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

Thursday, August 18, 2016


Baby Nicky and li'l Asta
ANOTHER THIN MAN (1939). Director: W. S. Van Dyke II.

Back in New York with their new son, Nicky, and little Asta in tow, Nick and Nora (William Powell and Myrna Loy) are summoned to the Long Island estate of Colonel MacFay (C. Aubrey Smith). MacFay has been receiving weird death threats from an old employee named Church (Sheldon Leonard) and hopes to have Nick's protection. Naturally, as in most of these detective movies, the threatened man is murdered under the disinterested hero's nose, and the rest of the movie is concerned with finding out who done it. Another Thin Man is quite talky, but entertaining, with an intricate script and a denouement that is truly a surprise. Members of the supporting cast (as well as suspects in certain cases) include Virginia Grey [Jeanne Eagels] as MacFay's adopted daughter; Patric Knowles as her secret fiance; Tom Neal [Bruce Gentry] as a man carrying a torch for Grey; Otto Kruger as the detective on the case; Ruth Hussey as a kind of nanny; Muriel Hutchison as Church's paramour, among others, all giving adroit performances. The business with ex-cons being delighted to see Nick even though he sent them up the river gets tiresome, and leads into a party for little Nicky with the hoods each bringing their own baby! (Don't blink or you'll miss Shemp Howard.) Some of the subsequent victims certainly don't deserve to be murdered, but there's never any sympathy for them. However, there's a swell scene with Powell interacting with Marjorie Main [The Law and the Lady] as a landlady, and the ending is a pip! The killer in this is especially conniving and heartless.

Verdict: Things look up for the series with this entry. ***.


Neil A Russell said...

I'd forgotten about Marjorie Main and Sheldon Leonard in this one!
One of my favorite lines comes when the Charles family is driving out to the barren woodlands of Long Island and are confronted by the Colonel's guards and one asks Nick, "what's the idea of the kid?" and Nick replies, "well the dog was lonely, that was the idea wasn't it mommy?"
Of all of these I think this entry has the best interaction between characters.
Oh, and I liked the description of Nick at one point as "looks like a pool parlor dude" to be particularly funny.

William said...

Yes, I also loved Nick's response to "what's the idea of the kid?' I think the "pool parlor" line went by too fast for me to catch or remember. Next time.

I'm going to re-watch the others when I can, but I have a feeling I'll like this one the best.

Anyway, I'm very glad you wrote that the Colonel's estate was on Long Island as I did because I was afraid it might be Westchester when I did my review.

Generally it's hard to forget Marjorie Main, but she doesn't appear for too long in this one, LOL!

angelman66 said...

This is one of the best of the series, agreed! I love when MGM brings out its vast stable of unforgettable character actors to perk up the proceedings! And Marjorie Main was Queen Bee of the character stars!

William said...

Main was the main deal all right!