The sparkling series featured the irresistible William Powell and Myrna Loy chemistry as husband and wife sleuths who solved murders with the aid of their wire-haired terrier, Asta. Set in the glamorous world of 1930s upper-class Manhattan, The Thin Man and its sequels established the standard for witty comedy, clever dialogue and urbane one upmanship. The 7-Disc set includes THE THIN MAN, AFTER THE THIN MAN, ANOTHER THIN MAN, SHADOW OF THE THIN MAN, SONG OF THE THIN MAN, THE THIN MAN GOES HOME, and the ALIAS NICK & NORA bonus documentary disc.]]>
It is common wisdom that the Thin Man sequels adhere to the law of diminishing returns, and while none of the follow-ups reach the diamond level of the first film, all afford pleasures. There's the cocktail-swilling chemistry of Powell and Loy, for one thing, as well as the considerable satisfaction of average movies made during the studio system: the craftsmanship of studio hands, and a gallery of terrific character actors filling in supporting roles. First sequel After the Thin Man (1936) is very good, with the couple in San Francisco and a supporting part for rising player James Stewart. The scenery moves again, to Long Island, for the rather impudently-titled Another Thin Man (1939), which adds baby Nick, Jr., to the mix (a "bad idea," thought Pauline Kael, perhaps a sign of the domestication of the series).
Shadow of the Thin Man (1941) sets the action around a racetrack, and is the last of the series to be directed by the fast-working Van Dyke. The Thin Man Goes Home (1944) finds Nick escorting family to his parents' house for a visit. Song of the Thin Man (1947) engagingly adds a jazz milieu to the Charles's detective work; at this point, Nick, Jr. was played by child star Dean Stockwell. The series stuck with certain staples: the unveiling of the guilty party, a wirehaired terrier named Asta (who became a star in its own right), and booze. When Nick opines, in the first film, that a dry martini should always be shaken to "waltz time," you know why audiences fell in love with these guilt-free comedies. --Robert Horton