Shadow of the Thin Man Blu-ray Review

4 Stars Entertaining mystery in the series with more comic elements than usual.

Nick and Nora Charles investigate their fourth cinematic case together in W.S. Van Dyke’s Shadow of the Thin Man, another in the entertaining series of comic mysteries headed by the dynamic married duo.

Shadow of the Thin Man (1941)
Released: 01 Nov 1941
Rated: Passed
Runtime: 97 min
Director: W.S. Van Dyke
Genre: Comedy, Crime, Mystery
Cast: William Powell, Myrna Loy, Barry Nelson
Writer(s): Irving Brecher, Harry Kurnitz, Dashiell Hammett
Plot: A jockey has been shot dead at the race track. Famous detective Nick Charles and his wife Nora happen to be on the scene and Lt. Abrahams asks for Nick's expert help.
IMDB rating: 7.3
MetaScore: N/A

Disc Information
Studio: Warner Brothers
Distributed By: Warner Archive
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 Hr. 37 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray
Case Type: keep case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: All
Release Date: 08/17/2021
MSRP: $21.99

The Production: 4/5

Nick and Nora Charles investigate their fourth cinematic case together in W.S. Van Dyke’s Shadow of the Thin Man, another in the entertaining series of comic mysteries headed by the dynamic married duo. This fourth in the six-film series featured the last contribution of one of the original production team, director “Woody” Van Dyke and with the exit from the series of Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett in the previous series entry and now Van Dyke with this one, Shadow of the Thin Man seems like the end of an era. In many ways, this is the last of the great Thin Man films (though undoubtedly the final two entries in the series are still very entertaining, but they lack something of the same feel of the first four).

A West Coast gambling syndicate headed by ‘Link’ Stephens (Loring Smith) and Fred Macy (Joseph Anthony) come under close scrutiny when a jockey under their thumb is found dead in the racetrack shower. Dogged reporter Paul Clarke (Barry Nelson) with the help of his girl friend Molly Ford (Donna Reed) who works as the secretary to Stephens is determined to get the goods on the crooks, possibly implicate them in the jockey’s death, but he’s stopped by mob fixer “Whitey” Barrow (Alan Baxter), and when the two tussle, Paul is knocked unconscious and Barrow is found dead with Paul accused of killing him. Major Jason Scully (Henry O’Neill), special deputy to the state legislature, begs Nick Charles (William Powell) to help in the investigations of the syndicate, but Nick only relents when his friend Paul is accused of murdering Barrow. Until the investigation concludes, there will be another murder before Nick and Nora (Myrna Loy) can lay out the explanation for the befuddled Lieutenant Abrams (Sam Levene).

Screenwriters Irving Brecher and Harry Kurnitz take a more comical approach to crime solving in this entry, perhaps the funniest of all the Thin Man episodes (possibly excepting the original film). There are three domestic sequences with Nick attempting to do his fatherly duties with his son (Dickie Hall) with only one of them even slightly connected to the murders at hand. Two other memorable sequences, also played for laughs (a brawl at a seafood restaurant where Nick is browbeaten into ordering sea bass instead of lobster and a wrestling match where Nora attempts to place a headlock on her hubby), likewise provide more padding than clues to the solutions of the crime. As with the earlier entries in the series, a showy assortment of Nick’s shadowy associates make appearances, sometimes related to the case (Lou Lubin’s “Rainbow” Benny who’s one of the principal witnesses/suspects) and sometimes just adding local color (Joe Oakie’s “Spider” Webb, Tito Vuolo’s insistent waiter Luis, Sid Melton’s “Fingers”). Running a brisk and breezy ninety-seven minutes, director “Woody” Van Dyke never stops the narrative for long (well, maybe once in a too-long bit of woozy business with Nick getting groggy on a kiddie carousel), and Nick’s snooping leads him into encounters with a mystery addicted landlady (Adeline De Walt Reynolds) and gangster’s moll Claire Porter (the ubiquitous Stella Adler) who’s guarding more than one important secret.

