The Charleses Are a Family Now. Still Charming but Less Witt
mirasreviews | McLean, VA USA | 03/16/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The third installment in the "Thin Man" series, "Another Thin Man" (1939) was the last episode to which writer Dashiell Hammett would contribute. Hammett provided the story; Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett reunited for the screenplay -also for the last time; and W. S. Van Dyke returned to direct William Powell and Myrna Loy as comic detective duo Nick and Nora Charles. "Another Thin Man" finds the Charleses back East again with a nearly one-year-old son, Nick Jr. and dog Asta in tow. Just as they arrive in New York, Colonel MacFay (C. Aubrey Smith), who had been Nora's father's business partner, insists that Nick and Nora visit his Long Island estate on a matter of some urgency. MacFay is being shaken down and harassed by former employee Phil Church (Sheldon Leonard), whom MacFay believes means to kill him. Ever the reluctant detective, Nick is compelled to take the case on when MacFay's fears become reality.
"Another Thin Man" isn't as witty or charming as 1934's "The Thin Man", but very few films since then have been. William Powell and Myrna Loy still have great chemistry and comic timing -although I find it grating when Nick calls his wife "Mommy". As usual, the murder case is chaos and the solution strained. But this is pretty good light entertainment. Nick and Nora's quiet weekend in the country turns hectic immediately, and when the possibilities there have been exhausted, the melée moves to the city. Police Lieutenant Guild (Nat Pendleton), whom you will remember from the original "Thin Man" film, is back, though he has left his hard-boiled persona behind. He's bit of a bumbling fool now. The entire police investigation is played for laughs and made out to be ridiculously incompetent. It's funny, but it's not Dashiell Hammett's style. The sordid family affairs beneath a veneer of wealth and respectability, on the other hand, are very much Hammett's style.
The DVD (Warner Brothers 2005): The film has only a few minor flaws, but it is not perfect. A short film and a cartoon are included as bonus features, so you can watch the film the way audiences saw it in theaters in 1939. "Love on Tap" (10 min) features "The Abbott Dancers", a women's dance troupe, and concerns their overly dedicated chaperone, who always puts the dancers' needs before her fiancé, much to his frustration. It's a silly film designed mainly to showcase the ladies' acrobatic dancing. "The Bookworm" (8 min) is a cartoon about storybook characters who decide that they need a worm to complete their witch's brew, so they set off to find one in another storybook. They find a bookworm, of course, who proves difficult to catch. There is also a theatrical trailer for "Another Thin Man" (2 ½ min). Subtitles for the film are available in English, Spanish, and French. Dubbing is available in French."