ANOTHER THIN MAN
US, 1939, 103 minutes, Black and white.
William Powell, Myrna Loy, Virginia Grey, Otto Kruger, C. Aubrey Smith, Ruth Hussey, Nat Pendleton, Patric Knowles, Tom Neal, Sheldon Leonard, Harry Bellaver, Shemp Howard, Marjorie Main.
Directed by W.S. Van Dyke.
Another Thin Man is the third of the Thin Man films with William Powell and Myrna Loy. There were six in all. The characters were created by crime writer Dashiell Hammett – and this one is based on his story, The Farewell Murder.
William Powell and Myrna Loy made fourteen films together. They work very well, she glamorous with the touch of the flightiness as well as shrewdness. He is debonair, ironic, nonchalant – an urbane detective. This time they are joined with their baby son, Nick Jr, as well as the dog Asta who has quite a lot of activity this time.
The supporting cast is very strong. Veteran C. Aubrey Smith overacts as the threatened colonel. Virginia Grey is his daughter, Patric Knowles her suave fiancé. Tom Neal is under suspicion as the secretary who writes murder mysteries. Ruth Hussey has a less than glamorous role as the baby’s nanny. The police include Otto Kruger and Nat Pendleton. Shemp Howard, one of the Stooges, has a brief comic role and Marjorie Main is the landlady.
The film relies a lot on appearances and audience suspicions – but the revelation of the murderer is quite a surprise at the end. Sheldon Leonard portrays the potential killer – but his moves are ingeniously organised so that he has an alibi for the murder that he orchestrated, allowing himself not to be tried a second time for the same crime. However, the shrewd Nick Charles, of course, works everything out and explains everything.
There is an entertaining excursion to a nightclub, with Nora Charles making mistakes in identifying a lead. However, there is a Latin dancing pair who are quite mesmerising – especially the male dancer who at times is resting on one foot and yet is moving elegantly in the dance routine. The dancer is Miguel Fernandez Mila and his partner is Carmen D'Antonio.
1. The entertaining Thin Man series? The popularity of William Powell and Myrna Loy? Plus baby? Plus Asta? The elegant backgrounds? The murder mysteries? Detection and explanation?
2. The black and white photography, the New York settings, the Long Island mansion? The nightclub? The streets of New York? Apartments? Authentic feel? The musical score? The dancing routine – a pause in the action, but fascinating?
3. The introduction to Nick and Nora, returning from their holiday, with the baby, with Asta? Settling back after the train ride? Getting everything in order? Being hassled by all the visitors? Colonel MacFay? and his phone call and demands? The decision to go to the country? The insistence of the chauffeur? Hiring Dorothy Waters as the baby’s nanny?
4. Travelling to Long Island, the body on the road, the reaction of the chauffeur, of Nick Charles? The body disappearing? The later explanation that Phil Church was trying to torment Colonel MacFay?, his using Dum-Dum? as his assistant? The connection with Smitty and the plans for the murder, the money?
5. Colonel MacFay?, blustering, self-centred? His past, with Phil Church, the threats? The burning of the pool house? The body on the road? Nick going to visit Church, Church and his three dreams? The threat to the colonel?
6. The colonel, past dealings, Nora’s father and the connection? His secretary, Freddie Colman? His adopted daughter? Her fiancé and the colonel’s disapproval?
7. The dinner, the background information? Nick, the encounter with Phil Church? The guns? His return, the chatter during the night, Lois and her coming in to chat with them? Later used for alibis?
8. The shot, the discovery of the body, the knife wounds? The later explanation of the setup with the gun? The timing? Alibis?
9. The investigations, the arrival of the police? Van Slack and his suspicions of Charles? Nick and his presence with the other murders and solving them? The irony of Nora hearing about previous girlfriends – and her later using these for notes, identities at the club?
10. The action in the grounds, the guns, the police, the dead dog? The appearance of Dudley Horn, his being under suspicion, the shooting and his death?
11. The range of suspects, Phil Church and his associates? Freddie Colman and his writing murder mysteries? Mrs Bellam and her relationship with MacFay?, Lois as her daughter? Her suspicious behaviour? The disappearance of Dorothy Waters?
12. Back in New York, the phone calls, the leads? Van Slack and his following through? Lieutenant Guild, Nat Pendleton’s comedy style? Nick and his pretending to have a girlfriend – and Guild’s reaction?
13. The information about the apartment? Nick and his visit, the encounter with the landlady? Nora turning up? As a potential customer for renting an apartment? Nick and his examining the room, the discovery of the bullet holes? The attempts on his life?
14. The nightclub, the dance routine? Nora, the contact with the member of the band? The money? Her picking the wrong man, the dancing with the gigolo? Nick, his presence, the jokes with Nora?
15. Assembling all the people in the house? Dorothy and her turning up, Nick locking her in the room? Dum-Dum? and his arrival? The shooters? The role of Phil Church – and his alibis? Being seen in the clubs?
16. The explanation of what had happened? The unmasking of Lois? The suspicions of Dudley Horn and her engineering his death? Freddie and his not being aware of anything? Dorothy Waters and her being innocent?
17. The resolution of all the problems – but the comic touch with the criminals, friendship with Nick, the arrangement for the birthday party with all the criminals and their babies? The taking of the wrong baby, the return? Asta and his shenanigans? Giving the film a blend of comedy with the murder mystery and detection?