You could call W. S. Van Dyke’s 1934 classic The Thin Man a whodunit, and you wouldn’t be wrong. There’s a murder, a suspicious inventor gone missing, a retired detective roped back into the gumshoe game, and, of course, a big reveal at the end. But the plot twists here are just mechanics. This, friends, is a fanfare of wit.
Nick (William Powell) and Nora Charles (Myrna Loy) are a pair of flirtatious, gin-soaked smart-alecks, newly married and drinking their way through a lark of an existence full of shtick, wry comedic riffing, and humorous little mishaps involving Asta, their lovable scamp of a white-haired fox terrier. A thorny murder case—Dorothy Wyant’s inventor father, who has mysteriously disappeared, is suspected of killing her stepmother—pulls Nick, a one-time sleuth, out of retirement. But far from cramping the couple’s style, the crime becomes another opportunity for escapade, with Nick and Nora—and sometimes even Asta—piecing clues together between hangovers and five-martini dinners.
Exquisitely droll, and dripping with Jazz-age glamour, The Thin Man proved so popular that it spawned five sequels—and paved the way for many of today’s fast-talking favorites, from Clue to The Naked Gun.
See a clip of the film here.
The Thin Man
Thursday, June 9
7:30 p.m., $8
Heights Theater, 3951 Central Ave. NE