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Myrna Loy wasn't always a star at MGM. Even though she worked as hard as any other contract player (up at 5:30, in makeup at 7, on set at 9), the naturally shy actress just couldn't "lift the veil" (as Thalberg put it) that walled off her charm from the audience. As a result, she spent the early '30s being underused by the studio (often perplexingly cast as ethnicized vamps). New Morals for Old was one picture she made during this casting-about period, a light, jaunty drama about the Jazz Age comings and goings of a sister (Margaret Perry) and brother (Robert Young) whose parents (Lewis Stone and Laura Hope Crews) cluck in disapproval at this modern morality. (The plot revolving around the seduction of a married man paralleled Loy's own affair with the then-married Arthur Hornblow, Jr., soon to be her first husband.) New Morals for Old made few ripples, but two years later, director W. S. Van Dyke discovered how Loy's shyness, when lit and shot right, could instead look like bulletproof cool. When he cast her in The Thin Man (1934), she lifted the veil forever after.
By Violet LeVoit