Review: After the Thin Man (1936)

>> Saturday, May 19, 2007

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.

Still, the positives far outweigh the negatives. After the Thin Man is a fast, funny romp; and Powell and Loy are in fine comic form as filmdom’s favorite soused spouses.

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).

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)


Anonymous May 24, 2007 at 12:53 PM  

Awesome review, Garv. I've been meaning to watch The Thin Man for years and never gotten around to it. I'm putting this on my Netflix queue.

I think it's amazing how you can spot on sight the drinks consumed in these movies. You should be working for NASA, or something.

garv May 24, 2007 at 4:37 PM  

Thanks for the compliments. Documenting the drinks is the most difficult part of assembling these reviews. In some cases, I've had to pause the film and go frame-by-frame in order to read the labels on liquor bottles.

I've been lax in my film viewing this week, due to life and television season finales (LOST's finale oozed awesomeness). I hope to post another review or two over the long weekend.

Anonymous September 30, 2008 at 4:13 AM  

there is a movie out there that i saw in colege that i dont know the title to. it is much like the bar fly, but in black and white. there is one scene where he leaves circles on the bar of the shots he progressively takes as the night goes on. another that he hides his bottles out the window. just trying to figure out the title to the movie

garv October 1, 2008 at 6:02 AM  

The movie you are thinking of is THE LOST WEEKEND.

Anonymous February 1, 2010 at 10:42 AM  

I have the complete DVD collection (7 total) of The Thin Man and I absolutely love them! The mysteries are fun to watch play out and of course the partying and drinking is entertaining. Nora is the wife every man wishes he had~wealthy, fun-loving and forgiving:)

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I like to drink. I like to watch movies. I like to watch movies about drinking. I like to write about the movies I’ve watched, but only if I’ve had a drink first.

All text including the title "Booze Movies: The 100 Proof Film Guide" Copyright William T. Garver

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