Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Thin Man (1934): Murder, wit, and martinis

Title: The Thin Man
Director: W.S. Van Dyke
Language: English
Rating: Unrated

There are few movie couples more fabulous than Nick and Nora Charles. Their electric banter, chemistry, and continuous boozing make for great entertainment.

William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora

Nick (William Powell) is a retired private eye whose only ambition now is to enjoy the wealth of his heiress wife, Nora (Myrna Loy), a "lanky brunette with a wicked jaw" (his words). They're very much in love, rib each other constantly, and enjoy drinking and doting on their terrier, Asta. But as they're taking a trip to NYC at the start of the film, they're approached by Dorothy Wynant (Maureen O'Sullivan), the daughter of a crotchety, absent-minded inventor who once worked with Nick. She doesn't know where her father is, and as the movie progresses, it appears he's in trouble - first because he's gone on a trip without telling anyone where, and secondly because he's implicated in a murder.

The movie is clever and funny with great dialogue. And while Nick and Nora are the ones who truly shine, there's also an amusing cast of supporting characters made up of crooks, greedy opportunists, soft-hearted romantics, a young man who's overly attached to his mother, and police officers who aren't so much stupid as unimaginative. Nick gets pulled into the mystery surrounding the case, and Nora both helps out and watches, concerned and entertained. The climax of the movie is a dinner party where all the suspects (and police) are invited.

Whimsical, funny, doesn't take itself seriously - it's a great movie to relax with.

Nick and Nora Charles Christmas morning gifts

*The images link back to their source (Flixster Community).


Naida said...

This sounds like a good one and Nick and Nora Charles sound like fun characters!

Nan said...

I've seen it a couple times but just put it in my Netflix queue again. I do love them as a couple. You don't see that kind of relationship onscreen (or maybe even off) very often. I love that scene when he's at the restaurant before her, and she arrives and drinks many drinks in a row to catch up with him. Not sure if it is this movie, or another in the series. Wait, I'll go look it up... I couldn't find which movie, but here's a site where you can see a bunch of the great drinking scenes.

Nan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nan said...

That was me who deleted - because my words got published twice. :<)

HKatz said...

@ Naida - you'd enjoy it, give it a try!

@ Nan- Thanks for the link! And yes, in this one she catches up with the number of martinis he's drunk :) It's fun to see a married couple on-screen who isn't dysfunctional or without character, but have got fire in them and love and flirtation :)

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

I enjoyed your review. It made me want to see the film. I have seen William Powell in a few movies on TCM though not Myrna Loy as much. I believe she was a popular actress in her time. It would be nice if I could read Dashiell Hammett's book, as I have been meaning to, and watch the film soon after.

Nan said...

There's a list of ML's movies here:

My faves are The Thin Man series and Mr.Blandings Builds His Dream House.

HKatz said...

@ Prashant - Thanks! You should check it out. This is one of those times when I didn't read the book first, so I'll be interested to hear your thoughts on it.

@ Nan - Myrna Loy is a stunning actress :) I have to admit though, I saw Mr. Blandings a while ago and didn't like it much; I thought she wasn't given the most interesting character to work with. I do want to see more of the Thin Man series though. And to watch Best Years of Our Lives.

Relyn Lawson said...

I have tried, and tried, and tried to like this movie. Why can't I?

HKatz said...

"I have tried, and tried, and tried to like this movie. Why can't I?"

Sometimes these things are inexplicable. You can't force yourself :)