The Long And The Short (Series) Of It on… The “Thin Man” Series

Well, now that we’ve looked into all six of the individual movies, it’s time to take a look at the Thin Man series as a whole!

Famous for his detective stories, Dashiell Hammett finished off his novel-writing career with his late 1933/1934 novel The Thin Man. MGM bought the film rights, much to the happiness of director W. S. “Woody” Van Dyke, who wanted to take on the project himself. However, the studio really didn’t think the property would be that popular with audiences, figuring they were tired of all the various sleuthing movies that had been made about that time. They really only let Van Dyke take a whack at the property due to his reputation for getting movies done quickly and under budget. Van Dyke wanted William Powell for the role of Nick Charles, much to the objections of the studio executives, since he was already known for playing the detective Philo Vance (but, the director obviously got him). Having seen the way that William Powell had gotten along with actress Myrna Loy both on- and off-screen when he directed them in Manhattan Melodrama (1934), Van Dyke made a pitch to get her for The Thin Man. The studio executives were reluctant to cast her as well, and only relented on the condition that all her scenes be shot within three weeks so that she could start shooting Stamboul Quest (1934). Of course, Van Dyke managed to get not only all of her scenes shot within that time, but also the rest of the film, too. He also had convinced married couple Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett to help adapt the novel for the big screen, and pushed them to focus more on Nick and Nora’s relationship than on the mystery (which wasn’t too hard for them, as their own marriage was quite similar to Nick and Nora’s). Of course, the results on The Thin Man (1934) at the box office spoke for themselves, with audiences making the film a big hit (with Powell even getting nominated for an Oscar).

Of course, being such a big hit meant that the MGM executives were eager to follow it up with even more! So, they gave the filmmakers a bigger budget to work with (and weren’t quite so stingy as to their requirements about how quickly the film had to be made). With the bigger budget, they were able to do some location shooting in San Francisco itself. Van Dyke and his screenwriters from the first film were brought back, with original author Dashiell Hammett brought in to write an all-new story for the film. The new film was intended to take place on the train almost immediately after the first film (albeit without the couple portrayed by Maureen O’Sullivan and Henry Wadsworth). That was their aim when they decided to give it the title After The Thin Man (1936), but, even though the “Thin Man” of the title was the murder victim in the first film, audiences came to associate it with William Powell’s Nick Charles, and “Thin Man” was retained as part of the title for the remainder of the series.

However, in spite of the series’ success at the box office, trouble was starting to creep in behind-the-scenes. The success of the second film meant the MGM executives wanted another film, but William Powell was hit with a double-whammy when his fiancée, Jean Harlow, passed away unexpectedly in 1937, followed quickly by his diagnosis of rectal cancer, which he underwent an experimental treatment for. The treatment was successful, but he had to take it easy while he recovered. In between his grief and his recovery, he didn’t take on too many projects for a few years, mainly working on the Thin Man series and a few other films with Myrna Loy. After they wrote the third film, Another Thin Man (1939) (based on another Dashiell Hammett story), Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett had had enough, and refused to come back for another series entry, so the screenwriting duties for the fourth film were passed along to Harry Kurnitz (who wrote the story) and Irving Brecher. After Shadow Of The Thin Man (1941), Myrna Loy left Hollywood, first to spend time with her then-new husband (John Hertz, Jr.) and then, when that marriage fizzled, she spent her time helping with the war effort. Tragedy struck when series director Woody Van Dyke became ill from cancer and a bad heart, and later committed suicide (since, as a devout Christian Scientist, he refused medical care). So, for The Thin Man Goes Home (1945) and Song Of The Thin Man (1947), they had two different directors. The Thin Man Goes Home did well enough at the box office, but Song Of The Thin Man lost money and effectively ended the series (not to mention Myrna Loy’s contract with MGM).

Of course, the series’ legacy is hard to deny. As Hollywood has always done, the success of the first film spawned a group of imitations all trying to cash in on the concept, with varying degrees of success. In fact, William Powell starred in two of these clones (Star Of Midnight from 1935 and The Ex-Mrs. Bradford from 1936) before he signed a new contract with MGM (and did the first sequel, After The Thin Man). Even with the Thin Man film series finally ending in the late 1940s, the franchise still enjoyed some popularity, resulting in a half hour TV series (1957-1959) starring Peter Lawford and Phyllis Kirk (with one episode included as an extra on the Blu-ray for the first film). The characters would continue to be referenced and spoofed, including in the 1976 comedy Murder By Death (with Myrna Loy reportedly being offered the chance to play Dora Charleston, although she declined).

As I’ve essentially indicated in each of my reviews, these films were all quite new for me when I first got the chance to see them in preparation for writing those reviews. As you can see from those reviews, I enjoyed the entire series. As I indicated in my review of the second film, I do really prefer the first film, not only for its mystery, but also for some of the pre-Code humor they were still able to get away with in that film. That being said, the first three are all really enjoyable, and when the series was at its best. I think that, within the last three films, The Thin Man Goes Home manages to come the closest to recapturing the magic of the first three, if only because it feels like it knows that the series has gotten formulaic, and is able to make fun of that. Admittedly, the last three films do seem to lose their way a bit, particularly with regard to the character of Nick, Jr., since he seems to disappear partway through the fourth film (and, outside of a brief mention as to why he isn’t there, he is completely out of the picture for the fifth film), and returns for the sixth film (albeit with a different child actor taking over the role), which just leaves me with the feeling that they didn’t really know what to do with him past the third film. Regardless, it’s still a very enjoyable series from start to finish (particularly if you’re smart enough not to binge-watch the whole series in short order). For that reason, I have no problem recommending this series for those who love a group of good mysteries/ screwball comedies (especially since they all look fantastic now with their new restorations for Blu-ray)!

All six movies are available individually on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection.

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

The Thin Man (1934)

Film Length: 1 hour, 31 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

After The Thin Man (1936)

Film Length: 1 hour, 52 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

Another Thin Man (1939)

Film Length: 1 hour, 43 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

Shadow Of The Thin Man (1941)

Film Length: 1 hour, 37 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

The Thin Man Goes Home (1944)

Film Length: 1 hour, 41 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

Song Of The Thin Man (1947)

Film Length: 1 hour, 27 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2022) with… Song Of The Thin Man (1947)

We’re back for not only one final go-round with William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles, but one final (for now) individual review in my “What’s Old Is A New Release Again” series, as I switch to a roundup of quick blurbs about a group of movies (hopefully within the next few weeks). But enough about that, we’re here for the 1947 mystery comedy Song Of The Thin Man!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Free Wheeling (1932)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 3 (1932-1933) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 19 minutes, 49 seconds)

Young Dickie (Dickie Moore) has a stiff neck which requires a neck brace, but the doctors say that he can and should take it off (although his mother disagrees with them). Dickie ends up joining Stymie (Matthew Beard) and the Gang in their makeshift taxi. This one was another entertaining short, with quite a few humorous moments. I know I enjoyed Dickie’s attempt to avoid taking castor oil (and his subsequent revenge on his nurse). Then there is the taxi (pushed by a mule) and all the various devices to simulate a real taxi ride. The final ride through the countryside is less than convincing due to the rather obvious rear screen projection, but that’s a rare complaint about an otherwise very enjoyable short with the Gang!

