The Thin Man

A laugh tops every thrilling moment!

Comedy Crime Mystery
91 min     7.531     1934     USA


A husband and wife detective team takes on the search for a missing inventor and almost get killed for their efforts.


John Chard wrote:
Waiter, will you serve the nuts? ...I mean, will you serve the guests the nuts? The Thin Man is directed by W. S. Van Dyke and co-written by Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich. It is based on the Dashiell Hammett novel of the same name. Starring are William Powell and Myrna Loy, with support coming from Maureen O'Sullivan, Nat Pendleton, Minna Gombell, Porter Hall and Skippy as Astra the dog. William Axt scores the music and James Wong Howe is the cinematographer. Plot finds Powell and Loy as married couple, Nick and Nora Charles, he is a retired detective, she a good time heiress. Planning to finally settle down, their life is upturned when Nick is called back into detective work due to a friend's disappearance and the possibility he was also involved in a murder. Murder, malarkey and mirth are about to become the order of the day. It was the big surprise hit of 1934. Afforded only a tiny budget because studio head honcho Louis B. Mayer thought it was dud material, and he ordered for it to be completed in under three weeks time! Film made stars out of Powell and Loy and coined an impressive $2 million at the box office. Also birthing a franchise (5 film sequels and a radio and television series would follow), it's a film that has irresistible charm leaping out from every frame. It's easy to see even now why a mid 1930's audience could take so warmly to such an appealing motion picture. From the off the film was in good hands, Dyke (One-Take Woody as he was sometimes known) was an unfussy director with a keen eye for pacing and casting, both of which are things that shine through in this production. There's also considerable talent in the writing, both in the source material and with the script writers. Hammett based his witty bantering couple on himself and his relationship with playwright Lillian Hellman, this was ideal material for Hackett and Goodrich, themselves a happily married couple fondly thought of in the cut and thrust world of Hollywood. As a couple they would go on to write It's a Wonderful Life for Frank Capra and win the Pulitzer Prize for their play The Diary of Anne Frank. It stands out as a film of note because it successfully marries a murder mystery story with a screwball comedy spin, this was something new and exciting. While the believable relationship between Powell and Loy was also a breath of fresh air - a married couple deeply in love, devoted, funny, boozey and bouncing off of each other with witty repartee. It can never be overstated just how good Powell and Loy are here, true enough they are given an absolutely zinging script to work from, but the level of comedy, both in visual ticks and delivery of lines, is extraordinarily high. Small budget and a small shoot, but everything else about The Thin Man is big. Big laughs, big mystery and big love, all bundled up into a joyous bit of classic cinema. 9/10