Still from Shadow of the Thin Man SHADOW OF THE THIN MAN

 1941  97m  MGM  b&w

William Powell (Nick Charles), Myrna Loy (Nora Charles), Barry Nelson (Paul Clarke), Donna Reed (Molly Ford), Sam Levene (Lt. Abrams), Alan Baxter (Whitey Barrow), Dickie Hall (Nick Charles, Jr.), Loring Smith (Link Stephens), Joseph Anthony (Fred Macy), Henry O'Neill (Maj. Jason L Sculley), Stella Adler (Claire Porter), Lou Lubin ("Rainbow" Benny Loomis), Louise Beavers (Stella), Will Wright (Maguire), Edgar Dearing (Motor Cop), Noel Cravat (Baku), Tito Vuolo (Luis), Oliver Blake (Fenster), John Dilson, Arthur Aylesworth (Coroners), James Flavin, Edward Hearn, Art Belasco, Bob Ireland, Robert Kellard (Cops), Cliff Danielson, J. Louis Smith, Jerry Jerome, Roger Moore, Buddy Roosevelt, Hal Le Sueur (Reporters).

Again according to the Motion Picture Guide, the fourth THIN MAN film isn't nearly as good as the first ones, but it has its own rewards thanks to the inimitable by-play of Powell and Loy. On the latter point, we agree. This time the sleuthing socialites are visiting the track when a jockey is murdered. Despite the pleas of the police and Loy, Powell refuses to investigate the baffling case. Later though, a reporter is also murdered and Powell can no longer resist. While he investigates, he is constantly trying to lose Loy, who always finds him again, bringing their baby and dog along. They turn up a number of suspects, including assorted gangsters, molls, and track officials. Powell deduces that the first death was accidental, but he lets on that he believes it was committed by the same person who killed the reporter. All the suspects are called into one room for the denouement, and it turns out to be the kindly O'Neill, chairman of the state athletic commission, who killed the reporter who was getting close to uncovering a scandal.

We have to agree that by this time the series was definitely on the downslide, and MGM took advantage of its low cost and sure success to show off some of its new contract players, such as Reed and Nelson. More comedy was injected into the series, watering down the impact of what had once been sparkling wit, as well as leaving less time to intelligently develop the mystery at hand. Still, any pairing of Powell and Loy is worth watching again and again for those moments when it all clicks into place and they become the ideal couple.

Credits: p, Hunt Stromberg; d, W. S. Van Dyke Il; w, lrving Brecher, Harry Kurnitz (based on a story by Kurnitz and characters created by Dashiell Hammett); ph, Willam Daniels; m, David Snell; ed, Robert J. Kern; art d, Cedric Gibbons.

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