October 2, 2011

Movie Monday: The Thin Man

Welcome to the special October edition of Movie Monday! Now, you may be thinking that since it's October, I'm going to be doing some sort of horror theme. Wrong. I don't do horror. At all. Ever.

BUT - I do love mysteries! So every Monday this month I'm going to be reviewing my favorite murder mysteries. I can't lie, I'm pretty stinking excited.

I'm starting with my absolute favorite murder mystery movie, and probably my favorite movie, of all time: The Thin Man.

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The Thin Man starts with beautiful, perky Dorothy (Maureen O'Sullivan at her cutest) introducing her fiance to her father, Clyde Wynant. Wynant is an older inventor with a notoriously bad memory. Dorothy tells Wynant that she's going to get married right after Christmas. Wynant promises not to forget, and to come back from an upcoming business trip before Christmas just for her wedding.

Christmas Eve comes and he's nowhere to be found. No one knows where he is or what he's doing. Dorothy gets worried and finds old friends, Nick and Nora Charles, and asks them to help ind out what happened to her father. Nick is a former detective now "retired" and living on his wife's vast inheritance. He wants to pass on the job but Nora begs him to take the case, because she wants to help Dorothy. So, Nick, Nora, and pet terrier Asta go on the search for Wynant.

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Meanwhile, people with connections to Wynant are being murdered. Is Wynant the killer? Is he being framed? Why hasn't he come home yet?

One of the things I love most about The Thin Man movies (there were six in all) is that they are a classic style that is no longer in production - the murder mystery-slash-comedy. William Powell and Myrna Loy, who play Nick and Nora, and both gifted comedians and have incredible chemistry. Their relationship is very modern; between the playful verbal sparring and the occasional prank, you feel the genuine mutual love and respect they share.

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Nora is an especially fascinating character considering when the movie was filmed. She's not one of the famous "dizzy dames" of the era, nor is she an overly-dramatic prima donna. She's vivacious, witty, firm when necessary, tolerant and adaptable. Nick is charming, intelligent, dashing, and knows better than to take himself too seriously.

One of the things I love most about classic movies is that they are like celluloid time capsules. Turn one on and you are instantly immersed in another culture, complete with different styles, dialects and personalities. Nora always looks like she stepped out of an issue of Vogue. Nick is snappy in three-piece suits, overcoats and Fedoras, complete with calf-skin gloves, manicured '30s mustache and patent-leather shoes. Sometimes, of course, the outfits are a little too fantastic, even for the opulently-wealthy characters. Did anyone ever really wear fur-trimmed robes to bed?

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Also like many movies of the period, they want to keep the "reveal" at the end a surprise for the audience, so there aren't really enough clues released throughout the movie so you can figure it out before the end. To someone like me, who enjoys the challenge of figuring out a mystery before the solution is revealed at the end, it's kind of frustrating. But if you like to just go along for the ride and enjoy the twists and turns, you'll really enjoy it.

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So, before the new adulterated version comes out and Johnny Depp takes all the charm and polish off of an iconic character in film history, be sure and check this one out. I know Netflix has it, but you might as well go ahead and buy this one on Amazon. It's a keeper.

2 comments:

  1. Are they seriously doing a remake? That would be a tragedy.

    Oh, and thank you for turning me on to Nick and Nora's world! :o)

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  2. I don't think I've ever seen this! I love finding a good, old movie! I'll have to get it and watch it!

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