Monday, July 25, 2011

THE THIN MAN (1934)

Hard-drinking and hard living Nick Charles is one of the greatest detectives of all time, but he recently got married to a wealthy industrialist's daughter so from now on it's smooth sailing, no more gumshoeing for him. No siree Bob! Just a bunch of sitting around relaxing and getting drunk as a fucking skunk...or at least that was the plan. No matter how hard he fights it, he can't help but get drug into the case of a married scientist (played by the unappreciated Edward Ellis) who disappeared around the time his girlfriend was found murdered. The town (New York City) is abuzz with wild rumors and stories. To make matters worse Nick's beautiful new bride is chomping at the bit to see her famous detective husband in action. Finally he agrees and after some entertaining snooping around he has all of the players in the mystery forced to attend a dinner party at his penthouse where he tells them what he knows and of course solves the crime.

THE THIN MAN is an excellent novel (I'm madly in love with the writings of Dashiell Hammett and have read all of his novels and short story collections many times), but as great as the book is William Powell, Myrna Loy, Nat Pendleton, director W. S. Van Dyke and screenwriters Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich (and let's not forget Skippy!) bring something playful and upbeat that wasn't in the darker novel and it works wonderfully. Specifically the relationship between Nick and Nora. In the book they were jaded, but very comical in the film and the success of the movie sits squarely on their relationship. William Powell and Powell Loy were cast perfectly! Powell and Loy are one of the greatest film pairings ever and lucky for us they starred together in 14 different films, including 6 THIN MAN films, LIBELED LADY and the hilarious LOVE CRAZY.

If you enjoy classic Hollywood mysteries then THE THIN MAN is required viewing and the start to a wonderful series that actually has a few sequels that I think are better than the original(2&3)! Highly recommended.

If you want to talk about a film being made quickly: Hammett's novel came out in January 1934, the film came out in May 1934! Director W.S. Van Dyke, also known as "One-Take Woody", somehow managed to shoot this film in 2 weeks! Holy shit!

Part 2 - After the Thin Man
Part 3- Another Thin Man
Part 4 - Shadow of the Thin Man
Part 5 - The Thin Man Goes Home
Part 6 - Song of the Thin Man

It's Mr. Smith!!!

Cesar Romero

Edward Ellis