From Being and Becoming, the autobiography of the peerless Myrna Loy:
[Metro] put me right to work in Manhattan Melodrama, which precipated the demise of John Dillinger, Public Enemy No. 1. FBI agents shot him down outside the Biograph Theatre, in Chicago, after he'd seen the film. Supposedly a Myrna Loy fan, he broke cover to see me. Personally, I suspect the theme of the picture rather than my fatal charms attracted him, but I've always felt a little guilty about it, anyway. They filled him full of holes, poor soul.
For anyone who has read her book, the above paragraph is Myrna Loy in miniature: intelligent, down-to-earth, self-deprecating, and compassionate.
As you can probably guess, the Siren selected this one because the film blogs are full of Public Enemies this week. Glenn Kenny liked it, Lou Lumenick did not. Manohla Dargis had a well-written rave but the Siren was a wee bit flummoxed by her closing sideswipe at Manhattan Melodrama. I haven't seen Public Enemies yet, but as much as I like Johnny Depp (and I do, I do), of course Michael Mann's gangsters will be no less "false" than W.S. Van Dyke's. (And while the new film may not look like "the usual gangster picture," for some of us old fogeys that's no bonus. Come on, even if she likes Public Enemies we all know the Siren is going to miss James Wong Howe.)
Manhattan Melodrama is worth cherishing for a reason that has nothing to do with gangsters: It was the first film Loy made with William Powell.
My first scene with Bill, a night shot on the back lot, happened before we'd even met. Woody was apparently too busy for introductions. My instructions were to run out of a building, through a crowd, and into a strange car. When Woody called "Action," I opened the door, jumped in, and landed smack on William Powell's lap. He looked up nonchalantly. "Miss Loy, I presume?" I said, "Mr. Powell?" And that's how I met the man who would be my partner in fourteen films.
Flickhead's Claude Chabrol Blogathon is now over, but the Siren hopes you have followed it as avidly as she has. It's wonderful, with some of the best, most appreciative writing on Chabrol to be found anywhere. Start here and follow the links.