Coming Up Shorts! with… A Really Important Person (1947)

(Available as an extra on the Song Of The Thin Man Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 10 minutes, 50 seconds)

Young Billy Reilly (Dean Stockwell) wants to write an essay on an important person for a contest, but he can’t think of anybody. It isn’t until he accidentally breaks a window during a baseball game and is pushed by his father to help repair it that he is able to come up with a subject. This short, part of John Nesbit’s Passing Parade series, was a good one. It has a good message of not always needing to look for heroes among the big names and celebrities, but also within your own neighborhood (and even your own home when applicable). It was well-acted, and very heartfelt. It’s the only short I’ve seen from that series so far, and, while not enough of a ringing endorsement for me to seek out more, it was at least an entertaining one.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Slap Happy Lion (1947)

(Available as an extra on the Song Of The Thin Man Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 7 minutes, 26 seconds)

The lion is the king of the jungle and afraid of nobody. That is, until a mouse keeps picking on him. This Tex Avery short is quite funny, especially with the various lion roars (and the reactions of the different animals when they run in fear). Of course, the fight between the mouse and the lion (which is the majority of the short) is nothing new in and of itself. The main humor there is doing things Tex Avery’s way (which is certainly entertaining). It’s an overall fun cartoon (especially with that ending), and it’s one I don’t mind revisiting!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Phil Orval Brant (Bruce Cowling) is hosting a society benefit on his ship, the S. S. Fortune, and Nick (William Powell) and Nora Charles (Myrna Loy) are there hobnobbing with the rest of them. There is a jazz orchestra playing there, under the leadership of Tommy Edlon Drake (Phillip Reed). However, Tommy is getting into trouble in various ways, and, after the event is over, he is shot. The police think that Phil is the guilty party, but, when Phil and his new wife, Janet Thayar (Jayne Meadows), show up the next day to visit the Charles, Nick and Nora at first assume that’s it’s because of their new marital status (until Phil and Janet explain to them what has happened). They are shot at by some unknown assailant, and Nick decides to turn Phil in to the police for safety (since he thinks the shot was intended for Phil). Later, Nick sneaks onto the Fortune (which is being guarded by the police), where he meets the members of the jazz orchestra. He learns how none of them liked Tommy, particularly clarinet player, Buddy Hollis (Don Taylor) (who isn’t there with the rest of the group). Nick convinces another clarinet player, Clarence “Clinker” Krause (Keenan Wynn), to help him locate Buddy, but they have no luck. Nick later has an idea, and, with the aid of Nora, questions Janet and her father, David I. Thayar (Ralph Morgan) (who did not approve of Janet’s marriage to Phil) about an antique gun (since David has a collection of them). During their conversation, Janet gets a mysterious telephone call, and the whole interrogation ends abruptly. Nick and Nora follow Janet to an apartment, where they find the dead body of the band’s singer, Fran Ledue Page (Gloria Grahame). They find a clue that leads them to a rest home, where they find Buddy (who has been staying there after his alcoholism broke his mind). By all appearances, it almost looks like Buddy is the murderer, but Nick isn’t sure. Working with the police, he manages to gather all the suspects on the Fortune, where he hopes everything will be revealed. But will his plan work?

With Myrna Loy returning to Hollywood (after her failed marriage to John Hertz, Jr. and all her work for the war effort), The Thin Man Goes Home continued the success of the Thin Man series. However, things had changed enough that the series no longer had the guaranteed success it had previously known. With the death of W. S. “Woody” Van Dyke (who had directed the first four films), and different writers behind the scenes, only the onscreen talent remained the same. Song Of The Thin Man brought back actor Leon Ames from The Thin Man Goes Home (the original plan was to have him be the same character, except his onscreen wife from the previous film was unavailable, so he was instead given a different character to work with). The role of Nickie, Jr. (played in Shadow Of The Thin Man by Richard “Dickie” Hall) was recast with Dean Stockwell for Song Of The Thin Man. The presence of William Powell and Myrna Loy wasn’t enough to save the film this time for audiences, as the movie ended up losing money at the box office. In the process, it not only ended the series, it also ended up being the last full movie pairing William Powell and Myrna Loy (with her making a cameo appearance in another 1947 outing for William Powell, The Senator Was Indiscreet), as well as being Myrna’s last film at MGM.

Like all the previous entries in the series, this one was new to me. I will be very quick to admit that I still enjoyed this one, but, at the same time, it is indeed easy to see it was not as well done as the earlier films. The humor overall wasn’t as memorable, with the main comedy bits that stuck with me being the “Jive talk” that Keenan Wynn’s Clinker frequently engages in, to the particular confusion of Nick and Nora (and probably modern audiences who may not be as used to the slang). The mystery itself is decent here, but, at the same time, the final reveal wasn’t handled as well as the earlier films, lacking all the frequent misdirections (or at least, they were poorly handled here). My opinion may not be as favorable, but I can’t deny that the movie is still entertaining, and worth it for more time with William Powell and Myrna Loy’s Nick and Nora, who still have the same chemistry that had held all the series together. So, for them alone, this movie is still worth recommending (but, again, I don’t recommend binge-watching the whole series, as this film looks worse when compared directly against the earlier films).

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection, featuring a new 4K scan of the best preservation elements. Quite simply stated, the movie looks as good as all the earlier films, with a good image that has been cleaned up of dirt and debris. I certainly recommend this release as the best way to see and enjoy this movie!

Film Length: 1 hour, 27 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Ziegfeld Follies (1945) – William Powell – Mister Roberts (1955)

The Thin Man Goes Home (1945) – Myrna Loy – Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… The Thin Man Goes Home (1945)

We’re back again for a fifth round of hysterical mystery adventures with William Powell and Myrna Loy as the husband-and-wife detective team Nick and Nora Charles in The Thin Man Goes Home (1945)!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Pooch (1932)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 3 (1932-1933) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 20 minutes, 27 seconds)

Stymie (Matthew Beard) is in trouble with the rest of the gang for stealing one of their pies, but gets back in their favor when he rescues their dogs from the dogcatcher (Budd Fine). However, the dogcatcher manages to get Petey, and threatens to gas him if the kids can’t come up with five dollars in a hurry. This was an all-round entertaining short. The attempts of Stymie and Spanky (George McFarland) to get some food early on are quite humorous. The short gets more dramatic when Petey is captured and nearly gassed. By that point, it’s easy to feel for the kids as they try desperately to rescue their dog. I enjoyed this short, both for its humor and its drama, and certainly look forward to seeing it again in the future!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Why Daddy? (1944)

(Available as an extra on the The Thin Man Goes Home Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 9 minutes, 24 seconds)

Joe Doakes (Robert Benchley) easily comes up with all the answers while listening to a quiz show on the radio. However, when he is a contestant on an actual quiz show, he struggles to get the right answers. This was a rather amusing short with Robert Benchley in the lead. It’s certainly a familiar thought, where we as regular home viewers listen to/watch various game shows and come up with the answers easily (and question why the actual contestants couldn’t do better), only to find out that, in the real situation, we couldn’t do as well as we think we could! It’s not quite laugh out loud type stuff, but it’s short and entertaining enough to be worth seeing every now and then!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Screwball Squirrel (1944)

(Available as an extra on the The Thin Man Goes Home Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection or as part of Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 1 Blu-ray or DVD from Warner Archive Collection)

Disclaimer: On the disc case, it is noted that the set is intended for the adult collector, which is because these shorts were made at a time when a lot of racist and sexist stereotypes were prevalent. All I’m trying to say is, parents, be careful about just sticking these on for your kids.

