.

vlcsnap-2016-09-30-04h19m07s946He glances over at Nora and adds, “Two Bacardis.” Says Nora with a straight face to the waiter, “I’ll have the same.” The waiter brings four Bacardis. The mystery is complicated and, in my view, a little too much time is spend on it at the expense of time with the two of them. Still, the movie’s extended nightclub scene shows just how witty, light and affectionate Powell and Loy could be when they had enough time to work their characters together. They made 14 movies together over 20 years, including the six in the Thin Man series. Individually or together, Powell and Loy were class acts.

And yes, Shemp Howard really is there. So’s a chest-thumping Marjorie Main.

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Best of the Best

Author: Brent Trafton from Long Beach, CA
29 January 2001

This is my favorite of the Thin Man series, although Shadow of the Thin Man and the original Thin Man are also very good. This is the only one of the sequels that uses a story from Dashiell Hammett. The story isn’t quite as complicated as the original, which is why I liked it more than the original. This movie is what movies should be. It is built around characters and a story, something that is lacking in many of today’s films. William Powell and Myrna Loy have a magical chemistry that could not have been manufactured by some studio executive. Although Nick is the detective, Nora and Asta provide invaluable assistance along with plenty of laughs. No matter how many times I see these movies, I still think they are funny. Don’t wait for these movies to show up on television, because they rarely do. Don’t waste your money renting them, because you will want to see them again and again. I bought the whole set, and while I can’t really recommend the Song of the Thin Man or the Thin Man Goes Home, the others are all really good and Another Thin Man would be the one I would choose as my very favorite!

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Nat Pendleton

Wonderful Latin Dancing

7/10
Author: vada_rudolph from Bradenton, Forida
11 February 2008

I’ve enjoyed all the Thin Man movies over and over, although the first is my favorite. But my favorite part of this movie is the gorgeous Latin dance show a the India Club. I am mesmerized by the elegant and smooth dance performance which I understand from an earlier comment was done by Carmen D’Antonio and Miguel Fernandez Mila. It is a marvel to watch and I always look forward to this part of the movie. What a shame that, in those days, such gorgeous artistry could be “uncredited.”

I also enjoy the Nora’s dance with the gigolo. The whole India Club business is quite funny and entirely in the spirit of the Thin Man series.

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City Streets (1931)

City Streets is a 1931 American Pre-Code film noir directed by Rouben Mamoulian and starring Gary Cooper, Sylvia Sidney and Paul Lukas.

Based on a story by Dashiell Hammett, this Pre-Code crime film is about a racketeer’s daughter who is in love with a shooting gallery showman. Despite her prodding, the showman known as The Kid has no ambitions about joining the rackets and making enough money to support her in the lifestyle she’s accustomed to. Her father implicates her in a murder and she’s sent to prison, after which her father convinces The Kid to join the gang to free his daughter.

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Sylvia Sidney and Paul Lukas in a scene from the film.

Nan Cooley (Sylvia Sidney), the daughter of racketeer Pop Cooley (Guy Kibbee), is in love with The Kid (Gary Cooper), a shooting gallery showman. Cooley tries to urge him to join the gang, in order to earn enough money to support her in the lifestyle she is accustomed to, but The Kid refuses. Soon her father kills bootlegging chief Blackie (Stanley Fields), at the urging of Big Fella Maskal (Paul Lukas), because Blackie was against Maskal’s involvement with Blackie’s gun moll Aggie (Wynne Gibson).

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Early gangster flick a pleasant surprise

2 April 2007 | by nnnn45089191 (Norway) – See all my reviews

Clearly patterned after the first gangster movies that Warner produced the same year,Little Caesar (1931) and The Public Enemy (1931),this gangster movie is one of the better efforts I’ve seen. Although not quite in the same league as the previous mentioned classics, it has a powerful performance by young Sylvia Sidney.She’s magnificent and delivers her lines more natural than perhaps anyone did at the time.Gary Cooper is better than usual at this stage in his career and shows signs of what would follow the next few years when he rose to the top. The movie has some fascinating villains in Paul Lukas (never seen him this detestable) and Guy Kibbee (what a shock to see him act the hoodlum).The direction of Rouben Mamoulian is very inventive,probably the first voice-over to show a persons thoughts appear in this movie. If you get the chance to see this little gangster flick, don’t let the chance go by.

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Not a Minute Wasted!

10/10
Author: JohnHowardReid
17 July 2008

I thought I’d witnessed every wrinkle the crime/gangster flick had to offer, but the Garrett-Marcin-Hammett combination pull off some genuine thrills and surprises here, thanks to the inventively forceful direction by Mamoulian, the atmospheric photography by Lee Garmes, plus remarkably sharp film editing and flawless special effects. Brilliant acting helps too. Coop gives one of his most convincing performances as the reticent hayseed-turned-fearless bootlegger (the sort of character progression he was to repeat in other roles such as Sergeant York). Miss Sidney (pictured center) in her first major role is also an eye-opener. The principals receive great support from Paul Lukas, Wynne Gibson and Stanley Fields as the heavies, and even from Robert Homans’ hard-as-nails detective. The movie has obviously been realized on an extensive budget which is brilliantly deployed in its realistic, crowd-filled sets.

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A MUST for grit and noir fans!!!!!!!!!

