Quint on THE THIN MAN (1934)
Waiter, will you serve the nuts? I mean, will you serve the guests the nuts?
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with the first of a special run of reviews focusing on THE THIN MAN films from the ‘30s and ‘40s as a lead-up to the kick off of my new column: A Movie A Week.
THE THIN MAN series, following socialite detectives Nick and Nora Charles (and their dog Asta) as they booze up, verbally abuse each other and solve whodunits, seems to have been circling me for a long time.
I grew up loving Neil Simon’s MURDER BY DEATH, watching it over and over in my teenage years. I even bought a 35mm print of the movie I love it so much.
MURDER BY DEATH is a spoof of Detective movies and murder mystery books. You have Peter Sellers as the Charlie Chan-ish Sidney Wang, James Coco as the Hercule Poirot-ish Milo Perrier, Elsa Lanchester as the Ms. Marple-ish Mrs. Marbles, Peter Falk as the Sam Spade-ish Sam Diamond and, finally, David Niven and Maggie Smith as the Nick and Nora Charles-ish Dick and Dora Charleston.
I always thought Niven and Smith were funny together and now having seen the first THIN MAN film, I see the innuendo with the characters in MURDER BY DEATH was a true homage and not put in for comedy’s sake. “Oh, that’s tacky. That’s reaaaallly tacky.”
And as a special bit of trivia, apparently the makers of MURDER BY DEATH actually approached the then 72 year old Myrna Loy to play Dora Charleston, based on her Nora Charles. She refused saying it’d be ridiculous for Myrna Loy to play Myrna Loy… and also that she didn’t want her “ass pinched by David Niven.”
Have I gotten to how much I love Myrna Loy yet?
Not only was she strikingly beautiful in her prime, but I swoon for her sense of humor and that cute smirk she does. Loy somehow is able to be bitingly sarcastic without coming off as bitchy. There’s an innocence to her that makes me fall for her unconditionally.
I first noticed this when, during my AMAD run, I saw 1936’s LIBELED LADY (click here to read my review) where she is again paired with William Powell. LIBELED LADY is also what turned me on to the wicked chemistry Powell and Loy have.
If any of you are thinking of doing a Thin Man marathon I can’t suggest strongly enough Netflixing or buying LIBELED LADY to add to the marathon. It almost feels like an unofficial THIN MAN movie. And if you’re going that far, grab up MURDER BY DEATH to cap it off. That’d be a helluva run.
Anyway, THE THIN MAN doesn’t refer to Nick and Nora at all. Much like THE PINK PANTHER the title refers to the MacGuffin of the film. In THE PINK PANTHER, it was a diamond that was stolen. In THE THIN MAN, the title character is Clyde Wynant (played by Edward Ellis) a lanky, wealthy scientist who disappears.
We begin the film with him, actually. We don’t meet Nick and Nora until a good 10-12 minutes into the movie, but his introduction is perfect. Nick Charles is first seen, back to us, at a busy bar teaching the bartender how to properly make various forms of drinks, what kind of shaking to do for a Manhattan vs. a dry martini, etc. This is a ritzy joint and Loy comes running in, arms loaded with Christmas presents and their dog, Asta, tugging at his leash.
The maitre d’ runs up, asking her to leave and Powell says to him that it’s okay. It’s his dog… oh, and his wife. The maitre d’ nods and walks away as Loy says, ‘Well, you might have mentioned me first on the billing…’
And so begins the amazing back and forth that this series is famous for. I don’t know who to give the credit to… it’s either the screenwriters Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich or the original author, Dashiell Hammett. Everybody deserves some credit, especially Loy and Powell for throwing their chemistry behind the words to actually make ‘em work.
I’d be lying if I said this film hasn’t aged and plays just the same today as it did when it was released, but to me that’s the charm of the movie. Post-prohibition, everybody getting drunker than they should because they can and the black and white photography is so rich and beautiful.
