Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Shadow of the Thin Man

Year 8, Day 180 - 6/28/16 - Movie #2,381

BEFORE: Here it is, the dreaded tipping point I knew was coming - I've got 119 films left on the watchlist, and 119 slots left in the year.  And new films are still being added to the list, I have not been able to maintain the philosophy of adding one for every two watched.  Hey, I started 2016 with 160 films on the list, so I've definitely made progress this year, but decreasing the list by 41 films when I've watched 181 this year, well, that's just not good enough.  Maybe if I'm lucky and I work hard and I draw the hard line somewhere, I can get the list down to 100 before the end of 2016.  Of course, since I usually take 2 months off, that number could balloon up to 130 again by January 1.  Maybe it's true that I'll be doing this for the rest of my days. 

William Powell, Myrna Loy and Skippy carry over again for their fourth film as Nick, Nora and Asta.

THE PLOT:  Nick and Nora investigate murder and racketeering at a local race-track.

AFTER: Little Nicky Charles starts to get some lines in this film, the fourth in the series, and who was it who said to never work with animals or small children?  I think maybe it was W.C. Fields.  OK, you can work with dogs, but kids are usually horrible at acting.  This kid's delivery was way off, I always felt like he was reading a line instead of just saying the words normally.  

This one's set in San Francisco, the film series seems to alternate between the coasts.  How grand it must be to just move from city to city, taking up long-term residences in some of the country's finest hotels.  But this is a little confusing, why aren't they living in the house that we saw in "After the Thin Man"?  Did it get trashed during that wild New Year's party?  

I mean, sure he might have a nationwide reputation for solving tough crimes, but that doesn't explain how many friends he already seems to have in a new city.  Maybe I'm overthinking it.  Anyway, the last film fell just short of pointing out that wherever Nick and Nora go, a murder seems to take place, and a case involves beautiful women.  Of course, it could just be a coincidence, but then again, how many weird murders can take place among a family and their friends?  Didn't someone once suggest that Jessica Fletcher from "Murder, She Wrote" could be a serial killer, which would explain why so many murders took place around her small town in Maine?  

So maybe that's why they took a different tack with this one - the murdered man is a jockey, not connected to Nick + Nora in any way, other than the fact they were looking forward to a quiet day at the racetrack.  Nick doesn't want to get involved at first, but the police desperately need his help, and who has more friends in low places than Nick Charles?  Plus, he's the only guy who seems able to "read" the murder scene, and this is decades before CSI was even a thing!

Tonight's restaurant is a nautical-themed seafood restaurant, where Nick tries to order lobster, but the waiter keeps pushing the sea bass.  I didn't know that they had sea bass back in the 1940's, considering that the "Chilean sea bass" was an attempt from the 1990's to re-brand the unpopular Patagonian toothfish.  Nick certainly has the right idea to hold out for lobster, as futile as that may be, but lobster didn't always have its reputation as an elegant dining choice - up until the mid-1800's it was considered a trash fish, barely worth serving to prison convicts.  It didn't really get popular among the upper crust until the 1950's or so.  It doesn't take much to start a brawl in this seafood restaurant, maybe all of the customers were just tired of eating sea bass.

Nick also introduces his young son to the racing form, rides on a merry-go-round, and is forced to drink a glass of milk as a good example.  Once again, the movie is spot-on, not just because Nick usually drinks things that are more alcoholic, but I've read that nutritionally, adults shouldn't drink much milk - once again, Nick Charles is ahead of the curve by five or six decades.

Tonight's future cast member of "It's a Wonderful Life" is a young Donna Reed - I have a feeling nearly the whole cast of that Christmas classic will be turning up over the next week.

NITPICK POINT: Nick suspects that two murders were caused by the same person, he even bets the police lieutenant on it, he's so sure.  But then when they figure out the details of the first murder, this seems to contradict Nick's theory - yet he acts like he was right all along, when he wasn't.  Is this a mistake, or just Nick not wanting to appear wrong about a cause of death?

Also starring Barry Nelson (last seen in "The Shining"), Donna Reed (last seen in "The Caddy"), Sam Levene (last seen in "After the Thin Man"), Alan Baxter, Henry O'Neill, Richard Hall, Stella Adler, Loring Smith (last seen in "Pat and Mike"), Joseph Anthony, Lou Lubin (last seen in "Saboteur"), Louise Beavers (last seen in "She Done Him Wrong"), with cameos from Oliver Blake (last seen in "The Stooge"), Ava Gardner (last seen in "The Snows of Kilimanjaro"), Tor Johnson, Will Wright. 

RATING: 5 out of 10 shower stalls

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