(Length: 7 minutes, 24 seconds)

Screwy Squirrel faces off against the bird dog Meathead. Another cartoon that starts out following another, more innocent character (in this case, Sammy Squirrel) before the direction changes. Many fun gags, as Screwy keeps taunting Meathead. As usual, many fun asides to the audience, as we’re easily reminded this is a cartoon. Got a few good laughs out of this one, so it’s worth it!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Nick Charles (William Powell) has decided to take his wife Nora (Myrna Loy) on a trip to his hometown of Sycamore Springs to spend some time with his parents and celebrate his birthday. While Nora has long known that Nick and his father haven’t been particularly close, she didn’t know until this trip that their problem is that Nick’s father, Dr. Bertram Charles (Harry Davenport), is disappointed that Nick didn’t choose to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a doctor. So Nora takes it upon herself to convince the doctor of Nick’s importance as a detective. When his father remains unmoved by a story of one of Nick’s cases, Nora takes it upon herself to encourage a rumor going around town that Nick is there on a case, in the hopes that it will become true. And indeed a case does come to their doorstep (literally!) when a man named Peter Berton (Ralph Brooke) comes to their house to tell Nick something, only to be fatally shot in the doorway by an unknown person. When he manages the opportunity to get away, Nick takes Asta to look at Peter’s lodgings to find out what he can about him. While he is there, the local eccentric Crazy Mary (Anne Revere) conks him on the head, knocking him out for a while. As he continues to investigate, the pool of suspects increases, and includes banking tycoon Sam Ronson (Minor Watson), who had objected to Peter’s friendship with his daughter Laurabelle (Gloria DeHaven) (and who also threatens to cause trouble for the hospital that Dr. Charles wants to open unless Nick withdraws from his investigation), as well as Edgar (Leon Ames) and Helena Draque (Helen Vinson) (who are after a painting by Peter that Nora had bought as a present for Nick). With the aid of town coroner Dr. Bruce Clayworth (Lloyd Corrigan), Nick tries to see Crazy Mary (without getting hit on the head, something she was known for doing to everybody except Bruce), where he reveals his discovery that Mary was actually Peter’s mother (who had to give her son up for adoption as a baby). After learning about how everybody was seeking after Peter’s painting, Nick tries to find it at a charity bazaar, but finds Helena unconscious. The trail brings him back to Crazy Mary’s place, where they discover her dead (and find the painting). Nick now thinks he has an idea of what is going on in the town, and decides to have the police bring all the suspects to his parents’ home. But will he be able to ferret out the truth, and impress his father?

After the success of Shadow Of The Thin Man (1941) at the box office, more adventures with Nick and Nora were in order. However, production was delayed when Myrna Loy left Hollywood upon divorcing her first husband and quickly marrying car rental heir John Hertz, Jr. The marriage itself barely lasted two years, but with the onset of World War II, she threw herself into her work with the Red Cross to help with the war effort. In the meantime, MGM tried to placate audiences by considering a different actress (Irene Dunne, in particular), but this just angered the fans and resulted in the project being shelved. Myrna Loy did come back, finally, and production was able to get going on the movie. Of course, in the time between, series director W. S Van Dyke had had some health issues with cancer and a bad heart, and (since he was a Christian Scientist and refused medical treatment) he committed suicide in 1943. His replacement for The Thin Man Comes Home was Richard Thorpe (who had also worked with William Powell and Myrna Loy on their 1937 film Double Wedding). The movie still managed to be profitable at the box office, and one more movie would end up being made after the war was over.

As usual for the Thin Man films, this is my first time seeing this movie. I will be very quick to admit that I enjoyed it! Yes, the series has become a bit cliched at this point, but I think that this film knew it, and was almost able to make fun of it. As usual, Myrna Loy’s Nora wants to help Nick out, this time by trailing someone she strongly suspects of being the murderer (Brogan, as played by Edward Brophy), although Nick believes him harmless and gives him a warning that Nora will follow him, which as a whole is a very funny sequence! Earlier in the film, we also have her rather animated (and humorous) telling of one of Nick’s previous cases (not one actually shown in the movies, but it’s just fun watching her try so hard to impress Nick’s father)! And the film’s self-aware acknowledgement at the end, with all the suspects gathered and Nora explaining to Nick’s father what would usually happen at this point, makes for rather entertaining viewing! Although it still pales in comparison to the earliest three films in the series (in my mind), I think it’s a little better than Shadow Of The Thin Man, which makes it easier for me to still recommend this one for a few good laughs and a delightful mystery!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection, featuring a new 4K scan of the best preservation elements. At this point, it’s a simple truth: it’s a release from Warner Archive, which means it looks quite good! The clarity is there, with a crisp picture that has been cleaned up of all dirt and debris. Certainly the best way to enjoy this wonderful movie!

And with that, I now embark on a (almost) month-long break (as mentioned here), although I should *hopefully* have one new post on Easter Sunday! So, I’ll be back then (or the beginning of May, whichever ends up being the case)! In the meantime, keep enjoying some good (or great) movies!

Film Length: 1 hour, 41 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Shadow Of The Thin Man (1941) – William Powell – Ziegfeld Follies (1945)

Shadow Of The Thin Man (1941) – Myrna Loy – Song Of The Thin Man (1947)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… Shadow Of The Thin Man (1941)

We’re back again for more adventures with Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell and Myrna Loy, respectively) in a film that is only a Shadow Of The Thin Man (1941)! 😉

Coming Up Shorts! with… Choo-Choo! (1932)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 3 (1932-1933) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 20 minutes, 42 seconds)

When a group of orphans come through on a train, a few of them who are trying to run away decide to switch places with some of the Gang.  Mr. Henderson (Dell Henderson) is stuck trying to bring the “orphans” back to where they belong.  This one was quite entertaining, what with all the antics as the kids keep causing trouble on the train.  In between getting into fights with each other (and some of the other passengers), plus keeping everybody awake by being noisy and letting some animals and fireworks loose, this one is full of laughs (although the gag of Spanky punching everybody quickly grows old).  Oliver Hardy even makes an appearance in this one, encouraging the kids in their mischief!  Overall, quite fun, and one I would definitely look forward to coming back to!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Tell-Tale Heart (1941)

(Available as an extra on the Shadow Of The Thin Man Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 19 minutes, 45 seconds)

An assistant to an old weaver suffers great mental and physical abuse from his master, and decides to kill him.  However, his conscience gets the better of him, as he is haunted by the sounds of his late master’s heartbeat.  This short is based on the Edgar Allen Poe story, and really does it justice.  Joseph Schildkraut plays the young man, as he slowly goes insane, particularly when questioned by the authorities on the whereabouts of his master.  Roman Bohnen as the Old Man with a milky eye manages to prove nasty and creepy in a short time.  Overall, this short is very well-acted and very effective in showing how one’s conscience can get the better of you when you do wrong.

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Goose Goes South (1941)

(Available as an extra on the Shadow Of The Thin Man Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 6 minutes, 12 seconds)