While you can feel the era, it’s not a stiff movie. You know a lot of film from this era, even great films, still have that theatrical quality, where it feels like you’re watching a play, not a movie. Not this one. Loy and Powell’s chemistry and performance is not only lively, but surpasses even modern day romances. I can’t tell you if I’ve seen this kind of repartee handled better as the art of filmmaking has progressed. There’s a lovely sense of lightning in a bottle with this picture.
What helps is that Nick and Nora are surrounded by great characters. William Henry’s Gil is my favorite. He’s the bookworm brother of Maureen O’Sullivan’s character and son of The Thin Man. He’s obsessed with the macabre, but only from the clinical, literary point of view.
The best scene to highlight a lot of these crazy characters is an awesome drunken Christmas party filled with a giant baby of a man bawling about his mother, suspects popping in and out, the press demanding to know if Nick is on the case… he keeps denying it while every other second another person involved comes through the door. It’s a great juggling act of a scene. There are 4 or 5 stories being told and Nick and Nora jump from one to another with a trapeze artists’ ease. Somehow the viewer sails right along with them, not getting confused.
The scene ends with a kiss as Nora proclaims sarcastically, “Oh, Nicky. I love you because you know such lovely people.”
The flick ends with a dinner party where Nick assembles all the suspects to find out who the killer is. His front is that he knows who done it, but he really doesn’t know and is just trying to use that confident image to force the killer to do show himself.
But honestly the murder mystery aspect of the movie isn’t the most interesting thing. The real focus is on Nick and Nora as personalities and there’s enough going on with them to propel this movie into classic status.
Final Thoughts: THE THIN MAN is just as great, funny and envelope pushing as I heard it would be. Myrna Loy has gone from a crush to full on ready-to-build-a-time-machine-so-I-can-propose. The innuendo (I swear to God Powell refers to his nuts, calling them “tabloids”, in the movie) is so sublime, but the love between the two feels authentic and natural. All the jabs and put-downs back and forth are their version of pillow talk and don’t come off as mean-spirited at all. It’s a great love story and one I can’t wait to follow for another 5 films!
Tuesday, April 21st: AFTER THE THIN MAN (1936)
Wednesday, April 22nd: ANOTHER THIN MAN (1939)
Thursday, April 23rd: SHADOW OF THE THIN MAN (1941)
Friday, April 24th: THE THIN MAN GOES HOME (1944)
Saturday, April 25th: SONG OF THE THIN MAN (1947)
See you folks tomorrow for the next outing for Nick and Nora Charles: AFTER THE THIN MAN!
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April 20, 2009, 7:12 p.m. CST
... to all the articles. This one was a great start. Thanks, Quint.
April 20, 2009, 7:18 p.m. CST
Ok, maybe a little dated
1) I can't believe you've never seen 'The Thin Man' (the best Christmas movie ever). 2) Read the book.
April 20, 2009, 7:19 p.m. CST
April 20, 2009, 7:20 p.m. CST
The bridge mix! The bridge mix, fool!
April 20, 2009, 7:21 p.m. CST
by The Bicycle Sharer
Great choice, Quint. Although the book is quite different from the movie, they're both awesome. Fucking love Asta and, swear to God, Myrna Loy as Nora is too damned cute and just about the perfect chick (personality-wise).
April 20, 2009, 7:22 p.m. CST
These movies are great and I I've always love them. Because of that, I actually happen to be one of the people who were unfortunate enough to see one of the only 9 performances of "Nick & Nora" the Broadway musical and let me tell you... those movies are great.
April 20, 2009, 7:24 p.m. CST
by The Bicycle Sharer
Is due to the screenwriters (Hammett's book has little to none of this) as well as the incredible chemistry between Loy and Powell. I seem to remember reading somewhere that the banter was created especially for them.
April 20, 2009, 7:28 p.m. CST
And now we have the box set!<p> Anytime there isn't anything good on TV, we pop in one of the films and cycle through them in order. By the end of the series, Dean Stockwell plays Nicky Jr.<p> I can't reccomend these films enough--and don't be surprised if you want an Asta of your own after you see them!
