Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, August 11, 2016


Myrna Loy and William Powell
AFTER THE THIN MAN (1936). Director: W. S. Van Dyke.

Nick Charles (William Powell) and wife, Nora (Myrna Loy) have returned from New York to California in this first sequel to The Thin Man, but discover that wherever they go murder follows. Nick learns that when it comes to intrigue and craziness, Nora's relatives are not much different from the thugs and ex-cons Nick hangs out with. This time Nora's cousin, Selma (Elissa Landi of The Sign of the Cross), is accused of murdering her philandering husband, Robert (Alan Marshall). The suspects include a nightclub owner named Dancer (Joseph Calleia); a dancer named Polly (Penny Singleton); her "brother," Phil (Paul Fix of The Bad Seed); Dr. Kammer (George Zucco), who thinks everyone is nutty: and David Graham (James Stewart), who has long carried a torch for Selma. Somewhat better than The Thin Man, this is arguably not a whole lot better than a typical mystery from a minor studio, but it is served up with relish, some very good acting, and has an effectively comic-dramatic ending. Singleton, who was billed as "Dorothy McNulty" back then, is vivid as Polly, and Jessie Ralph [David Copperfield] simply walks off with the movie as Nora's formidable Aunt Katherine, a harridan force of nature if ever there were one. Sam Levene is fine as Lt. Abrahms, the detective on the case. Asta has a bit more to do then he did in the first film.

Verdict: Nick Charles is no Perry Mason, but this is fun enough. ***.


angelman66 said...

I love to watch Loy and Powell work together, they were a dynamite team. Both actors worked, though not together, well into their old age. Have been seeing a lot of the latter Loy lately, in Midnight Lace with Doris Day, Airport 1975, Lonelyhearts with Monty Clift and incredibly, in a late 1970s movie (The End?) as Burt Reynolds's mother!

Now I'm ready to revisit the glamorous 1930s to see her in these great old films.

William said...

You know, (the young) Myrna Loy just never appealed to me (on screen) for some reason, although I admit she's a good actress and is wonderful in certain roles, one of the grand Dames of the movies. I did like her and enjoy her in some of the films you mention.

I met Myrna a couple of times and she was always pleasant. When Myrna was very, very old she came to a party thrown by a friend of mine, Jim Davis, who worked with Loy on her autobiography, "Being and Becoming." For some reason, something about me amused her -- she was quite senile, now, and that was sad -- and kept pointing at me and laughing. I don't know if she thought I was someone else she remembered from her past, or just thought I was funny looking!

Anyway, it was weird but comical. [Maybe that influenced my opinion of her, but I don't really think so, LOL!]

Then again, I did like the young Loy in "13 Women" and "Mask of Fu Manchu," when she was playing all of those ersatz Asian roles.

Neil A Russell said...

You lucky skunk, I'd have loved to have met and interviewed Ms Loy.
I missed an opportunity to meet Ginger Rogers and regret it to this day.
I need to chase down Olivia de Havilland while there's still time!
"After" really hit the stride for these "chemistry" movies with Powell and Loy.
Also a great performance by Sam Levene as Lt Abrams. Actually if anyone bogged the movie down it was James Stewart, I don't think his trademark delivery fit this rat-a-tat dialogue style film.
When Mr and Mrs Charles make their way back to Long Island you're going to really like the performances by Otto Kruger and C Aubrey Smith.

angelman66 said...

Bill, that story is priceless...poor Myrna. Gone round the bend!!

You're right, she was a hottie in the late 20s and early 30s, before the Production Code - loved all those skimpy costumes she used to wear, especially for the "Oriental" roles. (Can't use that word anymore, maybe it's OK in quotes...)

William said...

Chris, I always try to be careful with my language to match changing times, but I honestly was not aware that "Oriental" had become a no-no, although when we're referring to movies of the thirties and forties I think it's permissible. Glad you liked the Myrna story.

Neil, Kruger and Smith are two more of my favorite character actors who can virtually do no wrong. Kruger played a wide variety of roles, everything from Hitchcock to one of those "Jungle Woman" movies with Paula, the ape girl. I don't think he ever turned anything down!

As for Ginger Rogers, I never met her, but years ago a friend told me he was sorry I wasn't home when he called because he'd had dinner with Ginger and wanted me to come. I still don't know if he was telling the truth or not as he was not in any way (to my knowledge) connected to the film industry. In those days I would have been more interested in meeting Hitchcock or some other major director, although dinner with Ginger might have been a hoot!