SONG OF THE THIN MAN, 1947
Cast: William Powell, Myrna Loy, Keenan Wynn, Dean Stockwell, Phillip Reed
Nick, Nora, and Nick Jr. investigate murders in New York.
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"Song of the Thin Man" is a murder mystery directed by Edward Buzzel and the sixth film in the “Thin Man” series. It’s something of a return to the roots of Nick and Nora Charles. The Myrna Loy-William Powell chemistry remains vibrant in this final “Thin Man” story. The "Song of the Thin Man" script was not written by American dramatist and screenwriter Albert Hackett and his wife Frances Goodrich who had worked with Dashiell Hammett to develop the Nick and Nora characters earlier in the series. Also "Song of the Thin Man” was one of two films in the series not directed by W.S. Van Dyke who passed away in 1943.
The Charles’ attend a society benefit on board Phil Brandt's (Bruce Cowling) gambling ship, the S.S. Fortune. There are cutaways to side stories concerning members of a jazz band comprised of clarinetist Buddy Hollis (Don Taylor), sultry singer Fran Page (Gloria Grahame), bandleader Tommy Drake (Philip Reed) and Clarence "Clinker" Krause (Keenan Wynn) performing on the stage.
Drake announces that he is quitting the band and has signed with band booker, Mitchell Talbin (Leon Ames). Drake has a gambling problem and owes $12,000 to gangster Al Amboy (William Bishop). Amboy is also at the party and demands full payment immediately from Drake. Since he has signed with Talbin, Drake begs him to give him an advance, but Talbin turns him down. In desperation, Drake sneaks into Brant's office, opens the safe and is shot from behind and killed by a mysterious gunman. Nick and Nora are on the case and more murders occur. Filled with twists and turns this, is a classic whodunit until the shocking end.
Sharp humor within the context of a happy marriage is a familiar trademark of the “Thin Man” series. Nick and Nora have fun with their relationship. Nick remains the sharp detective, although retired. Nora is his intellectual and emotional equal. Nora's impudence keeps her in the middle of Nick's cases with comic effect.
Nick Jr. is played by Dean Stockwell whom I remember most from the comedy film, “Married to the Mob” (1988) as Tony 'The Tiger' Russo. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Mafia boss. Stockwell has been in the NBC television series “Quantum Leap” among other films like “Blue Velvet” (1986) and “Dune” (1984). Even though Stockwell is a boy, and has a small part in this film, he is memorable being as mischievous as his father, Nick Charles. In one unforgettable scene Nick doesn’t want to spank Nick Jr. when he gets in trouble with Nora. Every time he attempts to spank him, Nick remembers fond family memories with him until he remembers Nick Jr. laughing at him when he fell riding a bike. Then he starts spanking Nick Jr. and after running to Nora she finds he stuffed a baseball mitt into his pants and didn’t feel a thing.
"Song of the Thin Man" was also the last picture that co-starred Loy and Powell, although Loy made a brief cameo in Powell's 1947 film, “The Senator Was Indiscreet.” In Myrna Loy’s autobiography she stated that she "hated" "Song of the Thin Man" and called the film "a lackluster finish to a great series." It had been thirteen years since the first “Thin Man” film came out from the time" Song of the Thin Man" was released. Yes this film is not the best from the series, but it’s a fun closer. There is certainly something for everyone in the series.