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After the Thin Man DVD
Written by Diana Saenger   

After the Thin Man (1936) is the sequel to the series first film about detectives Nick and Nora Charles, The Thin Man. After the Thin Man stars William Powell as Nick and Myrna Loy as Nora, and of course, their famous dog, Asta. The story spins around Nora's cousin Selma (Elissa Landi) and the hunt for her missing and philandering husband (Alan Marshall) - whom (you guessed it) turns up dead.

Movie watchers who saw The Thin Man and then tuned into this second crime caper had a little more knowledge about Nick and Nora and how they worked, so this movie was a tad more enjoyable than the first one. It helped that it also had a somewhat slightly more plausible story.

The movie opens in San Francisco as Nick and Nora are returning home from their honeymoon.

As they glide through the busy city streets everyone from petty thieves and shopkeepers to local icons stop to greet Nick and his new bride.

The couple return home on New Year's Eve and are surprised when they enter their apartment to find it jammed packed with partygoers waiting to welcome the Charles' home. Amusingly, few even recognize the couple when they enter. When Nora's Aunt Katherine (Jessie Ralph) invites them over to celebrate New Year's Eve, Nick begs Nora to say no. He knows the room will be full of boring old stiffs. But when Selma gets on the phone and begs them to come in a tear-filled voice, they relent.

Once at Aunt Katherine's, Selma reveals that her husband Robert Landis (Alan Marshall) is missing. Known as a cad who probably married Selma for her money, Nick is less than enthusiastic to investigate but agrees. Nick finds Robert and even talks to him, but shortly after he turns up DOA.

Typical of The Thin Man series, we soon have more suspects than Asta has puppies. It could be Polly Byrnes (Dorothy McNulty), a nightclub dancer out to land Robert for his money or, that is Selma's money. It could be her boss "Dancer" (Joseph Calleia), co-owner of the Lichee club where a lot of the action takes place. Maybe it's Polly's down 'n out brother, Phil Byrnes (Paul Fix).

Quickly eliminated as a suspect is Aunt Katherine herself, even though she detested Robert's treatment of Selma. When Selma herself is found peering over Robert's body on the sidewalk, she is arrested as the #1 suspect. Quick to defend her is her former beau, David Graham (James Stewart). It seems he actually paid off Robert to leave Selma alone and had hopes of regaining her love. Could he be more involved in this sizeable plot?

Jimmy Stewart, who would become one of Hollywood's most beloved and respected actors, had made only 11 films before his small role as David. Despite his handsome face, he showed little acting panache in this movie and had only a few seconds of an outburst that could be classified as any kind of an emotional reaction. Thankfully that would change in the future.

Once again the crime drama is sandwiched between Nick and Nora's amusing repartee and whimsical outlook on marriage and life in general. Powell and Loy had a great onscreen chemistry that worked right off the bat, and viewers loved to believe they were indeed a happily married couple who happened to live an adventurous life.

Nora is never frightened by Nick's profession, his penchant for danger or pays little attention when he offers advice. Hence she scoffs at him in this film when he says he dislikes that she, "doesn't scold, doesn't nag and looks too pretty in the morning."

Nick is always respectful but often cautious of Nora's wanting to be involved with his investigations. His undying love and appreciation of her social status - which he did not have - and beauty are never far beneath the surface of his every action, except maybe when he ties one on - which is quite often.

Some of the funnier moments involve Asta, their dog, who is shown sniffing the cage surrounding Mrs. Asta and their pups, and his chasing away another suitor to Mrs. Asta - who may just be responsible for that all-black pup!

Director W.S. Van Dyke ("Northwest Passage" 1940, "Tarzan the Ape Man," 1932) nicely taps into elements that became signatures of the series - the music, gaiety and dancing.

Included in The Complete Thin Man Collection are The Thin Man, Song of the Thin Man, Another Thin Man, Shadow of the Thin Man, The Thin Man Goes Home and a special bonus disc: Alias Nick & Nora available exclusively with the 7- disc set featuring two insightful documentaries, William Powell: A True Gentleman and Myrna Loy: So Nice to Come Home To.

Special features:

  • Robert Benchley Comedy Short How To Be A Detective

A spoof about Benchley's ideas and training on how to be a detective. Hardly fuuny.

  • Classic Cartoon The Early Bird and the Worm

A funny MGM cartoon about a bird chasing a worm, both of them chased by a snake and two black crows and who emerges as the winner.

  • Radio Show with Powell and Loy
  • Leo Is on the Air Radio Promo

A radio cavalcade of top tunes of 1936

  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Subtitles: English, French and Spanish (feature only)

Director: W.S. Van Dyke

Writers: Dashiell Hammett - novel, Albert Hackett - screenplay

Cast: William Powell, Myrna Loy, Elissa Landi, Alan Marshall, Jessie Ralph

Rating: Unrated

Classic Movie Guide Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Run Time: 112 minutes

DVD Release Date: 8/02/2005

Studio: Warner Home Video

Black & White

The Complete Thin Man Collection Warner Home Video

 

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