Film 31: The Thin Man

The Thin Man (1934) dir. W. S. Van Dyke. USA.

For audiences in the middle of the Depression, “The Thin Man,” like the Astaire and Rogers musicals it visually resembles, was pure escapism: Beautiful people in expensive surroundings make small talk all the day long, without a care in the world, and even murder is only an amusing diversion.

— Roger Ebert

Abigail:  This movie is an absolute delight, and a master class in style and craftsmanship.  I cannot wait to watch the rest of the Thin Man series (a strange choice, since William Powell is not in fact the titular character, his friend and the suspected murderer is … ah well.  Content is not the strong suit of this film.)  Myrna Loy and William Powell are the ideal screen pairing, and their banter is as intoxicating as the (honestly, it has to be hundreds of) drinks they imbibe.  They have such amazing ease with one another. Their voices even compliment each others – they make it sound as though only they speak English the way it is meant to be spoken.   I wanted so desperately to BE them while watching this film – perfectly composed, always clever, and never as drunk as they ought to be – and dressed to the nines to boot.  I even love their dog!  I can only imagine how badly depression era moviegoers wanted to be Nick and Nora Charles.  This was just an absolute treat for the senses.  As puffy as a movie can be, and yet completely memorable and all because of the craft.

Forrest:  What a glorious movie.  If there were any justice in this world Nick and Nora Charles would be as famous a duo as Batman and Robin.  Their dialogue is so sparkling, their wit so keen, it’s almost blinding.  Oh yes, there’s a murder mystery somewhere in here — but it’s as secondary to the joy of the film as is the mystery in “The Big Sleep.”  The real draw here is watching artists at the top of their craft create a world of wit and sex.

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