Shadow of the Thin Man
The fourth film in the Thin Man series starring William Powell and Myrna Loy, Shadow of the Thin Man (1941) is a little worn in places as the premise begins to feel a tad, well
thin. But it's still a whole lot of sophisticated, witty fun as high-society detectives Nick and Nora Charles, now parents, solve the racetrack murder of a jockey. As in the other entries in the series, the details of their investigation and how they solve the murder are of far less interest than the sparkling banter between Powell and Loy the fact that the Thin Man movies were so charming, funny, and utterly predictable were the reason for their immense popularity with Depression-era audiences. Shadow was eagerly welcomed, coming two years after the previous outing and hitting theaters just two weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbor. It would be three years before Loy would make another film (The Thin Man Goes Home in 1945) as she left Hollywood for New York, where she volunteered with the Red Cross. As a world-famous movie star at the top of her game, her passionate condemnation of fascism reportedly earned her a spot near the top of Hitler's "hate list" after she spoke out against Germany's invasion of Czechoslovakia. She also went through a messy public divorce and remarriage, after which there was speculation that her wholesome image had been irreparably tarnished and she might not work again. In Shadow, there's no sign of the darkness ahead beginning with Nick walking through the park with both Asta and his young son on a leash, Nick and Nora trade barbs with the usual array of bizarre personalities at the racetrack, a wrestling arena, and various seedy locales, including an amusing encounter in a fish restaurant where the waiter won't take no for an answer on the house special. It's one of the weaker films in the series, but a pleasure nonetheless especially when we know the actors are having such a good time with the material. Warner's DVD release of Shadow of the Thin Man, part of the seven-disc "Thin Man Collection," is not a remastered edition, but given the age of the source prints, it's remarkably clean with a minimal amount of specks and scratches, with more noticeable wear towards the end of the film. Presented in their original Academy ratio (1.33:1), the black-and-white transfer is very sharp, with good, rich contrast. The Dolby Digital monaural audio (English, with subtitles in English, Spanish or French) is as clean as can be expected, given the limitations of the original audio. Extras include a vintage short, Edgar Allen Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" (1941) directed by Jules Dassin (20 min.), the very silly 1941 cartoon "The Goose Goes South," (6 min.), and the theatrical trailer. Keep-case.
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