The Thin Man [DVD] [1934]

Woody S. Van Dyke's The Thin Man (1934) comes to DVD in fine style -- a gleaming new transfer off of a beautiful (if not perfect) source in very good sound, and with decent if not too ambitious bonus selections. The movie was out on laserdisc at least twice, but neither of those editions look as good as this new transfer, the night images of which (of which there are many, this being a mystery) glisten like silver sprayed on a velvety black background, while the fully lit shots reveal the texture of the fabric in the men's suits and the woman's gowns. There are small flaws in the source at various points, the last reel has some rips that have been repaired, and some of the focus isn't ideal -- and a flock of vertical scratches appear in the image at 71 minutes in, during a night scene, but generally this is about as good a presentation as the movie has received since the last time it was projected on a cinema palace-size screen, about 70 years ago. Someone spent a little time producing this disc, too, because there are 28 chapters in the 91 minute film, which is the way movies of this type and vintage should be treated. The disc opens up on the menu, which is structured very simply and offers a selection of the trailers from this and the subsequent five "Thin Man" movies, through 1947's Song Of The Thin Man (the trailer of which runs close to three minutes), all of which look to be in excellent condition and whet the appetite for the release of those movies.
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Special Features

  • Thin Man trailer gallery
  • Languages: English & Français
  • Subtitles: English, Français, Español & Português (Feature Film Only)
  • Closed Captioned


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

Cast & Crew

  • William Powell
    William Powell - Nick Charles
  • Myrna Loy
    Myrna Loy - Nora Charles
  • Maureen O'Sullivan
    Maureen O'Sullivan - Dorothy Wynant
  • Nat Pendleton
    Nat Pendleton - Lt. John Guild
  • Minna Gombell
    Minna Gombell - Mimi Wynant

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