Sunday, August 18, 2019

Tonight's Movie: The Thin Man (1934) - A Warner Archive Blu-ray Review

Myrna Loy and William Powell star in the all-time classic THE THIN MAN (1934), just released on Blu-ray by the Warner Archive.

I've seen THE THIN MAN many times over the years, on formats including VHS, DVD, and 35mm, but I think I can safely say it's never looked as good as it does on this new Blu-ray. The picture is sharp and crisp, while retaining the proper movie-like appearance. I was impressed.

As for the movie itself, what can one say about the marvelous team of Powell and Loy which hasn't been said before? As Nick and Nora Charles, the two actors -- lifelong friends offscreen -- share a marvelous chemistry. The fun relationship enjoyed by Nick and Nora, including plenty of loving, witty repartee, may be one of the best advertisements for marriage ever created!

Nick, a former detective, has been retired from the business since marrying wealthy Nora. When the father (Edward Ellis) of their friend Dorothy (Maureen O'Sullivan) disappears, Nora encourages Nick to help Dorothy out...and before long it turns into a murder investigation, with multiple bodies involved.

The mystery wraps up with all the suspects invited to a dinner party at Nick and Nora's, where Nick lays out what he's learned and the killer is eventually revealed.

Although I've seen it many times, I actually forgot how long the initial "set-up" of the mystery takes before Nick and Nora move front and center. That's really my only quibble with the film. I simply love basking in the good feelings engendered spending time with Powell and Loy.

The dialogue never fails to make me laugh:

"Waiter, will you serve the nuts? I mean will you serve the guests the nuts?"

"Oh, Nicky, I love you because you know such lovely people."

"You wouldn't be a widow long." "You bet I wouldn't!" "Not with all your money."

And on it goes, one smile after the other.

In case any readers are new to the film, perhaps I should mention that in this day and age there are those who might possibly be bothered by Nick and Nora drinking, er, to excess. I feel it's only troublesome if one takes it seriously -- obviously, if the amount of drinking going on were real, they'd be bloated alcoholics. This is strictly a movie fantasy world.

THE THIN MAN runs 91 minutes. It was directed by W.S. "Woody" Van Dyke and filmed by James Wong Howe. Special mention goes to Dolly Tree for her fabulous designs for Loy, including a striped dress she wears hosting a Christmas party.

The supporting cast includes Nat Pendleton, Edward Brophy, Minna Gombell, Cesar Romero, Natalie Moorhead, Porter Hall, Harold Huber, and Henry Wadsworth.

Along with the excellent picture, the Blu-ray has a strong soundtrack. The nice extras include the trailer, a 1957 episode of the THIN MAN TV series starring Peter Lawford and Phyllis Kirk, and the 1936 Lux Radio Theater broadcast of THE THIN MAN with Loy and Powell reprising their roles. I especially love when Lux Radio Theater episodes are included as extras; the radio show along with the print quality makes this Blu-ray worth the "double dip" for those who already own the film on DVD.

Highly recommended.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray. Warner Archive Blu-rays may be ordered from the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.


Blogger Stefano said...

For audience pleasure, few aspects of a movie work as well as star chemistry. Loy and Powell struck sparks in a film previous to this, "Manhattan Melodrama", also directed by Woody van Dyke-- he noticed how well they worked together.

Van Dyke was derided as "One Take Woody" for his shooting speed ( "Thin Man" came in under 3 weeks), but with two pop classics, this and "San Francisco", along with many other snappy entertaining movies, it's a bum rap.

11:35 AM  
Blogger barrylane said...

I do not think the one-take sobriquet was intended as a rap, but praise for the level he achieved with relative speed.

3:10 PM  

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