Monday, October 13, 2008

William Powell vs. Robert Montgomery

TCM is showing My Man Godfrey tonight at 8:00 PM ET as part of the salute to Star of the Month Carole Lombard. In the movie, William Powell plays a "forgotten man" whom Lombard finds in a scavenger hunt, becomes the family butlef, and eventually falls in love with Lombard. Powell exudes elegance, as always. It seems that in most of his roles, William Powell comes across as a gentleman, even when he's supposed to be playing a bad guy as in Jewel Robbery.

It seems to me as though certain actors got typecast as elegant. Cary Grant would be an obvious example, eventually playing older, suave gentlemen in a series of comedies at the end of his career. An actor who always seemed elegant on screen from William Powell's day would have to be Robert Montgomery. Even when he's playing a murderer, as in Night Must Fall, or a gangster, as in Hide-Out, he still exudes the essence of dignity. True, in all of the "bad guy" movies I've mentioned, the characters are trying to con people, and are using elegance as a means of conning them. But I find it a bit tough to imagine either really coming across as a bad guy in the way that James Cagney could.

Interestingly, both played a male lead alongside Lombard, so this month we can judge for ourselves. While My Man Godfrey teams Lombard with Powell tonight, we can see her alongside Montgomery in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, at 10:00 PM ET on October 27.

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