William Powell Movies

song-of-the-thin-man-william-powell-1947Want to know the best William Powell movies?  How about the worst William Powell movies?  Curious about William Powell’s box office grosses or which William Powell movie picked up the most Oscar® nominations? Need to know which William Powell movie got the best reviews from critics and audiences and which got the worst reviews? Well you have come to the right place….because we have all of that information.

William Powell (1892-1984) seems to be only remembered for two film roles: Nick Charles in 6 Thin Man movies (1934-1947) and as the good-hearted father in 1947’s Life With Father.  Those are only two of many great movie performances in movie career that lasted almost 35 years and produced almost 100 movies.  It is hard not to mention Myrna Loy when discussing  Powell.  He and  Loy appeared in 14 movies together….their screen partnership was one of the most successful screen duos ever!

His IMDb page shows 96 acting credits 1922-1955. This page will rank 53 William Powell movies from Best to Worst in six different sortable columns of information. Television shows, his many shorts and cameos were not included in the rankings.

Myrna Loy and William Powell appeared in 14 movies together.

Myrna Loy and William Powell appeared in 14 movies together.

William Powell Movies Can Be Ranked 6 Ways In This Table

The really cool thing about this table is that it is “user-sortable”. Rank the movies anyway you want.

  • Sort William Powell movies by co-stars of his movies.
  • Sort William Powell movies by adjusted domestic box office grosses using current movie ticket cost
  • Sort William Powell movies by yearly domestic box office rank
  • Sort William Powell movies how they were received by critics and audiences.  60% rating or higher should indicate a good movie.
  • Sort by how many Oscar® nominations each William Powell movie received and how many Oscar® wins each William Powell movie won.
  • Sort William Powell movies by Ultimate Movie Rankings (UMR) Score.  UMR Score puts box office, reviews and awards into a mathematical equation and gives each movie a score.
  • Use the search and sort button to make this page very interactive.

Stats and Possibly Interesting Things From The Above William Powelll Table

  1. Twenty-two William Powell movies crossed the magical $100 million domestic gross mark.  That is a percentage of 41.50% of his movies listed. Mister Roberts (1955) was his biggest box office hit.
  2. An average William Powell movie grosses  $113.40 million in adjusted box office gross.
  3. Using RottenTomatoes.com’s 60% fresh meter.  34 William Powell movies are rated as good movies…or 64.15% of his movies.  Mister Roberts (1955) is his highest rated movie while It’s A Big Country (1951) is his lowest rated movie.
  4. Twelve William Powell movies received at least one Oscar® nomination in any category…..or 22.64% of his movies.
  5. Five William Powell movie won at least one Oscar® in any category…..or 9.43% of his movies.
  6. An average Ultimate Movie Rankings (UMR) Score is 40.00.  31 William Powell movies scored higher that average….or 58.49% of his movies.   Life with Father (1947) got the the highest UMR Score while  got the lowest Mister Roberts (1955) UMR Score.

