Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Thin Man (1934)

 "You know, that sounds like an interesting case. Why don't you take it?" 
" I haven't the time. I'm much too busy seeing that you don't lose any of the money I married you for."

The Thin Man is a mystery film where the mystery is not as fun to watch as the bantering between the two main characters Nick and Nora Charles. The mystery is the plot of course: you want to see where the missing character has disappeared to and who has been killing off the victims. But once you see Nick and Nora together and you hear how they talk to each other they are all you want to see.
            Nick is a former PI is who is asked by a young girl who is a friend to help find her father since he has been missing for many months. Nick says he cannot take the case he has not been a detective for four years. The girl, Dorothy, comes to the Charles’ apartment on Christmas in the middle of a big party to beg for help to find her father and to find whoever killed his girlfriend. Dorothy knows her father did not kill his girlfriend or anyone else like the media is leading readers to believe. She says her father may have been absent minded and a bit crazy but he would never hurt someone.
            Nora convinces Nick to take the case because she wants to see him solve a crime. She sees this as something very exciting but he sees it as the same ol’ same ol’. Nick eventually solves the case at a dinner party with all the suspects. The murderer almost shoots Nick when they are named as the murderer. Nora and Nick hug and she tells him “I’m so glad you’re not a detective.” Nick’s look on his face when Nora says this to him is so funny since she is the one who wanted him to be detective again for her amusement.
            I cracked up from beginning to end with Nick and Nora’s bantering. Some of the things they said to each other or just said were a bit shocking to hear given the time period of the film. For example:
            Nick Charles: I'm a hero. I was shot twice in the Tribune.
            Nora Charles: I read where you were shot 5 times in the tabloids.
            Nick Charles: It's not true. He didn't come anywhere near my tabloids.

            Nick Charles: Hey, would you mind putting that gun away? My wife doesn't care, but I'm a very      timid fellow.
            Nora Charles: You idiot!
            Nick Charles: [to the gunman] Alright, shoot! I mean, uh, what's on your mind?

            The scene where the gunman comes into the couple’s bedroom was one of my favorites. Nick goes to grab for a pillow to distract the gunman and he accidentally knocks poor Nora in the face to the floor!! When the police enter and grab the gunman Nick goes over to Nora and gives her liquor to wake her up (haha).
            William Powell and Myrna Loy were excellent together. You know you are watching a great comedy film when the bantering and wittiness between characters looks flawless like the lines are just coming out naturally off the top of their heads. Both actors handled their lines and each other perfectly. Powell and Loy just worked so well as a comedic couple, they are two of the best film characters I have seen together in a while.  Nora is not the whiney wife who tells Nick to not do anything dangerous, she is encouraging him to take the case and just shakes off most of the things he says to her or gives it right back. I like Nora’s wittiness, Myrna Loy did such a great job… and to think Louis B. Mayer did not want her to do a comedy film. The first scene we see William Powell he’s telling bartenders how to mix drinks to music; right off the bat we know we are in for a good time. The drinking done by Nick and Nora, especially Nick, is hysterical.
            The Thin Man is an excellent classic comedy film. I can see why this film was so popular when it premiered in 1934 in one of the worst years of the Depression, it was just a good time and for an hour and a half people could laugh. The Thin Man is enjoyable and funny from the moment we first see Nick and Nora Charles. The comedy still holds up very well today.

Nora: What hit me
Nick: The fifth martini