Nick Charles, a retired detective, is trying to settle down after inheriting controlling interest of his wife Nora’s father’s significant fortune. Charles is pulled out of the quiet life, however, after the mysterious disappearance and subsequent murder of an old friend.
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Based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett, The Thin Man was released in 1934 and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. Starring William Powell and Myrna Loy, the story revolves around a murder mystery involving the disappearance of retired detective Nick Charles’ (Powell) friend and former client Clyde Wynant. In 1997 the film was entered into the United States National Film Registry for it’s “cultural, historic, and aesthetic significance.”
The film opens with young Dorothy Wynant announcing to her inventor father, Clyde, that she is engaged to be married. Soon after Clyde goes inexplicably missing and does not return to attend her daughter’s wedding. Dorothy runs into Nick Charles, an ex-detective who was once hired by Clyde, and asks him if he knows of her father’s whereabouts. Nick, much too soused on expensive liquor to provide a serious answer, assures her that he will turn up. Along with Nick are his wife Nora and their dog Asta, now on a whirlwind-spending spree after the inheritance of Nora’s father’s considerable assets.
Mimi Jorgensen, ex-wife to Clyde, becomes worried that without her ex-husband around to pay alimony she will soon run out of money to continue living her lavish lifestyle and support her younger, unemployed second husband. Mimi begrudgingly sets up a meeting with Julia Wolf, Clyde’s mistress and capital handler, to discuss Clyde’s whereabouts and the issue of his money. Upon entering Wolf’s apartment, Mimi finds Julia shot dead on the floor clutching Clyde’s watch chain in her hand.
Meanwhile, Nick and Nora are hosting a Christmas party in their stylish New York City hotel room. The party then becomes a safe haven for Dorothy and then Mimi arrive stirring up interest among the press as to whether or not Nick has taken the case. Nick repeatedly assures everyone he is not interested in the case until a mysterious gunman attacks him at his apartment later that evening.
The Thin Man features quick-witted dialogue and fast-paced action making it one of the top-tier detective films of the 30’s. The great chemistry between Powell and Loy lead to the development of a Thin Man series of films of which went on to inspire and influence future generations of detective storytellers. An amusing film with grown-up humor and sensibilities The Thin Man is the quintessential Hollywood detective film.