Shadow of the Thin Man
The Thin Man Collection
William Powell, Myrna Loy
Format: Black & White
Rated: NR
Studio: Warner Studios

Of course the fact that there was only one Thin Man case in the Nick & Nora Charles series of movies is never really addressed directly but there is a nice reference in the early stages of Shadow Of The Thin man to the fact that The Thin Man was a case and not Nick Charles’ nick name. Everything you want from a Thin Man movie is here in Shadow Of The Thin Man. The sly humor and quick repartee between Nick and Nora is front and center. Nick’s high functioning alcoholism is made fun of. And the scintillating Myrna Loy is Nora Charles the rich socialite who married the tough guy private eye lay about wannabe Nick Charles. Once again Nick’s search for a life of leisure is sabotaged by a murder. Fashion fans will want to pay special attention to Myrna Loy’s spectaculars wardrobe by Robert Kalloch in Shadow Of The Thin Man – Nora Charles is always well dressed but is stunningly attired though out this movie.

The constant sense of menace in the dialogue with the criminal types in the movie is an effective counterpoint to the gentle banter between Nick and Nora. The success of all the Thin Man series has relied heavily on the effective combination of the light and frothy comedy element of the movie and the noir mystery element. The mystery element in the movies progressed steadily from the first movie forward and contributes to the success of Shadow Of The Thin Man

Shadow Of The Thin Man is a real noir mystery that is heavier on the mystery than the first two movies and easily on a par with Another Thin Man. The weakness to this edition of The Thin Man franchise is the incredibly obtuse police force. Every cop is either star struck by Nick Charles or such a dolt (like the character of Lt. Abrams) that they couldn’t catch a jay walker if they were standing on the corner. This only detracts in minor ways from the movie because we aren’t watching to see the police solve the murder we are watching to see Nick and Nora solve the murder.

Even fans of noir movies and the pre war period of movies will have a giggle at some of the fight sequences. A refreshing aspect of Shadow Of The Thin man which will stand out for modern audiences is the lack of music telling you what to think and how to feel. The slapstick and keystone cops type sequences – especially the restaurant donnybrook – are so out of the realm of believability that you have to take them for what they are, comic relief.

When you get this movie – and it is a must add to any mystery movie lovers collection – look out for a few great performances from some of the minor players. Donna Reed appears here as Molly in one of her earliest movies she isn’t quite as polished as she is in It’s A Wonderful Life but it is a good performance nonetheless. Stella Adler as Claire Porter/Clara Peters is the only person on screen other than Myrna Loy who can hold her own with William Powell. Why she did not appear in more movies will be one of the really great movie mysteries. Lou Lubin as Rainbow Benny is both a pivotal character and delivers a truly memorable performance.

If you can figure it out before the final reveal at the end of the movie you should think about getting into the gumshoe business.

The extras on this DVD – The Telltale Heart (featurette) , The Goose Goes South (cartoon) and theatrical trailer for Shadow Of The Thin Man are all nice additions but of no particular value in relation to the movie itself.

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