The definitive madcap murder mystery film, The Thin Man proved so popular that it spawned four sequels, and influenced so many imitators that its style has become the standard for any comedically themed detective film. Starring William Powell and Myrna Loy as the married detective couple who always bicker while they effortlessly solve crimes, and directed by W.S. Van Dyke, this is a seminal work and a highly regarded one, well deserving of its place on the list.
The “Thin Man” of the title actually does not refer to William Powell’s character Nick Charles, but to a man named Clyde Wynant who disappears after a murder is discovered and he becomes the prime suspect. The film is delightfully anti-serious in every single second of its running time, always maintaining its pervasive mood of lightheartedness, which makes it a real crowd-pleaser, as evident by the financial success it garnered. Powell and Loy play off each other so perfectly you wouldn’t believe they weren’t a real life couple, albeit a smarmy and wickedly witty pair. Also featured is the famous acting dog Skippy who starred in many a film in the 1930s, including my previously reviewed Bringing Up Baby and The Awful Truth, and in every film I’ve seen him in he has been absolutely charming in every way, and a standout of whatever film he stars in, even if the film itself isn’t my cup of tea.
Everything about this film is dynamite, from the script to the acting to the direction, which was very simple but effective at letting the film play out as it is, which maximizes the effect it has on us the audience. This is such a feel good film that I actually find it hard to find a group to not recommend it to; as long as you’re in the mood for a smart, effective comedy-mystery, you can’t get much better than The Thin Man. If for no other reason, watch it for that darned delightful little pup Skippy; seriously, even if you hate dogs, he’ll win you over so easily you’ll be second-guessing yourself.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10