Directed by W.S. Van Dyke
Having written about The Thin Man and its immediate sequel After the Thin Man, there isn’t a great deal to be said or written about the third in the six movie series, Another Thin Man. To a large extent, the title is very apt. It is another; more of the same with some minor tweaks.
However, that isn’t a flaw here. Truthfully, it’s a pretty good movie and rests well along side the previous two as well as standing strongly on its own. Keep in mind, these movies came several years apart (1934, 1936 and 1939) so the “too much is too much” trap is less a threat than if you watch them today one after another.
The major tweak in After the Thin Man (other than director Van Dyke altering his name to W.S. Van Dyke II in the credits) is that Nick and Nora now have a baby — which picks up right where After the Thin Man left off, when Nora had let Nick know she was pregnant.
As much as this adds an additional element for the movie to play with, and plays a key aspect in some of the scenes, they don’t go overboard with it. Like the previous movie, they have a whodunit to solve and its a reasonably good one that allows the movie to move off of the threat of too much cuteness.
We get enough of Nick and Nora, and the baby, to entertain us but not so much as to make us feel enough is enough.
Another small tweak, conscious or not, is that while alcohol is still a big part of the schtick in this movie Nick doesn’t sound tipsy in every scene. Powell delivers his lines soberly and not with a constant slur, except perhaps here and there.
Myrna Loy’s Nora also gets to play a bigger part in the detecting part of the film, sometimes allowing for some fun interplay with Nick who keeps trying to keep her out of harm’s way and not expecting her to have detecting skills.
Another Thin Man, and the series as a whole to this point, has an intriguing quality which is that, in a sense, the onscreen couple as presented appear to be maturing almost in the way they would had they been a real life couple.
The fun remains, the quips continue but, somehow, they don’t come across as quite so irresponsibly laissez-faire as they may have appeared when first introduced.
Whatever the case, Another Thin Man is a good, fun movie and I think it would be difficult to argue convincingly that any of the first three Nick and Nora movies is better than the others. The original has the advantage of being the original but beyond that all the movies are on the same level.
And that is quite an accomplishment.
Some William Powell background:
In 1937, William Powell’s last movie was Double Wedding, during the making of which his secret fiance, Jean Harlow died (June 7, 1937). Not long after, in 1938, he was without a contract, the one he had had with MGM having ended. He did, however, make a movie for 20th Century Fox called The Baroness and the Butler, released in 1938.
He was then diagnosed with colon cancer, not long after completing that film. He battled that for roughly the next two years.
When Another Thin Man came out it was after he had been absent from the public eye and from movies and so the movie was billed as, “The return of William Powell.” The movie also was known as The Return of the Thin Man, alluding to Powell’s absence.
His “absence” may not seem that notable today when it isn’t that unusual for a star to go without a new movie for two years, or even more. But back then when stars were making between three and five movies a year, it was noteworthy.
- The Thin Man (1934)
- After the Thin Man (1936)
- Another Thin Man (1939)
- Shadow of the Thin Man (1941)
- The Thin Man Goes Home (1945)
- Song of the Thin Man (1947)