Thursday March 3, 2011 00:27

Movie #0043 – The Thin Man (1934)

Posted by Michael


Directed by: W.S. Van Dyke
Starring: William Powell, Myrna Loy, Maureen O’Sullivan
Picture credit: Only the Cinema
Second Viewing

Synopsis: A retired detective finds himself in the middle of a murder case while on vacation with his wife.

It’s kind of amusing to watch this film so soon after The Lost Weekend, given their vastly different takes on alcohol consumption. Weekend, of course, offers a sobering (no pun intended) look at what alcoholism can do to a person. The Thin Man, on the other hand, has its two protagonists (especially William Powell’s Nick Charles) drinking constantly throughout the film, with the alcohol having no affect on their witty repartee or their ability to solve crimes.

I liked this film, though there really isn’t any particular reason to remember it other than for William Powell and Myrna Loy’s memorable performances and their remarkable chemistry (which is enough, certainly — though it would have been nice if the movie that surrounded them were a bit better). All the scenes in which they are just talking, just exchanging jabs and one-liners, are pretty great and certainly worth the price of admission alone. Nick and Nora Charles are obviously a supremely memorable couple, and just plain fun to watch. Powell especially gives an amazing performance, and his seemingly effortless charm makes already funny dialogue even funnier.

The problem here, however, is that quite a lot of screen time is dedicated to the convoluted and, frankly, fairly uninteresting mystery (the characters surrounding the mystery are equally forgettable). The plot involves a missing man and a series of murders, and there are so many side-characters and suspects that, by the time Powell’s character had assembled them all for a dinner party at the end of the film, I was having a hard time remembering who was who (or caring, for that matter).

It’s a testament to how good Powell and Loy are that, despite these not-insignificant problems, the film still comes off quite well; I’d recommend it without hesitation. Clearly, there is a reason why they made so many sequels.

Buy the movie on Amazon

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