Its 2:08 pm
Fresh off our coverage of the four Lauren Bacall – Humphrey Bogart films,the cheetah and I were wondering what classic films series should we cover next. We did the four Bogie-Bacall films,a Dick Tracy adventure and even a Nancy Drew movie as well.
But there has been one series that I really wanted to look at and so I sent a bird to our pal “MP” over at Warner Brothers Archives and asked him if he could help. While normally I would have liked to get a series in order….but because the films are stand alone stories,starting anywhere in the Nick and Nora Charles films is fine.
So this is why when MP sent us “The Thin Man Goes Home”,I was only too happy to watch it. Its the 5th of the six films featuring the dashing William Powell as Nick Charles and the lovely Myrna Loy as Nora Charles. Of course we can’t forget thier adorable dog Asta who played a role in every film.
This film opens up with Nick and Nora Charles taking a very crowded train to Nick’s hometown of Sycamore Springs in the New England area to visit his parents,Dr. Bertram Charles (Harry Davenport) and Mrs. Charles (Lucile Watson). While Nora is excited to to go on vacation,Nick isn’t all that keen,he and his father had a bit of a falling out over Nick’s job as a private investigator (albeit a rather well off one because of his marriage to Nora).
As they arrive in Sycamore Springs,it sems like the whole town is expecting that Nick is investigating “a big case” where as the Charles are really simply on vacation.
Despite the couple’s fame,the welcome home isn’t all peaches and cream. Several of the townsfolk are not fans of Nick and the reception is a bit chilly.
But others are very happy to see him,including his good friend Dr. Bruce Clayworth (Lloyd Corrigan). Nick and Bruce were best friends growing up and Nora is happy to meet him and several other old friends.
But a Thin Man film isn’t complete until there is a mystery to be solved and this one is no different.
A young man who works at a local aircraft plant,Peter Berton, comes looking for Nick at night,only to murdered right in front of Nick. His friend Dr. Clayworth does an autopsy and pulls out a .45 caliber bullet and the hunt is on for a cunning killer.
Meanwhile Nora buys a small painting for Nick’s birthday only to have a man named Edgar Draque offer her a large amount of cash for it. But Nick sees it,it triggers some bad memories and so Nora decides to donate it to a charity event in town. Nicks to wonder exactly WHY Draque wanted the painting so badly. While investigating this new mystery,Nick stumbles across yet another murder and finally has a idea who is behind this series of terrible crimes.
He assembles a large group of potential suspects at his parent’s home and with Nora’s help of course,exposes the least likiest of suspects……
What complete joy this was to watch and the mystery is airtight,the cheetah and I had no clue as to the killer….Paladin kept insisting it was Asta until I said “No dog would be smart enough to pull off a caper like that” and he finally agreed.
Famed writer Dashiell Hammett,who created the immortal Sam Spade (The Maltese Falcon) also created Nick and Nora Charles. But for this film,screenwriters Robert Riskin and Dwight Taylor were the ones who brought this fun adult mystery to the screen. While director W.S. Van Dyke had directed the first four films to great acclaim,he had died back in 1943 and the director’s chair most ably filled by Richard Thorpe who had a string of solid hits under his belt including “White Cargo” and “Tarzan’s New York Adventure”.
Thorpe keeps the film moving briskly along and never allowing for any lags in the storytelling. The script is whipsmart and modern,its a nice mix of humor and some steel to a couple of scenes.
The heart of the “Thin Man” series is of course the chemistry of William Powell and Myrna Loy. Despite this being the 5th time they had Nick and Nora,they played this as if they had just met each other. They really talked and acted like a real married couple and were very generous in allowing the other their fair share of comic lines and timing.
Its always a revelation in watching these older black and white classic films just to see how stunning some of these actresses were and Myrna Loy is no different. She is just beautiful and so confident in herself,Riskin and Taylor’s script shows Nora to be quite capable in her own right.
William Powell,who was nominated for an Oscar in the first “Thin Man” movie back in 1935,was no stranger to playing great classic detectives,he gained much fame for playing Philo Vance in 1929’s “The Canary Murder Case”. His light comedy touch in the Thin Man is really fun to watch but watch his face closely,he could add just the right amount of heft to remind the viewer that murder was no game.
The rest of the supporting cast reads like a “Who’s Who” of classic Golden Age Hollywood….Gloria DeHaven,Anne Revere and Lloyd Corrigan all were known and great actors in their own right. In fact Revere would win an Best Supporting Oscar in 1946 for “National Velvet”.
“The Thin Man Goes Home” is in black & white and has a run time of 1 hour 40 minutes. Special features include a trailer and two cartoons.
You can get a copy of this excellent film by going to the website of Warner Brothers Archives.
The cheetah and I give “The Thin Man Goes Home” two thumbs/4 paws and a tail straight up.
What old Golden Age films are among your favorites? Drop a comment and let us know.
We have are a having a real ball discovering some true gems!!!