Selma asks Nick to find her missing husband. He had been seeing a bit on the side, and blackmailing a local criminal. David Graham claims he paid the missing husband to get rid of a former girlfriend. Will Nick locate him?
The Thin Man is availale at http://www.mininova.org/tor/1149167
William Powell ... Nicholas 'Nick' Charles
Myrna Loy ... Nora Charles
James Stewart ... David Graham
Elissa Landi ... Selma Landis, Nora's Cousin
Joseph Calleia ... 'Dancer', Lichee Club Owner
Jessie Ralph ... Aunt Katherine Forrest
Alan Marshal ... Robert Landis, Selma's Husband (as Alan Marshall)
Teddy Hart ... Floyd Casper, Dancer's Lawyer
Sam Levene ... Lieutenant Abrams, San Francisco Homicide Squad
Penny Singleton ... Polly Byrnes (as Dorothy McNulty)
William Law ... Lum Kee, Lichee Club Co-Owner
Of the six entries in "The Thin Man" series that were released between 1934-1947, none of which are bad, this one is the best. This second entry has the most plausible story, best cinematography (San Francisco on a cold foggy New Year's Eve night), and is perhaps the most amusing of the lot. This episode is noticeably longer than the other six, mostly due to an extensive homecoming sequence that opens the film, but this does not detract from the film in any way. And if you are a fan of Asta's, he gets more screen time in this outing than any of the others (interestingly, in Dashelle Hammett's book, Asta is female).
Of course the chemistry on screen between Myrna Loy and William Powell is unsurpassed, that's why they would ultimately be cast together in 14 films during their careers. Besides the early and very well done performance of James Stewart, look for a young and brunette Penny Singleton (later "Blondie"), billed under her real name of Dorothy McNulty, playing the role of Polly for all it's worth. It's also fun to remember when you're watching veteran character actress Jessie Ralph play the stodgy Aunt Katherine, you are looking at a woman who was born during the Civil War.
All of the key Thin Man ingredients are here: a clever who-dun-it (with more suspects than any other Thin Man film), beautiful photography, exquisite fashions and decor, jokes as dry and plentiful as the martinis, a performance or two of the popular music of the day, and an ending that will surprise you. As I said, all of these Thin Man films are great fun, but this one is the best.
Very few sequels ever live up to the film that started the entire franchise--AFTER THE THIN MAN, second in a series of six films starring William Powell and Myrna Loy as Detective Nick Charles and his inquisitive, charming wife Nora, is one of those that just about manages it. It brings back the characters we've gotten to know in the first film, THE THIN MAN, and subjects them to even more wacky criminal hijinks.
This time, Nick (Powell) and Nora (Loy) return to San Francisco just in time for a surprise New Year's Eve party (at which no one recognises them, ironically enough!). However, Nora's dour Aunt Katherine (Jessie Ralph) spoils Nick's plans to spend New Year's Eve blissfully alone--and most likely inebriated--by inviting the couple to her house to help Nora's cousin Selma (Elissa Landi). Selma's husband Robert (Alan Marshal) has been missing for days, off with Polly Byrnes (Penny Singleton), a nightclub entertainer at the Lychee Club owned by Dancer (Joseph Calleia). David Graham, Selma's erstwhile but painfully rejected fiance, still apparently holds a torch for Selma, and Robert gleefully blackmails David in return for a promise to leave his own wife. Little does Robert know that he is very much part of a web of intrigue, about to be cheated himself by Polly and Dancer, and he inevitably ends up as the murder case for the rest of the film.
The great part about this film is that the murder case actually does keep one in suspense, even if one knows the identity of the murderer before watching the film for the first time, as I did. It keeps you guessing about why and where, and the entire cast of supporting characters, as in the first Thin Man film, are shrouded in mystery and suspicion. It could be anyone of them, and in a trademark revelation scene at the very end, Nick gathers the whole assembly of players to catch the murderer red-handed, as it were.
Throw this cleverly-written murder mystery in with a healthy heaping of literate dialogue, thrown out only as William Powell and Myrna Loy can, and you get a classy film that hints at crime, love, sex, power and hatred without ever needing to resort to cheaper tricks. It's great to meet these characters again: Nick, constantly inebriated and the epitome of gentlemanly cool as usual (witness the scene in which Dancer causes a blackout and a great deal of loud scuffling and gunshots are heard in the darkness--Nick is calmly making a phone call under the table, amidst all the chaos); Nora, the charming, understanding modern wife who's game for anything that Nick can dream up (unless, of course, he locks her into the bathroom to prevent her from tagging along)... and of course, Asta, who we discover has his own family (made up of Mrs. Asta and the cutest puppies one can imagine) that he's trying very hard to protect.
