East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Turns out yesterday was Myrna Loy’s birthday.
She’d be 112 years old.
Loy was one of the many black-and-white beauties that completely fascinated me as a kid.
Her role as Nora Charles in The Thin Man and its sequels is the first thing in which I remember seeing her, in a late cycle dedicated by the Italian TV to the Powell/Loy mystery comedies.

51eVjQLu-+L._AC_US218_And as I am, I might as well plug Reid & Wickliffe’s Thoughts on The Thin Man: Essays on the Delightful Detective Work of Nick and Nora Charles, that is a delightful book indeed.

But my veneration for Myrna Loy’s beauty and skill is based essentially on three pre-Code movies that are certainly very much on topic here on Karavansara.

The first, of course, is The Mask of Fu Manchu, in which Loy portrays Fah Lo See, the daughter of Fu Manchu (Boris Karloff). For some mysterious Hollywood reason, in her youth Loy was often cast in exotic roles.

Myrna Loy

The second movie is The Black Watch, from 1929, an adaptation of Talbot Mundy’s classic King of the Khiber Rifles featuring Victor McLaglen in the titular role (as King, that is, not as the Black Watch), and Loy as alluring Indian/Russian adventuress Jasmini.

black watch

And finally there is another 1932 movie, the Maucirce Chevalier vehicle Love me tonight, a musical comedy in which Loy has a delightful run as a narcoleptic nymphomaniac. Ah, those pre-Code days!
But indeed, Loy had this aura of unchecked sexuality, in her early roles.


Incidentally, Loy’s cousin Valentine in Love me tonight was one of the original inspirations for Helena in The Ministry of Thunder and Cynical Little Angels, so there.

And tonight, I think I’ll catch me The Thin Man again, to celebrate a beautiful lady and a great actress.

Thin Man3

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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