121 of 125 people found the following review helpful
THE THIN MAN is a landmark film in so many ways that it is difficult to over-estimate either its impact or its brilliance. Based on the popular novel by Dashiell Hammet, the film presents us with a completely egalitarian husband and wife who trade witticisms as freely as they mix cocktails--and the concept was so completely unexpected that it proved extremely controversial in the 1930s and even today still sets the standard for witty comedies in which couples engage in clever verbal sparring. The script is sharp and clever; the cinematography by James Wong Howe anticipates later film noir by mixing glossy black and white beauty with an underlying grittiness; W.S. Van Dyke's direction is fast paced and never allows your attention to wander; the supporting cast is remarkably fine; and the production values offer MGM at the height of its considerable powers.
All of this would be enough to make THE THIN MAN memorable, but what really elevates it into a rarified atmosphere is the chemistry between leads William Powell and Myrna Loy, who handle their lines like sparkling rapiers, playing a combination of dry wit and unexpectedly silliness in high relief against a remarkably dark tale of multiple murder. Hard drinking, and mixing socially with both the uppercrust and the underworld, they are the people we would like to be in the sort of relationship we would like to acheive: glamorous, stylish, intelligent, and having tremendous fun as they work together to track down a missing inventor who may or may not be responsible for his lover's sudden murder. Although Powell and Loy made numerous films together, including five sequels to this one, THE THIN MAN shows them at their zenith, and I can think of no other screen couple to date who have played so effectively together.
Regrettably, the DVD release has not been restored, and although the print is crisp it does contain a number of blemishes; similarly, although the DVD does include trailers for all of the "Thin Man" films Powell and Loy made, the bonus features hardly do justice to the film's inexhaustible charms. Still, I do recommend the DVD over a VHS for the simple reason that you are likely to return to the film again and again, hoping some of the Powell-Loy sophistocation will rub off--and in the process you are likely to wear out a VHS in fairly short order. Of all the many films I have seen and enjoyed, this is probably the one I have watched most often, and I cannot recommend too highly. A must have for your collection.
44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
"Would you mind putting that (gun) away? My wife doesn't mind, but I'm a very timid fellow..." Talk about memorable movie lines! The Thin Man is simply one of the best detective films I have ever seen, and one of my favorite movies. William Powell and Myrna Loy star as Nick and Nora Charles, recently of California. Back in the Big Apple with Asta, their "courageous" sidekick pooch, the two drink ("Want a drink?" "What do you think?"), dine , and solve a murder case(reluctantly, on Nick's part) while giving the audience the time of their lives. Cleverly written and brilliantly played are Nick and Nora themselves, and William Powell and Myrna Loy rival Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. I give this film two VERY enthusiastic thumbs up, and recommend these for anyone with a good taste for movies in general. Who could forget Nick blasting a hole through the window and pretending to be asleep? Or Nora's first appearance, taking a huge spill as Asta drags her towards Nick? And who could forget that last endearing threat to Asta by Nora-"If you let anything happen to him, you'll never wag that tail again!" How...sweet.
49 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2003
William Powell & Myrna Loy played Nick & Nora Charles super detectives in 6 outstanding "Thin Man" movies over 13 years (1934-47).
They became America's favorite married rich eccentric drinking sleuths.
"The Thin Man" (1934)was their first installment in this most popular detective series. Now for the first time Powell & Loy are perfectly displayed on this digitally remastered DVD. The picture is absolutely crystal clear and very detailed in every frame. (Probally better than the original movie film release). The sound also digitally remastered allows us to here a pin drop without any distortion.
Warner Brothers AOL/Time Warner have done an outstanding job presenting this first of 6 films in the series perfectly.
The movie itself is a classic black & white black Hollywood comedy of the depression years. Allowing the world and its movie audiences a chance to escape for a few moments into the delightful comedic & thrilling lives of the rich millionairess Nora Charles and her semi-retired super sleuth husband Nick Charles.
Summary: The forever partying & drinking Nick & Nora Charles with their faithful dog Asta return East from California during the Christmas holiday to find themselves smack in the middle of a series of murders due to their famous sleuthing reputation. Everyone expects this is the real reason they have returned East. This movie is very good in it quick pace and many red herring leads keeping the suspects,police & audience guessing. Believe me this movie is fantastic & their are 5 more sequels to follow in the future on DVD. (I can't wait!!!)
Special Features: Theatrical Trailers of all 6 Thin Man movies.
Again you can't lose with most delight DVD presentation. William Powell, Myrna Loy & Asta are awesome. So buy it and watch over & over. This is 1930's Hollywood at its best. Enjoy.
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
The Thin Man is the first in this series of six movies starring William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles...wealthy socialites and detectives. These movies made between 1934 and 1947 comprise six of the 13 collaborations between the two stars and is certainly their most famous work.
I cannot rave strongly enough about these movies, particularly the first which is the best in the series. Nick and Nora are in New York for Christmas and find themselves having to investigate and eventually solve several murders.
The chemistry between the two stars is what makes these movies. It would seem as if they really were married. The Thin Man is outrageously funny with a lot of sexual innuendo which was certainly outrageous for the time period.