The interplay between William Powell and Myrna Loy is as solid and hilarious as ever. Nick’s still downing cocktails wherever he can find them, and Nora wears a succession of hats that set her apart, sometimes to her detriment. Sam Levene as Lieutenant Abrams is just as confused but just as welcome here as he was in After the Thin Man (though this is the last time we see him in the series). Barry Nelson is very appealing in an early role as a feisty reporter, and Donna Reed’s inexperience in an early role for her is more noticeable but not a major problem. Stanislavski method acting advocate Stella Adler shows us what it’s all about as Claire Porter, easily slipping from a reticent society snob to a gutsy dame with the greatest of ease. Henry O’Neill is an earnest Major Scully, Will Wright makes a frightened bookkeeper Maguire, Alan Baxter offers another of his oily charlatans as the murdered “Whitey” Barrow, and Lou Lubin plays the tragic “Rainbow” Benny quite memorably. Louise Beavers is always a welcome sight, this time as the Charles’ nursemaid Stella, but she disappears almost completely from the last half of the movie. Jody Gilbert after giving W.C. Fields a hard time in Never Give a Sucker an Even Break pops in for a tiny cameo during the wrestling sequence as Spider’s girl friend Lana. And for trivia lovers, that’s Mickey Rooney’s father Joe Yule as the night watchman at the race track (who gets presented Nora’s “screwy” hat as a present).

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: NA

The film’s 1.37:1 theatrical aspect ratio is faithfully rendered in this 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. While the first Thin Man film was in dire shape before being miraculously brought back to life on Blu-ray, the subsequent films in the series had fewer problems for the remastering team. This one looks wonderful with striking detail and sharpness, excellent grayscale with crisp whites and rich black levels, and exemplary contrast. The movie has been divided into 24 chapters.

Audio: 5/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono sound mix is quite solid and appealing. The dialogue has been wonderfully recorded and is always easy to understand even when mixed with David Snell’s background score and the numerous sound effects. There are no problems with age-related anomalies like hiss, flutter, pops, and crackle.

Special Features: 2.5/5

The Tell-Tale Heart (19:45, SD): masterful 1941 adaptation of the Edgar Allan Poe classic with Oscar-winner Joseph Schildkraut as the killer and directed by the great Jules Dassin.

The Goose Goes South (6:12, SD) 1941 animated short

Theatrical Trailer (2:59, HD)

Overall: 4/5

W.S. Van Dyke’s Shadow of the Thin Man brings us another mysteriously comic adventure with the legendary Nick and Nora Charles. With only two more entries in the series left before fans have all six on Blu-ray, this entry naturally comes highly recommended.

Matt has been reviewing films and television professionally since 1974 and has been a member of Home Theater Forum’s reviewing staff since 2007, his reviews now numbering close to three thousand. During those years, he has also been a junior and senior high school English teacher earning numerous entries into Who’s Who Among America’s Educators and spent many years treading the community theater boards as an actor in everything from Agatha Christie mysteries to Stephen Sondheim musicals.

Post Disclaimer

Some of our content may contain marketing links, which means we will receive a commission for purchases made via those links. In our editorial content, these affiliate links appear automatically, and our editorial teams are not influenced by our affiliate partnerships. We work with several providers (currently Skimlinks and Amazon) to manage our affiliate relationships. You can find out more about their services by visiting their sites.

Share this post:

View thread (24 replies)
Please support HTF by using one of these affiliate links when considering a purchase.

Robert Crawford

Crawdaddy
Moderator
Patron
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Dec 9, 1998
Messages
68,139
Location
Michigan
Real Name
Robert
Thanks for the review Matt! It's out of stock almost everywhere so I don't know when mine will actually come but I look forward to when it does! :)
Matt, thank you for your review. I'm not in a big hurry to purchase this title so I never bothered to pre-order. I'll get it when the time is right.
 

Will Krupp

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2003
Messages
4,039
Location
PA
Real Name
Will
I'm not in a big hurry to purchase this title so I never bothered to pre-order.

