Sunday, July 12, 2009

"It's not true. He didn't come anywhere near my tabloids."

I have an unofficial list of movies that I consider my all time favorites. While this list tends to fluctuate from time to time there’s about 20 or 30 films that I simply can’t live without. After tonight I think I have to add another to the list; the brilliant, 1934 classic THE THIN MAN. This was one of those classics that I have somehow never seen and now that I have I can’t imagine my life without it. I want to be William Powell and I want to marry Myrna Loy. Oh, and I wouldn’t mind owning Asta their dog either.

THE THIN MAN is the kind of movie they just don’t make anymore. It’s sharp, quick-witted, funny and just a little naughty but not in a risqué or bad way. The film follows Nick and Nora Charles a pair of well-to-do socialites that are madly in love with each other even though the way they treat and talk to each other may not always show it. Nick used to be a very successful private investigator and when some misfortune falls the way of some old friends he ends up getting caught up in it all, while Nora tags along for the ride, thrilled to be able to watch her husband put his old gumshoes on again.

The plot and mystery while not hugely complex definitely keep you guessing until the very end when everything is wrapped up in probably the greatest dinner party scene I’ve ever seen. It’s funny because the mystery and that scene itself have been reused countless times and it’s pretty obvious this is where most of them were stolen from, yet I don’t know if any of them have ever done it better than in this film.

William Powell and Myrna Loy have some of the best chemistry of any onscreen couple I’ve ever seen. They trade quips and barbs at machine-gun fire speed and every look they give each other speaks volumes. They’re sarcastic and at times down right mean to one another yet you know that everything they do is out of love for one another. Even better is just how playful they are towards each other, you can tell they love each other unquestionably and the way the two actors play them it’s obvious that pretty much every moment someone is not around they’re ripping each others clothes off, as illustrated in the last scene of the film.

Myrna Loy is absolutely adorable. She’s feisty, precocious, absolutely stunning and more than able to keep up with William Powell who is basically the freaking MAN in this movie. Not only is he married to Nora, but he is also one of those guys that everyone likes, even the guys he sent to prison. He’s always three steps ahead of everyone else and even when his life is in mortal danger he’s as cool and casual as if he were at a cocktail party. Plus he’s got a mean right hook and the man really likes to drink! I’m sure if this were real life he’d probably be on his third liver by now but in the film he’s just a guy that always wants to have fun and never takes anything too seriously, a guy that thinks everything can be fixed with stiff drink or a witty quip.

THE THIN MAN is one of those movies that impressed me on every level from the acting to the directing and especially the writing. The film is just an absolute blast one that had me laughing from beginning to end and falling in love with the characters from the moment they were on screen. If I can someday write a screenplay half this good I’ll die a happy man.


Adam said...

I feel as though I might have heard of the film once before, but I'm not sure. What's particularly interesting is that it's based on a novel by Dashiell Hammett, who was known for "hard-boiled" stories, although you make it seem like the film's more on the light-headed side a la screwball. It sounds like an interesting mix. I'll have to check it out and get back to you.

Chris W said...

One of the reasons you may have heard of it before is because it's the first of a whole series. I think they made something like 4 or 5 sequels. I have no idea if they're any good but I liked this one so much that I'll have to check them out. I know this is based on a Dashiell Hammet book and I agree it sounds sort of out of character for him. I'm going to buy the book and read it to see just how much they changed.

Senor Granto said...

My Dad loves these although I've never seen them. It kind of sounds like this is the basis for the repartee between Indy and Marion in Raiders.