Audiences during the Depression lived vicariously through the lives of the wealthy and charming Nick and Nora Charles. Uploaded by tvworthwatching.com.
I owe a lot of my love for classic films to my wife, and one of the treasures that she helped me to discover was The Thin Man. Based on a novel by Dashiell Hammett, it’s either a mysterious comedy or a lighthearted mystery. Whatever it is, you can’t help enjoying the company of Nick and Nora Charles. And their wire-haired fox terrier, Asta.
Nick and Nora were brought to life by outstanding actors William Powell and Myrna Loy. They were socialites who seemed to solve crimes just for the fun of it. Hollywood hasn’t given us another couple quite like this, and never will again, since their charm seems very much rooted in the 1930s. Audiences vicariously enjoyed escaping the rigors of the Depression by spending time with the well-to-do and engaging Charles family.
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The Thin Man was nominated for Best Picture in 1935. The movie was so successful that it spawned a series of sequels: After the Thin Man (1936), Another Thin Man (1939), Shadow of the Thin Man (1941), The Thin Man Goes Home (1945), and Song of the Thin Man (1947).
By the way, the name “The Thin Man” applied to the murder victim, not to Nick Charles. But everyone associated it with the character, so that’s why it stuck for the sequels…
Yep, regardless of all the other movies he made, he'll always be Rhett Butler to us. Uploaded by assets.nydailynews.com.
Admit it. When you hear “Clark Gable,” you think “Rhett Butler.” Gable was an excellent actor who appeared in many movies and won lots of acclaim, but he’ll always be Rhett Butler to us.
Most actors have a career role, but seldom has there been a man so prominent in a movie as successful as Gone With the Wind. Gable had already won the Oscar for Best Actor in It Happened One Night (1934), in which he and Claudette Colbert made a delightful team. And he received another Best Actor nomination for Mutiny on the Bounty (1935). So he already was one of Hollywood’s biggest stars when GWTW came along. But as great as those performances were, Clark Gable is Rhett Butler.
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Gable’s career actually began in silent movies and lasted until 1961’s The Misfits, in which he co-starred with Marilyn Monroe in her final film. He worked opposite Joan Crawford eight times, Myrna Loy seven times, and Jean Harlow six times. But it’s that one movie opposite Vivien Leigh that has stayed with us.
He appeared in 81 movies in all, and you really can’t say he had a huge hit after 1939. Maybe he just became a bad judge of scripts. Maybe he just had bad luck. Or maybe it’s that even Hollywood producers always saw him as…you know.
Doris Day summed up Clark Gable this way: “He was as masculine as any man I’ve ever known, and as much a little boy as a grown man could be – it was this combination that had such a devastating effect on women.”
Copyright 2009-2011, Robin G. Chalkley. All material on these pages, and the listing of items as Great American Things, is copyrighted. The exceptions are the photographs and videos, which remain the property of their respective owners.
Header photo used courtesy of Flickr photographer too melo.