Friday, June 4, 2010

Poll Results: William Powell


In last month's poll question: "Which actor most deserves a posthumous Academy Award for lifetime achievement?" William Powell treated his tough guy competitors to a butt kicking:

William Powell 32 (43%)

Robert Mitchum 19 (25%)
Glenn Ford 9 (12%)
Tyrone Power 8 (10%)
Leslie Howard 4 (5%)
Dana Andrews 2 (2%)

When thinking of who to select, I would definitely think of how each actor would've given their speech. Based on that reason alone, I would've voted Mitchum. He'd be amused by the whole thing and not moved at all. However, this is a posthumous award, so we'd have to take a more dewey and sentimental look at an after-the-fact Oscar. If Powell were to actually get an honorary Oscar, most of today's young dopes--and that includes a number of middle-aged dopes--wouldn't even know who William Powell even was. They'd probably think he was a former Secretary of State or something. Maybe copious clips of Bill with Myrna and Asta in their great Thin Man movies together would still have some effect--just as long as they don't attempt to remake those beloved films---we'd end up with Tom Hanks and Julianne Moore as Nick and Nora. Moore's Nora would have to have "six-pack abs" and "kick ass" ability while Hanks' Nick would be weak-willed and have to demonstrate "regret" and "torment" over his chronic drinking "problem."


In an era where smoking cigarettes on screen can earn a film an "R" rating and the only time class and romanticism is possible is through the lens of the past, a Thin Man remake is a reminder that we don't have elegant, suave, men-of-action and charming wit like William Powell anymore and it's a shame that he'll never receive any kind of honor from plastic surgery-obssessed, CGI-dependent, bad-comic-book movie Hollywood where the likes of Shia Lebeouf and Ben Affleck are considered the leading lights of cinema...Hey, this turned into a rant! :D

9 comments:

  1. CK

    Given the mistakes the Academy has made since the beginning, one might approach the poll with the idea that the least deserving should win. A potential posthumous acceptance speech is a criterion that I had not thought of but I like the angle also.

    My wife and I are inclined as a starting point in such endeavors to ask how many top notch films did they appear in (realizing the film might have been very good, but a performance not up to the level of the film – or the reverse.) It is not a science. And it depends on one’s personal film pantheon.

    Mitchum has a very strong case with 'Night of the Hunter', 'Out of the Past', and 'The Story of GI Joe' to name just three. Andrews (low in your poll) has very strong credentials with 'Laura', and 'Best Years of Our Lives' just for starters.

    But what does one do with Tyrone Power: a personal favorite. I just like him and I cannot not watch 'Witness for the Prosecution', 'The Mark of Zorro', and 'Nightmare Alley' whenever they turn up.

    Film generations did not seem a factor: Powell, Power and Howard were basically pre-forties starters, and they ended up 1, 4 and 5. Mitchum, Ford and Andrews are basically forties starters and they fall in at 2, 3 and 6.

    I would have probably voted for Mitchum, but William Powell will do fine, thank you. (And I am surprised your computer software did not retch when it found the name Ben Affleck in the same paragraph with William Powell. It must be equipped a superior logic check.)

    Gerald

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  2. I just remembered the gorgeous girl with the bull-whip in "The Plainsman", but didn't know the name Jean Arthur for decades.

    These days I learned, who William Powell actually is. So I was just one of those dopes. Now I have him in "The Ex-Mrs. Bradford". But maybe I saw him before, without remembering his name?

    I think this happened as long as I had nothing but my parents tv. DVDs make it possible to analyze a film more carefully, so you get deeper into Classic Movies if you're interested.

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  3. William Powell is a firm favourite with the classic film crowd so I figured he'd win (I also voted for him). In terms of how well each is remembered today, Mitchum would win easily, but I voted in terms of longevity, consistant box office success and by how big a star they were in their day. I'd say Powell in the 30's was a bigger star than Power in the 40's or Mitchum in the 50's. I'd also say that the competition in his era was fiercer than in either of thiers. Powell also managed to translate success in the silents into even bigger (lasting) success in sound and not many leading men managed that (off the top of my head just Ronald Colman really).

