It’s 4:57 pm
The cheetah and I awoke to yet another cold and rainy day. While I got ready to start the day,the cheetah asked for some zebra treats which I gave him. I was taking a shower when the phone rang….the cheetah came and told me to call my buddy Romey. Got dressed and called him back…he was at the Westland Library returning some books.
We decided to meet up for a Disc Replay run but I told him to check the bookstore to see if they had anything in terms of media.
It was silent for a minute then he comes back and says “You need to get here now”. So off I dashed and walked into a massive book sale. I found Romey with a nice stash already. He had saved a few boxed sets for me as well….but the prices were amazing,a lovely worker named Cynthia told us that anything was just a dollar apiece,including full season box sets!! With that being said,we had a lot of fun picking out some great titles.
When I saw “The Ex-Mrs.Bradford” sitting among the more modern movies,you knew I wasn’t like a Warner Brothers Archive title slip through my fingers. The disc was in pristine condition and at a buck? I’ll take that all day long!
Dr. Lawrence “Brad” Bradford (William Powell) is divorced from his wife,Paula Bradford (Jean Arthur),a famed mystery writer. They divorced because Paula not only writes mysteries but always ended up dragging Brad into real life mysteries as well!!
But the funny this is that despite the divorce,the two are are rather friendly with each other. So much so that when Brad refuses to pay alimony to Paula,she first threatens to sue him but will drop the suit if he will remarry her!
And this is how “The Ex-Mrs. Bradford” opens.
When a jockey dies suddenly during a horse race,its ruled a accident by the coroner’s office but Paula thinks it was foul play. When Mike North drops by Brad’s penthouse,he surprises both Brad and Paula by agreeing,the the jockey was indeed murdered but the cause is unknown. Despite his grave misgivings,Brad finds himself not only pulled into a another mystery but his ex-wife is moving in his penthouse as well!
The mystery only deepens when after poking around,a key witness is murdered and Brad is on the hook for the murder. In order to prove his innocence,Brad and Paula must work together once more as the killer strikes again and putting more pressure Dr. Bradford to solve the case. The good doctor has to go to some extraordinary lengths to find both the killer and the killer’s method as isn’t a single mork on any of the victims.
How the duo comes up with these answers are pretty clever and quite modern actually.
The biggest question remains,who is most dangerous to Brad? The cunning and crafty killer or his lovely ex-wife?
This was a sheer delight from the very scene all the way to the final credits. William Powell,as a dapper gentleman who somehow finds himself in mysteries as Nick Charles in the famous “Thin Man” series with Myrna Loy,is basically playing a future version of Nick Charles here and doing it wonderfully. “The Ex-Mrs. Bradford” came out in 1936,the same year that “Thin Man” series started as well.
Powell’s smooth and suave Dr. Bradford has a keen and sharp mind and he actually does most of the heavy lifting in this picture. Jean Arthur’s Paula is smart as well as she advances some key evidence that had Bradford stumped. She comes across as a bit flighty but don’t be fooled,other then not knowing how to turn on a light,she can hold her own with anyone.
The mystery itself is a crackling one and I didn’t guess who the killer was until the “big reveal”. I figured out how the killer struck but James E. Grant’s killer was beautifully hidden up til very end of the final act. This was completely refreshing as most films today cannot hold a candle when it comes to creating a worthy criminal mastermind of the main hero.
The rest of the cast was was great too especially Robert Armstrong as Nick Martel,a local thug with fingers into the horse racing rackets. He is tough customer but one can see just a sliver of gold underneath that hardcase look he has.
In a sad note,director Stephen Roberts died in the same year as “The Ex-Bradford” came out. He directed over 100 films in his brief life as he was only 41 years old (3 years younger then Powell himself) when he died of a heart attack.
One other note….while many remember Powell from the “Thin Man” series,Nick Charles wasn’t the only famous detective he played….he also played gumshoe Philo Vance in four capers.
The cheetah slept through this movie so its up to me to give RKO Pictures release of “The Ex-Mrs. Bradford” thumbs up!!
You can buy this title as well as shop for over 2,400 more films at the Warner Brothers Archive shop.
How about you? Do you have a favorite black & white classic film you love?
Share it with us by dropping a comment below!!