April 20, 2009, 7:40 p.m. CST
This was the only thing my first wife gave me that I didn't regret or needed a shot for.
April 20, 2009, 7:42 p.m. CST
1) Best Thin Man gag, when Nora ask Nick if that is her drink on the table and he downs it in one gulp and replies "Yes." <p> 2) As much as I love the original Thin Man series, I think that it is actually ripe for a remake. Hammett's story, while fine and light compared to his other stuff, is much less funny or slapstick as the series is. In his book there is a little more darkness and hardboiled nature in Nick, and Nora has just a little more depth of character as she begins to realize what type of characters her husband use to run around with. I don't think you could ever recapture the chemistry and fun of the original series or movie, but I do think you could mine new material from the original novel.
April 20, 2009, 7:53 p.m. CST
you have to find 'Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream Home', 'The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer' and 'The Best Years of Our Lives'. All very famous, all very good. 'Blandngs' being my favourite... but then I love Cary Grant so....
April 20, 2009, 7:55 p.m. CST
My favorite scene takes place first thing Christmas morning and Nick trying out his target gun on the couch while the ridiculously cute Myrna Loy smirks at him. There's a hilariously bad "tabloids" joke, some funny dialogue and this bit of business by Dick Powell that kills me every time I see it. Never fails to make me laugh. Great movie.
April 20, 2009, 7:58 p.m. CST
Have you ever had a chance to see 'Star of Midnight' w/ Powell and Ginger Rogers? Your basic knock-off flick(of this-) but worth seeing, too. You'll prob. enjoy it.
April 20, 2009, 7:58 p.m. CST
I hate Dick Powell, for some reason. William Powell was the man. Doc from "Mr. Roberts was his last role. And he and Myrna Loy were great friends throughout life.
April 20, 2009, 8:01 p.m. CST
by Larry of Arabia
it doesn't get tired like other series do. Naturally there is a little wear around the edges (especially in the antipenultimate film), but amazingly they manage to hold it together and get off at just the right time.
April 20, 2009, 8:04 p.m. CST
by dark malice
RIght with you on the crush Quint. I love how she describes the colors she wants in Mr Blandings Builds his Dreamhouse
April 20, 2009, 8:07 p.m. CST
Love this movie, love reading these articles.
April 20, 2009, 8:24 p.m. CST
Quint, I envy you your new discovery. The "Thin Man" movies are old favorites of mine, I watch whenever I see one on cable. They are a throwback to the days when movies had real writers and didn't depend on FX to tell the story. Pour yourself a martini and enjoy!
April 20, 2009, 8:33 p.m. CST
Can fatten up my Thin Man any day.
April 20, 2009, 8:50 p.m. CST
by Nora Charles
I guess my username says it all. I've loved these movies since childhood. My first dog was named Asta and my most recent were Nick and Nora. Powell and Loy seemed to me to be the perfect couple...I only wish that my husband and I had half their panache (maybe we just need to drink more).
April 20, 2009, 8:55 p.m. CST
Here's a rather long, but good article on the making of the entire series- http://tinyurl.com/cubb8l
April 20, 2009, 8:57 p.m. CST
I thought Clue was a crude knock off of that film..though I enjoyed both very much..I must have seen Murder By Death about 100 times..
April 20, 2009, 9 p.m. CST
Nora Charles: How many drinks have you had? Nick Charles: This will make six Martinis. Nora Charles: [to the waiter] All right. Will you bring me five more Martinis, Leo? Line them right up here.
April 20, 2009, 9:15 p.m. CST
If haven't seen it see it now! Also for Myrna Loy lovers...see the Awful Truth with Cary Grant! Great period comedy.
April 20, 2009, 9:16 p.m. CST
by Mockingbird Girl
It's astonishing that someone who supposedly loves movies is only now "discovering" this.
April 20, 2009, 9:17 p.m. CST
April 20, 2009, 9:27 p.m. CST
by evil dead 3d
and now you can fill in this very important crossword puzzle answer..
