The Thin Man

A classic movie series you won’t want to miss

The Thin Man is a fantastic must-see black and white mystery, comedy, and crime film. Directed by W.S. Van Dyke and based on a novel written by Dashiell Hammett, it was made into a six part film series and a television show, starting with the first movie in 1934. Lead actors William Powell, who plays Nick Charles, and Myrna Loy, who plays his wife Nora, were later seen as an iconic duo and have provided many of today’s mystery productions with inspiration. As a fan of mystery black and white movies, I had high hopes for The Thin Man, as it was praised by my parents and TCM host Ben Mankiewicz, and it did not disappoint. I thought the characters were well developed and it was quite interesting to see the interactions between suspects and the people involved in the whole story. It’s become one of my favorites and is a movie everyone should watch if they enjoy a humorous, simple and rich, but suspenseful film in only one hour and twenty minutes. Not only is it a classic, but it’s a great movie. The film begins with Nick introducing Nora to his friends as they return to New York, and Former detective, Nick is drawn into a murder case that is linked to one that he solved years before. On their return to New York, murders start to happen and an inventor goes missing. Everyone seems to think that Nick is investigating the case, and people come to him looking for answers, so he and Nora start to investigate the case and find answers to the murders. Over the entire story the suspense builds, climaxing at the scene in which Nick holds a dinner party to reveal the killer.
The Charles’ and their dog, Asta, a Wire Fox Terrier played by Skippy the dog, provide a funny and playful insight into marriage in the 1930s where Nick and Nora represent aspects of all ages; they mess around with each other like school children, but care for each other as if they had been married for years instead of being newlyweds. Often murder mystery classics focus purely on the mystery and have serious characters, where here Nick and Nora are optimistic and not afraid to crack a joke (this is not only for the enjoyment of the viewer, but also just enforces their strong bond). What I would advise against is actually trying to figure out the mystery. The audience is given very little information on what is actually happening, and what the great detective Nick is actually thinking, so the whole solution comes out of left field. While the main components are mystery oriented, it works much better as listed to be a comedy first, so while the plot and the characters Nick associates with make up a rich and interesting comedy for the viewer to piece together, it’s a great look back into the past technology and culture. If we were to look back on a similar set of murders today, we might be able to just figure it out from all of out cameras and connectivity through the digital world, but it’s often a good lookback on how an investigation might have been conducted in the 1930s. Overall, The Thin Man is a must see classic movie, and it’ll be the first one to get you hooked into watching the other five.
I watched the movie from a recording from TCM, but as they aren’t showing it all the time the movie is also available from Youtube, iTunes, Google Play Movies & TV, Apple TV+, Vudu, Amazon prime, and with an HBO Max subscription.