The Thin Man (1934) – A Review
Former detective Nick Charles (William Powell) is back in New York with his elegant wife Nora (Myrna Loy) and their loyal dog Asta. After being away from breaking cases for four years, the Charles’ find themselves attempting to unravel the mystery of an inventor who has gone missing.
Nick would much rather enjoy ritzy soiree’s and kicking back as many cocktails as he can manage, however Nora is game for a bit more excitement and encourages Nick to do some detective-ing.
With a family full of suspects and the police soon depending on the insights of Nick, the Charles’ toss off playful banter back and forth at each other and seem to be enjoying being embroiled in this ‘whodunnit’ much more than they really should.
The Thin Man was the first of the very popular series of films to star Dashiell’s Hammet’s boozing former detective, his wife and their dog. What initially was thought to be an inconsequential little film out of the dozens MGM would release that year,
The Thin Man became an unexpected hit. Nick and Nora Charles became favorites to audiences and would return in five sequels. Watching it today you can see why it clicked with audiences – Powell and Loy are just so much darn fun to watch in the parts!
While the mystery is alright, I have to admit to being much more entertained by the Charles’ playing off one another throughout the case. There’s a playful dance of snide remarks, double-takes and crinkled noses they toss off at one another throughout the whole film. It doesn’t matter if they’re being grilled by police or being held at gunpoint by someone they’re endearing dynamic can never be silenced.
It’s not surprising that Powell and Loy would reteam and audiences wanted more of them. The duo is a fresh and unique blend of lovableness, impatience and sarcasm. I might be unfair here, but I would assume most onscreen couples audiences were watching in 1934 were much less playful and more seriously dramatic, so seeing the Charles’ arrive must of been dazzling to witness.
The Thin Man series continued to be popular, although I haven’t seen any of the sequels and don’t know if they were just as good. But this original holds up remarkably well due to Powell and Loy. I’ve heard rumors of a new updated Thin Man series and unless the two actors cast can capture even some of the chemistry that Powell and Loy had I don’t see much point in making it.