After the monumental success of The Thin Man (1934) and After The Thin(1936), William Powell and Myrna Loy reprise their roles as the movies most beloved and celebrated husband and wife super sleuths.
In their third mystery, Another Thin Man, Nick and Nora Charles with the newly arrived Nick Jnr, find themselves drawn into a web of intrigue and murder while visiting an old family friend in Long Island.
The friend is the aged and stuffy Col. MacFay (C. Aubrey Smith) who is being threatened, blackmailed and terrorised by ex-employee Phil Church (Sheldon Leonard).
When MacFay is murdered in the night, Church becomes the prime suspect, but the affable, scotch swigging Nick Charles believes otherwise. He intends to prove this by once again coming out of retirement and investigating the case as only he knows how.
All the great Thin Man ingredients are here, the suspense, the mystery, the romance, and above all the comedy as Powell and Loy, one of cinemas most frequently paired and enjoyable double acts once again spar off each other to perfection. Its plain to see why their films were so popular. Never before or since has Hollywood seen such a perfectly matched comedy partnership.
Suspects in this murder include Otto Kruger, Nat Pendleton, Tom Neal, Virginia Gray, Patric Knowles, Abner Biberman and Don Costello, and in a typical Thin Man ending, Nick gathers them together to pick out his man.
This movie maintains the wit and humour of the first two offerings, and Powell and Loy's screen chemistry is never better. All in all, a great addition to the series and one in keeping with two previous movies, but alas all good things must end.
It was plain to see, that with the obvious war clouds looming, Nick and Nora's sophisticated banter and well-to-do lifestyle would soon be out of touch and out of date with the difficult times that lay ahead. In point of fact I believe that when we watch this film, we are witnessing the last true great Thin Man film to be made.
The series struggled on through three more disappointing efforts, before ultimately being laid to rest, and I think the reason for their failure was purely down to changing times and attitudes. In the next two films Nick and Nora live in a modest flat, and references to their vast fortune, have been sensitively toned down if not obliterated as a nod to a sombre, struggling and rationed war-time audience.
However the public could not accept The Charles family in a mediocre fashion so the films suffered as a result from the gesture.
By the time the final film, Song of the Thin Man was made in 1947, and with the war still fresh in the publics mind it was too late to bring back the humour and attitudes of the prosperous and carefree days of the late 1930's and the Charles' had irreparably lost touch with their audience.
Luckily we still have the first three movies to show us what a true screwball comedy mystery should be, and why William Powell and Myrna Loy will always be remembered as two of the greatest.