April 20, 2009, 9:51 p.m. CST
April 20, 2009, 11:02 p.m. CST
line in the title of the article, but I guess it might have come off kinda oblique to anyone who hasn't watched this movie.<p> By the way, that "the mystery's not as important as the chemistry" thing applies to the whole series of movies. You might find you'll run out of ways of describing how well Powell and Loy go together come the third movie or so. So I'd personally recommend combining two titles at a time, but watch After the Thin Man and see for yourself.<p> And am I the only one who thinks Song of the Thin Man is underrated? Perhaps the jive talk gets on people's nerves and they give it short thrift. But come on, it's got one of the Top 5 Hottest Golden Age Actresses in the form of a very young Gloria Grahame. And she's playing a sultry lounge singer to boot! Man these A Movie A Da--- Weeks get me doing Google Image searches every time.
April 20, 2009, 11:11 p.m. CST
by I. Ratzkywatzky
If you're a fan of THE THIN MAN and its sequels, check out my site, Booze Movies: The 100 Proof Film Guide (boozemovies.blogspot.com), which covers reviews, news, and features from the world of soused cinema. In addition to Nick & Nora, you'll find W.C. Fields, Arthur Bach, John "Bluto" Blutarsky, Henry Chinaski, Wong Fei-Hung, Willie Soke, Withnail, Dumbo, and many cinematic souses that you've never heard of. Stop by for a movie and a drink if you get the chance. Cheers, garv
April 20, 2009, 11:22 p.m. CST
I'm going there tomorrow and picking this up.
April 20, 2009, 11:32 p.m. CST
I watched all these over and over as a kid and could never get enough of the humor or Myrna Loy.
April 20, 2009, 11:33 p.m. CST
You know, I had trouble finding the right line for the headline... I have a limited number of characters I can use, for one, and secondly the best lines in the movie are back and forths that you can't just take a piece from, the tabloids line being one of them. It's funny because of the three or four lines back and forth before it.
April 21, 2009, midnight CST
by Big Dumb Ape
Years ago, back when I lived on the East coast and worked in NYC, I started dating this girl that I met at an inter-company softball game in Central Park. To say she was jaw-dropping gorgeous would be an understatement. To this day, I still can't believe she struck up a conversation with me and the great times it led to. Ah, such sweet memories! ANYWAY, we started dating and she lived on the upper East side. She was originally from the midwest and moved to NYC to pursue acting.<p>Now me, I've been a giant fan of the THIN MAN movies forever. I LOVE these films like no tomorrow. Most geeks want to be Superman or Captain Kirk or whatever, but I'd kill to be Nick Charles and have that much fun, that kind of wit, have a cool dog like Asta, and be married to a fun, lively, sexy, kick-ass girl like Nora (who was loaded with money too) as portrayed by the amazing and beautiful Myrna Loy.<P>Well, one day I'm over at my girlfriend's for dinner...we have a great time...and we talked about her acting aspirations and how things just weren't going her way. As a result, she was debating leaving NY and moving to CA instead (which is what ultimately happened and caused us to break up). However, that night as she walked me to the elevator in her building, she just happened to mention... in about as casual and off-handed a way as you could... that she was thinking about asking "the old lady who lives upstairs" if she could give her some acting tips, or maybe some advice about what she should do career-wise.<P>I raised a curious Spock-like eyebrow and said "You have a neighbor who is an actress? What's her name?" At which point my jaw dropped as my ex simply said "Her name is Myrna Loy. You ever heard of her? I don't know much about her, but the other people in the building tell me she once did some movies or something. Do you think she'd be worth talking to for some acting advice?"
April 21, 2009, 12:02 a.m. CST
by Big Dumb Ape
I don’t know who to give the credit to… it’s either the screenwriters Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich or the original author, Dashiell Hammett.
