The Thin Man (film)

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The Thin Man is a 1934 American comic detective film starring William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles, a flirtatious married couple who banter wittily as they solve crimes with ease. Nick is a hard drinking retired detective and Nora a wealthy heiress. Their dog, the Wire-Haired Fox Terrier Asta, played by Skippy, was also a popular character.

Completed in 1934 and nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, the film was directed by W.S. Van Dyke from a script by Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich; the screenplay was based on the mystery novel The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett, supposedly based on his relationship with playwright Lillian Hellman. Also appearing in the film were Maureen O'Sullivan, Nat Pendleton, Minna Gombell, Cesar Romero and Porter Hall.

The "Thin Man" of the title was actually not Nick Charles, but the man he was initially hired to find, Clyde Wynant. (Partway through the film, Nick Charles characterizes Wynant as a "thin man with white hair".) However, the "Thin Man" moniker was thought by many viewers to refer to Nick Charles, and after a time, it was used in the titles of the sequels as if it did. Nevertheless, at no time in this or any other "Thin Man" film is Nick Charles called or characterized as a thin man.

In 1997, the film was added to the United States National Film Registry having been deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

Contents

Plot

Nick Charles (Powell), a retired detective, and his wife Nora (Loy) are attempting to settle down when he's pulled back into service by a friend's disappearance and possible involvement in a murder. The friend, Clyde Wynant (Ellis) (the eponymous "thin man"), has mysteriously vanished just after his former girlfriend, Julia Wolf, was found dead. Wynant quickly becomes the prime suspect, but his daughter Dorothy (O'Sullivan) can't believe he did it. She convinces Nick to take the case much to the amusement of his socialite wife. With a drink in his hand and a smirk on his face, the detective stumbles off to find clues. The mystery deepens as the empty martini glasses and dead bodies pile up. Between witty exchanges, the couple manages to piece things together. The murderer is finally revealed in an amusing dinner-party scene that features all of the suspects.

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