The Thin Man
 
         
   
Genre: Comedy and Mystery
Running Time: 1 hr. 31 min.
Release Date: May 25th, 1934
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: W.S. Van Dyke
Actors: William Powell, Myrna Loy, Maureen O'Sullivan, Minna Gombell, Cesar Romero, Porter Hall
 
         
"The movie was met with such praise that it went on to receive Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Director, Actor and Screenplay."
   
 
             
 
Theatrical
10/10
 
DVD
N/A
 
Blu-ray
N/A
 
             
 
 

Dorothy (Maureen O’Sullivan) has come home to her elderly inventor father Clyde Wynant, to tell him of her engagement and marriage to Tommy (Henry Wadsworth), set for just after Christmas. He’s intent on leaving right away due to a new invention that must remain completely secret, refusing to tell anyone where he’s going or for how long. When months pass and no one has seen or heard from Mr. Wynant, Dorothy begins to worry. Then, Julia Wolf, Clyde’s secretary and mistress who recently stole $50,000 worth of bonds from him, turns up dead, clutching a prized watch chain worn by the missing man.

All the motives point to Wynant, but the clues lead elsewhere. His ex-wife Mimi always wanted money from him and was the one to discover the body; lawyer Herbert MacCaulay may have been the last one to see him; nerdy younger brother Gilbert desperately wants to get involved; conniving, jobless Chris Jorgenson (Cesar Romero) would love to get some quick cash for Mimi; Morelli likes to interrogate with guns; bug-eyed Arthur Nunheim wants to pin it on Morelli; bookkeeper Tanner likes to snoop around; and everyone wants to stay between the cops (led by low-voiced, emotionless lieutenant John Guild) and the truth. In walks Nick Charles (William Powell), a retired detective with a fine reputation and a glass of scotch permanently in hand, visiting New York in the wrong place at the right time to take the case. Along with his supportive wife Nora (Myrna Loy) and their beloved dog Asta, Nick decides to get to the bottom of it – especially when the body count begins to rise.
 
 
 
The Thin Man movie 1934 William Powell, Myrna Loy, Maureen O'Sullivan, Minna Gombell, Cesar Romero, Porter Hall
 
The Thin Man movie 1934 William Powell, Myrna Loy, Maureen O'Sullivan, Minna Gombell, Cesar Romero, Porter Hall
 
 

One of the most interesting things about The Thin Man is that Nick is already married to the love interest, even though much of the film is devoted to the two of them flirting and wooing one another. Powell and Loy were one of the greatest screen couples, with Powell delivering witty dialogue effortlessly and coolly and Loy scrunching up her face in affectionate disapproval of Nick’s jesting, and continued to work together for more than ten additional films – including five Thin Man sequels. Their teaming is easily the highlight of the film, although the fast-paced, incredibly complex plot (based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett) is endlessly fascinating. At times, the large number of characters can become downright confusing, adding in points of deception, plenty of motives and unexpected developments that keep the conclusion completely unpredictable.

The combination of laugh-out-loud dialogue and a multiple murder mystery is highly unique and one of the reasons The Thin Man comes across as inventive, original and thrilling. There’s also a distinct note of film noir mixed in. The memorable finale involves Nick gathering together all the suspects at a dinner party and recounting the events of the murders, hoping the culprit will expose himself – or herself – since he’s still not certain who did it. Despite general and contemporary public confusion as to who the “Thin Man” actually referred to, the movie was met with such praise that it went on to receive Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Director, Actor and Screenplay.

- Mike Massie
 
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