April 21, 2009, 12:09 a.m. CST
by Big Dumb Ape
Damn it! Harry, after all these years, why can't this site FINALLY ADD AN EDIT FEATURE FOR WHEN WE HIT THE WRONG KEY? Grrr!<P>Quint, you said: "I don’t know who to give the credit to...it’s either the screenwriters Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich or the original author, Dashiell Hammett." Well, if you liked the movie so much (and I'm sure you'll like the other films too), then you should definitely take the time to read Hammett's original story. I'm sure you'll enjoy it as well...it's actually a fast read...in particular because you'll be amazed how much of the screenplay's dialogue was taken literally right from the book.
April 21, 2009, 12:16 a.m. CST
by Big Dumb Ape
I don't know about other regional stores, but the last time I checked my local Costco, they were selling THE THIN MAN set for only $19.99.<P> That's a measly 20 bucks for one of the best DVD sets you could ever own. And their steaks and chop meat are still cheap, too! Thank God for Costco!
April 21, 2009, 1:04 a.m. CST
by Don Lockwood
How are the transfers? I love these movies and have thought about picking up the set time and again, but have been concerned that they're not going to be very high quality.
April 21, 2009, 1:13 a.m. CST
At least you still kept the "nut" theme in the headline.
April 21, 2009, 1:26 a.m. CST
These were some of the best written scripts of the 30's & 40's.Snappy patter,wise cracks,double entendres & all. Plush I always loved that Nick was ALWAYS drunk. No pair of the period had the chemestry of Powell & Loy. A must see series for any writers or film buff. This is how to talk like real people
April 21, 2009, 1:50 a.m. CST
by Big Dumb Ape
From DVD Verdict: "Warner has given each of the six films in this set an excellent transfer; although there hasn't been any extensive restoration of the prints, they all look nicely cleaned up, with a luminous clarity beneath the noticeable but not distracting age-related wear. The years have been hardest on the first film, which shows the most damage, and there's a fair bit of speckling and fading on the others, but when they look good, they look very good. Sound, presented in Dolby Digital mono on all of the discs (the first three offer French audio tracks in addition to English), is uniformly clean, not bad at all for their age."<p>Other DVD review sites (which you can check online) basically seem to average the transfers out to a grade of B (or so). I'd agree with this review. Given the age of the films, and given that Warners has yet to ever tackle a full-on, top to bottom restoration effort for these films (which is certainly long overdue), overall this box set and these prints are as good as it's gonna get right now. Yes, there are some signs of age and speckling here or there, but for the most part the prints are more than acceptable and in some cases look very, very good (as the review noted). So if you haven't picked up this set yet...and if you can even get to a Costco, which as I mentioned above sells this thing for only 20 bucks or so...it's more than worth picking up. I grabbed a set on the run for a friend's birthday at my local Best Buy a few months ago for only 25 bucks as well.
April 21, 2009, 1:58 a.m. CST
by Big Dumb Ape
Uncaandy: "These were some of the best written scripts of the 30's & 40's. Snappy patter, wise cracks, double entendres & all. A must see series for any writers or film buff. This is how to talk like real people."<p>Perhaps we could tie Diablo Cody to a chair and make HER watch all of these movies, to spare future generations from more of her abysmal dialogue hackery. Then again, forced to watch GOOD screenwriting and made to hear witty and clever banter that's ACTUALLY witty and clever, it's possible that Diablo Cody's head might explode SCANNERS-like!
April 21, 2009, 3:17 a.m. CST
...but I don't think he should take too much credit for the film. The tone in particular is very different from the book (as has been noted above). But if you haven't read them yet, I strongly recommend The Thin Man, The Maltese Falcon, The Glass Key and Red Harvest.
April 21, 2009, 4:24 a.m. CST
From all I've heard- Dashiell Hammett based them on him and his long time lover: Lillian Hellman. However, people who knew Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich-say they had shared characteristics of the movie versions
April 21, 2009, 4:55 a.m. CST
April 21, 2009, 6:24 a.m. CST
by Carl's hat
Powell had a brush with death back in the 30s!, but then went on to live 'til the ripe old age of 91. Loy-88. Great flicks, and the dvds look fantastic. Buy the set, open some champagne and watch the sets as they were released, with a cartoon and a short feature (on the dvds) before you hit Nick and Nora. These kind of movies are the reason people like me say they don't make 'em like this anymore.
