Synopsis: Their on-screen chemistry in the Thin Man films forever linked William Powell and Myrna Loy in moviegoers’ minds. Now you can learn about the impressive careers–together and separately–of these screen icons in a pair of documentary programs, “William Powell: A True Gentleman” and “Myrna Loy: So Nice to Come Home to.”
Alias Nick and Nora 6.0
For some reason, I always figured the disc ‘Alias Nick and Nora’ to be a full-length documentary feature on both of the actors and/or on ‘The Thin Man’ series (in my defence, with a title such as that one, it’s hardly surprising that one would get confused. I know, it’s a weak argument ).
The reality, however, is that it’s neither. This is essentially a bonus disc featuring two short documentaries on the actors, along with a couple of other somewhat noteworthy side features:
William Powell: A True Gentleman 7.0
Not a terrible overview of Powell’s career but, due to its brevity (it barely clocks in at a half hour in length ), it really keeps to the basics. Still, as far as these things go, I’ve seen far worse; it’s short on detail but it gives a decent enough overall impression of the man.
Myrna Loy: So Nice to Come Home to 7.5
This 1991 episode of the ‘Hollywood Remembers’ TV series is hosted by Kathleen Turner. While the material is delivered in a pleasing fashion, with a non-linear flow that provided a clear -if quick- look at Myrna Loy, I found Turner’s narration far too controlled and artificial for my tastes; it gave me a cold, calculating vibe that conflicted with my impression of Loy herself. Otherwise, though, I have no complaints about this small doc. Well, okay, the title is icky.
The Thin Man: I Loathe You, Darling 3.5
This is an episode the 1957-59 ‘The Thin Man’ TV series, starring Peter Lawford and Phyllis Kirk as Nick and Nora Charles. One can watch this episode from two perspectives: as a doppelgänger of the original films, or as a stand-alone television program. As far as I’m concerned, it fails on both counts.
As a boob toob version of the films, it crashes and burns. Not only did they utterly decimate the Charles’ magic, transforming them from a lively, lovely couple with a twinkle in their eyes and sharp minds, to a bored, boring pair with no chemistry and barely any personality, but they also completely gutted the setting, updating it to the ’50s, and downgrading the couple from high-class to middle class and giving them nosy, noisy neighbours. It’s basically a horrible sitcom with an ill-conceived murder mystery thrown in for distraction – the clincher being that the clue that solves the mystery appears out of nowhere, brought in by their dog no less, and its appearance is never explained.
As a stand-alone piece, it simply doesn’t work. In fact, I’m surprised that the series lasted 72 episodes in total over three years. Peter Lawford is so uninteresting and charmless that you’d like to bury him in the background, whereas Phyllis Kirk spends half the time wide-eyed (for lack of any other noticeable ability to emote) and the rest of it trying her best to emulate an inanimate object. Except when she moves, in which case, she looks like she failed at Bipedal 101. This pair do absolutely nothing at all, aside from chain-smoking and sitting about, and wholly depend on the secondary characters to generate interest. As for the mystery? It’s the most interesting part of the show and, trust me, it’s not.
Lux Radio Theater Broadcast – 6/8/1936: ‘The Thin Man’ n/a
Even though it features William Powell and Myrna Loy themselves, I didn’t bother to listen to the whole thing through. I heard the beginning and it sounded like an abbreviated and slightly adapted version of the film’s script. If I were able to port this over to an audio device, it might have had its day in the sun, but I wasn’t about to leave my TV open for an hour while listening to this. I might as well watch the movie instead.
All in all, it’s a slightly disappointing disc. Not only did it not meet my original expectations, it falls short as a supplementary disc about a long-running, classic series. I wouldn’t buy it separately and would recommend to no one but total die-hards of the series.