Adjusted Worldwide Box Office Grosses on 37 William Powell Movies

  1. After the Thin Man (1936) $355.90 million adjusted worldwide box office
  2. Another Thin Man (1939) $267.40 million adjusted worldwide box office
  3. Beau Geste (1926) $153.40 million adjusted worldwide box office
  4. Crossroads (1942) $193.50 million adjusted worldwide box office
  5. Dancing in the Dark (1949) $64.90 million adjusted worldwide box office
  6. Double Harness  (1933) $51.70 million adjusted worldwide box office
  7. Double Wedding (1937) $264.40 million adjusted worldwide box office
  8. Emperor’s Candlesticks, The (1937) $173.10 million adjusted worldwide box office
  9. Escapade (1935) $97.90 million adjusted worldwide box office
  10. Evelyn Prentice (1934) $122.30 million adjusted worldwide box office
  11. Ex-Mrs. Bradford, The (1936) $122.10 million adjusted worldwide box office
  12. Fashions of 1934 (1934) $100.70 million adjusted worldwide box office
  13. Great Ziegfeld, The (1936) $525.20 million adjusted worldwide box office
  14. High Pressure (1932) $55.60 million adjusted worldwide box office
  15. Hoodlum Saint, The (1946) $102.30 million adjusted worldwide box office
  16. I Love You Again (1940) $185.30 million adjusted worldwide box office
  17. It’s A Big Country (1951) $31.30 million adjusted worldwide box office
  18. Jewel Robbery  (1932) $46.60 million adjusted worldwide box office
  19. Kennel Murder Case, The (1933) $71.20 million adjusted worldwide box office
  20. Key, The (1934) $41.20 million adjusted worldwide box office
  21. Last of Mrs. Cheyney (1937) $232.60 million adjusted worldwide box office
  22. Lawyer Man (1932) $44.80 million adjusted worldwide box office
  23. Libeled Lady (1936) $306.00 million adjusted worldwide box office
  24. Love Crazy (1941) $200.70 million adjusted worldwide box office
  25. Manhattan Melodrama (1934) $129.00 million adjusted worldwide box office
  26. Mister Roberts (1955) $436.70 million adjusted worldwide box office
  27. One Way Passage (1932) $126.60 million adjusted worldwide box office
  28. Private Detective 62 (1933) $46.30 million adjusted worldwide box office
  29. Reckless (1935) $135.00 million adjusted worldwide box office
  30. Road To Singapore, The (1931) $62.40 million adjusted worldwide box office
  31. Romola (1924) $134.90 million adjusted worldwide box office
  32. Shadow of the Thin Man (1941) $224.10 million adjusted worldwide box office
  33. Song of the Thin Man (1947) $142.40 million adjusted worldwide box office
  34. Star of Midnight (1935) $90.70 million adjusted worldwide box office
  35. Thin Man Goes Home, The (1945) $193.90 million adjusted worldwide box office
  36. Thin Man, The (1934) $159.90 million adjusted worldwide box office
  37. Ziegfeld Follies (1946) $347.30 million adjusted worldwide box office



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28 thoughts on “William Powell Movies

    I had this post prepared when you announced that you were going to build a whole month round Myrna Loy. You certainly don’t heed the Bible’s advice to “Render unto Caesar those thing which are Caesar’s.” Anyway your announcement was timely in coinciding with the Bill Powell page update as I’m sure you would want me to join the Loy party and remember I arrived first!


    1. Whilst the updated adjusted overall gross for The Thin Man series is healthy it might have earned even more had Bill been partnered by a more carefully selected leading lady. Status-wise Crawford or Katie Hepburn would have been ideal but they had strong screen personas that probably would not have suited the subordinate part of Nora though I am of course aware of this site’s ability to almost convince itself that the series should have been called The Thin Woman!

    2. Other possible alternatives were Dunne or Colbert both skilled in the tongue-in-cheek antics that were mixed with drama in The Thin Man films but they too were massive stars and either may well have insisted upon top billing as Irene did over Powell in the official posters for Life with Father despite Bill having the title role and being a more established star than he was in the early 1930s. That could have upset the balance of the film as Nora like Asta was in reality just a ‘prop’ to Powell’s character in the series.

    3 Anyway back to the Man of the Moment and I must record that I considered that Bill Powell had one of the most deliciously witty personas in the history of movies, a joy to watch – and hear! – and well deserving of this page and its update which nostalgically remind me of Sunday afternoons long ago watching regular TV reruns of The Thin Woman. Top marks and nice little miniature of Bill with his two stooges.

    1. Hey Bob…you will be happy to know…that in previous tournaments Ms.Loy has not done well…not even a trip to the Sweet 16….but the good news when we split the groups into actors and actresses….she will be a Number 1 seed….and I expect great things.

      As for William Powell….I agree with you 100% on his witty persona……sadly he is not mentioned too often when people name great actors of the past…but looking at this table….it is real easy to see that his career is among the best ever.

      As for others in The Thin Man movies….I read that the director really really wanted Loy for the role…and he made sure he got her….so maybe he knew something you did not….lol. If Colbert, or Dunne would have had the role…the movie would have tanked…and the Thin Man movie series would not have existed….at least the way I see it….Loy as you know is the greatest box office actress of all-time…lol.

      1. BRUCE
        1 Of course we will never know how The Thin Man series would have panned out had Bill Powell had a different partner but it has long been recognised that one possible definition of madness is to insist upon doing the same thing in the same way but expecting different results. Your WW table shows the series as having a total adjusted global
        gross of around $1.340 billion for all 6 movies. According to Steve’s Coppola video the first Godfather alone grossed $1.394 billion worldwide and Jaws and Star Wars are each sure to have well exceeded that figure.