I was the same way and actually wound up completely forgetting to pre-order this one or IN THE GOOD OLD SUMMERTIME until their release date. SUMMERTIME was available right away but this one wasn't. For all I watch this title, I can wait for it.
 

David Norman

Premium
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Oct 12, 2001
Messages
9,648
Location
Charlotte, NC
Just in case anyone wants it sooner rather than later


Not many left in stock, but a few
 

Malcolm R

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2002
Messages
25,301
Real Name
Malcolm
Amazon is saying that my copy will arrive on Saturday.
1629863968665.png
:D
 

Will Krupp

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2003
Messages
4,039
Location
PA
Real Name
Will
I finally gave up on Amazon and went with Bullmoose (my first time!) for both this and THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE (which Amazon still doesn't have) and they both shipped out and should supposedly arrive in the next few days.
 

Robert Crawford

Crawdaddy
Moderator
Patron
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Dec 9, 1998
Messages
68,139
Location
Michigan
Real Name
Robert
I was the same way and actually wound up completely forgetting to pre-order this one or IN THE GOOD OLD SUMMERTIME until their release date. SUMMERTIME was available right away but this one wasn't. For all I watch this title, I can wait for it.
I finally gave up on Amazon and went with Bullmoose (my first time!) for both this and THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE (which Amazon still doesn't have) and they both shipped out and should supposedly arrive in the next few days.
So much for waiting for it. :laugh:
 

BobO'Link

Senior HTF Member
Joined
May 3, 2008
Messages
11,546
Location
Mid-South
Real Name
Howie
Amazon was being so slow that I just cancelled my order and will wait for the inevitable lower price. I've not yet watched my After... or Another... BRs so am in no real hurry.
 

Malcolm R

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2002
Messages
25,301
Real Name
Malcolm
I finally gave up on Amazon and went with Bullmoose (my first time!) for both this and THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE (which Amazon still doesn't have) and they both shipped out and should supposedly arrive in the next few days.
Bull Moose is usually pretty fast. I submitted an order for The Conjuring 3 late on Sunday afternoon and it was on my porch this morning (Wednesday). And that was using the "free" shipping (for which they used 2-day Priority).
 

roxy1927

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jul 10, 2018
Messages
2,037
Real Name
vincent parisi
I couldn't believe Barry Nelson was in this. I saw him on stage in of all things The Act!
 

PopBodhi

Second Unit
Joined
Apr 6, 2005
Messages
321
Real Name
Randall
Bull Moose is usually pretty fast. I submitted an order for The Conjuring 3 late on Sunday afternoon and it was on my porch this morning (Wednesday). And that was using the "free" shipping (for which they used 2-day Priority).
Does Bull Moose ship in plastic bubble bags (AMAZON) or boxes? I'm sick of AMAZON sending damaged items!
 

Malcolm R

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2002
Messages
25,301
Real Name
Malcolm
Does Bull Moose ship in plastic bubble bags (AMAZON) or boxes? I'm sick of AMAZON sending damaged items!
My last couple of items were both in boxes, one a single blu-ray, the other a blu-ray set. I can't swear they always use boxes, but I've never had anything arrive damaged.
 

Will Krupp

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2003
Messages
4,039
Location
PA
Real Name
Will
Does Bull Moose ship in plastic bubble bags (AMAZON) or boxes? I'm sick of AMAZON sending damaged items!

I can only speak for one experience with them (I'm tempted to repeat my BM joke but it didn't really land the first time so I shall spare you it) but I ordered two blu-rays and they were wrapped in bubble wrap inside of an actual cardboard box. I was most impressed.

Second order (two of the Spetember Deanna Durbin blus) will be coming next week, one hopes.

By the way, I live in PA and didn't have to pay any sales tax? Is that true everywhere? I thought it was odd but I'm not going to kick about it.

So, free shipping over $35, no sales tax, and fast delivery in a sturdy box. What's not to like?
 
Most Popular