Sunday, June 26, 2016

After the Thin Man

Year 8, Day 178 - 6/26/16 - Movie #2,379

BEFORE: Despite some really lucky breaks, I'm not really an expert at scheduling things.  I didn't know, for example, that "The Thin Man" took place at Christmas, and here I am, watching it at the start of summer.  June 25 is literally as far away from Christmas as you can get.  But perhaps it's time for me to start thinking about Christmas and the end of the year, especially since I'm almost at the tipping point that will trigger year 9 of the project if I don't stop adding movies. 

My current plan, figuring in a week's break for Comic-Con, takes me only to Mid-August.  After that, there's a (currently) hazy period between the end of my chain and, let's say, back-to-school films and Halloween horror movies.  Then, in addition to a break for New York Comic-Con, there's another hazy period between October and the end of the year.  Will I be able to link to my (admittedly small number of) Christmas movies?

Damn, this would be easier if I had more films on the list, because that means more linking opportunities - but since I'm trying to reduce the size of the list, or at least keep it from growing bigger, my chances of maintaining order are fading fast.  My saving grace, once I clear these older films from the 1930's and 1940's off the list, could be the films I've seen in the theaters this year, three of which I have seen but not posted reviews on, and the ones I'm planning to see in the theaters, like "Ghostbusters" and "Independence Day: Resurgence".  Then I've got to think about "Rogue One" and what links to that, so it would help me greatly if the cable channels could start airing some big films like "Spotlight" or "The Big Short", you know, new films with a lot of stars in them so I can have more options.  

William Powell, Myrna Loy and Asta the dog all carry over from "The Thin Man" - see how easy it can be?

THE PLOT:  Nick investigates the case of a missing man and later a murder that is connected to Nora's family.

AFTER: I think this is a bit of an improvement over the original "Thin Man", so I'm glad to see that the filmmakers back in 1936 paid attention to me and took my notes in the spirit of constructive criticism.  There are fewer characters here, which means fewer suspects, but I don't think the crime part of the plot suffered for it.  

"The Thin Man" was set at Christmas time, and this film takes place around New Year's Eve, one presumes that it's the holiday immediately following the last one, as the couple arrives in San Francisco by train, but it doesn't necessarily have to be so.  (Perhaps they spend every Christmas in New York?)  They arrive to find their house full of strangers preparing to welcome them home with a party, so I guess they're a really rich couple who chooses not to spend any money on home security?  

But it's not long before trouble finds them again - Nora's cousin (??) Selma calls with a problem, her husband is missing.  So they go to visit Nora's cousin and aunt, who reveal he's probably out having an affair, but they'd like him found nonetheless.  Although they find him rather easy, in a Chinese restaurant that's really some kind of fabulous nightclub, with a singer and a band and such, it's not long before there's a dead body and it looks like Nora's cousin is the killer.  

If only Selma's cousin hadn't disposed of the gun - I assume even back in 1936 they had ballistics tests and such - so instead Nick and Nora have to untangle a web of blackmail and other schemes to figure out who the killer is, among the cast of broadly stereotypical characters.  

The gags are funnier in this sequel, like when visiting Nora's very upper-crust family, Nick carries on a conversation with a table full of older men, all of whom are asleep.  And Asta the dog gets a funny bit when he returns home to find Mrs. Asta with a litter of puppies, one of whom is much darker than the others, and there's a black-haired terrier who's seen tunneling under the fence into their yard, so Asta is jealous and keeps chasing him away.  They couldn't really come out and say that the dog was having extra-marital sex, so they just did it in a way that was completely visual.  (And a teeny bit racist.)

Oh, there were some racy-ish things in the first "Thin Man" movie, like Nora claiming that a strange man had his hands "in her drawers", of course she was talking about her dresser drawers, but from the reaction that Nick had, clearly we were supposed to think she was being molested.  Good times.  

Also starring James Stewart (last seen in "Bandolero!"), Elissa Landi, Joseph Calleia (last seen in "The Caddy"), Jessie Ralph, Alan Marshal, Teddy Hart, Sam Levene (last seen in "The Champ"), Penny Singleton, William Law, Paul Fix.  

RATING: 5 out of 10 scrambled eggs

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