For Reel

The Ex-Mrs. Bradford (1936)
January 6, 2012, 6:07 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Stephen Roberts

Jean Arthur is delightful as The Ex-Mrs. Bradford, a mystery writer whose love of the genre turns her and her ex-husband, played by a sarcastic William Powell, into amateur sleuths. Though the picture has been acknowledged by critics as a compelling murder mystery, there doesn’t seem to be any discussion about its true merits. This is a film about storytelling. Arthur writes mystery novels, and, from what we hear about her past with Powell, her distracting obsession with the genre was what led to their divorce. In the climax of the picture, Powell requests that a number of cameramen candidly film the events in which the killer is expected to strike again, intending to later screen the results for all of the suspects. Now, having directed a mystery film of his own, Powell’s instincts as a storyteller have at last met his ex-wife’s, and therefore the couple is able to rekindle their romance. Before the end credits roll, the shadows of Arthur and Powell are cast onto a projected image in Powell’s home theater, united by their passion for the genre in all of its mediums, and immortalized on the film-within-the-film as sleuthing heroes. Though The Thin Man is the go-to point-of-reference in discussions about the picture for obvious reasons, it has more in common with Rear Window.

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