You know, that sounds like an interesting case. Why don’t you take it?”
I LOOOOVE The Thin Man series! To be honest really love anything with William Powell, but this series, is some of his doesn’t and love at first watch. The characters, the pacing, the mystery, everything is amazing. It’s a perfect blend of mystery, comedy, drama, and film noir.
MGM originally did not want Myrna Loy to be cast and told W.S. Van Dyke that he could only cast her if she finished shooting Stamboul Quest (1934); they underestimated Dyke as he wanted her in this role and made that happen.
One of our special things this year is that I am doing Thin Man Thursdays. Every Thursday this month I will review a Thin Man Film. Let’s get started on the case!
The film starts of with some family drama. Clyde Wynant cheated on his wife with his secretary, Julia Wolf. His wife caught him and divorced him. Since then they have been at serious odds with the kids caught in the middle. His daughter Dorothy has come to see him before he goes on a trip, as she just got engaged and wants her father to meet her fiancé when he returns. Clyde is excited to hear the news and goes looking for his $50,000 bonds to give to them as a wedding gift; only to find them missing.
He is furious as the only one who knows the combination is him and his secretary, Julia Wolf. He angrily calls her and discovers she stole them, cashed them, and only has $25,000 left. He tells her to get the rest and then that’s the last anyone ever saw of him. He just disappeared into thin air.
Months past and we are getting close to Christmas when who should return to New York since god knows when? Former detective, (and the most amazing one anyone had ever seen), Nick Charles (William Powell). Charles hung up his magnifying glass and detective hat when he met and married socialite and heiress, Nora (Myrna Loy).
When Nora is out shopping and Nick out drinking, they end up running into Dorothy who remembers him from a previous case, years ago a man was threatening and stealing her father. She tries to talk to Nick about her father’s disappearance but isn’t able to, being invited to the Charles’ Christmas party. The Charles couple are having a wonderful party full of all the degenerates, former criminals, boxers, and detectives that Nick knows from his former days and all the socialites and New York elite that Nora knows.
Meanwhile, Julia Wolf has been murdered and all evidence points to it being Clyde Wynant.
While they have the party, in sneaks Dorothy to beg Nick to help find her father. She doesn’t believe that her father murdered anyone. Unbeknownst to her, her mother Mimi has also come to talk to Nick; along with her brother Gilbert, Lt. John Guild, and a whole flock of newspaper reporters.
As much as Nick denies being on the case and refuses to investigate no one believes him and all want his thoughts on it. Especially his wife, as Nora would love to see him solve a case.
That evening a man breaks into the house as he wants to talk to Nick, he’s worried about the cops trying to pin the murder of Julia on him. After that occurrence, with his wife almost being shot by the intruder, Nick is on the case. He starts investigating and one night has an itch he needs to scratch. He goes to Wynant Industries which has been closed since Wynant left. While snooping he discovers a body. The police think Wynant did it, and believe the body to be Wynant’s former stalker (the case Nick worked on before) as the initials on the belt buckle match. But after looking at the X-rays, Nick knows something is not right.
In fact, Nick believes that the dead man is Wynant and that the same person who murdered him also murdered Julia Wolf. Nick decides the only thing to do is to have a dinner party and invites all the suspects over to grill and root out the murderer. By doing so, they created one of my favorite mystery tropes.
The films is amazing and I do not want to reveal the ending as it’s too good. In fact it was so good, it spawned 5 sequels. I highly recommend it for any mystery fan.
For more mysteries, go to Disappearance or Murder?: Lady in the Lake (1946)
For more film noir, go to Dark Times on the Ranch: Ramrod (1947)