Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Thin Man Goes Home (1945)

Nick Charles: A couple of weeks on this cider and I'll be a new man.
Nora Charles: I sort of like the old one.

            Billed as the first Thin Man movie in two years, The Thin Man Goes Home has Nick and Nora visiting Nick’s parents in his hometown of Sycamore Springs. This film lacks much of what the first four films had but Nick and Nora are still the same and much more.
            Nick and Nora have left Nicky Jr. home since he has started kindergarten. At the train station Asta gets away when he sees a girl dog of his same bread. Nick runs after him but falls backwards when Asta runs off again. He chases after the dog and falls face first to the floor. Animals are not allowed in the coach trains but Nora has a fur coat so they hide Asta under the coat. The dog is found out though when a train worker sees the dog’s tail wagging and the Charleses are forced to go to the baggae care where the animals are stored.

            The train passes an old windmill Nick says he used to hang out in and all the memories he has of going there. When the train pulls to the stop, Nick’s parents are not there to greet them. Nick and Nora arrive at his childhood home and come to see that his mother had no idea they were coming. Nick said he sent a letter to his father telling him that he and Nora were coming to stay. Nick and Dr. Charles have not gotten along in quite a while.
            With Nick in town, the locals suspect that Nick is in Sycamore Springs working on a case. A reporter shows up to the house to speak to Nick but Nora tells the reporter to put the pieces together. When the paper comes out the next day the headline is Nick Charles has come to town to solve a crime and the quote from Nora appears in the article.
            There is no murder until a young man shows up at Mrs. And Dr. Charles’ door to speak to Nick and is shot dead on the porch. There was no sound of a shot anywhere in the neighborhood.
            The case is boring and pretty much deals with what America was dealing with during the War. It involves a man who served in the Pacific Theater, a Japanese rifle, and secrets that were not supposed to get out about a propeller. As Nick talks about why the murder was carried out by the murderer and all the other things that went into the crime there is no clear motive as to why things happened. Some of the case is actually interesting and a bit sad.
            Nora had some great scenes. As always she tries to outsmart Nick and get ahead of him. They met a shady friend of Nick’s on the train named Brogan. He has been suspiciously in the bushes every time something has occurred out the elder Charles’ home. Brogan has been invited in for some birthday cake (it was Nick’s birthday) and Nora really believes he is the killer. After dinner Nora goes upstairs and Nick tells Brogan that Nora is most likely going to tail him and to have fun with her to take for a long walk. Sure enough Nora comes down and says she’s going for a walk to the drug store. As Nora walks away from the house, a man comes out from behind the tree and starts following her. The whole scene is quite funny as Brogan leads Nora and the other man on quite a walk. Brogan leads Nora and the man into a pool hall. He walks into a men’s lounge and she sits at the bar. The man comes up to her and asks her for a painting of the windmill she had bought for Nick for his birthday for $500. Nora comes up with a plan to get the two men arrested; she slaps the man next to her in the face and cries out “He assaulted me” and the whole place breaks out in a fight. She hides in the phone booth and calls the police. Nora realizes the painting is an important part of the case (the man in the store would not sell the painting to Nora at first saying a woman came in all the time buying this particular local artist’s work) and that is why she started the fight. When she tells Nick what she did he asks her “You did this without drinking?” haha.
        Although Myrna Loy had some of her best scenes it seems as if the writers were trying too hard to make Nora Charles into a character she was not: someone who could be shoved aside and a made a fool of. I do not feel Nick was making a fool of Nora when he sent her on a wild goose chase after Brogan but she was just whiny and kind of annoying which is very sad to say about her after the previous four films. She and William Powell barely banter in the film instead she kind of lets him walk all over her. It is as if all Nora Charles could do was praise her husband and his work when she used to rattle him. But hey what can you do, that was society’s influence back in the back in the day.
            You will notice how Nick and Nora do not drink like they used to. Unfortunately this reflected the rationing of alcohol during the war. I think the drinking is what made them so funny… maybe that is part of the reason why the film was so dull? Nick and Nora are best a bit drunk and daring. There is a scene after Nick gets hit on the back of the head he fumbles up the stairs and Nora and Dr. and Mrs. Charles run out to see what has happened. He has a pack of ice on his head and his parents think he has been drinking and Nora is mad that he may have been drinking without her.
            The Thin Man Goes Home is not the strongest Thin Man I have seen so far. Myrna Loy was at her best she had good funny moments throughout the film. What this film does do greatly is show why Nick and Nora Charles/Myrna Loy and William Powell are so good together.