Monday, December 18, 2023

Movie Monday: The Thin Man

 Movie Monday: The Thin Man

Hardly considered a Christmas movie, The Thin Man takes place at Christmas and culminates on New Year's Eve. I enjoy the original Dashiell Hammett books (as I do many of the "hard-boiled" stories published during the Golden Age of Detective Fiction), but the movies are among my absolute favorites. Granted, I watch any film featuring William Powell and/or Myrna Loy, but they are best together and in this series. 

Nick and Nora Charles are newlyweds in the first of these six movies. He was a successful private detective before marrying wealthy heiress Nora, but can't resist helping out the police when murders fall in his lap. Rather than referring to Nick, The Thin Man initially describes Charles Wynant, the man Nick is hired to find: "a thin man with white hair." Proven popular, the phrase is used as subsequent film titles.

The dialogue is snappy and delivered with perfect timing. The couple's on-screen chemistry caused many fans to think they were married in "real life." According to Loy in a 1988 interview, she thought they were "too much alike for romance" to ever be married. However, they remained good friends throughout their lives which translates onto the screen. 

As much as I like the movies and the fun of watching Nick and Nora solve the crimes, their

relationship is what keeps me coming back. Their friendship and enjoyment of being with each other are obvious. They have a great time, no matter what they're doing, and there is lots of kidding around. The Christmas scene is but one example. Nora is lying on the couch draped in a fur coat and diamonds, and Nick is in his PJs playing with a pop gun. He, of course, shoots out an ornament, then pretends he's asleep and didn't do it. She goes along with the charade.

But when danger arises, their care and concern for each other surfaces, sharp and immediate. Nick doesn't hesitate to throw himself in front of Nora to protect her. In one of the later films, she does the same. Their relief at each other's safety is palpable. A study in sacrifice.

In the book, the relationship between Nick and Nora takes a back seat to solving the crime, but director W.S. Van Dyke allows that element to enhance the film. Powell and Loy would star in thirteen movies together, with her appearing in an uncredited cameo in a fourteenth film, the 1947 comedy The Senator was Indiscreet. 

Have you watched either of these talented actors or any of the "Thin Man" movies?


War's Unexpected Gift (A Merry Heart anthology)

Love and war don’t mix.
 Or do they? 

Eager to do even more for the war effort, nurse Gwen Milford puts in for a transfer from a convalescent hospital outside of London to an evac hospital headed across Europe. Leap-frogging from one location to the next, nothing goes as expected from stolen supplies to overwhelming numbers of casualties. Then, there’s the handsome doctor who seems to be assigned to her every shift. As another Christmas approaches without the war’s end, can she find room in her heart for love?

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  1. I loved Nick and Nora. They were the epitome of cool.

    1. Yes, they were! And I loved her outfits! Those hats! :-)