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Woman-Centric Classic Movie Review: “The Thin Man”

Happy weekend, Persephoneers! I don’t know about you, but this has been a long week for me, and while I’ve been craving a mystery movie, I want some comedy, too. The solution? “The Thin Man,” made in 1934, starring William Powell and Myrna Loy as socialite sleuths Nick and Nora Charles. It’s based on the novel of the same title by Dashiell Hammett.

Promotional photo: Nora, Asta, and Nick.

Nick Charles (William Powell) was a private detective whose marriage to the wealthy Nora (Myrna Loy) has enabled him to retire from sleuthing. He and his wife, along with their dog Asta, are players in the New York social scene. The Charleses themselves are very much in love and are constantly teasing and flirting with each other.

When their friend Clyde Wynan disappears and his ex-girlfriend is found slain in her apartment, Clyde’s daughter Dorothy approaches Nick for help in finding her father and clearing him of any suspicion in the murder. Nick takes the case as a favor to Dorothy and at the behest of Nora, and the two of them

A still from the film.

team together to try to piece together what happened to Wynan. No one has seen Wynan in months, and Wynan’s attorney McCauley was handling all of his financial business. Nick and Nora merrily chase one clue after another to try to find “the thin businessman” Wynan. It’s Asta who leads them to the location of the body, first believed to be a “fat man,” but Wynan’s murderers merely dressed him in a fat man’s clothes. Now Nick and Nora have two murders to solve and more than one person who would have a motive for killing both Wynan and his ex-girlfriend.

The murder mystery aspect of the movie is well-paced, if not a little cliché, as the reveal is made during a dinner party at which all of the suspects are assembled. The witty repartee between Nick and Nora adds to the comedic aspect of it and almost makes the film ahead of its time. The couple are truly partners in every way imaginable. The film was released about a month before the Motion Picture Production Code kicked in, so there are little allusions to just how wonderful their partnership is in all respects, if ya know what I mean. Whatever it is you’re looking for in this movie, it’s the perfect apertif for this weekend.

 

Partners in crime-solving.

 

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