April 21, 2009, 7:51 a.m. CST
Soo so so soo glad you are back with a format like this. The Thin Man series is about as good as it gets in many ways. There is a little "HIs Girl Friday" vibe, but really only a little. Unique and wonderful. I watched all of these movies when I was pretty young by just catching them on weekend classic shows. I loved them then and love them now.
April 21, 2009, 8:27 a.m. CST
by Kentucky Colonel
My first exposure to the Thin Man brand was via the old Looney Tunes cartoons, you know, where they had the characters from book covers come to life and walk around. Always wondered whom the hell THE THIN MAN was, since I recognized so many other characters in that cartoon. FF many, many years and the introduction of Turner classic Movies. I finally got to see them all thanks to my friend Wynn and his digital cable subscription! Since then I have seen three of them on the Big Screen (Thank you AFI!) and knowing that Costco has the box set for $20 I think I'll go join up with them....our BJ's membership expired last month and it was time for us to re-up anyway. Plus they just built a new Costco right up rte. 301 about 5 miles from me. Great to see the old classics getting introduced to the Young uns! Now get off my lawn you whippersnapper!
April 21, 2009, 9:51 a.m. CST
I've loved these movies for years - and I vote for Robert Downey Jr for inevitable re-make .... Just not sure about Nora , Gweneth Paltrow ?
April 21, 2009, 9:55 a.m. CST
Hammett's characters talk like in the Maltese Falcon, dead serious, like every line is life-or-death. The Thin Man the movie introduced comedy and made it look good. Try his books! They're pretty good!
April 21, 2009, 9:56 a.m. CST
He did a couple- the aforementioned "Star Of Midnight" w/Ginger Rogers and "The Ex-Mrs. Bradford" with Jean Arthur, both as a loan for RKO and both are pretty good. He was also suave detective Philo Vance in a couple of silents "The Canary Murder Case" and "The Greene Murder Case", then after sound "The Kennel Murder Case" (which many consider the best of the series) all for Paramount. There is a special feature on "The Thin Man" set of the original "Thin Man" trailer that has Powell as Vance talking to Powell as Charles, because the Vance character is who audiences would associate him with at that time. Kind of like Bogart's trailer for "The Big Sleep" where they mention his association with "The Maltese Falcon". Quint, the first two "Thin Man"'s are the best IMHO. If they do a Powell stand alone box set, I hope they include the two RKO knock offs because they are pretty good.
April 21, 2009, 10 a.m. CST
I used to write a blog about casting fictitious remakes of classic films. Here's the url for "The Thin Man"- http://castaremake.blogspot.com/2008/02/thin-man.html Leave a comment and lemme know what you think, if you've got the time TB'ers.
April 21, 2009, 10:07 a.m. CST
BigDumbApe - So, did you ever get to meet her? If it were me I'd probably be that asshole to turn around and run up to her door and wake Myrna Loy up!<BR><BR>Costco is indeed great for DVD box sets. Just dropped a hundred bucks there yesterday as a matter of fact... picked up the Robert Mitchum Signature box set, Astaire & Rogers v.2 and Warner Western Classics for $24.99ea and the Bob Hope MGM movie legends box for $16.99... Costco is where I picked up the Thin Man set, I think for around $24.99 but this was last fall.
April 21, 2009, 10:10 a.m. CST
There was a really good book about the Hacketts that came out a few years back, written by their nephew. Covers everything from their THIN MAN work through to DAIRY OF ANNE FRANK and more. Worth tracking down.
April 21, 2009, 10:40 a.m. CST
by Ninja Nerd
Dude, I discovered the Thin Man movies about 40 years ago. My time machine is almost complete....BU-HA-HA! I'll be proposing to Myrna Loy before you can! Seriously, you are dead-on about the movie and the incredible Powell/Loy chemistry. Wait until you see the rest...it only gets better.