        2 Moreover an extensive survey published a few months ago in Wikipedia examined the PURCHASING POWER of blockbusters’ worldwide earnings down through the years from Birth of a Nation onward and it concluded that Godpop One ’s total adjusted figure was $1.640 billion in today’s money. As in real terms ticket prices in The Thin Man’s years were much cheaper than those today the purchasing power in 2017 of the actual worldwide grosses of its 6 movies taking into account the varying inflation rates over the years concerned is just $715.27 million or an average of only about $120 globally per movie.

        3 That said I think that even though he may not get the full recognition that he deserves acting geniuses such as Bill Powell to some extent historically transcend box office considerations. A historian mentioned that the survival of the film industry overall has always depended on buoyant financial receipts and box office kings such as Wayne and Gable are owed a great debt by the film industry. However the historian went on that when money’s spent it is gone forever and in today’s cinema money made years ago has no direct value whereas via movie reruns great film performances and personalitiescan be enjoyed indefinitely.

  2. STEVE
    1 Bill Powell deserves credit along with King Gable for keeping Myrna Loy in a career during the classic era though I’m sure Myrna’s great friendship with the highly influential and kindly Joan Crawford at MGM also helped Myrna keep some bread and butter on the table.

    2 (1) You and Bruce agree on just two of the top five and as he did on Myrna’s page Bruce has included 2 Thin Man movies in William’s Top 5. I could never understand Bruce’s apparent fascination with all of them as for me the series whilst entertaining falls into the category of “once you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all” (2) I liked the closing still of Bill and Myrna and the one from Life with Father but an absolute peach was William with Joan Crawford and Robert Montgomery in The Last of Mrs Cheyney. Crawford actually took over Loy’s part in that one as Myrna was assigned as Gable’s leading lady Parnell which Joan had turned down. (3) for me the pick of the fine posters were Lawyer Man, The Kennel Murder Case and Double Harness with Bill and Ann Harding. I wonder what happened to her? She must have been important enough at one point to get billed before Powell in your poster (4) Overall an excellent profile of great star William Powell who epitomised an era now long gone so 9.4/10.

    NOTE: Bill Powell’s final TOP starring role was curiously in a B movie WESTERN in 1952 The Treasure of the Lost Canyon which Bruce was unable to pick up in his table. IMDB gives it just a 62% rating but two Amazon customers’ reviews each give it 5 stars and comment “A surprising little gem. Where has it been hiding all these years? Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s just another B movie.” It’s been over 60 years since I saw it so I can’t offer a personal comment on its merit.

    1. Hi Bob, thanks for the review, rating and trivia, always appreciated. Had to laugh at your opening paragraph belittling ‘queen of the box office. Myrna Loy. Bruce and John will no doubt roll their eyes at that remark. Come on Bob give her some credit for drawing the crowds, was she that anonymous? Poor Myrna.

      Anyway glad you liked the posters and stills, I knew you’d like the Crawford photo.

      The Treasure of the Lost Canyon wasn’t even on my master list, Powell in a western is unusual, almost as unusual as Fred MacMurray wearing a toga in a historical film. 🙂

      John tells me that Freddy Mac did appear in a few westerns in the 50s, sadly none of them were on the video, low ratings. I wish I included one.

      1. STEVE
        1 If they had been making The Invisible Woman instead of The Invisible Man Myrna would have been an excellent choice for the lead.

        2 Fred was quite good in a group of passable westerns in the mid to late fifties. Here they are with the ratings of IMDB [UK !]
        1953/The Moonlighter 59% **
        1955/The Far Horizons 62% **
        1955/Gunpoint 63%
        1957/Gun for a Coward 60%
        1957/Quantez 63%
        1958/Day of the Badman 61%
        1959/Good Day for a Hanging 64%
        1959/Face of a Fugitive 66%
        1959/Oregon Trail 49%
        **In The Moonlighter Fred was teamed for the penultimate time with old sparring partner Barbara Stanwyck, in The Far Horizons he co-starred with Chuck and Fred was 1st billed, and in the other 7 Fred was the stand-alone star. Only the Chuck one was an A movie and over here at least the other 8 were on double bills usually on the 2nd half.