8/10
Author: Gloede_The_Saint from Norway
1 September 2009

If it had been made 2 years later it would have been BANNED! The number one MUST SEE recommendation of the day!. The best Rouben Mamoulian film I have seen this far (have but have not yet seen J+H).

There’s no wonder why this film got less than 200 votes. A bigger greyzone that could not care less about what’s proper would not be seen again until the 60’s. As morally ambiguous and dark as 70’s grit but with a certain charm as well. Of course this had to lay low in the later 30’s and sadly it does not appear to have been re-discovered.

Seriously. This got it all. Great actors: Gary Cooper, Sylvia Sidney and the this time not so lovable Guy Kibbee. And a mighty good director. This far I haven’t been RM’s biggest fans but I have liked his films a lot and with this he steps into a new league. One of the best 30’s films I have ever seen! This is something I never thought even existed! 9.5/10
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Stranded In The City, He Takes Up a Life of Crime

9/10
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
21 September 2010

I was lucky indeed to come up with a copy of this classic that is sadly not available. This was Rouben Mamoulian’s first screen hit after the critical misfire of his first film Applause.

This was Gary Cooper’s one and only film in the gangster genre though he did run into a few gangsters in Ball Of Fire. Of course his western persona is not one you would think would fit into the gangster film, but his character of a rodeo cowboy who was stranded in the big city and was now making a living at a shooting gallery, presumably in Coney Island rings true enough.

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Coop’s skill as a marksman is noticed by his girlfriend Sylvia Sydney who tries to interest him in going into the beer racket. But her own stepfather Guy Kibbee gets her involved in the murder of Stanley Fields and she takes a two year fall as an accomplice. In the meantime while Sylvia ponders the error of her ways in the joint, Cooper who was reluctant when she was out has now joined with Kibbee and is now a confidante of the big boss Paul Lukas.

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Lukas is a suave and menacing gangster in one of his earliest sound roles. Guy Kibbee who usually played buffoons in later films at Warner Brothers and MGM will be quite the revelation as a really slimy character. Later on Kibbee was so typecast he could never have been given a part like this which he performs so well.

Mamoulian gets top flight performances from his whole cast. Cooper and Sydney are great in the leads. Mamoulian had great help from Dashiell Hammett who wrote his only original screenplay for City Streets. And special phrase must also go to Wynne Gibson who plays Lukas’s moll and when she’s scorned, she takes a terrible vengeance.

Paramount was not a studio known for gangster films, later on they did get their own gangster star in George Raft and Gary Cooper was not known for this genre. But in this case Paramount gave him one of his best early sound features. Do not miss this and demand that TCM broadcast it.

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Love, Lust and Beer lead to issues within a racketeering gang

8/10
Author: Fred S. (fredschroeder-63011) from Troy, NY
21 September 2016

The movie is an absolutely wonderful piece. It was a great show of the truth behind the time period, including the degradation of women at the time. The emotion of the characters wasn’t shown solely through the skills of the actors, but also the orchestrated soundtrack playing throughout. The sound effects of everything going on in the movie would have been relatively new technology at the time of filming, increasing the overall quality of the production. Lighting and camera angles also made many great shots possible, including the one of convoy barreling down the street(driving over the camera). Another is the shot in the prison where she could watch her cell mate get to the car to go home, that was an amazing shot that emphasized distance very well. All around the movie was excellent, especially knowing that many of the issues faced by the characters can be easily compared and likened to current gang and crime families.

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Where’s the love?

8/10
Author: John Seal from Oakland CA
20 February 2011
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Gary Cooper stars as a carny turned wise guy in this forgotten, unavailable on home video should-be-classic directed by the great Rouben Mamoulian. Based on a story by Dashiell Hammett, the film features Coop as The Kid, operator of a sideshow shooting gallery. Gal pal Nan (Sylvia Sidney) urges him to join the mob so he can earn some easy money, but The Kid isn’t interested — even though Nan’s father (Guy Kibbee, playing against type brilliantly) is a big-time hood who could make life easy for him. When Nan is arrested whilst trying to dispose of a murder weapon, however, The Kid has second thoughts: she’ll need a lot of money to pay for an expensive lawyer. What, Dad won’t pony up for his own child? The Kid takes the bait, only to find out that Nan liked him better when he was straight. City Streets is visually stunning from start to finish thanks to cinematographer Lee Garmes, and compares favorably to Josef von Sternberg’s silent classic Underworld (1927). Mamoulian’s next film was the since unsurpassed Fredric March version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but this film is even better.

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Stanley Fields

Good Gary Cooper film

8/10
Author: Emma Faulkner from United States
12 May 2016

I enjoyed this mob movie because it seemed a little different than other mob movies. In this movie the woman gets accused of murder and gets mad at the kid for not being racketeer like her step dad to make some money whos involved with the mob because he was just working in the circus but was really good with a gun. The woman gets accused of murder and gets put in prison even though she thought and was told that the mob would get her out. While she is in prison The kid comes to visit her and she sees him in this nice fancy coat he tells her he’s in the mob now telling her how much he loves it and thinking she would pleased. But she is actually very unhappy about it because she knows something bad could happen to him, and the mob does try to get him. I wanted to see this movie because I saw that it had Gary Cooper in it, I have not seen any of his movies before but I have heard about it him and how great his movies were. And it was pretty good but not what I expected from a Gary Cooper film.

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