A retired detective is roped into a murder investigation and
decides to solve it for the fun of it, with the help of his wife.
The Thin Man (1934)
Directed by W.S. Van Dyke
Written by Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich
Starring William Powell, Myrna Loy, Maureen O'Sullivan,
Porter Hall, Nat Pendleton, Minna Gombell, William Henry,
Cesar Romero, Edward Ellis, Edward Brophy, Natalie Moorhead
Based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Actor (William Powell),
Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay
The Thin Man spawned one of Hollywood's first successful franchises, with the delightful pairing of William Powell and Myrna Loy taking center stage for six films about charming detective Nick Charles and his equally charming wife Nora. I had no idea this was a comedy until I watched it. I expected something more like The Maltese Falcon, but the film ended up being more like Abbott and Costello. Not that I was disappointed. If anything, the comedy really helps make the film more enjoyable, as the murder plot is never all that interesting. If it weren't for the two leads, this film never would've become the beloved classic it is today.
After a scientist disappears and his secretary is found murdered, the police begin the hunt for the missing scientist, but find no trace of him. Elsewhere, former detective Nick Charles is enjoying a nice vacation with his wife Nora, but they both get roped into the case seeing as they're friends of the family. What follows is a one-man investigation that ends at a dinner table surrounded by all the suspects, Hercule Poirot style. Powell and Loy keep this film from being bogged down in a plethora of one-off characters and an inconsistent tone. They're fun to watch and their chemistry is palpable, not to mention the characters are fantastically written.
It's quite feasible that without The Thin Man, the very idea of sequels could never have come into common practice. It's a bit of a slow movie that's made all the more fun and entertaining by the pairing of Powell and Loy. I didn't think I'd enjoy it as much as I did. I may just take a stab at those many sequels. Much like moviegoers of the 30's, I don't think one film was enough for all those one-liners.