Review: The Thin Man (1934)

Great movies don’t get any better than this. William Powell and Myrna Loy, as Nick and Nora Charles, make one of the finest pairings on screen ever! There’s real chemistry between these two, as they toss back cocktails and trade wit with one another, making it look so easy and so natural. They’re having as much fun with each other as the audience has just watching them.

Powell’s suave detective is drunk (or getting there) in nearly every scene. Loy makes a classic pratfall entrance behind a mound of Christmas packages, dragged into a “gin joint” by Asta, their dog and mascot. Able to match her hubby drink for drink, and wit for wit, she encourages Nicky to take the case of a high society murder/missing person, and thrills with every twist and turn in the case. Surrounding them are a hilarious cast of hoodlums, ex-cons, tough-talking cops, and smart-mouthed dames.

The Thin Man, directed by W.S. Van Dyke, is the first of six movies based on the characters created by Dashiell Hammett. Up-and-coming actors Jimmy Stewart, Maureen O’Sullivan, Gloria Grahame, Donna Reed, Cesar Romero, and even a very young Dean Stockwell as Nicky Jr. in the final installment, all claim a Thin Man movie on their resume. But the first one is the best, probably in no small part because the bar is always open. In 1934, high society drunks were amusing and fun. Not so a decade later; by 1947, all but the occasional martini had disappeared from the set, and so frankly had most of the original umph that made the formula fresh and delightful.

The Thin Man is truly the sophisticated crime comedy by which all others are judged. Nick and Nora are the quintessential charismatic couple, firing off comebacks as smart as their wardrobe, always the life of the party. [***** out of 5]

One thought on “Review: The Thin Man (1934)

  1. I saw this on the big screen last summer and LOVED it–made martinis,beautiful clothes and witty, suave men my goal in life.

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