Thin Man Mondays Starring William Powell at the Kansas City Public Library
January 21, 2010
William Powell evolved from silent film villain into a character actor – in the 1930s becoming a leading man (and a bankable star) in the 1930s with his depiction of Nick Charles in films based on stories by novelist Dashiell Hammett. Audiences were so enamored by his performances that they mistakenly identified the ever-trim Powell as the Thin Man, when the name referred to a murder victim, but no one cared to correct the misapprehension. Though best known for his role as Nick Charles, Powell also portrayed other crime solvers during his career, including the S.S. Van Dine character Philo Vance
Thin Man Mondays presents William Powell at his sleuthing best in films based on popular mystery novels on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. throughout February and March 2010 in the Stanley H. Durwood Film Vault at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
This series complements the 2010 Adult Winter Reading Program, operating under the banner Readers in the Rue Morgue as it focuses on classic and contemporary mystery and crime fiction.
The film line-up includes:
The Thin Man (1934) on February 1. Retired detective Nick Charles (Powell) is pressured into solving a missing person case, primarily by his socialite wife (Myrna Loy). The film bursts with charm and witticisms delivered by characters whose ability to entertain trumps the plot. Based on the Dashiell Hammett novel. Not rated. (91 min.)
After the Thin Man (1936) on February 8. Nick and Nora are in San Francisco visiting family when a cousin asks Nick to find her missing spouse. The action picks up after a visit to a Chinese nightclub, leaving Nick with two bodies and in search of a murderer. With Jimmy Stewart. Not rated. (112 min.)
Another Thin Man (1939) on February 15. Nick and Nora are houseguests on Long Island when their host is murdered. The couple pursues the case into the city, with a quick stop at the West Indies Club, only to round up all the suspects in their New York City apartment. Not rated. (103 min.)
Shadow of the Thin Man (1941) on February 22. Nick and Nora get mixed up with the mob as their latest murder investigation is tied to illegal sports gambling. Not rated. (97 min.)
Thin Man Goes Home (1944) on March 1. Nick has given up Scotch as he takes his family to visit his parents in small-town Sycamore Springs. Espionage inspires murder. Contains the best comedic performance by Myrna Loy in the series. Not rated. (100 min.)
Song of the Thin Man (1947) on March 8. Nick and Nora are drifting along on a sea of big band jazz and murder aboard a gambling ship. The series finally shows its age, a running joke throughout the film, though its charm never wavers. Not rated. (86 min.)
The Canary Murder Case (1929) on March 15. William Powell stars in the first Philo Vance mystery produced for the big screen. The action revolves around the murder of a nightclub singer, played by Louise Brooks. Initially shot as a silent film, the cast and crew were quickly reassembled to re-shoot the film with sound technology – with the exception of Brooks, who left Hollywood immediately after filming. Based on the S.S. Van Dine novel. Not rated (82 min.)
The Kennel Murder Case (1933) on March 22. William Powell makes his fourth screen appearance as bon vivant crime solver Philo Vance as he sets out to solve a murder that the police have ruled a suicide. With Mary Astor. Based on the S.S. Van Dine novel. Not rated. (73 min.)
Evelyn Prentice (1934) on March 29. A workaholic attorney (Powell) may be having an affair with his latest client, leading his wife (Myrna Loy) to pursue a relationship that ends in blackmail and murder. With Rosalind Russell in her screen debut. Based on the novel by W.E. Woodward. Not rated. (79 min.)