Monday, 30 August 2010

Best Actor 1934: William Powell in The Thin Man

William Powell received his first Oscar nomination for portraying sleuth Nick Charles in The Thin Man.

The Thin Man is an enjoyable mystery film, mainly due to the character of Nick and Nora Charles and the actors portraying them Powell and Myrna Loy.

William Powell  is an actor who has a certain style which I enjoy very much. He uses his that style here with his very casual manner and sardonic humor. This works very well as Nick Charles the detective who must solve the murder featured in the film. His detective is integral to the film since he is solving in the case but that is actually his only involvement. He is not really all that tied to it nor is his wife unlike almost all of the supporting characters. Instead he acts as a guide really for the audience through the case, someone the audience can trust since almost everyone else could be the killer.

Powell is the perfect man to follow through the plot because he is such an enjoyable presence in the film. His perfect casual style of going through the case is perfectly handled. I like how he always keeps his sardonic wit throughout the film even when his life is threatened. He is the perfect guide through the plot and is always enjoyable to watch. His best scene involves the standard all the suspects in the same room scene.  He handles this scene helping build the suspense to the reveal, and also keeping his usual wit and humor throughout. Nick never loses his cool or gets emotional, but he does not have to sense he is always knows the situation. This could technically be boring but sense Powell makes him so witty and charming just seeing him sleuth is entertaining.

Powell and Myrna Loy work terrifically together and it is no wonder that they made so many film together several of them playing these same characters.  They just work wonderfully together making a very effective and very amusing dynamic. Their romantic scenes are very well done since they do not seem forced, and their comedic scenes are perfect. Both know exactly how to play each other and seeing Nick and Nora together and just talking is wonderful simply due to these two great actors. Powell here does not have his greatest challenge and largely is doing his Powell thing. But I really like Powell thing and this is when he is at top form doing his thing with Loy who is also similarly in top form. Like Gable from this year he does not have the big dramatic scenes but I do not care because he is charming and very funny which is precisely what he needs to be.


Anonymous said...

Another very good performance. Very unusual for this time...

Louis Morgan said...

True, probably one of if not the best of these early years.