It’s that time of the year when all the geese fly south for the winter.  All but one, that is, as he decides to try and hitchhike his way down there.  This short was fairly entertaining, especially with the recurring gag of one driver who speaks in double-talk as to why he can’t give the goose a ride.  Some gags are questionable, especially those that don’t really have anything to do with the plot of the goose trying to make his way south (and there are several of those moments).  It’s not the greatest short, but it provided a few laughs, which made it worth at least one viewing, anyways!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Nick Charles (William Powell) is enjoying his “retirement” from detective work with his wife Nora (Nyrna Loy) and their young son Nick, Jr. (Richard “Dickie” Hall).  However, on a trip to the racetrack, Nick and Nora find the place crawling with cops.  Apparently, one of the jockeys had been shot, and the police, led by Nick’s friend Lieutenant Abrams (Sam Levene), are trying to figure out who did it.  The police and the reporters all ask Nick if he is there to work on that case, but, interested though he may be, he denies being involved with it.  Later, reporter Paul Clarke (Barry Nelson) and Major Jason I. Sculley (Henry O’Neill), a special deputy to the State Legislature, stop by the Charles’ home.  They explain that they both have been trying to work on taking down a gambling syndicate. Apparently, that jockey was supposed to be their best (and only) witness, and so they ask Nick’s help in trying to find out what happened (but he declines again, stating that he promised to take Nora to a wrestling match that night).  While Nick and Nora are watching the wrestling match at the arena (which is run by members of the gambling syndicate), “Whitey” Barrow (Alan Baxter), another reporter (who has been helping keep the syndicate out of trouble), has decided that he wants out, and blackmails the leaders in exchange for his silence.  Paul borrows a key to one of the leader’s offices from his girlfriend, Molly Ford (Donna Reed), and looks for evidence.  When he finds a ledger that could do the trick, Whitey walks in, and a fight ensues. Whitey manages to knock out Paul and take the ledger, but someone else shoots him with his own gun before he can get out of there. The police show up (right as Nick and Nora are getting ready to leave the arena), and they end up arresting Paul for Whitey’s murder. Nick believes him to be innocent, and looks back over the jockey’s locker room the next day. He realizes that the jockey accidentally shot himself, but he convinces Lieutenant Abrams to keep going with the story that both the jockey and Whitey were killed by the same person to help root out the real killer. As he keeps investigating, Nick finds several suspects, and one more body. When everybody is gathered together, he hopes to reveal everything. But will he get the right killer, or will they get away with it?

With Another Thin Man (1939) continuing to be profitable for MGM, it was a given that they would keep the series going with a fourth entry. However, it wasn’t that simple behind the scenes. The husband-and-wife writing team behind the scripts for the first three films, Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, had tired of doing the series, and refused to do another. Instead, Harry Kurnitz and Irving Brecher wrote the script (which was based on a story by Harry Kurnitz himself, as opposed to author Dashiell Hammett, who was at least partly involved on the first three films in the series, but not at all for the last three). William Powell, meanwhile, had been reluctant to do much acting work for the last few years, in between his health as he recovered from rectal cancer and the death of his fiancée, Jean Harlow, in 1937. The only films he had done since his recovery were a few opposite Myrna Loy (including Another Thin Man, I Love You Again and Love Crazy). Still, even with all those problems going on behind the scenes, audiences still went to see the movie, making it profitable for MGM (and encouraging them to keep making more).

Like with the earlier entries in the series, this was my first time seeing this movie as well. Plain and simple, I did like this one! The humor still worked well for me, from Nick Jr. pushing his father to drink milk instead of his favorite beverage (in a moment that made me think of W. C. Fields and how he would have potentially reacted in the same situation), to the way Nora started really getting into the wrestling match they were watching (with Nick getting stuck in a hold), to Nick being stuck on the merry-go-round (and so many more hilarious moments)! I will admit, I can see the series starting to lose steam with this film, as it did seem to be more of the same (you just knew that all the suspects would be gathered at the end for the reveal of the killer, with many of them looking very guilty for a brief moment), and the mystery itself didn’t seem to be any great shakes. Still, it was entertaining, especially for more time with William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora! Definitely still good enough to recommend (just don’t binge-watch the whole series, or it won’t be as enjoyable)!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection featuring a new 4K scan of the best surviving preservation elements. Once again, the transfer is top-notch (it’s from the Warner Archive Collection, after all), with a crisp image and all the dust and dirt cleaned up. Very easy to recommend, along with all the earlier entries in the series!

Film Length: 1 hour, 37 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Another Thin Man (1939) – William Powell – The Thin Man Goes Home (1945)

Another Thin Man (1939) – Myrna Loy – The Thin Man Goes Home (1945)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you).  If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with.. Another Thin Man (1939)

Wouldn’t you know it, it’s time for yet ANOTHER Thin Man review (or is that a review of Another Thin Man 😉 ). This 1939 entry in the Thin Man series as usual features William Powell as Nick Charles and Myrna Loy as Nora Charles!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The First Seven Years (1930)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 1 (1929-1930) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 20 minutes, 10 seconds)

Jackie (Jackie Cooper) wants Mary Ann (Mary Ann Jackson) to be his “wife,” but has to fight Speck (Donald Haines) for her affections. This one was rather hilarious, with Edgar Kennedy again returning as Kennedy the cop (and giving Jackie advice about girls). Of course, when all is said and done, Mary Ann pushes Jackie and Speck to duel over her like the knights of old (to hilarious effect)! A lot of fun, good humor, and a “swordfight” to boot!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Love On Tap (1939)

(available as an extra on the Another Thin Man Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 10 minutes, 47 seconds)

Penny (Mary Howard), the manager of the Abbott Dancers, keeps getting distracted by them when she tries to get married to her fiancé, Tommy (Truman Bradley). This is an, at best, average short, with a less-than-likable lead who keeps putting off getting married without caring how her actions are hurting her long-suffering fiancé. Some of the dancing from the Abbott Dancers is fun, with all the tricks they pull off, although the music itself is forgettable. Probably not one that I would necessarily plan on revisiting that much.

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Bookworm (1939)

(available as an extra on the Another Thin Man Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 8 minutes, 24 seconds)

The witches from MacBeth require a worm for their potion, so they send a raven after the bookworm. There’s some amusement here, with the ways that the little bookworm gets around the raven. However, it’s hard to develop much interest here, as it’s another in a long line of animated shorts from that era featuring characters from different books all interacting with each other. The animation is pretty good, and there are a few good gags, but, overall, this one is rather easy to forget.

And Now For The Main Feature…

Nick (William Powell) and Nora Charles (Myrna Loy) have come back to New York City with their one-year-old son Nicky, hoping for a quiet weekend. That hope is short-lived, however, when they hear from Colonel MacFay (C. Aubrey Smith), a former business partner of Nora’s father (and who is also handling her estate). The colonel is adamant that they come out to see him, so they reluctantly pack up to go to the colonel’s estate. They think it’s only about business (which is why they were reluctant to go in the first place), but they quickly find that the colonel’s estate is heavily guarded. When they finally get to the house, they find out that a former employee of his, Phil Church (Sheldon Leonard), had done prison time, and was now trying to extort money from the colonel, mostly by claiming that he is dreaming that the colonel will be murdered (and Church claims that when he dreams the same thing three times, it usually comes true). Nick tries to see Church and his girlfriend, Smitty (Muriel Hutchison), but Church refuses to take back his “dreams” (although he “promises” to leave). Nick returns to the colonel’s estate, where they stay the night. During the night, they are visited by the colonel’s adopted daughter, Lois MacFay (Virginia Grey), when they hear a gunshot go off. Rushing to the colonel’s room, they find him, dead. When the police arrive, they question everybody, including Nick and Nora. While everybody is outside looking for a knife that Nick and Nora’s dog Asta was carrying around, Lois comes running, claiming her fiancé Dudley Horn (Patric Knowles) is gunning for Nick. Before he can do anything, Dudley is shot (and killed) by the police. Nick and Nora return to the city (with everyone else in tow), where the two of them try to pick up any clues they can as to the whereabouts of Church. As the clues (and the suspects) mount, can they solve the crime, or will the colonel’s murder go unsolved?

After the success of both The Thin Man and After The Thin Man, MGM made plans to do another film. However, those plans for a third film were delayed, as, before filming could commence, star William Powell was diagnosed with cancer in 1938 (resulting in him taking time off while he underwent several operations). After a time, he recovered, and came back to work. Of course, care was taken so as to keep him from overdoing things. Director Woody Van Dyke insisted on only filming for about six hours a day, and working on four soundstages with a larger crew than usual to help keep things as efficient as possible. For the story, they went back to the well of Dashiell Hammett (author of the original novel), and used his story “The Farewell Murder.” Of course, the film was still a hit, resulting in the series continuing a few years later with Shadow Of the Thin Man!