April 21, 2009, 11:02 a.m. CST
I love these films. And you're in for a treat; I think the next one is the best of the bunch. Also, Murder by Death doesn't get enough props. Great, funny film.
April 21, 2009, 11:54 a.m. CST
Nice to see I'm not the only one with time machine fantasies about Myrna Loy... Excepting, of course, that I am closer to finishing my time machine than Ninja Nerd is. I just need a passanger door for a DeLorean...
April 21, 2009, 12:37 p.m. CST
the fat man? also by hammett...also brilliant....played by william conrad
April 21, 2009, 1:35 p.m. CST
I actually caught them all on TCM. I bought the box set as well.
April 21, 2009, 1:40 p.m. CST
Is it just me, or does Seth's old-timey voice sound a lot like William Powell? I mean, it is kind of general, but when he does the fast-paced delivery, I always think of Powell delivering the line.
April 21, 2009, 1:53 p.m. CST
Just picked up the Literary classics box set for $25 - Prisoner of Zenda, Madame Bovary, Capt. Horatio Hornblower, The Three Musketeers etc.
April 21, 2009, 2:07 p.m. CST
And glad you are back.<p>On TCM they do those vignettes were actors comment on other actors. Julianne Moore does the one on Myrna Loy. She points out that Myrna was naturally gifted in what is now called “Method Acting.” She notes Myrna’s line delivery had natural pauses, the way people actually speak. Not the too fast and staged style of the pre-War Era.<p>And God, was Myrna too cute.-----later-----m
April 21, 2009, 3:13 p.m. CST
Nick: What are you drinking? MacCaulay: Nothing, thanks. Nick: That's a mistake *** soooo re-usable in conversation! ***
April 21, 2009, 3:54 p.m. CST
AMC and other cable stations have, apparently, declined to broadcast the movie. Probably the ethnic jokes. AMC abruptly cancelled a Charlie Chan festival because an executive's Asian wife insisted the character was objectionaable. Say what? Yes, Chan was portrayed by Caucasian actors but there was nothing demeaning or corruptive about his character (Chan solved the mystery--"You are murderer"--while the white cops sheepishly acknowledged his aptitude with "Thanks for your assistance, Mr. Chan." Assistance? Never mind that Charlie almost single-handedly closed the case). MURDER BY DEATH parodies Chan's fraternity with his #1 son (quite cynically, probably influenced by Sidney Toler's Chan) and his pigeon-speak dialect (in lieu of an unprecedented education). True, Peter Falk's "Sam Spade" drops a few bombs ("Slanty-eyed") but it's in character for Falk's uneducated, crude, loudmothed sleuth. And Peter Sellers, cast in the Chan homage, is hilarious. I experience no guilt screening this film (which proved so profitable, it was twice reissued; remember, the film was released before the advent of the VCR). And THE THIN MAN is a hoot! Wonderful ensemble of character actors (check-out Walter Long, Laurel and Hardy's frequent nemesis, in the opening scene ["Hey, Studsy!"]).
April 21, 2009, 4:03 p.m. CST
Truthfully, the most amazing thing about that film is to go back and see that Maggie Smith was once actually attractive...
April 21, 2009, 5:08 p.m. CST
Well more or less, looks wise seems to me. This is a really fun movie.
April 21, 2009, 5:46 p.m. CST
by Mr Lucas
with 'Murder By Death' on a recent viewing. A shame - I remembered thinking it was hilarious as a kid. Alec Guinness is great in it, natch. I rather think the character interplay in the 'Moonlighting' TV series was lifted straight from the Thin Man movies.
