>> Saturday, May 19, 2007
After the Thin Man is a fast, funny romp; and Powell and Loy are in fine comic form as filmdom’s favorite soused spouses.
USA/B&W-122m./Dir: W.S. Van Dyke/Wr: Frances Goodrich & Albert Hackett/Cast: William Powell (Nick Charles), Myrna Loy (Nora Charles), James Stewart (David Graham), Elissa Landi (Selma Landis), Joseph Calleia (Dancer), Penny Singleton (Polly Byrnes), Jessie Ralph (Aunt Katherine), Skippy (Asta)
Two years after The Thin Man provided MGM with a box office bonanza, William Powell and Myrna Loy returned to the roles of Nick and Nora Charles in the aptly named After the Thin Man. Metro’s patience in producing a follow-up to the 1934 film was a deviation from Hollywood’s standard practice of rushing out sequels at a rate of two or three a year to capitalize on a hit, and the extra attention to quality is evident in every frame. While After the Thin Man can’t quite match the giddy wit and elegance of the original, it comes intoxicatingly close--sparkling with a luminescence that few sequels can match.
The story picks up where the first film left off. Nick, Nora, and Asta return home after successfully solving the “Thin Man” case, exhausted and nearly out of liquor. Unfortunately, there’s no rest for the wasted. As soon as the couple arrives at their estate, they are forced to attend a dinner party with Nora’s stuffy relatives, where they once again find themselves embroiled in a mystery.
The sequel does surpass the original in one facet--Nick and Nora receive more screen time. This is a very good thing, because the Thin Man movies tend to drag during the non-comedic scenes that set up the mysteries. Unfortunately, although the couple still do a good deal of imbibing, the drinking is relegated to the background; as opposed to the first film, in which Nick’s superhuman thirst was his central character trait. The film also suffers from an atrociously bad supporting performance by Elissa Landi as the film’s overwrought heroine. It’s a shame she doesn’t end up as the murder victim.
Drinks Consumed--Gin, brandy, scotch, champagne, and various unnamed cocktails
Intoxicating Effects--Hiccups, slurred speech
Potent Quotables--NORA: Are you packing dear?
NICK (drinking a martini): Hmm… Yes, darling. I’m just putting away this liquor.
Video Availability--After the Thin Man is available as a solo DVD or as part of The Complete Thin Man Collection (The Thin Man / After the Thin Man / Another Thin Man / Shadow of the Thin Man / The Thin Man Goes Home / Song of the Thin Man).
Similarly Sauced Cinema--Nick and Nora next appeared in Another Thin Man (1939).