As you can no doubt guess, based off my previous reviews of the first two films, this was my first time seeing this film, too. Of course, also like the other two, it was one that I enjoyed very much! While we’re still getting further from the pre-Code days, there’s still some fun to be had (and they certainly can’t keep William Powell’s Nick out of the booze, either 😉 )! The relationship between Nick and Myrna Loy’s Nora is still at the forefront, with her trying to get involved in solving the crime (sometimes to hilarious effect)! I enjoyed the scene at the nightclub, where they both ended up there separately, while still finding stuff out, but the scene when they were checking out the room of a suspect at an apartment building was quite hilarious! It was also made more memorable by the presence of Marjorie Main in one of her earlier roles (while still having some of the persona that she would be known for), as she shows Nick the room (while trying not to let Nora know anything, as they “claimed” to be separate, with her “looking” for a room to rent). Of course, throw in a brief appearance by an uncredited Shemp Howard in this movie, and it’s golden! I still think the first film is the best, but I’ll take this one (especially since Nat Pendelton returned to reprise his role as Lieutenant Guild from the first film)! I know I still look forward to trying the rest of the series, whenever I can get that far! Highly recommended!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection, working from a 4K scan of the best surviving preservation elements. Considering it’s from Warner Archive, there’s no mystery here about the transfer. It looks GREAT!!! Seriously, they’ve done a great job with the elements they had to work with, and the picture looks as sharp and detailed as one could hope for! Easily a highly recommended release!

Film Length: 1 hour, 43 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

After The Thin Man (1936) – William Powell – Shadow Of The Thin Man (1941)

After The Thin Man (1936) – Myrna Loy – Shadow Of The Thin Man (1941)

Marjorie Main – Meet Me In St. Louis (1944)

Shemp Howard – Buck Privates (1941)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)

Well, I’m a little late (by about a week) in talking about this movie (considering one of the film’s stars was featured last month), but let’s get into it anyways! I’m talking, of course, about the 1948 film Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, starring Cary Grant and Myrna Loy!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The House Of Tomorrow (1949)

(Available as an extra on the Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection or as part of Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 2 Blu-ray or DVD from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 6 minutes, 51 seconds)

We are given a tour of the house of tomorrow by the narrator. A very fun cartoon, as we see what types of contraptions that Tex Avery visualized for the future. Of course, there’s a running gag about the unwelcome “mothers-in-law” (which may be overdone just a little). Some aspects are dated, in between how it treats housewives, plus the image of the bikini-clad girl (possibly looks like Virginia Mayo, but I’m not 100% sure) for the “tired businessmen.” Apart from those issues, it looks like a lot of fun (just don’t start asking questions, or you’ll have a toilet plunger thrown at you)!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Advertising executive Jim Blandings (Cary Grant) lives in an increasingly cramped apartment in New York City with his wife Muriel (Myrna Loy) and their daughters Joan (Sharyn Moffett) and Betsy (Connie Marshall). One morning, their lawyer and friend Bill Cole (Melvyn Douglas) comes over to talk with Muriel about remodeling the apartment, but when Jim hears the $7000 price tag, he rejects the idea completely. At work, he is given a new advertising account that one of his colleagues had failed to satisfy. While looking over some of his colleague’s previous ideas, he sees an ad for a home in Connecticut, and decides to look into it. He and Muriel become enamored with the place, but the real estate salesman, sensing a golden opportunity, misrepresents the place (and sells it to them for more than it’s worth). Bill quickly figures out they paid too much for less than they were told, but, they want the house more than anything, so Jim decides not to push against the idea. They turn to a few experts to see what improvements can be made to the house, but every one of them suggests tearing it down and starting fresh. So, that’s what they do (although they get in trouble with the owner of the mortgage for not asking him first). Further troubles arise as they try to get the house designed like they want but within a decent budget. And then, of course, there’s all the difficulties (and rising costs) that come about as they try to build it. Plus, they’re evicted from their apartment before the house is complete. With all these problems (and an advertising campaign that Jim is struggling to put together while he focuses on the house), will he be able to stay sane, or will they lose everything?

Eric Hodgins, at one time a vice president of Time, Inc., originally tried to build his dream house (in 1939), but the costs skyrocketed from the estimated $11,000 up to $56,000 at completion. After two years, he was bankrupt and forced to sell his home. But he wrote an article on his experiences entitled “Mr. Blandings Builds His Castle” for Fortune magazine in 1946. This article was turned into a novel that same year, and it was quickly picked up for a movie by David O. Selznik. With the funds from the movie rights, Eric Hodgins tried (and failed) to buy back his house. But, back to the movie, David O. Selznik planned to use it to pair up Cary Grant and Myrna Loy (who had worked together previously in two movies), hoping to make them the next (Spencer) Tracy and (Katharine) Hepburn. That didn’t happen (as this was the last film that Cary Grant and Myrna Loy made together), but it was pretty well received by audiences and critics.

While I’d heard of this film before, I can’t say as I’ve ever really had the chance to see it. But, it’s a comedy, it stars Cary Grant, and it also stars Myrna Loy! That was enough of a combination for me to want to see it (especially when the Blu-ray was announced, but more on that in a moment)! Having finally seen it, the movie turned out to be even better than I would have imagined (and I imagined it would be good)! The story overall is fun, and the comedy certainly makes it better! I admit, I get a few Green Acres vibes here (you know, the 1960s sitcom), in between the dishonest real estate salesman, the broken down house, and even the doorknob on the closet! Plain and simple, this one was a good time, and one I look forward to revisiting periodically! So, if you get the chance to try it, do it! You won’t regret it (just make sure somebody is there to get you out of the closet)!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection. The Blu-ray features a new transfer from a 4k scan of the original nitrate camera negative. As I said, this was my first time seeing it, but I would say this new Blu-ray is a typical Warner Archive release. In other words, it’s a WONDERFUL transfer, with great detail and clarity! The picture has been cleaned up of all dust and dirt and other debris. Throw in two radio productions of the story, both of which feature Cary Grant (with one featuring Irene Dunne and the other featuring Cary Grant’s then-wife Betsy Drake), and I’m sold on this release! So, if you want to see this movie looking its best, this is the way to do it!

Film Length: 1 hour, 34 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #9 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2021

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Notorious (1946)Cary GrantRoom For One More (1952)

Song Of The Thin Man (1947) – Myrna Loy

Ninotchka (1939) – Melvyn Douglas

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2021) on… Libeled Lady (1936)

Today, we’ve got some fun with the 1936 screwball comedy Libeled Lady, starring Jean Harlow, William Powell, Myrna Loy and Spencer Tracy!  But first, we’ve got a few theatrical shorts to start us off with!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Keystone Hotel (1935)

(available as an extra on the Libeled Lady Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 14 minutes, 53 seconds)

Count Drewa Blanc (Ben Turpin) has to choose the winner of a beauty contest at the Keystone Hotel, but everybody is trying to tell him who to pick.  This short was a lot of fun!  I hadn’t previously seen any shorts featuring the Keystone Kops (just their all-too-quick appearance in Abbott And Costello Meet The Keystone Kops), so this was a treat!  The lead-up to the beauty contest as we’re introduced to some of the characters was fun, but it was when the Count picked the “wrong” lady that everything REALLY got better, with the food fight at the hotel and the Kops making their madcap drive to get there.  A very enjoyable treat, and one I plan to watch more!

