Friday, December 30, 2005

After the Thin Man

"After the Thin Man" (1936) finds Nick and Nora Charles arriving in San Francisco on the train that they had taken to get away from New York and "The Thin Man" case.
They are immediately besieged by reporters, his disreputable friends and . . . .
Nick asks who the couple is passing them on the street and Nora replies, "Oh, you wouldn't know them. They're respectable!"
Asta, their wire-haired fox terrier, has his own homecoming when he tears around to the Charles' kennel.
There are "Mrs. Asta" with all the little Astas . . . and one little black Scottie puppy.
Turns out that a Scottie-about-town has been digging his way under the fence to Mrs. Asta's . . . heart.
Nick and Nora finally get to their house, planning a New Year's Eve of an early bedtime only to find out a large party of strangers already at home.
What could be worse than that?
Spending an evening with Nora's relatives who remind Nick of a barely antimated wax works.
Not to mention Aunt Katherine (Jessie Ralph) who could have been run the army, navy and coast guard all by herself in another lifetime.
Nick does get a "nifty" when the elderly butler asks him to "walk this way" as he toddles forward.
Nick immediately starts shuffling forward in excellent imitation of the butler.
William Powell and Myra Loy are a joy in Dashiell Hammett's sequel to "The Thin Man" as Nick and Nora.
The plot is fast-paced, suspenseful and full of possibilities concerning Nora's cousin, Selma (Elissa Landi), and her wandering husband, Robert (Alan Marshall).
Nick and Nora are snookered into looking for him in the Lichee Night Club, waiting for his girlfriend, Polly Byrnes (Penny Singleton in a pre-"Blondie" role).
The possible suspects ranges from the owners of the Lichee (Joseph Calleia and William Law) to Selma's weird psychiatrist (George Zucco) to her former boyfriend, David Graham (Jimmy Stewart).
"After the Thin Man" is full of treats and atmosphere with San Fransico with foggy streets on New Year's Eve.
We also get a scene with Nick considering whether to get Nora out of jail or not after her arrest in Graham's apartment!
Powell and Loy have one of the cutest scenes in the whole series when they have to chase Asta around their house in the middle of the night for a clue tied to a rock thrown through the window.
Powell gets great lines like, "Come on, let's get something to eat. I'm thirsty."
He's drinking a martini when Loy asks him if he's packing.
"I'm just putting away this liquor."
He can also "set 'em up."
He's explaining "whodunit" at the end, "You see, when it comes to words like that, an illiterate person . . . ."
Polly Byrnes: "Whaddya mean, illiterate? My father and mother were married right here in the city hall."

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