The movies are always filled with great character actors. Those faces you know even if you don't know the names. The dialog sparkles as the two drink their way through solving the crimes. honestly, being drunk has never been this funny.
Some may feel that it glamorizes alcohol, but lets remember that this was the early 1930's. The Christmas party in their posh hotel room is priceless.
My only complaint is that it seems there are little in the way of extras on the DVD. What a shame. While outtakes may not still exist, certainly some interviews and commentary with film historians would have been a welcome addition. Still..these are a definite add to your collection
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Format: VHS TapeVerified Purchase
Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell and Myrna Loy) have recently moved back to New York from the West Coast and are looking forward to some time together when an old acquaintance, a young woman named Dorothy Wynant (Maureen O'Sullivan), asks for Nick's help in locating her father, an inventor named Clyde Wynant (Edward Ellis). Nick was a working class hard-drinking private detective before he married blue-blooded Nora. But now Nick is enjoying his retirement and is reluctant to get involved in any mysteries. Nora, on the other hand, is intrigued by Nick's old line of work and welcomes the excitement that detective work might bring to her life. But Nick stubbornly refuses to take the case, even when the missing man's secretary is murdered and his lawyer and ex-wife express their concern as well. But when a gun-wielding thug forces his way into the Charles' apartment and the police harass him for answers, Nick is left with little choice but to take the case of "the thin man". Believing that the police are on the wrong trail entirely, Nick returns to Clyde Wynant's closed-up shop, where he finds an essential clue to his disappearance. Nick then decides that the best way to ferret out the culprit is to invite all of the suspects and interested parties to a dinner party at his apartment where he will lay out the story as he knows it and set up the murderer in the presence of the police.
"The Thin Man" was adapted from the popular 1933 detective novel of the same name by Dashiell Hammett and directed by W.S. Van Dyke in 1934. Although fans of Dashiell Hammet's hard-boiled whodunit may not recognize the Nick and Nora Charles of the silver screen, "The Thin Man" impresses me as one of the best adapted screenplays in cinematic history. Screenwriters Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich have brilliantly adapted Dashiell Hammet's novel for a mainstream audience. The story has been simplified considerably. But, more significantly, the movie's characters have been made more likable and respectable than those of the book, and somewhat less alcoholic. Although Hammett's novel is full of witty quips, it is far too cynical to be called a comedy. Screenwriters Hackett and Goodrich chose to make the film a comedy of manners and de-emphasized the mystery in favor of Nick and Nora's relationship. That decision, along with the casting of William Powell and Myrna Loy, who have such great comic chemistry and affection between them, made "The Thin Man" so irresistible to audiences in the 1930's that it supported an impressive 6-film franchise over the course of 13 years. William Powell and Myrna Loy's appeal has not diminished in the least to this day. There has never been a funnier party scene than the Charles' wonderful drunken Christmas party. And an expanded role for the Charles' irrepressible pooch Asta perfectly tops off the comedy. "The Thin Man" is a wonderfully entertaining combination of mystery, comedy, and romance set in the glamourous world of upper-class Manhattan in the 1930's. It's as good as popular movie-making gets. "The Thin Man" of course refers to the missing Mr. Wynant, although the phrase came to be associated with Nick Charles in the subsequent "Thin Man" films.
We can only hope that eventually all of "The Thin Man" movies will be available as a DVD boxed set with some nice extras. If you like "The Thin Man" and old comedy/ mystery/romance movies appeal to you, you might like Alfred Hitchcock's 1938 film "The Lady Vanishes". It is a lighthearted, utterly charming film, and one of Hitchcock's best, that manages to successfully combine even more genres than "The Thin Man" does.
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2002
The first film in a highly succesful series, "The Thin Man" remains one of the best American movies. Filmed in just two weeks by Woody Van Dyke (known as "One-Shot" for his speed and efficiency) and adapted from a Dashiell Hammett story, this is a dynamite blend of murder mystery and clever comedy. William Powell and Myrna Loy are wonderful as Nick and Nora Charles, playing off each other with affectionate, teasing wit. There's humor to spare; lots of snappy one-liners, sexual innuendo and double-entendres (my favorites: "He didn't come anywhere near my tabloids" and "What's that man doing in my drawers?") and some great situational comedy (such as when Nora attempts to out-drink Nick, who never met a mixed drink he didn't like). And of course, there's Asta, the delighfully mischievous pooch who nearly steals the picture, and would become as much of a sensation as the two leads.
Although not as hard-boiled or intricate as say, Raymond Chandler's work, the mystery aspect of the story is well-done, with enough twists to keep the viewer guessing until the revelatory moment. Had the film been more intense, or more violent, the comedic aspects would have come across as jarring and disruptive. But the film strikes the perfect balance between humor and the darker elements of the plot. Like most series, the first film is the best. But the sequels are also extremely well-done, and the series has as much charm today as it did decades ago. Highly, highly recommended.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 2002
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
The first time we meet Nick Charles, he is demonstrating to a bartender how to properly shake a martini to waltz time. Nick, it should be noted, is too soused to walk properly, much less have another drink.
