After a four year absence, one time detective Nick Charles returns to New York with his new wife Nora and their dog, Asta. Nick re-connects with many of his old cronies, several of whom are eccentric characters, to say the least. He's also approached by Dorothy Wynant whose inventor father Clyde Wynant is suspected of murdering her step-mother. Her father had left on a planned trip some months before and she has had no contact with him. Nick isn't all that keen on resuming his former profession but egged-on by wife Nora, who thinks this all very exciting, he agrees to help out. He solves the case, announcing the identity of the killer at a dinner party for all of the suspects. Written by
Come celebrate the end of prohibition with William Powell and Myrna Loy as the high society and wise-cracking Nick and Nora Charles. Not only do they put away a large quantity of alcohol, but they solve a bizarre and fascinating murder case in the process despite Nick's best efforts not to get involved. He finally succumbs by taking the case to not only outside pressure, but instinctive curiosity and boredom that goes with being part of the idle class. Not only is he a super sleuth turned gentleman, but he is quite the aficionado on mixing drinks. We are first introduced to Nick as he instructs bartenders on the proper technique on mixing drinks ("In mixing the important thing is the rhythm. You should always have rhythm in your shaking. A manhattan you shake to a foxtrot, a dry martini you shake to a waltz", etc.) Also added into the fray, is their terrier, Asta, who helps Nick solve the mystery. Despite being made nearly 70 years ago, Powell and Loy's performances and chemistry together remain as strong today as they were then. This detective has clearly married into a family with a significant fortune, but Nick and Nora's love for each other is genuine and often reflected in sarcastic teasing of each other. When Nora walks in on him consoling a beautiful young woman by embracing her, he just wrinkles his nose at her and she returns the gesture which indicates the level of trust that exists among this couple. While Nick is often observant of an attractive woman, Nora doesn't keep him on a tight leash because their instinctive trust with one another. The film is packed with humor centering around the Charles' vices, mainly drinking and the subsequent hangovers and the complacency of not being required to work for a living. How many detectives are such smooth talkers that they befriend the criminals they helped convict once they've served their time and party with them on Christmas Eve? So if you enjoy a bit of sarcastic humor in your murder mysteries, chances are you'll love this film. A few side notes: Watch for Cesar Romero in this film. He later played The Joker in the Batman series in the 1960's. In later Thin Man movies, you can see a young Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, Dean Stockwell, and Penny Singleton. Also, I noticed that it was Christmas Eve in this movie 2 days in a row. First, in the bar where we first see Nick, Maureen O'Sullivan says to her boyfriend that it's Christmas Eve and the next morning when Nora wakes up with a hangover they say it's Christmas Eve then. My only other criticism was the scene where Nick diverts the attention of a man holding him at gunpoint in the bedroom by tossing a pillow at him. I wish they had come up with something a little more believable. Other than those 2 minor points, an outstanding movie. I don't think Hollywood could make something as original and entertaining today if their lives depended on it. On a scale of 10 martinis, 9/10.
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