In this adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's "The Farewell Murder", Nick and Nora (and their dog Asta) visit the estate of Col. MacFay, who is being threatened by a mysterious man wanting revenge for a past injustice. When MacFay is murdered, that man is the obvious suspect- maybe too obvious... Written by
Ken Yousten <email@example.com>
Whether it's solving a murder or sipping a Bacardi, Nick and Nora Charles are excellent company
When a movie begins with C. Aubrey Smith, that craggy paragon of old-fashioned values, beaten, shot and stabbed to death and then finishes with Shemp Howard, one of the Stooges, dandling a baby, you might believe you're in some odd alternate universe. In a way, you are, but the universe is the world of Nick and Nora Charles and the movie is Another Thin Man. It's the third film William Powell and Myrna Loy made about the debonaire amateur sleuth and his wealthy wife. If it doesn't quite reach the heights of witty sophistication of the first two, it'll do.
Nick and Nora, together with their new baby and Asta, are at the Long Island estate of the aging and imperious Burr MacFay (Smith), the partner of Nora's father before her father died. He's a financial wizard who still manages much of Nora's wealth...and he believes he's a man under a death threat. Within hours of their arrival, late at night, a fire starts in the ornate bath house, a fuse apparently blows taking out all the lights, the huge dog of the house is found killed...and MacFay is discovered shot, beaten and stabbed. Yet everyone seems to have an alibi. And what a bunch there is: MacFay's adopted daughter, Lois MacFay; Dudley Horn, the man she plans to marry who seems to love her money as much as he says he loves her; Freddie Coleman, MacFay's young, baby-faced secretary who is smitten with Lois; Mrs. Bellam, the curiously uncurious housekeeper; and Dorothy Waters, the nanny Nora engaged to help look after Nickie, Jr., who suddenly disappears. Those are the ones in the mansion. Lurking outside is a former employee of MacFay, Phil Church, who went to prison and now has schemes to cash in; his girl friend, his loyal goon and a slow-speaking piece of muscle who wears thick glasses. Nick and Nora head back to New York as soon as they can, but the mystery and the threats follow them. It takes a visit to the apartment of a woman no one seems to have met and some clever thinking before Nick brings everyone together in the Charles' hotel apartment where the ruthless murderer is exposed. Even that is complicated by Nickie, Jr.'s boithday party thrown by some of Nick's disreputable acquaintances and their kids.
In the meantime, we get to enjoy the imperturbable, affectionate and wittily ironic relationship between Nick and Nora, and delight in the expert playing of William Powell and Myrna Loy. Nick and Nora, especially Nick, enjoys his martinis and scotch, but this time around it's a little less obvious and a little more fun. "A Bacardi," says Nick to the waiter in a Latin nightclub. He glances over at Nora and adds, "Two Bacardis." Says Nora with a straight face to the waiter, "I'll have the same." The waiter brings four Bacardis. The mystery is complicated and, in my view, a little too much time is spend on it at the expense of time with the two of them. Still, the movie's extended nightclub scene shows just how witty, light and affectionate Powell and Loy could be when they had enough time to work their characters together. They made 14 movies together over 20 years, including the six in the Thin Man series. Individually or together, Powell and Loy were class acts.
And yes, Shemp Howard really is there. So's a chest-thumping Marjorie Main.
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