Silver Screen Icons: The Thin Man [4 Discs] [DVD]

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Synopsis

Another Thin Man
Three years after the second Thin Man entry, MGM brought back the property by popular demand with Another Thin Man. As ever, William Powell and Myrna Loy star as sophisticated sleuths Nick and Nora Charles, with the added filip of 8-month-old Nick Charles Jr. At the invitation of munitions manufacturer Colonel MacFay (C. Aubrey Smith), the Charleses spend a weekend at MacFay's Long Island estate. The Colonel is certain that his shady ex-business associate Phil Church (Sheldon Leonard) plans to do him harm, a prognostication that apparently comes true when murder rears its ugly head. Though he's promised to cut down on his drinking (after all, he's a daddy now), Nick spends an inordinate amount of time sorting out the clues and identifying the actual murderer-who, of course, is the least likely suspect (and in fact is played by an actor who seldom if ever harmed a fly in any other film). Adding to the merry mayhem is the Charleses' efforts to find a good baby-sitter, resulting in an onslaught of "help"-and additional babies!--courtesy of Nick's old Underworld cronies. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Thin Man
Filmed on what MGM considered a B-picture budget and schedule (14 days, which at Universal or Columbia would have been considered extravagant), The Thin Man proved to be "sleeper," spawning a popular film, radio, and television series. Contrary to popular belief, the title does not refer to star William Powell, but to Edward Ellis, playing the mean-spirited inventor who sets the plot in motion. The recently divorced Clyde Wynant (Ellis) discovers that his new girlfriend, Julia Wolf (Natalie Moorhead), has stolen 50,000 dollars and is carrying on with other men. Not long afterward, he disappears. Anxious to locate her father, Wynant' daughter, Dorothy (Maureen O'Sullivan), goes to private detective Nick Charles (William Powell) for help. Having just married the lovely and wealthy Nora (Myrna Loy), Nick has no desire to return to sleuthing, but the thrill-seeking Nora eagerly talks him into taking Dorothy's case. Shortly thereafter, Wynant's lady friend is murdered; so far as police detective John Guild (Nat Pendleton) is concerned, the still-missing Wynant is the guilty party. Nick is unsatisfied with this deduction, and with the help of his wire fox terrier, Asta, he manages to uncover several vital clues -- including a decomposed corpse. At a fancy dinner party, between cocktails and the first course, Nick solves the mystery and exposes a hidden murderer. The story itself, lifted almost verbatim by scenarists Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich from the Dashiell Hammett novel on which The Thin Man is based, hardly matters. The film's strong suit is the witty repartee between Nick and Nora Charles, who manage to behave like saucily illicit lovers throughout the film even though they're married. The chemistry between William Powell and Myrna Loy would be adroitly exploited by MGM in several subsequent films, including five additional Thin Man mysteries produced between 1936 and 1948. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Shadow of the Thin Man
This fourth entry in MGM's Thin Man series could just as well have been titled "Nick and Nora Charles Go to the Races". Officially retired from sleuthing, Nick Charles (William Powell) does his best to be a dutiful husband to his lovely wife Nora (Myrna Loy) and a good father to his young son Nick Jr. (Dickie Hall). But when murder rears its ugly head at the local race track, Nick is called in by Major Jason I. Sculley (Henry O'Neill), head of the New York athletic commission, to help solve the case. As usual, there is no shortage of suspects: This time the "rogue's gallery" includes high-rolling gamblers Link Stevens (Loring Smith) and Fred Macy (Joseph Anthony); Link's hoity-toity girlfriend Claire Porter (played by legendary acting teacher Stella Adler); two-bit tout "Rainbow" Benny Loomis (Lou Lubin); reporters Whitey Barrow (Paul Kelly) and Paul Clarke (Barry Nelson); and Clarke's sweetheart Molly Ford (Donna Reed). Highlights include a zany episode on a department-store merry-go-round, an outsized brawl at a fancy sea-food restaurant, and the inevitable gathering together of suspects in the offices of police lieutenant Abrams (Sam Levene). The flippant nature of Shadow of the Thin Man can be attributed to screenwriters Irving Brecher and Harry Kurnitz, both longtime friends and associates of comedian Groucho Marx. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

After the Thin Man
This second of MGM's Thin Man films reteams William Powell and Myrna Loy as, respectively, bibulous private detective Nick Charles and his socialite wife Nora. The Charleses are sucked into another murder case via Nick's lovely cousin Elissa Landi, whose husband Alan Marshall has vanished. Hubby has been conducting an affair with nightclub thrush Dorothy McNulty (later known as Penny Singleton) and is also blackmailing gangsterish Joseph Calleia. When the corpses begin piling up, Nick and Nora try to piece the clues together, with the earnest assistance of Jimmy Stewart, who carries a torch for Landi. You won't believe who turns out to be the murderer in this one--then again, given the plot's strict adherence to "least likely suspect" formula, you probably will. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • William Powell
    William Powell - Nick Charles
  • Myrna Loy
    Myrna Loy - Nora Charles
  • C. Aubrey Smith
    C. Aubrey Smith - Col. Burr MacFay
  • Virginia Grey
    Virginia Grey - Lois MacFay
  • Otto Kruger
    Otto Kruger - Assistant DA Van Slack

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