April 21, 2009, 7:17 p.m. CST
by Big Dumb Ape
I didn't get to meet Myrna Loy, though I obviously wish I had. In fact, the reason my GF (at the time) didn't end up talking to Loy was purely out of respect. At the time, Loy apparently preferred complete and total privacy and the few in the building who did get to know her a bit (and even for them it was only in passing) then passed that info on to everyone else. Basically, Loy let it be known that she didn't want anyone bothering her or even knocking on her door. She had turned into quite the total recluse at that point. So out of respect for her wishes for privacy, which I think we should all respect towards each other when someone wants to be left alone like that, I never did take the elevator ride up to her apartment to knock on the door. All the same, I'll never forget the irony of being SUCH a giant THIN MAN fan all my life and then my GF just dropping that news on me so casually that one night.
April 21, 2009, 7:19 p.m. CST
by Big Dumb Ape
Pita, you said: "I vote for Robert Downey Jr for inevitable re-make. Just not sure about Nora, Gweneth Paltrow?"<P>NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!<p>Puh-leeze! For Nora we need an actress with at least SOME sense of charm and life and a sparkle in her eye! Paltrow is about as elegant and charming as a splintered broomstick.
April 21, 2009, 9:02 p.m. CST
Moonlighting's style was from "The Thim Man" movies. So was "Remington Steele" to a degree. Even the current series "NCIS" uses the banter style for their characters.<p>I would my geek card if I did not also mention "Hart To Hart", an unabashed theft of "The Thin Man." They too did the rich couple, the dog, solving murgers involving friends and family members. It was to have starred married actors Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner, but they decided Natalie still could do big-screen work and did not want to bog her down with a TV series commitment: 18 hour days,6 days a week, for 8-9 months a year. So they cast Stephanie Powers, who was a friend of Woods and Wagner.----later-----m
April 21, 2009, 9:08 p.m. CST
Moonlighting's style was from "The Thin Man" movies. So was "Remington Steele" to a degree. Even the current series "NCIS" uses the banter style for their characters. I would lose my geek card if I did not also mention "Hart To Hart", an unabashed theft of "The Thin Man." They too did the rich couple, the dog, solving murders involving friends and family members. It was to have starred married actors Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner, but they decided Natalie still could do big-screen work and did not want to bog her down with a TV series commitment: 18 hour days, 6 days a week, for 8-9 months a year. So they cast Stephanie Powers, who was a friend of Woods and Wagner.----later-----m
April 21, 2009, 11:17 p.m. CST
I've known of the film for years now, but never felt compelled to seek it out, but after reading your review I did so and I'm still smiling ear to ear. What a classic.<br><br> Granted, before watching it I'd just had the horror that is Caddyshack II inflicted upon me, which could have you hailing any alternative as a classic, but even so, I was extremely impressed.<br><br>Nice work, sir.
April 22, 2009, 7 a.m. CST
by puto tenax
My grandparents were so in love with her they named my mom after her. Thin Man series is fantastic. I hope Hollywood respects this and keeps in mind the quality of the series should it be placed on the "remake" wagon.
April 22, 2009, 10:58 a.m. CST
BDA - Gweneth was just a thought ... maybe Amy adams ( or would she be to young for the role ?)
April 22, 2009, 2:55 p.m. CST
by Mr Lucas
Ah yes - "Hart To Hart" of course - "dis is Mrs. H - she's goyjus". They also had a dog didn't they? (Freeway?). Yes, La Paltrow is so wrong for this part (any part - except as a female version of Beaker from Muppet Labs). Someone with a bit of sass - who can deliver the quips. Tina Fey would be more my choice (off the top of my head).
April 22, 2009, 4:03 p.m. CST
April 22, 2009, 9:10 p.m. CST
I was inspired to watch this film again last night, only to discover for the first time, that CHRIS is played by none other than... Cesar Romero! Did anyone else notice this?!?!
April 25, 2009, 1:43 p.m. CST
So, yet another boooooooooooooooooring day in the office, I read Quint's intent to cover this series. I hadn't seen the Thin Man and it's first sequel in about 30 years. I bought the box set online and boy - I just watched the first movie and found it better than I remembered. Thanks Quint, I'll raise a martini (shaken to a waltz beat)in your direction.
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