Sunday, 12 May 2013

The Thin Man (1934)

Den Tynde Mand
Already I have read so many reviews of ”The Thin Man” that I think everything has been said about it. It is also a movie which is widely loved so there is a lot of hype to deal with going into this movie. Fortunately I saw it once before in January last year so I am not going in blank. However that was during a very difficult period for me personally so a movie which is all about good spirits (!) might not have been done justice at the time.

Now the time have come to see it again for my official comments here on the blog and… I did enjoy it very much.

It is a very simple concept executed brilliantly, which is often the recipe for the best things in life.

Basically the producer (and director I suppose) has taken two stories and cooked them together.

The most apparent story is a murder mystery, a regular whodunit plot, with the exception that all involved are absolutely nuts and have somehow been taken with their finger deep down in the cookie box.

The second story is that between Mr. and Mrs Charles, Nick and Nora (William Powell and Myrna Loy). This is not the regular description of a relationship but a veritable party. The jibes, jokes, pokes and puns those two fire off at each other and everyone around them are just amazing, and all the while they are permanently tipsy from conspicuous consumption of cocktails and highballs. This to an extend to relegate the murder mystery to a backdrop to the party and give opportunities to fire off some especially witty wisecracks.

In fact the Powell – Loy duo was such a success that an entire series of films were build up around these two characters and the concept was attempted copied on numerous occasions to this day. Think detective couple and party and the film or series will hark back to Powell and Loy.

This is a happy film. The tone is very easy and Powell and Loy are in such a good mood that it is difficult not to be smitten by them. In fact you get very thirsty from watching this film so I would suggest arming yourself with a bottle of champagne or even better a dry martini mixer set. All this despite no less than 3 people are getting murdered. They may be ghastly murders but since everybody are nutcases with very long fingers it is only surprising that no more are killed. They are certainly all capable of it.

I must admit that I got a bit lost in the murder mystery. There are so many people involved and they are all related to each other in strange ways. Yeah, I know who did it, it is revealed in the end, but I am not sure if I understand how or why. Well, it is not really so important. The point is that all these jackasses get busted in the most wonderful way as guests at Mr. and Mrs. Charles party.

Following Loy and Powell is a real joy. Every time they open their mouth it is funny. They care for each other, that is obvious, and that to an extend that they can tease each other silly and both enjoy it. I will not attempt at quoting them, that just turns out flat. You have to watch their smiles and the glint in their eyes when they deliver their jab to do them justice. It is top class.

So how can this jolly couple solve murder mysteries with one hand on the back and the other holding a cocktail? Well, they get a lot of help from the magic hunch that make them go to the right places and look for the right things. Gentlemanly and easy, no worries there. Certainly not enough trouble to ruin the party. How frustrating it must be for the police to see these two party revelers solve the cases they are working so hard on, but even they must bend to the Charles’s charms.

I enjoyed myself throughout. This is intelligent comedy but also happy and silly comedy. It is a party to watch, but I would have to warn you: Do not do this at home. Any ordinary metabolism would render you seriously hangovered if you tried to emulates Mr. and Mrs. Charles and your liver would not last long, but at least it was fun trying.

If you have not seen “The Thin Man” I have just one question: What are you waiting for? Bring out the ice box, the mixer and the booze and bring on the party.



  1. My sentiments exactly! I kept thinking that if I drank as much as they did you would find me passed out on the sofa and not trading jokes. But it is so much fun to watch them do it ...

    1. I would not even try. I really do not hold drink very well. Though I would love to join their party.

  2. I sometimes notice how much smoking there is in films from this period (M comes to mind), but this is the only film that I've ever noticed how much drinking there is. Even though I saw this many years ago the scene that has always stuck with me is when Nick and Nora get visitors in the middle of the night. Nick wakes up, gets out of bed, and the very first thing he does is mix himself a drink.

    If you haven't seen it, you may want to watch The Kennel Murder Case (1933) sometime. It was Powell's fifth movie as a different detective - Philo Vance. He gave up playing that character after he started playing Nick Charles. I suggest it only to compare and contrast what it was like to see him on his own vs. seeing him with Myrna Loy in the Thin Man movies.

    By the way, I've watched the film Hoodwinked! three times with three different sets of people and I've been the only one to ever laugh at the Thin Man references in it (a tall, thin frog detective with a pencil moustache and a little white dog.)

    1. It is hilarious, no? With a different sentiment it would be really sad, but here it is with the undertone of: Hey, be happy, no worries, have a drink!
      I have seen very little of Powell, but maybe I should. You can really only consider Loy and Powell as a couple. Somehow I have a feeling they would be less than half on their own.

  3. This is my favorite film of 1934 and one of my top films of the 1930s. I love the dialogue and most of all, I love the chemistry between the two stars.

    I own the entire Thin Man collection. That's not a mistake.

    1. I know, Steve :-)
      I never saw a more avid fan and I have to agree with you. This time round I was much more in tune with the film and it worked perfectly. Maybe I should get that collection too.

  4. This was probably the fifth movie I watched after I had decided to try to see as many movies from "1001 Movies" as I could, and I gotta tell you, it did huge things to my motivation and excitement about this journey. Because this movie knocked my socks off. I had no idea what I had been missing by not seeing this movie earlier in my life. It is SO. MUCH. FUN.

    Loy and Powell are, bar none, my favorite screen couple of all time. Their easy chemistry is so joyous, no other couple even comes close. I love them both so much.

    I have not only The Thin Man DVD collection, but also a second Loy/Powell DVD collection of their other non-Thin Man movies. Yeah, the movies aren't the best, but Loy and Powell elevate anything they are in.

    My husband, who is not at all the cinema-crazy person I am, loves William Powell in The Thin Man. He gladly watches this movie, and I think that says a lot for it.

    1. Okay, I may have to correct myself. If there is a bigger fan of The Thin Man than Steve it must be you.
      I remember reading your review and it was as much fun as watching the movie. It is really like having a party.