Sunday, July 29, 2012

Vital Viewing (19th Century Family Patriarch Edition)

Actor William Powell, a ubiquitous presence in movies during the 1930s and '40s, was born on this date in 1892. Here he plays the imperious Clarence Day Sr. in the very funny 1947 film Life with Father (based on what I imagine was a very funny play.) Irene Dunne plays his wife, and squeaky-voice Jimmy Lydon is his teenage son. By the way, the pug dog mentioned in this clip is ceramic, not fur and bones, just so you don't start feeling sorry for the poor thing: 



8 comments:

  1. Well that's fun, despite the patriarchal overtones.

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    1. There may be patriarchal overtones, Elisabeth, but as we can see in this clip, wife Dunne knows how to play him like a flute

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  2. A very funny movie with a great cast, those you mention plus Elizabeth Taylor, Edmund Gwenn, Zasu Pitts and Martin Milner.
    William Powell was brilliant in these comedic roles. The others support him beautifully. This one is part of my hopefully permanent VHS collection, permanent as long as I can find VHS players at the neighborhood thrift stores. Thanks Kirk for this look back.

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    1. I've seen Powell in a lot of funny movies, Mike, and he never fails to make me laugh. I should add he was a good dramatic actor, too, but I prefer him in comedies.

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    2. There may be a bit of hyperbole in my first response to your comment, Mike. William Powell never fails to make me SMILE when I watch some of his comedies. I say that because I don't know that I actually laughed at his performance in MY MAN GODFREY. I laughed at Carole Lombard and all the other crazy characters in that movie. Powell basically played straight man to rest of the cast. But as a straight man, he did indeed make me smile.

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  3. That was one of the nice things about Powell, he could play that straight role so well allowing others to play off him as Lombard and Myrna Loy did. My favorite Powell character though was Doc in "Mister Roberts" Just watching him walk up to the captain's cabin after Roberts through the tree overboard. Classic.

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  4. Powell gives a nice low-key performance in MISTER ROBERTS. He's really more of an observer than anything else, but you're always aware of his presence. I just right now on YouTube watched the clip toward the end of the movie where Ensign Pulver (Jack Lemmon) reads the letter from Roberts. They could have just done a close-up of Lemmon, but John Ford or Mervyn LeRoy or whoever directed that scene made the wise decision to make it a two-shot, thus giving you Powell's reaction to the letter as it's being read. Acting is much more than talking. Powell, after all, started out in silent pictures.

    I know from things you've written on your blog in the past, Mike, that you're a fan of that movie (as am I). If you'd like to see the scene that I'm referring to again:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7ZMv6s0L3Q

    MISTER ROBERTS was Powell's final film, though he lived another 29 years.

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