AFTER THE THIN MAN
US, 1936, 110 minutes, Black and white.
William Powell, Myrna Loy, James Stewart, Elissa Landi, Joseph Calleia, Jessie Ralph, Alan Marshall, Sam Levene.
Directed by W. S. Van Dyke II.
After The Thin Man was the second in the series of seven films with the popular detective couple from Dashiell Hammet's stories. Introduced in The Thin Man, Nick and Nora Charles and their dog Asta proved a very entertaining twosome. In the persons of William Powell and Myrna Loy they embodied popular figures for '30s cinema. The mysteries are rather hard to follow but the suave detection and the humorous interchange between husband and wife gave spice to the murder/thriller/comedy.
After The Thin Man is distinguished by being quite interesting as a mystery and finding James Stewart as the villain. There were to be five other films in the next ten years, from 1937 to '47, in this popular series. They were satirised by David Niven and Maggie Smith as Dick and Dora Charleston in Neil Simon's Murder By Death.
1. The popularity of the Thin Man series? This film as an immediate follow-up, in fact immediately connected in plot?
2. The popular blend of comedy and mystery? The atmosphere of the '30s, San Francisco society? The wit,, smooth performances, M.G.M. glossy presentation, black and white photography? The importance of the San Francisco locations, the atmosphere of wealth, of Chinatown, styles and pressures?
3. The quality of the acting of Myrna Loy and William Powell? The qualities that they brought to Nick and Nora and their working together? Pleasant worldliness, the drinking, comical remarks? The humorous parallel with Asta and Mrs. Asta?
4. The opening sequence with Selma, her husband missing., David and his attentions the imposing aunt and her ruling people? The relatives ? and the men going to sleep at the table? The blend of exposition and humour?
5. The transfer to Chinatown and the atmosphere of Dancer and the gangsters,, the singer and her husband Phil, Selma's husband and his presence there, money deals, crooked atmosphere, the importance of David's phone call and his offering the money?
6. The showdown between Selma and her husband. the murder ? and suspicions?
7. The importance of the subplots, the further deaths and their connection with the main plot?
8. How well did the screenplay build up the further complications and intertwine the characters especially Nick and Nora with their relations, David and his ominous presence, but seeming innocent, Dancer, the singer and her husband? Could the audience suspect what was going on?
9. The build up to the revelations? The murder getting all the people together, Nick and his taking charge and looking for somebody's slip, the range of suspicions and audiences suspecting each of the characters? David's slip, the photo, the revelation of his malice and his attitudes of hatred? His violent reaction? Credible in the light of what was seen?
10. Comment on the comedy aspects, Nick and Nora's party on arrival home, the New Year's party at their relations' etc.?
11. How well did the film satisfy audience expectations of mystery, comedy? Was it credible?