Moments later, we meet Nora Charles, his wife. As she quickly downs six martinis to catch up with Nick, we're treated to some of the funniest, snappiest dialogue since... well, since before anything. The Thin Man created the Sexy Funny Couple In Danger genre, and nearly seventy years later, it still sets the (Cuervo) gold standard.
I could do the typical critic's job and rehash some other great scenes, to entice you into buying the movie. Instead, allow me to introduce you to The Think Man Drinking Game.
Start with a pitcher of martinis and your favorite spouse.
Whenever Nick takes a drink on the screen, the husband takes a drink on the sofa. When Nora drinks, the wife drinks.
You'll both have a very happy glow, long before you find out whodunnit.
And since The Thin Man is, at all-too-long last, available on DVD, you won't even have to rewind a tape during your hangover.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2003
"The Thin Man" is the witty, acidic and charming murder mystery with an attitude from which all subsequent crime solvers (most notably television's "Hart to Hart", "Remington Steele" and "Moonlighting") take their cue. The movie features William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles, an inspired teaming almost as legendary as Tracy and Hepburn.
PLOT: When a scientist turns up missing his daughter (Maureen O'Sullivan) hires Nick to get to the bottom of the disappearance.
This movie, as do all the subsequent "Thin Man" installments, (there are an additional 5 - none of which are currently available on DVD)relies heavily on the chemistry generated between Loy, Powell and their wire-haired terrier, Asta. The investment in character is not wasted.
Warner Home Video has done an outstanding job on "The Thin Man" DVD. Where previous copies of this movie on VHS and laserdisc looked as though they had been fed through a meat grinder, suffering from age, damage and disrepair, the print used for this DVD looks as though it were shot yesterday, with incredibly sharp, detailed images almost entirely free of any such ravages of time. The visual quality of the print is remarkably solid with little edge enhancement and no pixelization. The audio is mono but well represented with no background hiss. No extras.
BOTTOM LINE: A DEFINITE MUST!
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
This classic detective film also qualifies as a classic comedy. The slick repartee between Nick and Nora Charles is the stuff of screen legend. A good example of the irreverent humor is the hilarious Christmas Eve party. The ribald revelry of the guests is a biting contrast to the heavy-duty sentiment of more traditional Christmas movies (e.g., "It's A Wonderful Life") that get misty-eyed over Christmas Eve, home and family, etc. As every true fan knows, the mystery story plot is a mere excuse for all the fun. Nick (William Powell) is witty and sophisticated, but stays in touch with his working class roots. He is an iron fist in a velvet glove. Nora (Myrna Loy) has the chutzpah to keep pace, and even exceed, Nick's grit and razor-sharp wit. Theirs is a true marriage of equals. One of the themes of the series is that marriage can be fun. Contrast that with the old ball-and-chain cliche and pass the traditional values, please. Nora has more snappy comebacks than Groucho and Chico. When the cops find an illegal gun in the Charles' hotel suite, they ask Nick if he has heard of the Sullivan Law. Nora pipes up and says, "Oh, its all right. We're married!" As a heavy-handed policeman goes through their dresser, she asks, "What is that man doing in my drawers?" By this point, the viewer has forgotten there is a genuine murder mystery in progress. The film is as fresh and vibrant today as it was 70 years ago. Multiple viewing only increases the enjoyment of rapier wit and suberb timing. ;-)
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2003
Reporter: "Can't you tell us anything about the case?"
Nick Charles: "Yes. It's putting me way behind in my drinking."
"The Thin Man" is a film whose style makes a more lasting impression than its substance. William Powell and Myrna Loy plays Nick and Nora Charles, a husband and wife duo who enjoy two things in life: verbally sparring with each other and having another drink. Both Nick and Nora are quite content in their routine but matters change when former detective Nick is asked to come out of retirement. Apparently an inventor (Edward Ellis) has vanished and his daughter (Maureen O'Sullivan) is anxious to find him. The inventor's former wife (Minna Goimbell), her slimy current husband (Cesar Romero), the inventor's mistress (Natalie Moorhead), and other assorted lowlifes become the suspects in the disappearance. Charles dutifully investigates each of these characters in turn and exposes the culprit during an inspired dinner gathering sequence. However, the shining grace of "The Thin Man" is the interplay between Powell and Loy. Both performers excel at setting up the other for the quick and clever verbal comeback while also making sure to get in their fair share of quips. As the film unfolds, you actually find yourself more caught up in the war of words between the two leads rather than their efforts to solve the mystery at the center of the film. While amusing, this is the one factor that works against "The Thin Man". The back-and-forth between Powell and Loy is so strong that it completely overshadows the film's story. When you're finished watching, all you remember is the wonderful time you had with Mr. and Mrs. Charles - you would be hard pressed to recount most of the details of their investigation. Now this is not a bad thing because the film still is great entertainment, it just feels a little unbalanced. The bottom line is that "The Thin Man" is bubbling over with so much charm that it will still leave you giddy even with its shortcomings. Check it out and have a good time.