In 1934, a “B” movie titled The Thin Man premiered. Audiences loved it so much, it spawned 5 Thin Man sequels which were given top “A” billing. The Thin Man movies are still fun to watch, but the first thing modern viewers notice is how much public attitudes towards alcohol changed, even during the course of the series.
William Powell stars as the heavy drinking private detective Nick Charles. He is helped in all his capers by his beautiful upper class wife Nora (Myrna Loy). As The Thin Man series progresses, we learn that Nora fell in love with Nick partly because she found his world of crime and adventure so much more exciting than her sterile existence as a wealthy socialite.
Having people from different social classes fall in love was a popular theme in the 1930s. Most people today do not realize that Blondie was originally a showgirl (which is why she is so well-endowed). Dagwood came from a wealthy family, and it was considered shocking that he would actually marry such a “loose woman”. The Blondie comic strip first appeared in 1930 and Dagwood was disowned by his family when he married Blondie. He was forced to get a job for the first time in his life. That is why Dagwood is such an inept employee.
In The Thin Man movies, Nora is beautiful, intelligent and madly in love with Nick. They were a very modern couple for the 1930s. They treated each other as equals, solved crimes together and were never jealous.
Then there was the drinking. Nick is shown drinking in almost every scene of the original The Thin Man. It is considered an amusing quirk of his personality.
The 6 Thin Man movies went from 1934-1947, with Nick drinking less alcohol in each film until he eventually gives up drinking completely. Being a drunk was no longer socially acceptable in American society.
Still, The Thin Man movies are fun to watch and are very cleverly written. The finale of every Thin Man Movie is when Nick and Nora gather all the murder suspects into a single room and reveal exactly who the murderer is. This format has been followed in countless movies and T.V. shows ever since.
So for for some fun, watch The Thin Man movies and see a modern lovely couple solve crimes 84 years ago. And what the heck, have a few drinks while you watch.
- We give The Thin Man 5 stars. *****
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