William Powell - Rotten Tomatoes

William Powell



Originally planning to become a lawyer, William Powell chose instead to pursue a career as an actor, dropping out of the University of Kansas to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, where his classmates included Edward G. Robinson and Joseph Schildkraut. He made his Broadway debut in 1912, and within a few years had attained stardom in urbane, sophisticated roles. The sleek, moustachioed young actor entered films in 1922, playing the first of many villainous roles in John Barrymore's Sherlock Holmes. He finally broke out of the bad guy mode when talkies came in; his clipped, precise speech patterns and authoritative demeanor were ideally suited to such "gentleman detective" roles as Philo Vance in The Canary Murder Case, the Kennel Murder Case, and others in the Vance series. In 1933 he moved from Warner Bros. to MGM, where he co-starred with Myrna Loy in Manhattan Melodrama (1934). So well-received was the Powell-Loy screen teaming that the actors were paired together in several subsequent MGM productions, most memorably the delightful Thin Man series and the 1936 blockbuster The Great Ziegfeld, in which Powell played the title character and Loy was cast as Ziegfeld's second wife, Billie Burke. Away from the screen for nearly a year due to a serious illness, Powell returned in 1944, curtailing his film activities thereafter. As he eased into his late fifties he reinvented himself as a character actor, offering superbly etched performances as a lamebrained crooked politician in The Senator Was Indiscreet (1947) and the lovably autocratic Clarence Day Sr. in Life With Father (1947), which earned him his third Academy Award nomination (the others were for The Thin Man and My Man Godfrey). After playing Doc in the 1955 film version of Mister Roberts, he retired to his lavish, air-conditioned home in Palm Springs, insisting that he'd return to films if the right role came along but he turned down all offers. Married three times, Powell's second wife was actress Carole Lombard, with whom he remained good friends after the divorce, and co-starred with in My Man Godfrey (1936); his third marriage to MGM starlet Diana Lewis was a happy union that lasted from 1940 until Powell's death in 1984. It has been said, however, that the great love of William Powell's life was actress Jean Harlow, to whom he was engaged at the time of her premature death in 1936.

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT YEAR
No Score Yet Alias Nick and Nora
  • Actor
2005
No Score Yet Mgm Story: When The Lion Roars
  • Actor
1992
92% Mister Roberts
  • Lt. 'Doc'
1955
83% How to Marry a Millionaire
  • J.D. Hanley
1953
No Score Yet The Girl Who Had Everything
  • Steve Latimer
1953
No Score Yet It's a Big Country
  • Professor
1951
No Score Yet Dancing in the Dark
  • Emery Slade
1949
No Score Yet Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid
  • Mr. Peabody
1948
80% Song of the Thin Man
  • Nick Charles
1947
91% Life With Father
  • Father
1947
No Score Yet The Senator Was Indiscreet
  • Sen. Melvin G. Ashton
1947
No Score Yet The Hoodlum Saint
  • Terence Ellerton O'Neill
1946
75% Ziegfeld Follies
  • Florenz Ziegfeld Jr.
1946
60% The Thin Man Goes Home
  • Nicholas Charles
1945
No Score Yet The Heavenly Body
  • William B. Whitley
1944
No Score Yet Crossroads
  • David Talbot, aka Jean Pelletier
1942
83% Shadow of the Thin Man
  • Nick Charles
1941
100% Love Crazy
  • Steven Ireland
1941
No Score Yet I Love You Again
  • Larry Wilson aka George Carey
1940
81% Another Thin Man
  • Nick Charles
1939
No Score Yet Double Wedding
  • Charlie Lodge
1937
No Score Yet The Emperor's Candlesticks
  • Baron Stephan Wolensky
1937
No Score Yet The Last Of Mrs.Cheyney
  • Actor
1937
No Score Yet The Last of Mrs. Cheyney
  • Charles
1937
100% After the Thin Man
  • Nick Charles
1936
100% My Man Godfrey
  • Godfrey
1936
No Score Yet The Ex-Mrs. Bradford
  • Dr. Lawrence Bradford
1936
65% The Great Ziegfeld
  • Florenz Ziegfeld
1936
82% Libeled Lady
  • Bill Chandler
1936
No Score Yet Rendezvous
  • Bill Gordon
1935
No Score Yet Star of Midnight
  • Clay Dalzell
1935
No Score Yet Reckless
  • Ned Riley
1935
No Score Yet Evelyn Prentice
  • John Prentice
1934
No Score Yet The Key
  • Capt. Tennant
1934
97% The Thin Man
  • Nick Charles
1934
85% Manhattan Melodrama
  • Jim Wade
1934
No Score Yet Fashions of 1934
  • Sherwood Nash
1934
80% The Kennel Murder Case
  • Philo Vance
1933
No Score Yet Double Harness
  • John Fletcher
1933
No Score Yet Man Killer
  • Donald Free
1933
No Score Yet Lawyer Man
  • Anton 'Tony' Adam
1933
No Score Yet One Way Passage
  • Dan Hardesty
1932
No Score Yet Jewel Robbery
  • The Robber
1932
No Score Yet High Pressure
  • Gar Evans
1932
No Score Yet Ladies' Man
  • Jamie Darricott
1931
No Score Yet Man of the World
  • Michael Trevor
1931
100% Dishonored
  • Manager
1931
No Score Yet For the Defense
  • William Foster
1930
No Score Yet Street of Chance
  • John B. Marsden/"Natural" Davis
1930
No Score Yet Paramount on Parade
  • Philo Vance
1930
No Score Yet Pointed Heels
  • Robert Courtland
1929
No Score Yet The Canary Murder Case
  • Philo Vance
1929
No Score Yet Feel My Pulse
  • Her Nemesis
1928
No Score Yet She's a Sheik
  • Kada
1927
No Score Yet SeƱorita
  • Ramon Oliveros
1927
No Score Yet Nevada
  • Clan Dillon
1927
No Score Yet Paid To Love
  • Actor
1927
No Score Yet Romola
  • Tito Melerna
1925
No Score Yet Under the Red Robe
  • Duke of Orleans
1923
No Score Yet Bright Shawl
  • Gaspar De Vaca
1923
No Score Yet Sherlock Holmes
  • Forman Wells
1922
No Score Yet Outcast
  • DeValle
1922

Quotes from William Powell's Characters