Thursday, 14 March 2013

The Thin Man


THE THIN MAN (BLACK AND WHITE, 1934)

Director
W.S. Van Dyke

Cast
Myrna Loy, William Powell, Cesar Romero, Margaret O’Sullivan, Porter Hall, Edward Brophy, Nat Pendleton, William Henry, Minna Gombell, Harold Huber, Edward Ellis, Henry Wadsworth, Natalie Moorhead and Asta

Ages
7 and up

Plot:

Nora Charles (Loy) and her husband, Nick (Powell), with their terrier Asta, go to New York. Nick is an ex-detective while Nora is a playful and rich heiress. Nick finds his old friend Dorothy Wynant (O’Sullivan) who is the daughter of an inventor, Clyde (Ellis), ex-husband to Mimi (Gombell), now married to Chris (Romero). Dorothy is now actually engaged to Tommy (Wadsworth). Clyde has a lawyer named MacCaulay (Hall) and another son, Gilbert (Henry). Later, the inventor realizes that Julia (Moorhead) and her gangster boyfriend Joe (Brophy) have stolen his bonds. When Julia ends up dead, Nick, Nora and Asta try to solve the case.


Why it’s good
It was the start of the six "Thin Man" movies. And this was arguably their best. There was a hint of humour in the air, as well as the smell of alcohol, such as Martinis.

There was also great chemistry between Myrna Loy and William Powell. Like the rest of the sequels, they remain the same, investigating between martinis and establishing a romance a viewer would comprehend easily. This creates a unique brand of comedy. 

There is a gallery of suspects – Cesar Romero’s Chris, Margaret O’Sullivan’s Dorothy, Henry Wadsworth’s Tommy. Oh, and in the Thin Man genre, there is bound to be someone more unexpected. The ending is always a shock.

Likewise, there will be all the suspects gathered around for the revelation time of the film. Well, that is what I call it. Like in the rest of the Thin Man movies, there will be a shock among yourself and the people  you are watching with. The villain could be anybody. And the thing is you cannot always tell which side the detective is on. Sometimes he thinks it is him, sometimes he thinks it is her. But the sleuthing technique was not like anything from Sherlock Holmes or Phillip Marlowe from the Raymond Chandler novels.

It was of a dreamy technique involving all the drinking and all the innuendo between the two leads. This sleuthing technique probably beats Jack Nicholson in Chinatown.

Parent’s guide
There are several killings off-screen. One character smacks another character at the dinner table.

Trivia
The film was shot over only two weeks. For that, the director, W.S. Van Dyke, had the nickname "One-take" Woody. Originally, Chris’ surname was Rosewater. It was changed to Jorgenson afterwards.

If you like this…

Watch the sequels to this movie. "After the Thin Man" (1936) is the other good one, with the young James Stewart in the cast as a lover to one of Nora’s relatives. The rest are, in order: "Another Thin Man" (1939), "Shadow of the Thin Man" (1941), "The Thin Man Goes Home" (1945) and "The Song of the Thin Man" (1947). However, one must admit that by the last film they seem to be tired out from all that alcohol from the film and all the comedy thrown into the film.       

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