Friday, September 23, 2022

After the "Thin Man"

The author of "Scenes from a Marriage: Watching the 'Thin Man' Movies as a Set" likes all the "Thin Man" movies but one. I think even that one can be enjoyed. On Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell and Myrna Loy) after The Thin Man (1934):
The resulting movies–After the Thin Man (1936), Another Thin Man (1939), Shadow of the Thin Man (1941), The Thin Man Goes Home (1944), and Song of the Thin Man (1947)–don’t get the same overwhelming praise as the film that started the series. ....

The series as a whole is surprisingly consistent, having been made over a thirteen-year span, and enjoyable elements from that first classic continue in the rest of the movies. .... Only one of the films leaves the formula so far behind that it’s not worth the time....

.... Nick and Nora had some of the greatest ongoing banter in Hollywood history, combining clever wordplay, romantic innuendoes, good-humored sarcasm, and extremely dry observations on the world and people around them. While every film had a mystery to solve, what made the films so engrossing was the depiction of a wildly enjoyable marriage between two people so affectionate for each other that occasional spats never had a chance to get serious. What all the sequels get right is that this is a marriage that doesn’t evolve. Locations change, a person is added, and sobriety makes unwelcome advances, but Nick and Nora maintain their amorous regard for each other, without demanding that it strengthen, or deepen, or develop in any way. Because it’s perfect as it is. ....

Loy may have been the most important actor of the series, as wonderful as Powell was. There had been smart-aleck playboy detectives before, but none of them were married to Nora Charles, a combination of breeding, caustic wit, glamour, occasional daffiness, and heart. .... Loy’s Nora is the difference in the world, the thing that can’t be reduced to a cliché, the person who can never become boring. Audiences don’t need it spelled out—we know exactly what Nick sees in his wife. .... (more)
Hector DeJean, "Scenes from a Marriage: Watching the "Thin Man" Movies as a Set," CrimeReads, Sept. 23, 2022.

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