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The Ex-Mrs. Bradford

Movie Information

In Brief: Asheville Film Society favorite William Powell returns in The Ex-Mrs. Bradford (1936), a very enjoyable comedy-mystery from RKO that cashes in on Powell's own Thin Man series over at MGM. (Actually, it beat After the Thin Man into theaters.) Rather than teaming him with Myrna Loy, this film sets Powell up with Jean Arthur (playing his ex-wife of the title). The pair may not be Powell and Loy, but they make for an agreeable screen team in this slick little film.  The Asheville Film Society will screen The Ex-Mrs. Bradford Tuesday, July 29 , at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.
Score:

Genre: Comedy Mystery
Director: Stephen Roberts (The Story of Temple Drake)
Starring: William Powell, Jean Arthur, James Gleason, Eric Blore, Robert Armstrong, Lila Lee, Grant Mitchell
Rated: NR

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Every studio wanted a “Thin Man” series to call their own, but RKO went one step further by borrowing William Powell to star in a couple of imitations –Star of Midnight (1935) which teamed him with Ginger Rogers and The Ex-Mrs. Bradford which teamed Powell and Jean Arthur. Neither lived up to the original The Thin Man (1934), but both are fun and The Ex-Mrs. Bradford just about equals the first couple of Thin Man sequels and is better than most of the later ones. What works here — apart from a pretty clever if utterly preposterous mystery — is that Powell and Jean Arthur boast an easy chemistry. She plays the title character, while Powell is her not-very-estranged husband. He’s surgeon Lawrence Bradford who got fed up with her involving him in her amateur sleuthing (which was somehow related to her career as a mystery writer). Much like Nora (Myrna Loy) in the “Thin Man” movies, Paula Bradford is filthy rich, but this doesn’t keep her from getting at her ex for back alimony — just in order to re-establish their relationship. (Talk about first world problems!)

 

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Being the kind of film it is, it’s not long before a murder occurs — and wouldn’t you know, the cops suspect (not unreasonably) Dr. Bradford, so it behooves him to turn into a kind of Nick Charles and solve the crime. Basically, it’s you standard 1930s comedy-mystery featuring pretty people in pretty locations solving a crime that (of course) is beyond the police. That said, it’s an enjoyable kind of movie — and a must for William Powell fans (and you know who you are).

 The Asheville Film Society will screen The Ex-Mrs. Bradford Tuesday, July 29 , at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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