    Oh, and please think no further about a modern Thin Man remake. Someone in Hollywood might be reading and you'll just give them ideas...

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  4. William Powell definitely deserves one. I absolutely adore him!

    THe rant was totally depressing. Please don't give them any "ideas". It seems like there is nothing but bad remakes these days. Unfortunately, I can see your scenario being made :(

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  5. It's safe to say that William Powell's style, sophistication and wit wouldn't get over with today's multiplex crowd. He's a martini ad in an eara of dumb, frat boy beer commercials.

    It's their loss.

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  6. Maybe copious clips of Bill with Myrna and Asta in their great Thin Man movies together would still have some effect--just as long as they don't attempt to remake those beloved films---we'd end up with Tom Hanks and Julianne Moore as Nick and Nora. Moore's Nora would have to have "six-pack abs" and "kick ass" ability while Hanks' Nick would be weak-willed and have to demonstrate "regret" and "torment" over his chronic drinking "problem."



    I'm curious as to how you came to the above conclusions. I love old movies just as much as the next person. But I do get sick and tired of these constant put downs of today's Hollywood stars. I love movies. And I have long discovered that there is no such thing as "the good old days". There were plenty of stinkers or mediocre movies back then. And there have been plenty of good movies in the past two or three decades. I don't believe in viewing the past through rose-colored glasses.

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  7. I'm curious as to how you came to the above conclusions. I love old movies just as much as the next person. But I do get sick and tired of these constant put downs of today's Hollywood stars. I love movies. And I have long discovered that there is no such thing as "the good old days". There were plenty of stinkers or mediocre movies back then. And there have been plenty of good movies in the past two or three decades. I don't believe in viewing the past through rose-colored glasses.

    For what it's worth, I like Hanks a great deal, and Julianne Moore would make a fine Nora Charles, but based on the endless "re-imagined" movies of the past ten years, I have to take a dim view of how today's Hollywood spoils beloved franchises to fit in with the weak-willed appeasement that is political correctness. Or how they just take a steaming dump on the original premise and ruin what might've been a promising venture. The filmmakers of "the good old days" worked with numerous restrictions and yet they produced movies that we're still talking about seventy-five years later. Today's films have virtually no restrictions in terms of content and yet they still manage to do less with more (not Julianne).

    As for the stinkers and mediocre movies of yesteryear, I've been critical of Katharine Hepburn's lesser efforts--including her first Oscar winner in Morning Glory. No glorification or rose-colored visions there--and Hepburn's my favorite actress.

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  8. CK:

    Of course, there are fine films made in all eras and the reverse. I personally revere those of the Thirties (because I was born in that decade) and the Forties (because I started to grow up in that decade). And the magic of black and white casts a spell which lasts for life.

    “The good old days” is just another phrase for nostalgia, I suppose. But "Hollywood’s Golden Age" has the adjective "Golden" in it for good reason. The big five probably averaged fifty films per studio each year. And they developed stars in the proving grounds of film after film, many being lesser works intended, as such, to fill theatres in the studio’s distribution arm. And I like and respect the Moguls and prefer them to the moneymen who run Hollywood today. (I focus on Hollywood and on stars, only because the complaint was about the “constant put downs of today's Hollywood stars.”)

    In this era I willingly admit that I am partial to the films of Jim Jarmusch and to David Mamet and the coterie of actors which Mamet uses. And a case can be made that today’s television is better than that produced for theatres: e.g., “The Wire”. The cast was outstanding.

    Finally, because we speak of "stars" I list a handful: Grant, Stewart, Tracy, Bogart, Cooper, and Gable. On the female side: Hepburn (2), Davis, Lombard, Harlow, Garbo, Loy and Stanwyck. Just a sampling – just for starters. Where might DiCaprio and Russell Crowe – major stars of this era -- fit into that group? And who is the star of “Avatar”? Which reptile?

    Gerald

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  9. oooh - I would have been hard pressed to choose between Andrews, Powell, and Power. But I don't object to Powell as winner!
    I'd also suggest Robery Ryan for the next list like this.

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