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
Though five sequel films were made from this very popular original there are still to this day people who will answer the question who is the Thin Man with William Powell.
The answer of course is Edward Ellis, an inventor whose disappearance gets a recently retired detective named Nick Charles to solving a case where three murders are committed almost in spite of himself. Ellis is a tall and very skinny man, hence the title.
One thing I always liked about The Thin Man. The formula never varied, MGM didn't believe in tampering with success. It was always that Nick and Nora Charles get dragged almost kicking and screaming into some homicide. Nick is always four jumps ahead of the police be it Nat Pendleton or Sam Levene. Two or three other murders are committed before the solution is arrived at. And always the gathering of the suspects at the end when Nick lays it all out for them, the cops and we the audience. And of course Nora whose help except for moral support is somewhat dubious.
One thing that was cut down on was Nick's alcoholic consumption. The Thin Man just beat it under the wire with The Code and as the Charles had a baby in later stories, it wouldn't do to have one of the father role models in America be a complete drunk all the time.
I always liked the fact that in all The Thin Man stories the murderer is never obvious. A twist in the plot could have made any one of the suspects the guilty party.
The Thin Man was nominated for Best Picture and Oscar nominations were given out to William Powell, director Woody Van Dyke, and screenwriters Goodrich and Hackett for adapting Dashiell Hammett's original story. Unfortunately The Thin Man ran up against It Happened One Night and got skunked out of all the top prizes.
But amazingly enough Myrna Loy was not nominated for Best Actress. In fact the woman NEVER got an Oscar nomination. If there was every a case where the chemistry between the leads made a film, The Thin Man was it. How you could nominate Powell and not Loy is beyond me.
But that's Hollywood for you. The Thin Man is a fresh today as it was over 70 years ago.
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