DVD Review HTF REVIEW: The Complete Thin Man Collection (VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED).

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Herb Kane, Jul 31, 2005.

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  1. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]


    The Complete Thin Man Collection






    Studio: Warner Brothers
    Year: 1934-1947
    Rated: Not Rated
    Film Length: 589 Minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1 Academy
    Audio: DD Monaural
    Color/B&W: B&W
    Languages: English and English & French
    Subtitles: English, French & Spanish (and Portuguese for The Thin Man)
    MSRP: $59.92 for The Collection. The Thin Man is available separately listing at $19.97
    Package: 7 discs in Keepcases in a cardboard box. The Thin Man is now packaged in a sturdy Keepcase.






    "I read you were shot five times in the tabloids." "It's not true, he didn't come anywhere near my tabloids."

    The Feature:
    After the enormous success of the 2002 release of The Thin Man, fans of the classic MGM Thin Man films have been clamoring for the subsequent release of the remainder of films to complete the series. Warner Brothers have answered their call and on August 2nd, they will release a boxed set entitled, The Complete Thin Man Collection. On that date (which also marks the 100th birthday of the late star, Myrna Loy), all six films which entertained and delighted fans over a 13-year period will be included in the collection; The Thin Man (1934), After The Thin Man (1936), Another Thin Man (1939), Shadow Of A Thin Man (1941), The Thin Man Goes Home (1945) and The Song Of The Thin Man (1947).

    Chances are, someone watching a film that was adapted from Dashiell Hammett’s best selling novel, The Thin Man, might be surprised to learn that the crime and mystery surrounding the story itself, is of very little consequence. Apparently, the novel chronicles the author’s relationship with longtime love, playwright Lillian Hellman. The fact of the matter however, the film and its’ sequels established the standard for witty comedy, clever dialogue and perhaps the greatest working relationship between actor and actress to ever grace the silver screen with William Powell and Myrna Loy. The pair would go on to make 14 films together during their lengthy careers.

    Even though (technically speaking) “The Thin Man" appears only in the first film, the series centers around a retired San Francisco detective, Nick Charles (played wonderfully by William Powell) and his loving, devoted and playful wife Nora Charles (played by Myrna Loy). Now happily living off the wealth left to Nora by her father, the pair spend the majority of their time traveling from city to city visiting old friends and family members whilst a dead body shows up at virtually every reunion. The hard boiled and not-so-bright detectives rarely seem to follow the appropriate leads and usually rely upon Nick to take the lead and solve their case. Actually, truth be told, Nick’s love of imbibing clearly, is front and center as he spends the majority of his time sleuthing - just slightly half in the bag.

    The Thin Man was released in 1934 and shot on a shoe string budget in 14 days and went on to become a box-office smash earning four Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director and Best Screenplay. Not only was the film responsible for a number of sequels based on the box-office smash film, but the picture also led to countless films and television series of detective husbands and their curious sleuthing wives. Other notable stars to make appearances throughout the series include, Maureen O’Sullivan, Jimmy Stewart, Virginia Grey, C. Aubrey Smith, Tom Neal, Donna Reed, Sam Levene, Leon Ames, Dean Stockwell, Keenan Wynn and Gloria Grahame to name just a few. And last but not least, Asta the wire-haired terrier, whose filmography was as impressive as any star of the period. The first four films were directed by Woodbridge S. Van Dyke while the final two films were helmed by Richard Thorpe and Edward Buzzell.

    The Thin Man

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    After The Thin Man

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    Another Thin Man

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    Shadow Of A Thin Man

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    The Thin Man Goes Home

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    The Song Of The Thin Man

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    The Features:
    The Thin Man [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    After The Thin Man [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    Another Thin Man [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    Shadow Of A Thin Man [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    The Thin Man Goes Home [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    The Song Of The Thin Man [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]



    Video:
    All of these films are presented in their original aspect ratio of 1.37:1 Academy and for the most part, look exceptionally good. Those already familiar with the original The Thin Man should know that the rest of the films improve, basically, chronologically with each of the films in the series. The first film is identical to the original single release of 2002 with the exception of its case which is now a sturdy Keepcase. While the original Thin Man looks the worst for wear, it still looks very good for a film of its age. The film has its fair share of nicks and blemishes and demonstrates contrast levels that are satisfactory, it lacks somewhat in the area of sharpness. Again, keep in mind this film is 70+ years old.

    The remainder of films show much better, and each entry into the series appears to be progressively better – albeit, slightly better. All of the films exhibit a very smooth satiny look with only slight amounts of fine film grain. Contrast levels and shadow detail all appeared to be very impressive, as did black levels which were usually very deep and rich.