Coming Up Shorts! with… New Shoes (1936)

(available as an extra on the Libeled Lady Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 10 minutes, 23 seconds)

Two pairs of shoes decide to pinch the feet of their new owners, as the owners go out with each other.  An interesting but bizarre short, as the two shoes talk to each other.  It’s musical, but the songs themselves are quite forgettable.  Personally, I find the story itself to be too bizarre, and it’s not helped by the short itself being in rough shape (and therefore harder to understand everything that’s said/sung).  Probably won’t be revisiting this one any time soon.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Little Cheeser (1936)

(available as an extra on the Libeled Lady Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 9 minutes, 22 seconds)

Little Cheeser is tired of being “Mama’s little man,” and decides to listen to the devil on his shoulder and get into mischief. An interesting cartoon, although hardly original, with the fight between good and bad being waged by the shoulder angel and devil. Of course, these two do seem to be real, in terms of their interactions with the rest of the world. Still, the subject matter as a whole doesn’t work as well here (and, quite frankly, I much the prefer the 1938 Disney cartoon “Donald’s Better Self,” which covers similar territory but is far more memorable to me). The animation would be the only reason to give this one a shot (although, preferably, when it has been restored, since it wasn’t for this release).

And Now For The Main Feature…

Uh oh!  Fake news alert!  The New York Evening Star has published a story about rich heiress Connie Allenbury (Myrna Loy) breaking up a marriage, but it turns out to be false!  The newspaper tries to stop the story, but enough copies get out that Connie and her father, J.B. Allenbury (Walter Connolly), find out and decide to sue the newspaper for five million dollars.  Unable to do much else, editor Warren Haggerty (Spencer Tracy) turns to former reporter (and somebody who has also specialized in dealing with libel suits) Bill Chandler (William Powell) for help.  The plan?  Try to make the story true.  The two of them convince Warren’s frequently frustrated fiancée Gladys Benton (Jean Harlow) to marry Bill in a civil ceremony, and then have her catch her new “husband” in the act.  No sooner is the ceremony over than Bill is off to London, with plans to join the Allenburys for their boat trip back to America.  He tries to ingratiate himself by helping out Connie and learning all he can about being a fisherman (to find an in with her father, an avid fisherman).  J. B. is impressed, but Connie smells a (gold-digging) rat.  Still, Bill gets invited on a fishing trip with the Allenburys, where he plans to end the whole thing.  What he doesn’t count on is his own feelings!  He finds himself falling for Connie (and she for him), so he tries to postpone the “scene” with Gladys.  While he tries to see Connie in secret, he treats Gladys kindly (with her also falling for him in the process).  Meanwhile, Warren is in the hot seat, as he believes Bill hasn’t seen Connie during all this time (until he visits Connie himself to convince her to drop the suit, and Bill walks in).  Now, Warren has some ammo to get Gladys to turn on Bill again.  With all this trouble, will true love win out, or will everybody suffer?

Actress Jean Harlow had been trying to diversify the types of roles she had been doing, with varying results.  Libeled Lady was a return to some of her more comedic roots.  However, she was initially disappointed when she was cast as Gladys Benton.  Being that, offscreen, she was in love with her co-star William Powell, she had wanted to be Connie Allenbury, so that their characters would wind up together.  She didn’t get her way, though, as the film was generally intended as another vehicle for the screen team of William Powell and Myrna Loy (but Jean did at least get the wedding scene with William Powell, which was more than she got offscreen, since she died before they could ever get married).  In spite of the issue of casting, the four leads were all friends, and got along quite well throughout filming.  Of course, the movie proved to be a hit with audiences, and would even be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar that year (although it lost to another William Powell/Myrna Loy film, The Great Ziegfeld).

So, how do I like this movie?  It’s a screwball comedy.   Need I say more?  Wait a minute.  I do?  Ok.  How about my score for this movie?

My Rating: 10/10

Still not enough?  Then I’ll keep going.  The cast alone makes this fun!  As the managing editor, Spencer Tracy’s Warren Haggerty seems cut from the same cloth as Cary Grant’s Walter Burns from His Girl Friday, in terms of the lengths he will go to for his newspaper (which makes for a lot of hilarity right there).  Jean Harlow as his put upon girlfriend adds to the fun, particularly in the ways that she deals with William Powell’s Bill Chandler early on in the film.  Their fake marriage is really fun (especially when they’re not performing for anybody).  But, the big draw here is William Powell and Myrna Loy together!  Out of the fourteen movies they made together, this is only the second one that I have had the chance to see (although, as I write this, After The Thin Man is in my stack of movies to watch, and that review will likely be posted first).  These two certainly bring the comedy here, whether it’s her suspicions of him when they first meet, or the whole fishing trip.  But, everybody works well in this movie, and the laughs are sure to come!  So, don’t hesitate!  Give this one a chance!  You won’t regret it!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Libeled Lady (1936)

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection, working from a 4K scan of the best surviving preservation elements.  From the sounds of it, this is a movie that we BARELY got on Blu-ray.  The original camera negative was long gone, as the result of the infamous fire that destroyed many MGM camera negatives.  They had a second generation fine grain master (made back in the 1960s) to work with, but that was in really rough shape.  Still, they pulled off a miracle, giving us a transfer with a clean image (in a good way), that shows off the detail in fine form!  Seriously, this Blu-ray is wonderful, and should be the way you experience this well-made screwball comedy classic!

Film Length: 1 hour, 38 minutes

My Rating: 10/10 (repeated for the sake of keeping things uniform, as well as re-emphasizing my high opinion of the movie)

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Dinner At Eight (1933) – Jean Harlow

My Man Godfrey (1936) – William Powell – After The Thin Man (1936)

The Thin Man (1934) – Myrna Loy – After The Thin Man (1936)

San Francisco (1936) – Spencer Tracy – Without Love (1945)

It Happened One Night (1934) – Walter Connolly – Nothing Sacred (1937)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… After The Thin Man (1936)

Today, we’re going back to the Thin Man franchise with the second film in the series, After The Thin Man (1936), once again starring William Powell and Myrna Loy! But first, let’s get through the two shorts included on the disc, and then it’s on with the show!

Coming Up Shorts! with… How To Be A Detective (1936)

(available as an extra on the After The Thin Man Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 8 minutes, 49 seconds)

Robert Benchley lectures on how to be a detective. The short has several sections, with him taking part in the gags as he tries to “demonstrate” what’s he teaching. It’s not a short that will have you completely busting a gut, but it has its moments of good humor. I’ve enjoyed Robert Benchley in the various movies I’ve seen him in, and he’s still good here, too!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Early Bird And The Worm (1936)

(available as an extra on the After The Thin Man Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 9 minutes, 14 seconds)

The Early Bird chases the worm, although a “rattle” snake joins in, looking for a meal of its own. Another entry in the “Happy Harmonies” series of cartoons from MGM, this one is a bit of fun. While it starts out in a more musical style, it quickly gives way to the old “predator vs. prey” type, as the bird chases the worm. Of course, the two “enemies” become friends to save each other from the snake. The animation is fun here (although the two crows in the short are rather dated stereotypes, similar to the crows from the Disney animated classic Dumbo). A very enjoyable cartoon overall!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Following closely on the heels of The Thin Man (not really a spoiler, as it only acknowledges that the previous mystery was solved, but doesn’t say who did it), detective Nick Charles (William Powell) and his wealthy wife Nora (Myrna Loy) return to their home in San Francisco via train on New Year’s Eve. Hoping to be alone, they find a party going on at their home (supposedly a surprise party for them, but the guest list includes people they don’t even know). They are quickly invited to dinner with some of Nora’s family. They are both reluctant to go (Nick in particular), but Nora’s cousin, Selma Landis (Elissa Landi), pleads with them to come, so they do. Arriving at the home of Nora’s aunt Katherine Forrest (Jessie Ralph), they soon find Selma all worked up about something. They quickly discover that her husband has disappeared for a few days, and she wants them to find him. Nick quickly goes to a Chinese nightclub, which is run by “Dancer” (Joesph Calleia) and his partner Lum Kee (William Law). There, they discover Selma’s husband Robert Landis (Alan Marshal), drunk and waiting for his girlfriend, singer Polly Byrnes (who is played by Dorothy McNulty, or as her later stage name would be, Penny Singleton). Robert expresses no desire to go back to his wife, and leaves the nightclub with Polly. Later, he meets alone with Selma’s former boyfriend, David Graham (James Stewart), who gives Robert $25,000 worth of bonds to go away and never return. Robert takes the money, stopping off at his house to grab a few things before he goes. However, as he leaves, he is fatally shot, with it looking like Selma shot him. With Nick on the case to help prove Selma’s innocence, and the aid of police lieutenant Abrams (Sam Levene), will they be able to discover the truth, or will Selma be hanged for the murder of her husband?

