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Sunday, June 1, 2008

THE SHADOW OF THE THIN MAN (1941)

The fourth of six Nick & Nora Charles/THIN MAN murder mysteries was the last helmed by W. S. Van Dyke, who started the series when he spotted the unforced chemistry between Myrna Loy & William Powell in MANHATTAN MELODRAMA/'34. This was also the last in the series to maintain the plush production values that gave Powell the sort of swell M-G-M lux that was worth tweaking. It’s a lesser entry, but Van Dyke keeps it short & snappy, like the original, even if the wit, sexual comraderie, charm & surprise are inevitably diminished. The cast is quite tasty with a rare screen outing from Stella Adler (Marlon Brando’s adored acting teacher), Sam Levene, Barry Nelson (a ringer for Dick Tracy’s Babyface character) and the 20 year-old Donna Reed. Sad to report, Nick really does drinks a glass of milk in this outing, but he still manages to down six cocktails before a reel & a half are up. Did they have 'White Russians' back then? (And check out the DVD extras for Jules Dassin ’s megging debut on a sharp two-reel verison of THE TELL-TALE HEART with Joseph Schildkraut.)

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