    The films displayed a satisfactory amount of image definition, particularly the final two installments, The Thin Man Goes Home and The Song Of The Thin Man as some of the close-ups show off terrific detail. Those looking for depth will be pleased with the amount dimensionality as the pictures have a beautiful film-like look. There are only occasional signs of light jitter and shimmering as the vast majority of these pictures are solid in every way.

    One can only assume the remaining elements for the films were in terrific condition as I doubt any major cleanup or restoration was undertaken; however aside from some nicks, scuffs and scratches, these are sure to please fans of the series.

    Video:
    The Thin Man [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    After The Thin Man [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    Another Thin Man [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    Shadow Of A Thin Man [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    The Thin Man Goes Home [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    The Song Of The Thin Man [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]



    Audio:
    All of these discs are encoded with their original monaural soundtrack and for the most part, there are no surprises.

    All of the tracks are exceptionally clear and free of any hiss or other noisy distractions. In doing so, it would appear that nothing has been lost or tampered with in terms of higher frequencies. Dialogue was always bold and intelligible, albeit a tad harsh in a couple of scenes.

    Not much to say in terms of robustness or depth. Again, keeping in mind these films are 60-70+ years of age, they do an admirable job of doing what is necessary aside from the limitations of the period. I found myself making very similar notes for all of the films within the collection, so I have graded the entire set collectively.

    Audio: 4/5
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    Special Features:

    The Thin Man
    [*] First up is Cast & Crew which is merely a text listing of the various participants who appeared behind and in front of the camera during the film’s production.
    [*] The only other feature is a set of Theatrical Trailers for all six Thin Man films. All of these appear individually on their respective discs.


    After The Thin Man
    [*] How To Be A Detective is a Robert Benchley short focusing on detective work which includes topics such as: how to detect criminals, getting a confession, and escorting a criminal to prison. Duration: 8:47 minutes.
    [*] The Early Bird and the Worm is an MGM “Happy Harmonies” Harman/Ising animated Technicolor short which is in very nice shape. Duration: 9:12 minutes.
    [*] Up next is a 6/17/40 Lux Radio Theater Broadcast which stars Powell and Loy. Duration: 59:11 minutes.
    [*] The next feature is Leo Is On The Air Radio Promo. Duration: 14:25 minutes.
    [*] And finally, the Theatrical Trailer is included and is in nice shape. Duration: 2:52 minutes.


    Another Thin Man
    [*] First up is MGM short, Love On Tap. Tommy has been trying to marry Penny, manager of the Merriel Abbott Dancers (a real dance group that performs in the short). However, a number of problems force the postponement of the marriage. They continue their on-again off-again romance between dance numbers played by Carwood Van and his orchestra. Duration: 10:45 minutes.
    [*] The Bookworm is a Hugh Harman MGM animated short shot in Technicolor which shows up quite nice. Duration: 8:23 minutes.
    [*] Lastly, the Theatrical Trailer is included and is in respectable condition. Duration: 2:35 minutes.


    Shadow Of A Thin Man
    [*] The Tell-Tale Heart is a classic Edgar Allen Poe story where a man confesses to murder after the victim's beating heart continues to torment the murderer. Noir fans will appreciate this obscure short which was directed by Jules Dassin. The short is in very good condition. Duration: 19:42 minutes.
    [*] The Goose Goes South is another MGM animated Technicolor short, this one is directed by Hanna/Barbera. The short is in excellent condition. Duration: 6:14 minutes.
    [*] The Theatrical Trailer also appears and looks to be in pretty fair shape. Duration: 2:58 minutes.


    The Thin Man Goes Home
    [*] Why Daddy? Is a Robert Benchley short who appears as Joe Doakes who listens to a quiz show on the radio and knows all the answers. His wife encourages him to go on the quiz show. He appears on a new show called "Why Daddy?", where a child and an adult compete against each other. Duration: 9:23 minutes.
    [*] Screwball Squirrel is an MGM Technicolor short directed by Tex Avery which is in very good condition. Duration: 7:24 minutes.
    [*] The Theatrical Trailer is also included and is in excellent condition. Duration: 2:10 minutes.


    The Song Of The Thin Man
    [*] A Really Important Person is the last MGM short to appear within the set which stars a young Dean Stockwell in search of an “important person”, one not necessarily sculpted in stone. The short is in terrific condition. Duration: 10:48 minutes.
    [*] Slap Happy Lion is an MGM Technicolor short directed by Tex Avery which is in excellent condition. Duration: 7:25 minutes.
    [*] And lastly, the Theatrical Trailer is also included and is in very nice condition. Duration: 3:06 minutes.

