Been & Going

[Why Watch This?] Holiday Edition Part IV: The Thin Man

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It’s Christmas eve! Why not celebrate with a classic movie marathon? Well, maybe because your family is in town and they’d rather watch crap- but you can learn ’em good by just following our Why Watch This recommendations of classic Christmas movies.

If you’ve ever wondered from where all the plots, devices, and themes in just about every murder mystery made after 1934 were derived, here is your source. It is like finding the source of the Nile, elusive yet obvious, and for most, not worth—gasp—watching a black and white movie to see. Yes, a whole back and white movie. I’m going to present my argument here for why you should watch a whole black and white movie.

And it’s not just murder mysteries that can count The Thin Man and subsequent sequels as grandfather, it’s any sort of wise-cracking rom-com or any movie with a dog, or really anything that has been made since 1934, trust me. Nick and Nora, sound familiar? It should, and this is wheropeninge it all started.

Forget drunk Santas, in The Thin Man, everyone is drunk and loving it! When first we meet Nick, the ex-cop married to an heiress, he is at the hotel bar lining up the martinis. Soon he is joined by Nora, his wife, dragged into the bar by their loveable pooch Asta. The Charles’ are in New York for Christmas, who knows why, they are rich and living it up. Nora lines up the martinis to catch up to Nick, that’s what makes her such a great wife, you see. She’s rich and she participates in Nick’s bad behavior.

The only thing that’s kind of annoying about NorMyrnaa is her obsession with crime and investigation. When an old friend finds them and asks Nick to find her father who seems to have disappeared, Nick is hesitant, but Nora is all over it and pushes him in head first. The ensuing action is Nick solving the disappearance of “The Thin Man” while dodging Nora at every step. He’s dodging her to “protect her” which isn’t patronizing at all. Even for the ’30s. The whole thing culminates at a dinner party (!) where all the suspects are invited. Nick sits at the head of the table asking questions until someone trips up, and bang! Fingers pointed, accusations made, crime solved!

But seriously, why in the heck wouldn’t you want to watch this movie? The chemistry between William Powell (Nick Charles) and Myrna Loy (Nora Charles) is sparkling. It’s no joke, Hollywood recognized it too, they went on to make 14 movies together, not all of them in the Thin Man oeuvre (though 6 Myrna and Bill TM all  were). It’s charming, they drink like a couple of fishes on New Year’s Eve (wait, that’s the sequel! Ha! Literally 1 person just got my joke, thanks honey!).

A few years ago we went to a screening of The Thin Man at The Silent Movie Theatre (name drop) in Hollywood (name drop) and young people were there and everything. They even enjoyed themselves, and not just because they were serving dirty martinis. So, pour yourself one and check this one out. I’m almost pretty positive you won’t regret it.