10 December 2011

Xmas Season Movies: Day Two, The Thin Man

The Thin Man (1934)
Directed by: W.S. Van Dyke
Country: U.S.A.
Based on a detective novel by Dashiell Hammett

The Lowdown
Age: all ages.
In-laws, relatives: yes, yes.
Required level of sobriety: the movie is still good sober but I suggest lining up five martinis at a time. It just seems rude not to keep up with the characters.
Audience: not for brutes, a certain level of sophistication required. Leave your socialist tendencies at the door. Yes, we know there was a depression going on. The whole point of these films was to forget about it by fantasizing about abundance.
Christmas Spirit: Plenty. If being passed out on martinis every night and giving open house Christmas parties out of your hotel suite is your idea of Christmas spirit -- and whose isn't?

What can I say? William Powell just sits there, shooting his gun at a Christmas tree for what seems like twenty minutes. If you don't appreciate the perversity in this, you might still like The Thin Man, but you won't feel its a part of you like so many of us do. It's one of my test when I'm getting to know someone. If they don't like The Thin Man, it gives me pause.

Yes, another whodunnit set around Christmastime. I wish there were more. Here, the plot twists aren't important as much as style and characterization and the style of the characters. William Powell and Myrna Loy made many Thin Man movies together. They were icons in their day, and they still are to people like me who go into shock every time some mundane person reminds them that, no, they are definitely not a reincarnation of Irene Bullock.

Christmas in New York in the thirties. To be transported there is all one needs to feel joy and I can ask no more of a movie.

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