    Alias Nick and Nora – Two Documentary Profiles is a separate disc which comes exclusively with “The Thin Man Collection”. It is made up of mainly two separate documentaries. The first is entitled, William Powell – A True Gentleman. A number of heavy hitters appear including Rudy Behlmer, Leonard Maltin as well as several film critics and historians. The second feature, Myrna Loy – So Nice To Come Home To, is hosted by Kathleen Turner. These run 31:17 and 46:08 respectively. These are both terrific features and do a splendid job at offering up extensive biographies as well as chronicling the history of the careers of both stars including their extensive on-screen relationship.

    Two other features appear on the disc. They are:
    [*] 11/21/58 The Thin Man – Darling, I Loathe You TV Episode which starred Peter Lawford and Phyllis Kirk. Interesting to see for the first time, but it’s just not the same without Powell and Loy. The show, by all accounts, was a flop and lasted a mere two seasons running from 1957-1959. The feature however is in fantastic condition. Duration: 25:44 minutes.
    [*] Last but not least, a 6/8/36 Lux Radio Theater Broadcast is also present to conclude the special features portion. I found the audio during this particular broadcast to be somewhat difficult and rather muddied at times. Duration: 60:00 minutes.

    Special Features: 5/5
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    **Special Features rated for the quality of supplements, not the quantity**



    Final Thoughts:
    Although I’ve seen these films a number of times, I spent the entire week with Nick and Nora and I can’t imagine time better spent. The Thin Man represented a series of films which served as an ideal means of escapism during a dark period in time. This series of films are the epitome of well defined characters and our leads demonstrate a level of chemistry that has never been surpassed. For this reviewer however, William Powell is the essential ingredient in the series. Always a little drunk and just ever so slightly arrogant, Powell’s delivery is so droll and clever with timing that is absolutely wicked, you can barely take your eyes off of him. Really, the plots of the films are so preposterous that no reasonable viewer can follow them and at the end of the film it doesn’t make the slightest bit of difference.

    In terms of the presentation, these are all up to the usually high standards of Warner Brothers. On top of the wonderful presentations, the set contains enough special features to keep the average Thin Man enthusiast happy for some time. The set is also a testament of Warner’s commitment to fans of classic film and worth noting it is presently sitting at number #1 on the list of Amazon’s Top Sales charts. Great news indeed.

    Pour yourself a dry martini (shaken to waltz time, of course), sit back and spend a week with Nick and Nora, you’ll be glad you did.

    Overall Rating: 5/5 (not an average)
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    Very Highly Recommended…!!




    Release Date: August 2nd, 2005
     
  2. Claus Nielsen

    Claus Nielsen Stunt Coordinator

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    Great review. I can't wait until my copy arrives.
     
  3. Steve...O

    Steve...O Producer

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    What can I say but yet another excellent WB release and a wonderful review written by Herb. Thank you Herb.

    I pre-ordered this the day it first went up on Amazon and anxiously await its arrival. These are the kinds of films that one can watch over and over and never get tired of.

    Steve
     
  4. Steve Tannehill

    Steve Tannehill Ambassador

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    Thanks for the review, Herb. I'll be visiting Sams and Costco on Tuesday to see who has the better price on this.

    We watched The Libeled Lady a couple of weeks ago, and Powell was just great. I may just have to fire up My Man Godfrey in preparation for Tuesday.

    - Steve
     
  5. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I've made it through four of the dvds with only "The Thin Man Returns Home" and "The Song of the Thin Man" left along with the bonus disc. This is a fine set, but it would've been nice to have a commentary at least on the first three films.

    Anyhow, so far I agree with Herb about this set except his film ratings. Over the years, I've changed my rankings of the films from "The Thin Man" being the best of the films followed by "After the Thin Man" to now reversing those rankings. The second film in this series is much funnier and entertaining to me. The rank difference in those two films isn't very much, but "After the Thin Man" did have me laughing out loud more than a few times.

    Also, the video quality of "After the Thin Man" was damn good because even though I've seen this film countless times, for the first time, I noticed Penny Singleton's freckles on her shoulders and upper back.




    Crawdaddy
     
  6. Nigel McN

    Nigel McN Supporting Actor

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    Amazon split my order and only just shipped this a day or 2 ago, so I anxiously await its arrival! Great to hear to is a top notch package.
     
