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Watching the Detectives: William Powell and Myrna Loy are Nick and Nora Charles in The Thin Man September 20, 2007

Posted by Ian W in : Film Reviews, Comedy, Thriller , trackback

Nick Charles is an ex-detective now living off his wife’s inheritance (and doing his best to drink his way through as much of it as he can) when an old acquaintance gets him embroiled in a murder case. For the first half of the film he does his best to distance himself from the case, enjoying a life of leisure, but when he realises he can no longer avoid it he attacks the mystery with gusto.

What sets this apart from most murder mysteries is that we don’t really care whodunit; we’re far too busy enjoying the verbal jousting of Powell and Loy. The films script is still a comic goldmine (“Waiter, will you serve the nuts? I mean, will you serve the guests the nuts?”) but it’s the comic timing and amazing chemistry between the two stars that really make this a cut above the rest. Powell, glass almost always in hand, is perfect as the reluctant sleuth and Myrna Loy shines as his sexy and sassy Watson.

The dinner party denouement brings things to a satisfyingly witty end that sees Powell toying with all the suspects before forcing the real culprit to show his hand. The benchmark for every detective couple since, this may have had its imitators, particularly the likes of McMillan and Wife and Hart to Hart, but no betters.


1. Mine Was Taller » TV Tomb: McMillan & Wife - Season 1 - December 28, 2007

[…] Hudson and Saint James had a great onscreen chemistry and give the impression of having just as much fun making the series as the viewer did watching it. While the absurdity of the central concept wouldn’t get of the drawing board today, the series has a certain retro charm. The murder plots may be ludicrously convoluted but they were, at least in the best episodes, secondary to the banter between the shows stars. They were a ‘70s Nick and Nora Charles, just not as pickled. […]

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