Nick and Nora head to Nick's hometown of Sycamore Springs to spend some time with his parents. His father, a prominent local physician, was always a bit disappointed with Nick's choice of profession in particular and his lifestyle in general. With Nick's arrival however the towns folk, including several of the local criminal element, are convinced that he must be there on a case despite his protestations that he's just there for rest and relaxation. When someone is shot dead on his doorstep however, Nick finds himself working on a case whether he wants to or not. Written by
In the sequence where the rumor is going around town that Nick is on a case, the woman at the butchers is prominently holding a war rationing stamp book in her right hand - something that would have been very familiar to audiences at the time. Meat rationing began in March, 1943 and didn't end until November, 1945. Another example of war-time rationing is the poster at the train station of the smiling GI holding his canteen cup that reads "Do with less - so they'll have enough". (Office of War Information poster #43, 1943) See more »
When Brophy is sitting with Nick's parents at the table, he is describing a card announcing births. During his description, he takes a bite of cake, but the dialog continues non stop, even though his mouth is obviously not mouthing the words. See more »
The Old Oaken Bucket
Lyrics by Samuel Woodworth
Music by George F. Kiallmark
Performed by William Powell
[Powell sings the first line of the song then continues with "Deep in the Heart of Texas"] See more »
All the Thin Man films are great to watch, but this is one with which I find a bit easier to identify. Riskin, the writer of this film and long time scriptwriter for Frank Capra, was also the guy who wrote "It Happened One Night" and "Meet John Doe". This New York City born writer's attraction to average Joe small town values over Cosmopolitan glitz and decadence obvious in those two films is plain to see here. This is probably the image a lot of successful urbanites had about moving to the suburbs after WW2.
This is sort of an odd bird among Thin Man films in a couple of ways. First of all, Nick is astonishingly sober for a change. Don't look for any of those scenes of Nick and Nora trying to drink each other the table at some New York nightclub in this one. In fact, the nightclubs and high rises are totally gone as Nick takes Nora the glamorous New York socialite back for a visit to Nick's hometown, which bears a fairly strong likeness to Andy Hardy's. Nick's father is a retired M.D. not unlike the ones in the Norman Rockwell paintings. He wanted Nick to follow in his footsteps as a small town doctor instead of becoming a big city policeman and this is the first time the two of them have gotten together in years. This father-son reconciliation is the explanation for Nick's sudden uncharacteristic attraction to a sober, healthy lifestyle.
Nick's father is actually fairly proud of Nick and keeps a scrapbook about all his adventures. The whole town knows about Nick Charles the famous Detective. I sort of see invisible images of G.I.s returning home from WW2 in a lot of this movie. Nick's celebrity as a tough, smart local boy who went off to bring gun toting gangsters to justice in the big city of aristocratic sophisticates and Broadway nights is not very far removed from how most Americans probably saw the guys who went off to liberate Paris and Europe in WW2. Nora fits into that picture as a sort of "Mrs. Miniver" figure of what American's admired about European sophication brought back home to meet the folks.
The homecoming hero vision of Nick peacefully turning into a happy coach potato in a post war suburbia however is not what we want to see. What everybody loves about the Thin Man films is their contrary to Hollywood stereotype revelation that life after marriage can actually be exciting. Nora decides to get Nick off the coach with an "I Love Lucy" sort of plot twist that spreads a rumor around town that Nick is secretly working on a detective case. The result of course is that all the various local characters with small town secrets to hide think he's after them and all the mystery murders and skeletons start coming out of the closet like we've all been waiting to see. Nick and Nora are such a fun couple, aren't they?
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