  7. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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    Thanks guys...

    Crawdaddy.... I came close to awarding Song only 3-1/2 stars but with my girl Gloria in it, I just couldn't do it... [​IMG]
     
  8. Paul Miller

    Paul Miller Supporting Actor

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    My order still hasn't been moved into shipping soon yet by Amazon. If there is one complaint I have with these Warner Box sets, Warner & Amazon need to get together to make sure that they have enough in stock so those who order it before release date don't have to wait two or three days after release date for these to ship.

    Paul
     
  9. Torgny Nilsson

    Torgny Nilsson Second Unit

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    I would have gotten this in a second, but am a bit peeved that I have to pay for another copy of "The Thin Man" in order to get the rest of the movies. But I assume I will have no choice . . .
     
  10. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    The box set will run you $40-50, a thoroughly reasonable price for just the five sequels. Then do what I am and give the single to some poor soul who hasn't seen it and make his life happier.
     
  11. seanOhara

    seanOhara Supporting Actor

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    It's a great set, but the bonus disc didn't cover the most important actor in the series -- Asta!



    Even if the sequels were available individually, the box set would probably be cheaper than the other five movies. I know when the Classic Comedy set came out, I only wanted two of the films but ended up getting the whole thing because it cost less than the two movies on their own.
     
  12. Kevin_Lodge

    Kevin_Lodge Stunt Coordinator

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    I picked the set up today at Sams Club for $37.23
     
  13. Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Screenwriter

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    wow...Amazon had it here on release day! That has to be a first....I couldn't be happier. I was only able to pop each of them in quickly to see how they look and I'm very very thrilled with the set. I can finally retire my battered old VHS copies...woohoo!

    I first fell for these movies way back in the days of the Dialing for Dollars Movie every afternoon at 4:00 and have loved them ever since.

    One funny thing...the liner notes on the extra disc list Kevin Kline as the narrator on the Powell bio...imagine my surprise at hearing MICHAEL YORK'S voice on the actual disc!

    It's funny that Warner's commitment to getting everything as close to right as possible never extends to the staff doing the covers (remember how Stephanie Beacham ISN'T in The Horror of Dracula?) No matter, it's minor (and kinda funny) and I wouldn't part with this set for the world.

    Just super!
     
  14. Steve...O

    Steve...O Producer

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    My set also arrived yesterday and to say the artwork, packaging is first rate is an understatement. Even the menus look beautiful. Have only watched "After...." and it looks superb. It will take some time to get through this set because of all the bonus features.

    Warners has done pretty much everything they could to honor and respect these films and its fans with how they put this together.

    As much as I loved the transfers of the Rathbone Holmes films that came out a couple of years ago I thought the packaging and bonus features weren't all they could have been. Warners has now set the gold standard on how a classic film series should be released.

    If anybody from WB is reading this, you have my sincere "thank you" for a job well done.

    Steve
     
  15. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    Sigh. I have yet to receive a shipping notice from Amazon for my order. [​IMG]

    I'm looking forward to sharing these films with my wife. I've seen them several times on TCM, but she's never experienced a Thin Man film.
     
  16. Amy Mormino

    Amy Mormino Supporting Actor

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    I think Robert Crawford has a point about ranking "After the Thin Man" above "The Thin Man". They've both great but "After" runs more smoothly. Plus, it has Jimmy Stewart as the murderer!


    A feature on Asta would have been cool, though its not like the Tarzan set where they could actually show a living Cheetah. According to imdb, Asta was so popular that he actually caused wire-haired terriers to be over-bred.
     
  17. Jeff Brooks

    Jeff Brooks Second Unit
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    I just realized the set I purchased today at Best Buy, (the last copy they had in town), has two copies of "Another Thin Man" and no "After The Thin Man". Has anyone else encountered this apparent packaging snafu?
     
  18. Dave Jessup

    Dave Jessup Stunt Coordinator

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    I'd like to be able to comment on the snafu - or the set - but there seem to be no copies in town. Either Rochester has a huge clientele of classic film buffs (hey, Eastman is here, after all) or local retailers dreadfully under-ordered. Had to settle for watching the trailers last night; in due course I look forward to all the goodies!
     
  19. DavidBC

    DavidBC Second Unit

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    Does anyone know where there's scans of all 7 covers? I'd really like to see the art.
     
  20. Brian PB

    Brian PB Supporting Actor

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    You can get a rough idea of the individual coverart here. DVD Profiler has the front & back covers posted. If you don't have Profiler, you can view the scans in my online collection (link below), look in "Wish List".
     

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