As with the previous Thin Man film, however, AFTER THE THIN MAN combines a great mystery story with a very real portrayal of the marriage everyone wished they had. It's no small wonder that menfolk in the 1930s used to form 'Men Must Marry Myrna' Clubs--she's able to stand up to her man whenever necessary, and even when she's chattering through the night evidently hungering for Nick's scrambled eggs, Myrna Loy's Nora Charles is one of the cutest female characters ever created. One of the best scenes would undeniably be when Nick realises he's kissed someone else on the stroke of midnight, so goes on a quest for Nora. He finds her and she asks him if he has any New Year's complaints or resolutions; he does have a complaint and gravely informs her of it. She nods seriously in agreement and says, "Must scold. Must nag. Mustn't be too pretty in the mornings." I won't spoil the ending of the film, but Nora's own revelation to Nick as they take the train back to New York is also as touching and sweet as can be imagined.
If you're up for a good romance story, or a good murder mystery, or better yet, a combination of the two, you really couldn't go wrong with this second installment in the Thin Man series. Try your best to get your hands on the first film, but AFTER THE THIN MAN is truly a sequel that does the original film and the franchise to follow proud.
After solving the famous Thin Man case in New York and acquiring a trademark in the process, Nick Charles returns to San Francisco with wife Nora to spend some time with some of her family. As we learned in the initial film, Myrna Loy's parents are both deceased, but she's got one formidable aunt is Jessie Ralph and a cousin with a wayward husband in Elissa Landi.
Elissa prevails upon Myrna to get Bill to locate her husband who's been missing for a few days. Powell and Loy do locate Alan Marshal the husband and the rat's been living it up with nightclub chanteuse Penny Singleton. Marshal's a playboy wastrel and hasn't the slightest intention of returning to home and hearth. But in the wee small hours of New Year's Day, he gets himself murdered on the streets of San Francisco and two more bodies turn up before William Powell solves the case.
James Stewart appears in this second Thin Man film as Landi's patient former boyfriend. In the films of James Stewart book, Stewart mentions that he wasn't particularly happy with his work in this film though I'm sure it didn't hurt his career any. He felt it was way too much at variance with what his fans expected from him. It's reason enough to watch the film and see if you agree with Jimmy.
Sam Levene of the San Francisco PD isn't any brighter than Nat Pendleton of the NYPD just a little more excitable. Powell shows them up all the time so much so that you wonder why he's not made police commissioner of either city.
Asta the most famous terrier in the world gets a bit more screen time than usual for animal lovers. He's got a Mrs. Asta and several pups and a black dog who keeps trying to cut in on his time. He also at one point provides the highpoint in comedy as he almost eats a clue which is in the form of a note thrown threw a window. Lots of fun as Powell and Loy try to get him to spit out the note. Handling that doggie drool soaked note musn't have been fun for Loy and Powell.
After the Thin Man keeps up the high standards in film making set by the original Thin Man and shouldn't be missed.
# The nightclub featured in the film was loosely modeled on the famous Forbidden City, a popular San Francisco night spot from the late 1930s through the 1950s.
# Though William Powell and Myrna Loy were very close friends off-screen, their only romantic moments together occurred on-screen. The public, however, was determined to have them married in private life as well. When the two stars showed up in San Francisco (where most of After the Thin Man (1936) was shot) at the St. Francis, the hotel management proudly showed "Mr. and Mrs. Powell" to their deluxe suite. This was an especially uncomfortable moment as Jean Harlow, who was engaged to Powell, was with them, and the couple had not made a public statement about their relationship. Harlow saved the day by insisting on sharing the suite with Loy: "That mix-up brought me one of my most cherished friendships," Loy said in her biography Being and Becoming. "You would have thought Jean and I were in boarding school we had so much fun. We'd stay up half the night talking and sipping gin, sometimes laughing, sometimes discussing more serious things." Meanwhile, Powell got the hotel's one remaining room -- a far humbler accommodation downstairs.