The Thin Man

by Tom Ingram

Genre Mystery
People William Powell; Myrna Loy; Maureen O’Sullivan; Nat Pendleton; Cesar Romero; Dashiell Hammett w.
/10 8

A retired detective and his wealthy socialite wife get dragged into a murder case and solve it together while drinking vast amounts of liquor. Based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett.

The Thin Man seems bizarrely out of place in 1930s Hollywood. Nick and Nora Charles have fun solving crimes, which surely wasn’t allowed during the grimmest years of the Hays Code. The not-at-all veiled implication of the epilogue scene must have gotten someone fired. This can’t be.

But it is. If there’s one reason to watch this movie, it’s to prove that our ancestors actually did have a sense of humour. The murder seems almost incidental to the character comedy during the first half. In the second half the opposite is true, to the movie’s detriment. As a mystery, the sad fact is that The Thin Man is lacking in several respects—and, of course, the inconvenient woman is put on the shelf partway through. As a comedy, it’s fun but becomes steadily less so in the final half hour. On balance, I’d recommend you give it a watch. If it gets under your skin, at least it’s short.

1h33m; 1934; B/W; Oscar nods for Best Picture, Director, Actor (Powell), Adapted Screenplay.