Song of the Thin Man (1947)

Directed by Edward Buzzell

Last of the six movies that make up the Thin Man series, this final film, Song of the Thin Man, is a good note to go out on. It’s not the best of the lot but, unlike the previous movie, The Thin Man Goes Home, it knows what makes the movies work and it delivers.

Here, they drop all the domestic accouterments that provided tangents for humour like babies and parents (and that were overemphasized in the previous movie).

It is just Nick and Nora stumbling into a murder case.

Following the line that had been developing through the previous movies, it is Nick (William Powell) who is the detective and Nora (Myrna Loy) as the detecting “wannabe,” again acting as sidekick to Nick.

Nick and Nora, Myrna Loy and William Powell, a little older but free from excess baggage like children and parents.

Because there is greater emphasis on the whodunit storyline, the pair work better on screen because they are put back into the context where they have their greatest appeal.

They work best in the “murder case” context. Outside of that, in domestic circumstances, they work … but only for so long. (The mistake of the previous film was not understanding this.)

As with all the movies, important as the whodunit part is, it is only important in providing a situation and circumstance for the couple — context.

The nuts and bolts of the crime and its solution aren’t terribly significant. They don’t stand up as great mysteries. What is important is seeing Nick and Nora solve the mystery (or rather, Nick solve it with Nora’s assistance).

In this movie, a young couple marries. Nick and Nora meet them on a luxury liner at a society dance. The band leader is murdered. The newly wed husband is the prime suspect and the Charles (Nick and Nora) are on the case. It’s resolved as all their cases are with Nick gathering everyone together and discovering which one of the many suspects is guilty.

Gloria Grahame as Fran Ledue Page, the band’s singer.

Additionally in the movie, we get Gloria Grahame in one of her earlier movies as a singer in a band … and a suspect (at least for a while).

There is also a young Dean Stockwell briefly appearing as Nick and Nora’s son, Nick Jr.

There are numerous others too, like Jayne Meadows and Keenan Wynn, but as is the case in all the movies, the focus is William Powell and Myrna Loy, Nick and Nora.

At the time (the later 1940s), movie mysteries seemed to be on their way out. Many of the various series of that kind had made their farewell, and this sixth Thin Man movie proved to be the last we had of the Charles.

As a final entry, it is a pretty good one.

The Thin Man Series:

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