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
'The Thin Man' is still as fast-paced, stylish, sexy and hilarious as it ever was
Where to begin? I guess I'll start off by saying that this is one of my favorite films of all time. I first saw it on TV years ago (I was probably eleven or twelve) and I still totally love it. Every time I see it, I feel like I get more out of it. I feel like I see AND hear more than I did before.
The story goes that creepy Clyde Wynant (wonderful character actor Edward Ellis) wants to give some bonds to his daughter Dorothy (Maureen O'Sullivan) as a wedding present. But his mistress Julia (Natalie Moorhead) has gotten rid of them. When Julia turns up murdered, Wynant is the obvious suspect, but nobody can find him.
Enter Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell and Myrna Loy), a detective and heiress, just recently married, and clearly very much in love. Nick finds himself pulled into the case, with everyone around him urging him into it. He's reluctant: it's his honeymoon after all. But sure enough he's persuaded to take the case, solves it and exposes the murderer at a climactic dinner party.
Bill Powell and Myrna Loy have astounding chemistry. As husband and wife, they are equals, equally hard-drinking, equally witty, equally fun-loving. They have the same sense of adventure, the same stubbornness, the same competitiveness. In so many scenes, Powell will saw something in his playful, semi-childish, half-drunk sort of way, and Loy will respond with some fabulously delivered retort, in a manner that is almost like a world-wary mother saying to her child 'Now, now, Junior...' It's hard to describe exactly. If anything, I suppose you could say it's deceptively simple. It's one of those things you have to see for yourself.
The rest of the cast is good. I particularly love Minna Gombell, Mynant's ex-wife Mimi, with her latin boyfriend (Cesar Romero) and her tight, shiny black dresses with white fur-lined princess sleeves. Slight, ernest and bespeckeled, William Henry turns in a riotous performance as Gilbert, Mimi and Clyde Wynant's son and Dorothy's brother. A Kinsey-lke figure, the role of Gilbert is one of those bookish, overly-analytical Hollywood stock characters who try to explain other character's subconscious reasons for their actions, and who give strangers peculiar looks at parties. Henry makes the character believable, and he stands out as one of the characters in the movie. Gerturde Short, in an uncredited role, gives a good performance as well. Her delivery of the "I don't like crooks, and if I did like'em..." line is unforgettable. (If you blink, you'll miss Tui Lorraine Bow, friend and step-mother of It Girl Clara Bow! Bert Roach of The Crowd has a small role as well.)
For a modestly-budgeted, rapidly shot, b-level production, The Thin Man is a classy and stylish film. The clothes, assembled by the genial Dolly Tree, are great, and make this a must-see anyone even remotely interested in period fashions. The art deco sets are quite fine, if modest and at times a bit sparse. The editing is good, as is the fairly simplistic photography. Woody Van Dyke, the director, always worked fast, and Myrna Loy recalled that all the movies they worked together on were made at frantic pace. Part of the reason that The Thin Man moves so quickly is the fact that production was so hurried.
The Thin Man gets a ten out of ten from me for being one of the best films ever produced, and one of my absolute favorites of all time.
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