William Powell did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Steve Ireland in Love Crazy.
William Powell once again teams up with his most frequent co-star Myrna Loy as his wife Susan. Their best known collaboration is as Nick and Nora Charles the husband and wife crime solving team in The Thin Man series. Here though there are no crimes to be solved, and their marriage is not nearly as comfortable as it should be. Powell also does not simply play the part as Nick Charles as he's not nearly as sure or as sardonic as the wise sleuth. Powell though is extremely energetic in the early in the film as he portrays almost an excessive earnestness and optimism in Steve as he makes preparations for his wedding anniversary. When it comes into question about just how faithful Steve is to his wife, due to running into an old girlfriend, there is no question for us as Powell shows well just how excessively in love with his wife he is. Anyway though he gets into trouble through a set of problematic circumstances and misunderstandings. In these scenes Powell is naturally a true pro at the romantic comedy, and his reactions to the various misfortunes that befall him, particularly one involving an elevator, are always amusing.
His chemistry with Loy is pretty much a given but they nicely adjust the relationship a bit since Steve and Susan are not nearly as comfortable with each other as Nick and Nora are. Powell and Loy work well to create their own unique relationship here with her being more withdrawn this time and suspicion with Powell presenting Steve's enthusiasm from almost recognizing things that might bother his wife. Of course the series of problems leave Susan to become a bit too suspicion making her wish to have a divorce, which Steve cannot bear. In his attempt to stop divorce proceedings Steve comes up with a plan to halt everything by acting as though he's gone insane. This is when the film and Powell's performance really take off, and it was already quite good. Powell begins going crazy at the part and Powell is immediately hilarious as he plays the part with such unabashed glee at first as Steve decides to reveal himself as a man of having some delusion of grandeur. Although a great start to be sure part of the strength of the performance though is that Powell does not stick to just being the first type of crazy he starts with.
This makes sense because obviously Steve is only pretending to be crazy but even more importantly it makes him all the funnier. Powell quite entertaining as in the actual hearing he goes for the dazed sort of madness as Steve tries to show himself as truly gone. Powell even in one moment does the unassuming shy sort of crazy, also in once again a hilarious sort of way as he gets his romantic rival also committed. Powell goes all around the spectrum of insanity and makes each moment comedic gold. Of course complications once again ensue leaving him to juggle just how crazy he wants to be since his ideal situation keeps changing depending on whether he's crazy or not. Powell's reactions once again are pitch perfect as he keeps going crazy to not crazy depending on whatever comes up next. Eventually he gets to escape the institution leaving some more hijinks which Powell naturally thrives in making the most out of every situation he's got. I especially loved his anguish when receiving various hot doses of water while hiding in a shower. Powell is also particularly funny in his final scenes where he dresses up as Steve's sister. Powell is perhaps somewhat surprisingly convincing in creating the old maid, although again he mines plenty of laughs in presenting the strong willed woman who will certainly protect her dear brother's name. It's a high note for Powell to end on for this incredibly entertaining and charming performance of his here.