The first Thin Man was a minor film, one that MGM had low expectations for, and only got made because director W. S. Van Dyke was able to film it in a very short period of time. The movie turned out to be more successful than MGM imagined, and they got the gang (Powell, Loy and director Van Dyke) back together for another go-round. Thin Man author Dashiell Hammett was brought in to write the story for the film sequel. Of course, they continued to use the “Thin Man” for the title (trying to imply that it took place after the first film), even though the reference was originally to a character in the first film (but audiences associated the phrase with William Powell’s Nick Charles, so the title stuck for the remainder of the series). They had a much bigger budget for the sequel, and more time to work with for filming, and they made use of the opportunity to do some filming in San Francisco itself. The film was another hit (and one of three films in 1936 pairing William Powell and Myrna Loy, with the other two being Libeled Lady and The Great Ziegfeld), and so the series continued on with another entry a few years later.

Much like when I watched and reviewed the first Thin Man a few years back, this was my first time seeing this movie. Of course, being a bit more familiar with the first film now (having watched it again right before seeing this sequel), the exact style of the movie isn’t as much of a surprise (nor was the idea that I would like it). I thought the first film focused more on the comedy than the mystery, but the comedy was increased even more here! As with the first film, the booze was flowing freely for Nick and Nora, and their banter continues to add to the fun! James Stewart is also interesting in one of his early roles, as a previously spurned lover. I think I prefer the first film for its mystery and the innuendoes that got through (since it was a pre-Code), but this one is still good fun, and leaves me looking forward to seeing the rest of the series!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection, featuring a 4K scan of the best surviving preservation elements (which in this case was a safety fine grain made back in the 1960s, before the original camera negative was gone). As I already said, I hadn’t seen this movie previously, so I have no past experience with how it looked. But, I can say with enough confidence that this transfer is fantastic (but, it’s from Warner Archive, so that’s nothing new)! The detail and clarity is there, with all the dirt and debris removed. I can think of no better way to be introduced to this classic mystery comedy, and I can only hope that the rest of the series (including the already announced for Blu-ray Another Thin Man) can get this kind of treatment!

Film Length: 1 hour, 52 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #10 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2021

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Libeled Lady (1936) – William Powell – Another Thin Man (1939)

Libeled Lady (1936) – Myrna Loy – Another Thin Man (1939)

Born To Dance (1936) – James Stewart – Vivacious Lady (1938)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Love Me Tonight (1932)

This time around, we’ve got some great pre-Code musical fun with the classic 1932 film Love Me Tonight starring Maurice Chevalier, as well as Jeanette MacDonald! But first, we need a theatrical short to get us started, and we’ve got another one from the Ant And The Aardvark series, available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Ant And The Aardvark from Kino Lorber! After that, we’ll get straight into the movie!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Never Bug An Ant (1969)

(Length: 6 minutes, 13 seconds)

The aardvark tries to catch the ant using various methods (particularly using the attraction of sugar). Very formulaic cartoon here, which doesn’t stray from the “hunter vs. prey” formula. In spite of that, there are a few fun gags here, and the dialogue itself provides as much of the laughter as the physical comedy. Not the series’ best, but it still manages to entertain when I watch it!

And Now For The Main Feature…

(Narrator): Ah, it’s Paris in the early morning. Everybody is waking up. The rhythm of the city coming to life. But, of course, “That’s The Song Of Paris!” Or so sings the tailor Maurice Courtelin (Maurice Chevalier) as he gets started for the day. Not long after opening up for the day, one of his customers, Vicomte Gilbert de Vareze (Charles Ruggles), comes running in to the store in his underwear (since he had to run away from a jealous husband), and asks for one of his suits. He is unable to pay at the moment, but promises to get the money from the Duke and pay his bill.

(Host): Oh, if it was only that simple.

(Narrator): Indeed, but we have to have SOME conflict for the story to happen here, don’t we? But, back to our tale. After the Vicomte leaves, Maurice finishes dealing with another customer who had bought a wedding suit, and Maurice remarks about how his abilities as a tailor are helping out others with their romances, and dreams of enjoying romance himself.

(Host): “Isn’t It Romantic?”

(Narrator): You would bring that earworm up! For that is indeed what it is, the way the song catches on in the movie! The customer finds it to be a catchy tune, and starts humming it as he leaves the shop. A cabby takes it up, and his passenger, a composer starts working on the tune. Then a group of soldiers, who sing it as they march, on to some gypsy musicians, and all the way to the Chateau d’Artelines, where the princess Jeanette (Jeanette MacDonald) starts singing it as well.

(Host): (Sighs) “Isn’t It Romantic?”

(Narrator): The needle is getting stuck in a crack. But, no matter. At the castle, the Duke d’Artelines (C. Aubrey Smith) argues with his niece, the Countess Valentine (Myrna Loy), who wants some money, but he refuses to give her any. The Vicomte arrives, with plans to ask his uncle for the money he owes Maurice. However, the Duke is angry, and refuses to give him the money (and forbids him from leaving). Not long after, Maurice and some of the other merchants are infuriated when they find out that the Vicomte is not known for paying his bills. Maurice vows to the others that he will storm the castle himself and get their money. They send him off in a car with all the stuff that the Vicomte had ordered, although it breaks down in the countryside. While the driver tries to repair it, Jeanette comes along driving a horse-drawn buggy, which goes off the road when trying to pass the car. Maurice is instantly infatuated with her, and helps her get the buggy back on the road.

(Host): Ah, his “Mimi.”

(Narrator): “Mimi, you funny little good for nothing, Mimi. Am I the guy? Mi -” (muttering under his breath) Darn it, now he’s got that stuck in there, too! (Back to normal) Although slightly flattered, Jeanette leaves him in a huff. Once back at the castle, she drops in a faint. A doctor is called, as she has been having fainting spells for a while. After examining her, the doctor suggests either marriage or exercise to help her out. Not too much later, Maurice arrives at the castle. He runs through the castle, but doesn’t find anybody as he climbs the stairs. Returning to the main floor, he finally sees some people. As he searches for the Vicomte, he meets the Duke (but assumes he is a servant, since he is cleaning a suit of armor). When the Vicomte walks in, he tries to keep Maurice quiet about his reason for being there. The Vicomte introduces Maurice to everyone as a baron, and they all start to insist he stay. He is reluctant, until Jeanette walks through, and agrees to stay.