        1. Hey Bob…you can have your nickname for Loy…..but the “Greatest Box Office Actress of All-Time” is used to people trying to bring her down with the Crawfords, Davis, and de Havillands of the world.

          Good stats on Fred MacMurray in the 1950s….I remember have some difficulty in finding box office numbers for that time frame….as his career was really winding down…and fast……before Disney came and saved the day.

          Good comment and information as always.

        1. BOB “The highly influential and kindly Joan Crawford at MGM helped Myrna keep some bread and butter on the table.”

          BRUCE” Hey Steve—- Bob’s comments got me to do a Myrna Loy Vs Joan Crawford page —and the stats do not look good for Joan—”

          RUFUS RYKER “We can get him to draw anytime.”

          1. Hey Bob…..that was nice of Joan….plus it let her get close to Loy….with hopes that some of that box office magic might rub off on Joan…lol.

            The Trump/Streep flare up got me thinking off doing the Trump vs Streep page……but when I did the table it did not look too impressive…..so I thought Joan vs Bette should be a good one….and when that turned out good….I thought Astaire vs Kelly…..after doing those three tables…I could not resist doing a Joan vs Myrna page…..hope you like it….lol.


        2. Yep you had your revenge on Bob, Myrna reigns supreme.

          Btw the comment links seem to be working today, they are taking me directly to the new comments and not to the first page of comments. I was getting lost searching for new comments that weren’t at the top. I hope it still works tomorrow.

          1. Hey Steve. Wow….I did not realize the comment link was working again….I wish I could say it was something I did to fix….but somehow it fixed it self….I updated a few widgets this morning….but the comment one was not one of those….maybe another widget broke this originally and now they have fixed it.

            As for Loy and Crawford…..the are both all time greats.

          2. Cheers Bruce, the comment links are still working. Nice. It makes life easier when a link takes you directly to the comment instead of my digging around for it.

            I remember John replied to an old comment a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to read it but just couldn’t find it and eventually I gave up. Sorry John. 🙂

          3. Hey Steve….I agree 100%…..when the comment link is not working it is very frustrating to find some of these comments….hopefully whatever went wrong will stay fixed. So of the comments that have multiple responses very difficult to find….I am sure John will forgive you. 🙂

    2. Hey Bob…good comments on Steve’s William Powell video and our William Powell page. As for my fascination on The Thin Man series…I like the movies….but I agree they are one and done movies….though I guess I have seen After The Thin Man a couple of times. My rankings have little to do with “my personal” feelings….I just plug in the numbers…..and away I go….pretty much….the first time I look at my rankings is after I have written everything….have hit publish….and then I am looking for massive errors that I might have made.

      I have not seen The Last of Mrs. Cheyney…..but it sounds like one worth checking out. I can see Gable pushing to get Loy of the movie so he could star with Loy….she is…as you know….”the greatest box office actress of all-time”…lol.

      Interesting about Treasure of the Lost Canyon…..it might make my updated Powell page…..as I know I have seen found 8 more Powell box office since doing this page….plus I have way more sources now…..I just realized the other day that William Powell was not on my $100 Million Box Office Hits page….but he is now…..oh boy….yet another page to update.

  3. William Powell appeared in 6 color movies. His first color movie Ziegfeld Follies (as an angelic Ziegfeld) in 1945. He appeared in some good ones, in Life with Father, How to Marry a Millionaire, and Mister Roberts.

    1. Mister Roberts is my favorite of the color movies you mentioned…..he picked a fine movie to be his last one. 6 color and 30 black and white….or 16.66% to 83.34%. That is of course the only movies listed in this page…..I am sure the actually % would be around 5% to 95%. Thanks for sharing this William Powell information. When I update this page…I am sure the 36 movies listed will be in the 50s…as I have already found 10 more Powell movie box office numbers since first writing this page.

    2. I was surprised to find the movie Dancing in the Dark (1949) was in color. I enjoyed the movie, despite William Powell’s co-star being so wrong for the part. His performance was, to me, a magnificent throwback to his villanous roles. His character is an arrogant, nasty jerk and, as Powell was always so great at, you can help but love him.

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