Mix martinis marriage, murder, and movies
A Vintage Movie Review
What do you get when you mix martinis, marriage and murder? You get The Thin Man series of movies starring William Powell and Myrna Loy. The Thin Man Series spans two decades and six major motion pictures. MGM Studios released the First film, The Thin Man in 1934, and the last, Song of the Thin Man, in 1947.
The Thin Man
Based on Dashiell Hammett’s 1932 detective novel, (also titled The Thin Man), we follow a husband and wife detective team who have the uncanny luck of walking smack dab into the middle of murders. The first movie introduces Nick and Nora Charles (Powell and Loy). He is a retired detective of notoriety. His charming, lovely wife is an independently wealthy society dame with a quick-witted tongue and an inquisitive mind. The plot jump-starts with a murder and a dame, (Maureen O’ Sullivan – best known for Jane, in the 30s, 40s Tarzan movies), begging Nick to take the case.
He is reluctant but Nora amused–if not entertained by the idea of some fast thinking and detecting–begs her hubby to help the poor girl. He obliges as long as she keeps the cocktails coming. Of course you can’t have a Thin Man movie without the faithful detecting dog, Asta, a furry, frisky terrier who turns up clues and sniffs out bad guys – when he isn’t eating evidence. Nick’s m.o. is an Agatha Christie style that brings the suspects together after he’s solved the case in his head. He describes the motives and circumstances leading up to the crimes, always getting his man – or woman.
After the Thin Man
The second movie, After the Thin Man, takes the Charles’ to San Francisco where Nora’s cousin is accused of murdering her lowlife husband. Nick must once again be coaxed out from behind the martini glass to find the real culprit. Two more bodies drop dead before Nick can round up the suspects. A very young Jimmy Stewart guest stars as a concerned friend of the family’s and turns in a dramatic performance. After the Thin Man leaves you expecting…
Another the Thin Man
Another Thin Man delivers a new cast member, young Nicky Jr. (Dean Stockwell, best known for Quantum Leap). Nick, Nora and Nicky Jr. plan a swell vacation on Long Island, but it’s not long before the bodies start dropping. The cast is laden with Hollywood character actors and makes for an oddball assortment and a lot of red herrings. The death toll reaches three before Nick assembles the suspects. Nonchalantly sipping a highball, he nabs the criminal.
Shadow of the Thin Man
Shadow of the Thin Man brings characters from Nick’s past into play. Nick and Nora become involved with jockeys, gamblers, and mugs with colorful names like Rainbow Benny. Asta causes a spectacle in an upscale restaurant. A body is found in the shower and one hanging from a chandelier. Then there’s that shady business concerning a diamond bracelet. It’s the wonderful witty, funny, sarcastic writing that elevates The Thin Man series above other films of this genre.
The Thin Man Goes Home
The fifth movie in the martini, marriage and murder series, The Thin Man Goes Home, lets you peek into Nick’s past Nick’s family, exposing his true nature. It’s definitely the most dimensional for actor William Powell. The Thin Man Goes Home includes all your favorite characters and murders, but this time it’s closer to home and the who-done-it harder to figure out.
Song of the Thin Man
And the movies and martinis just keep coming. If you see no other Thin Man movie you must see the final installment of the series, Song of the Thin Man. Talk about hip. Scenes filled with casinos, jam joints, bandleaders, gangsters, canaries, and hepcats leap off the screen. A character named Clinker shows the rootin-tootin Nick & Nora how to dig the jive (yes, you get a little Jitterbug too), not to mention some sweet rebop that’ll knock your socks off. The music is wonderful, the writing quick, the acting top- notch and the duds, well, they’ll put pearls in your oysters.
What’s your favorite Nick, Nora, or Asta moment? How do you like your martinis? Which is your fave movie out of them all? Are there any other classic films that mix up a good does of murder mystery and martinis.
Tam Francis is a writer, blogger, swing dance teacher, avid vintage collector, and seamstress. She shares her love of this genre through her novels, blog, and short stories. She enjoys hearing from you, sharing ideas, forging friendships, and exchanging guest blogs. For all the Girl in the Jitterbug Dress news, give-aways, events, and excitement, make sure to join her list and like her FB page! Join my list ~ Facebook page