Sunday, 19 February 2012

The Thin Man Boxed Set

I've acquired many a boxed set recently and over the years. I recently got for Christmas The Greta Garbo Signature Collection and The Myrna Loy and William Powell boxed set. I adore them to bits. And I Love You Again was hilarious, FYI. I've owned the amazing, wonderful, fantasmagorical, I'm running out of superlatives boxed set of all The Thin Man movies ever made. You can buy it here (UK), and here (US), on Amazon.

It's a great boxed set. I've recently really gotten quite obsessed with Myrna Loy and her movies, so I'm watching all the movies with her in that I can right now. Best Years Of Our Lives and The Thin Man were the only ones I'd watched her in - and I recently read Dashiell Hammett's novel it was based on, so in August I convinced the family to re-watch it with me. We adored it and the great couple that lead the cast - William Powell and Myrna Loy. I was intrigued by this awesome actress that I'd never really read about or seen before. Well, fast forward from August to January and I've seen 15 Myrna Loy films with several more bookmarked on YouTube and one more to watch on DVD. In August, along with the Hepburn/Tracy Signature Collection, we ordered the complete Tin Man boxed set for a steal on Amazon. The films were directed by a group of directors (mainly W.S. Van Dyke and his son W.S. Van Dyke Jr.) and not all of them were collaborated on with Dashiell Hammett - but we love them all. 

I would recommend this boxed set to anyone. It's a fantastic load of films, and a great look at the couple that should have gotten married, Myrna Loy and William Powell - without shelling out the cash as I did eventually for the TCM Powell and Loy boxed set. All the films are worth the watch and not one of them is a disappointment as a sequel. I do have my preferences, but here's the IMDB plot summary for each and what I thought - so if you are thinking of getting them, then you'll know what you're in for. Or if you're just curious you can take a look :-D

1. The Thin Man (1934)

Nick and Nora Charles, a former detective and his rich, playful wife, investigate a murder case mostly for the fun of it.

The Thin Man is a magnificent thriller/comedy in all it's pre-code glory. With Myrna Loy and William Powell finally hitting it off in their best loved genre - comedy - they totally embody the roles of playful husband and wife, Nick and Nora charles. After a two film string of melodramas (Manhattan Melodrama and Evelyn Prentice - both great, but not exactly their forte as a pair) MGM finally found out what to do with them. They also introduce the best acting dog ever as their dutiful wire-haired terrier, Asta. It's a great film filled with suspense, comedy, drinking, romance, drinking - did I mention drinking? You can never beat the first film in a series. There isn't anything wrong with this film, and of course it is where the Myrna Loy nose scrunch originated.

2. After The Thin Man (1936)

Nick investigates the case of a missing man and later a murder that is connected to Nora's family.

The Charles duo are back and this time with the addition of James Stewart who plays Nora's sister's ex-boyfriend driven half mad by revenge. This is probably technically the next best film after the first in terms of suspense and film craftsmanship. It's still a lot of fun and Nick and Nora are yet again wonderful and totally fun and in love just as they were in the first. This one's a great film on it's own, even if you haven't seen all the others in the set - which I do recommend watching in order.

3. Another Thin Man (1939)

An explosives manufacturer suspects a young man is out to kill him. He calls in Nick and Nora (with new baby) to sort things out.

And something makes three! At the end of the last film, Nick sees nora knitting a baby sock and he looks at her questioningly and she just replies, "And you call yourself a detective." Even with the addition of a baby, this film stands out to me as perhaps one of the two slightly weaker films in the set. This one suffers slightly from a contrived and weak plot, but obviously they are all worth the watch because of Nick and Nora and of course Asta who does a backflip in this film. Also, William Powell plays with a toy panda in this one. Does it get any better?

4. Shadow Of The Thin Man (1941)

Nick and Nora are at their wise-cracking best as they investigate murder and racketeering at a local race-track.

I have to say that this is my favourite of the films apart from the first of course. It's super fun and features one of the best plots in the set. There's lots of interaction with little Nicky who is more and more like his father every day. Nick reads him "fairy tales" about horses he's going to bet on, as Nora finds out when little Nicky comes back and tells her Daddy's newest story: "Son Of A Gun was forty to one!" It's adorable and the murder seems a lot more riveting and thrilling in this one than the previous one. That's a relief and this film is a joy to watch - as I say It's certainly my personal favourite :-D

5. The Thin Man Goes Home (1945)

Nick and Nora go on holiday to see Nick's parents, and end up involved in a murder - again.

So this one isn't as racy as the others, but what can you expect! The production code is in full swing so no more drinking 17 Martinis a day, it's onto apple cider. Also - in the book Nick is meant to be Greek. I've never seen a less Geek family, but oh well - we'll roll with it. There's plenty of cute stuff in this film and I love the vibe of Nora trying to make Nick's parents appreciate his illustrious career as a detective. Nick's parents are very stuck up so it's great fun to see them being shocked by Nick and Nora's bohemian lifestyle. Also, this is one of Myrna Loy's first films back after giving up the movies to work with the Red Cross. She was a wonderful lady.

6. Song Of The Thin Man (1947)

Nick, Nora, and Nick Jr. investigate the murder of a band leader in New York.

The Thin Man series ends with a bang for another great cosmopolitan mystery involving a band leader and a shady Gloria Grahame as a singer (anything new there?). I enjoyed this one a lot. There's a hilarious scene in a hay-filled train car where one of the Charles's friends says "So you always have to sit in this car because of the M-U-T-T?" and Asta growls loudly at the man as soon as he says "M-U-T-T." Love it. This is certainly not a disappointment for Thin Man Films. They leave on a high point.

There you go! That's my thoughts on the set anyhow. As for the boxing and look of it I'd say it's great. I got the version that has two DVD cases and a few DVDs in each case - but I believe it's available with all six discs in individual covers. Hope you enjoyed it!



Stephanie said...

Wow I had no clue there were so many of these!! I've only seen the first one and it was great so it makes sense they kept making them.

pablo said...

Not only the couple Powell/Loy had great chemistry together, the plots and the dresses she wore were magnificent too! They just don´t make movies like this anymore!

Victoria.Marie said...

The Thin Man series is definitely one of the most entertaining, hilarious and interesting series I've ever seen.
Hopefully the rumors of a newer version being made isn't true. I can't imagine anyone doing as swell a job as Powell or Loy.

theduckthief said...

Hello, just discovered your blog. I absolutely love "The Thin Man"! Have you ever watched Myrna in "The Rains Came"? Not the best movie with Myrna but the special effects are amazing.

Norman Smith said...

I'd heard many thing about The Thin Man. I want to see this movie.

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