Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Thin Man (1934)

As a fan of Dashiell Hammett I was excited to see The Thin Man on a list of movies set at Christmas. It’s always been one of those eventually-I’ll-get-to-it kind of movies. The movie is lighter in tone than the book, which in turn is already one of Hammett's lighter works. So this is less noir than it is comedy-mystery.

The Thin Man focuses on Nick and Nora Charles. He’s a former detective, she’s an heiress, they’re in New York for the holidays to look up old friends and throw lavish parties. One of Nick’s former clients goes missing, then the bodies start piling up, and before you know it everyone from the daughter to the cops are asking for his help looking into the case. Nora thinks it’s terribly exciting, and happily says so.

To put it shortly: I loved this.

I loved the banter between the main characters. I loved the dialogue, the lighting, the film's style and the setting. I loved the holiday party with gangsters rubbing elbows with cops and reporters and everyone getting delightfully drunk. The minor characters have enough bluster and quirks to satisfy the greatest appetite for red herrings and fantastic flavor, and the plot keeps adding characters until the very end. The Charles’ chemistry is perfect though, just the right amount of genuine affection under layers of fond snark and smart-assed remarks.

The climax is a little overblown and silly, and some of the humor is dated and broad, but I just sank into the classic mystery tropes like a cozy dressing gown.

Oh, and the dresses that Myrna Loy got to wear! Fabulous. Plus there’s solid acting from Skippy the dog, playing the Charles’ terrier, Asta.

Nora would be more active in the plot were the movie made today, but she has sass and fortitude and I found her all around fantastic.

This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you like a little murder with your holidays, check out this classic.

(P.S. I'm tagging this one "Highly Recommended" because I really enjoyed it. Erin liked it less than I did, and I usually like us to agree on that rating, but I thought A Midnight Clear was kinda boring, so this is me evening the score!)

No comments :

Post a Comment