(Host): “Mimi -“

(Narrator): Don’t. You. Dare. Anyways, Maurice wins everyone over as a baron (well, not quite everyone, as Jeanette is still trying to resist his charms). They have a stag hunt, and Jeanette puts him on the roughest horse, which takes off with him for parts unknown. The rest of the hunt commences, with the hunting dogs chasing down the stag. Jeanette follows some of the dogs to a cottage, where she finds Maurice feeding the stag some oats. In doing so, Maurice effectively calls off the hunt. Upon their return, one of Jeanette’s potential suitors, Count de Savignac (Charles Butterworth), reveals to the Duke that Maurice is not the Baron Courtelin. However, the Vicomte hints that Maurice might be royalty traveling under a false name. Later, a costume party is given for the baron. During the party, the Countess Valentine continually flirts with Maurice, which results in Jeanette leaving. Maurice follows her, and finds her when she faints. He kisses her, which wakes her back up. After she slaps him a few times, she becomes more receptive to his advances, and says that she will love him no matter what. The next day, Maurice comes in when Jeanette is having a new riding habit designed by her seamstress. He dislikes it, which insults the seamstress. Everyone else responds to the seamstress being insulted, and they come in on Jeanette being measured by Maurice in a slight state of undress. To get himself out of trouble, Maurice promises to put together a riding habit for her in two hours, which everybody else scoffs at.

(Host): Well, obviously, we all know he’s a tailor, so he should be able to do it. But, will the princess still love him when she realizes that he is a tailor?

(Narrator): Indeed, that is the question, and there we end our description of the story.

(Host): Love Me Tonight was the third of four films that Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald made together. At the time, they were two of the biggest stars at Paramount Studios. However, they were both drawing big salaries, and hadn’t been assigned any new films. Ernst Lubitsch, who had directed them in two earlier films, was being difficult as a result of contract negotiations, so director Rouben Mamoulian was hired. Mamoulian brought in the songwriting team of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart to write the music. He went for a bold move in having them write the music first, before putting the script together, making Love Me Tonight the first integrated film musical, in which the songs actually served to help further the plot and develop the characters.

Love Me Tonight was a movie I had kind of heard of. I’ve seen the 1934 Merry Widow with Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald previously (mostly because I’m a fan of Jeanette MacDonald), and because of that, I at least knew that the two of them had made four films together (but I couldn’t have told you the names of the first three). Love Me Tonight caught my attention a year or so back when it was revealed as a title that had been licensed by Kino Lorber through Universal Studios for release on Blu-ray. Upon looking it up, I was thrilled to see that it was one of Jeanette MacDonald’s films, and eagerly looked forward to seeing it! Of course, that was just a reveal that it was coming, and not a release announcement (with a date attached), so I’d been patiently waiting for news on when it would come out. Of course, I was thrilled when it was said that it would be getting a new 4K remaster, which no doubt slowed down the release (particularly when the pandemic hit).

Of course, now that it’s available (and I’ve got a copy in my hands), you’re all wondering what I think of it. Well, first off, the movie looks FANTASTIC!! The picture looks great here, certainly better than I could have hoped for! It’s not absolutely pristine, but it’s close enough that few should have many complaints! And as to the movie itself, I was expecting a good movie, but it was better than I expected! The music was fun (and obviously some songs were more memorable than others 😉 ), the cast was fun (including Myrna Loy as the man-hungry Countess, before The Thin Man really revealed her comedic talents on a bigger scale), and the pre-Code elements certainly made for some fun and *slightly* more adult humor. The film was far better than I could have imagined for a movie still so early in the sound era. Honestly, it’s a great movie, and one I would DEFINITELY recommend seeing, especially through the new Blu-ray!

(Host): “Mimi, you funny little -“

(Narrator covers up host’s mouth with rag)

(Narrator): Wouldn’t you know it, folks, we had to end with the best gag in the whole post!

Film Length: 1 hour, 29 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #3 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2020

**ranked #6 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2020

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Maurice Chevalier – Love In The Afternoon (1957)

Monte Carlo (1930)Jeanette MacDonaldThe Cat And The Fiddle (1934)

Myrna Loy – The Thin Man (1934)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

An Old-Fashioned Christmas Movie On The Farm (2019) with… The Thin Man (1934)

If you’re ready for mystery mixed in with a bit of screwball comedy (not to mention one that works at Christmastime, too), then look no further than The Thin Man from 1934, starring William Powell and Myrna Loy!

Dorothy Wynant (Maureen O’Sullivan) announces to her inventor father Clyde Wynant (Edward Ellis) that she plans to marry her boyfriend Tommy (Henry Wadsworth) just after Christmas. Clyde says he has a business trip (which he refuses to discuss), but he promises to return before Christmas. However, when he doesn’t show up by Christmas Eve, Dorothy begins to worry. At a party, she runs into an old family friend, former detective Nick Charles (William Powell), who is in New York for the holidays with his wife, Nora (Myrna Loy), and their dog Asta. She tries to convince him to look for her father, but he doesn’t want to become involved. After Clyde’s mistress Julia Wolf (Natalie Moorhead) is discovered murdered, Nick can’t help but get dragged into the case, pushed along by his wife. After a thug is murdered and another body is discovered in Clyde’s laboratory, Nick and Nora gather all the suspects together at a dinner party, where the murderer is revealed.

Ah, yes, the movie that was the beginning of a franchise (and yet, in making it, who knew that would be the case). MGM had gotten the rights to the novel, written by Dashiell Hammett (who had also written The Maltese Falcon, amongst other novels). Director W.S. Van Dyke, himself a fan of detective novels, wanted to do it. And he wanted William Powell and Myrna Loy to do it, after working with them on the 1934 film Manhattan Melodrama and seeing how well they had gotten along on that film behind the scenes. However, the MGM executives were against the idea. At most, they were willing to let William Powell do it, since he had already portrayed some other detectives, but they weren’t as thrilled with Myrna Loy, supposedly only giving in if the movie could be done within three weeks so she could start her next film. Of course, Van Dyke (known to some as “One-Take Woody”) ran with it, getting the movie finished within twelve to eighteen days, and the movie became a big classic, spawning five sequels, many copycats and a two season TV series in the late fifties starring Peter Lawford and Phyllis Kirk, not to mention seven more films (besides the already mentioned Manhattan Melodrama) that paired up William Powell and Myrna Loy.

Going into the recent Blu-ray release, this was my first time seeing this movie. It turned out to be a wonderful and very enjoyable surprise! While the mystery itself was fun, it was very much secondary in this movie. Instead, the focus was on the relationship of William Powell’s Nick Charles and Myrna Loy’s Nora. For a film that was shot in a very short period of time, they give us such a rich relationship! Their banter alone makes the film fun (with some lines definitely showing the movie to be a pre-Code).  And, of course, they clearly make good use of the then-recent repeal of Prohibition, considering how much they imbibe martinis and other alcoholic drinks. But the comedy works, and for that alone, I have absolutely no trouble whatsoever with recommending this movie to anybody!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2019) with… The Thin Man (1934)

As with a lot of older movies, being a popular film proves to be just as much a curse as it is a blessing. Due to its popularity, the studio made so many release prints off the original camera negative that it was in bad shape, and was essentially destroyed back in the late 1960s. Partly because of that, this movie has apparently never looked that great on home video. But in preparing this movie for Blu-ray, the good people working for the Warner Archive Collection made use of a safety fine grain film stock (made before the original camera negative was gone) and a dupe negative in place of some sections that were in bad shape to restore this movie. All I can say is that, in my opinion, their hard work has paid off, resulting in one of this year’s best film restorations (so far)! So I would definitely recommend WAC’s recent Blu-ray release of this great film!

Film Length: 1 hour, 31 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #3 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2019

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Man Of The World (1931) – William Powell – Star Of Midnight (1935)

Love Me Tonight (1932) – Myrna Loy – Libeled Lady (1936)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!