For Reel

Shadow of the Thin Man (1941)
January 29, 2017, 3:21 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: W.S. Van Dyke
2 Stars
shadow-of-the-thin-manIt is commonly accepted that plot is secondary to the character interactions between Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell and Myrna Loy) in the famed Thin Man series. Fans are more apt to refer to the booze and banter than the specifics of any of the narrative machinations that culminate in the routine gathering of the suspects. It is consistently frustrating, then, that Nora often disappears from the films somewhere in the second act—if each Thin Man film is good in the beginning and end, everything inbetween is at the risk of feeling like a common subpar mystery. After the Thin Man, the best of the films by this point in the series, nicely integrated the problems of Charleses themselves with the murder plot (in that film, the case involves Nora’s extended family), whereas Shadow of the Thin Man simply finds its heroes stumbling upon a murder case involving a  jockey. Moreover, none of the supporting characters leave much of an impression, and the murder plot itself doesn’t have quite the emotional impact (as in After the Thin Man) or creativity (as in Another Thin Man) of the previous entries. Powell and Loy are reliably a delight—there’s a terrific bit of comedy in the beginning of the picture in which Nora summons Nick back to their home using the sounds of a cocktail mixer—but the film strays too far from their relationship at the service of a rather dull mystery.

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