Synopsis: Dum-Dum, Wacky, Creeps, Fingers: They’re just a few of the hoodlums in the world of amateur sleuths and professional bon vivants Nick and Nora Charles. And now there’s a new hood: parenthood. A birthday party – make that boithday – that some of da boys hold for infant Nick Jr. is part of the fun in this third film in the witty series. The case begins when the Charles family arrives for a weekend with a Long Island industrialist who fears someone wants to kill him. Sure enough, his fears come true. Nick (William Powell) is among the suspects. Asta scrams with what may be the murder weapon. And Nora (Myrna Loy) has her own ideas about the case and sneaks off to a nightclub to ferret out a clue. “Madam, how long have you been leading this double life?” Nick asks. “Just since we’ve been married,” she replies.
Another Thin Man 6.75
‘Another Thin Man’ is, to me, the least inspired installment in the emerging ‘Thin Man’ franchise. By then, even the title indicated a lack of imagination. I mean, seriously, while ‘After the Thin Man’ made sense on a couple of levels, casually suggesting that audience could expect yet another film like the original seems lazy at best, if not wholly disingenuous.
Perhaps it was intended to reflect the story’s murder victim yet again, another “thin man with white hair”. Granted. However, not only did most cinema-goers have no idea that the first film was titled after its victim (i.e. not after Nick Charles), but this detail would reveal itself only after watching the picture. It’s hardly a good marketing ploy.
Beyond the title, there’s another key problem with ‘Another Thin Man’: it’s chiefly a comedy, with a mystery tossed in seemingly as an afterthought. We discover this in the very first frames of the film, with a comedic look at the Charles moving back to New York and having their baggage slowly destroyed along the way – after first seeing all their personalized baggage, including a small fire hydrant for Asta. Eek.
Sigh, the names of the various hoods and henchmen that Nick and Nora encounter is also indicative of how low things had gotten by this film. I mean, Dum-Dum… really? And the fact that Shemp Howard (of The Three Stooges fame!) shows up in a few scenes gives an idea of just what the focus of the picture really is. Forget all the mystery, forget the danger, what this film is trying to be is a laugh-fest. And, while the Charles are still endearing, and their banter is better than it was in ‘After the Thin Man’, the film’s credibility unravels wildly.
It’s terrific that Dashiell Hammett, the author of the original novel, was again tapped for the plot (this time by basing themselves on another of his stories, whereas he actually helped out with the last one), but all his efforts are squandered by Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich’s efforts to keep the proceedings light and fluffy. In so doing, they contrive all sorts of ridiculous moments.
The writing is at its weakest here, with nonsensical things happening just for the sake of a gag or one-liner – and not necessarily good ones. Case-in-point:
-Asta’s bone is found in Nick jr’s hands as though it/he’d managed to climb in over the bed’s bars and left it there and/or the soon-to-be one-year-old had climbed out and picked it up – just so that Nora could zing Asta. Haha.
-A hotel robber tosses the room key that he spent so much time trying to get, instead of keeping it for another time, just because the room is taken by Nick – a former acquaintance. For some reason it he now considered it a tosser, just because he wasn’t currently going to use it. Um.. as if he wouldn’t first scope the place out to find out what type of people were in it anyway, to see if it was worth his while.
And then sometimes things happen that simply don’t make any sense in any way that I can think of, such as when Nora agrees to uproot the whole family to go see a business partner, at his utmost insistence, and then his driver shows up two seconds after they complete their phone call. Say what? How did this happen? Did he teleport?
Now call me crazy, but there was no way that he could have driven all the way there in so little time, nor could he have been on standby outside and already heard from his boss (cel phones obviously didn’t exist). Perhaps that bit was wedged into the sequence to give Nora another “hilariously” head-spinning distraction, but every time I watch the film this nags at me.
It’s a good thing that I’m not the sort to quit when the going gets rough. If I were, I would likely have stopped after this one and never ever seen the next three films in the series. It would have been unfortunate, because, amazingly enough, they actually get better. They really do.
And, although ‘Another Thin Man’ is the series’ rock bottom, it’s nonetheless better than many other motion pictures – it’s hardly a horrendous piece. So, while I could do without ‘Another Thin Man’, I remain a fan of ‘The Thin Man’ series. And I look forward to further revisit it.