Movie Review: The Thin Man

Disclaimer: Probably one of my most favourite movies and one I can watch pretty much all the time. Of the 6 in the series, the only one I don't particularly like is Thin Man Goes Home. It's completely out of character and defies canon set from earlier films. The best one (outside of the first 3) is Song of the Thin Man. The post-Depression jazz or swing or whatever genre used to classify the music is amazing.

No spoilers though. I must be getting nicer for after the holiday season.

Anyway, this year, instead of my typical Christmas viewing of Die Hard and Die Hard II: Die Harder, I watched Thin Man and A Scanner Darkly. I've already talked about how weird the latter movie is but Thin Man is amazing each and every time I watch it.

If you've read the book, you know how much the movie differs from the movie. Though not what I would, in my modern mindset, call a full-partner, Myrna Loy's Nora is an equal to William Powell's Nick in duelling witticisms.

Man. When did I become so hokey?

As an aside, I give thanks to whatever WTV programmer scheduled the Myrna Loy documentary (narrated by Kathleen Turner, one of the most beautiful women in the 80s), introducing me to the wonder that is Myrna Loy.

So, once again, while I wouldn't consider Nora Nick's equal in detection, she's more of his partner in the movie than in the book. I found the characterizations different as well. Dorothy Wynant is less of a petulant daddy issues girl looking to self-destruct in the movie; she's more… normal. It's not the best description on my part but Book Dorothy is a whiny, manipulative woman who hooks up with a married man in order to have access to alcohol and Nick Charles. Movie Dorothy is more vulnerable… and also less vulnerable.

Man, what is wrong with my words today?

My biggest problem with the movie is the choice of Porter Hall as Herbert MacCauley. I'm sure he's a very nice man and he seems like an above average actor but he's … how to put this nicely? There is no chance in hell a woman would throw over her sugar daddy for him. There is no universe where this is possible.

My apologies that this review is mostly asides. And probably slightly disjointed asides. Would I say this is a great mystery? No, not really. You don't get enough information that you would be able to solve this on your own. At least until the end dinner scene where the information is laid out but The Thin Man series isn't about solving mysteries yourself; it's about watching Nick and Nora solve the mystery in style. It's about watching their relationship and, if you're me, envying their closeness and their connection to each other.

Should you watch it? If you're expecting a noir-ish movie to go along with the book, you'll be sorely disappointed. If you're looking for an entertaining story with engaging characters, you will love this movie. If you love depression-era music, clothes and attitudes, you will buy this movie and the other 5 that come after. If you do, I suggest the box set, it includes a bonus dvd with a documentary on William Powell and Myrna Loy (yes, the one that introduced me to her). MORE than worth the price tag.

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