1939 was a year full of episodic serials and franchise sequels, and Another Thin Man was certainly the best of them. In this third installment of The Thin Man series, two of the studio era’s greatest talents, William Powell and Myrna Loy, are together again as Nick and Nora Charles.
The Thin Man series (so named after the title of the first film, and not the character * ) is one of the most popular in all of cinematic history. This is due in large part to the incredible talents of William Powell and Myrna Loy, one of the greatest on-screen pairings ever created on the sound stages of Hollywood. Like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Powell and Loy were considered a powerhouse duo; two amazing parts whose sum was great than the whole. There was just something special about their chemistry that made these two stars sparkle more brightly when they shared the limelight, causing audiences to respond to them in a big way. And in Another Thin Man, there was certainly no sign of that shine loosing any of its luster.
This time around the bi-coastal couple have just returned from San Francisco with their dog, Asta and the latest addition to their family, Nicky Jr. But the family has hardly settled in, let alone completed a round of martinis before they’re summoned to spend the weekend at the Long Island estate of an old business partner of Nora’s father. Seems he needs Nick to help with a past associate who’s threatening revenge, but before anything can be done the old man is mysteriously killed. Despite the lack of evidence, the blame is placed very conveniently on the past associate. However, Nick believes there’s something far more complicated going on. His suspicions take him from one corkscrew clue to the next, leading him down a path that ends at a team of blackmailers and an unidentified party girl. When Nick finally arrives at the solution he once again gathers the suspects for a climactic reveal, one that is bound to surprise even the most jaded detective fan.
Along the road to resolution our heroes enjoy the thrill of the hunt while exchanging barbs and biting witticisms. It seams the only thing Mr. & Mrs. Charles enjoy more than a bout of playful banter is a refreshing cocktail. In fact, annoyance is conveyed only when one feels bested by the other, and then you know you can look forward to a retaliation. But the wisecracks are always in fun, and usually serve to advance the investigation, whether intended or not. Such as when Nick sends Nora on a wild goose chase, but by shear luck and plucky enthusiasm she ends up discovering an important piece of evidence. That’s when Nick is at his most gracious; when he’s accepting his wife’s help and publicly congratulating her for her abilities. Likewise, Nora may poke fun at Nick’s methods, but no one is prouder than she is when he holds court to announce the stunning conclusion.
Ultimately, when it comes down to it, Nick and Nora’s relationship is one of mutual respect and support. Ah, the concept of a husband and wife supporting and encouraging each other - now that’s class. Of course, with William Powell and Myrna Loy filling the roles, you wouldn’t expect anything less. And with three other sequels following Another Thin Man, you’ve got a lot more in which to get excited about.
*A small clarification regarding The Thin Man, and an easy bet you can make with your friends. Ask someone to name who played the thin man, and if they answer, “William Powell” you can gleefully tell them they are wrong. Although the titles are misleading, Nick Charles is not “the thin man”. The first film’s title refers to the main suspect who was very tall and thin. The confusion is perpetuated with the sequel, After The Thin Man, which is about the events that happen immediately following the first case. Similarly, in Another Thin Man, the title refers to another tall, thin man desperately seeking help. In fact, the screen titles of the Dashiell Hammett's adaptations were altered from the books in order to cash in on the popularity of the first film and insure that audiences would recognize them as sequels in the series. However, there’s just no explaining the next three titles, Shadow of The Thin Man, The Thin Man Goes Home, and Song of The Thin Man. No explanation that is other than the need to keep an association with the series. Good luck on your bets!