Thursday, April 15, 2010
The Thin Man movie series
Since Myrna Loy is my classic movie goddess of the month and The Thin Man series is one of my favorite film series of all time, I decided to post brief reviews of all 6 wonderful films.
THE THIN MAN (1934) The one that started it all and the very best one, just slightly ahead of After the Thin Man. We are introduced to the fun loving couple Nick and Nora Charles at a bar and we're off. William Powell is Nick, a recently retired private detective who adores his wife Nora (Loy), his very rich wife. Well when a missing person case falls into his lap, Nick reluctanly takes the job, much to the delight of Nora. The wisecracks fly fast and furious, and we are introduced to some of the most unsavory characters that we would not want to meet in real life. Powell and Loy are the perfect couple and play off each other extremely well. And let's not forget their dog, Asta, who is a born scene stealer. They would pair up for 5 more Thin Man films and 13 films in all. I think this one is their very best.
AFTER THE THIN MAN (1936) Delightful follow-up that picks up immediately after the events of the original Thin Man movie. Returning from New York by train to their home in San Francisco, the couple don't have a minute to relax before they are summoned for dinner at Nora's snobby family. A case involving Nora's cousin, who husband has disappeared and then found later murdered. Nora's cousin is the prime suspect and Nick must use all his skills to prove otherwise. A rare sequel that is just as good as it's predecessor. Powell and Loy remain excellent as usual and look for an early performance by Jimmy Stewart. One that is a little off beat for him. This film is a lot longer than the previous Thin Man film, but it never drags.
ANOTHER THIN MAN (1939) The Charles' are back in New York with Asta and a new arrival: Nicky Jr. They are invited by Colonel MacFey to spend the weekend at his house in Long Island as he desperately wants Charles to help him out. It seems he has been receiving threats from Phil Church, a very shady character. When McFey is killed Church seems to be the obvious suspect but Nick suspects there is something far more complicated going on. McFey's housekeeper, daughter and various hangers-on may all have had an interest in seeking the old man's demise. Another solid entry in the series, while not on par with the first two films, but still very entertaining.
THE SHADOW OF THE THIN MAN (1941) Fun and games and murder at the horse track as Nick and Nora become involved with a dead jockey, organized crime, and corruption. Look for Donna Reed in an early role. I enjoyed this one a little more than Another Thin Man, as it is a lot more fun. Usually series start to falter when they reach their fourth entry, but The Thin Man series was getting it second wind.
THE THIN MAN GOES HOME (1944) 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. A solid entry.
THE SONG OF THE THIN MAN (1947) The final Thin Man movie is a light comedy mystery that lets Nick and Nora bow out gracefully. Nick and Nora Charles are attending a charity benefit aboard a gambling ship. The festive atmosphere conceals many tensions among those connected with the ship, with most of the friction centering around Tommy Drake, its unpopular, spiteful band-leader. When he is murdered later that night, suspicion falls on Phil Brant, who had argued with Drake earlier in the evening. When Phil and his wife seek help from Nick and Nora, Nick refuses to get involved. But when shots are fired outside his own apartment, Nick begins to investigate, and he soon finds himself in a confusing case with numerous suspects. Look for Gloria Grahame and Dean Stockwell as a teen Nick Jr.