A lesser if still pleasingly entertaining entry in The Thin Man series, Richard Thorpe’s The Thin Man Goes Home adds the fifth of six entries on Blu-ray to the celebrated, classic mystery series.
The Production: 3.5/5
Nick and Nora Charles undertake their fifth cinematic investigation in Richard Thorpe’s The Thin Man Goes Home. Set in a small town rather than in bustling and shadowy metropolitan areas like New York or San Francisco and featuring more comedy than in previous entries in the series, The Thin Man Goes Home offers an okay mystery and a gaggle of great character actors but ultimately ranks in the lower half of the half dozen Thin Man series entries.
Needing a vacation, Nick Charles (William Powell) with his steadfast wife Nora (Myrna Loy) heads off to vacation with his parents (Harry Davenport, Lucile Watson) in their home in small town Sycamore Springs. With the noted detective arriving unannounced, the town is abuzz wondering what mysterious case he’s investigating, and very soon there’s a body on the Charles’ doorstep, local painter Peter Burton (Ralph Brooke) shot through the back trying to get in touch with Nick. With his questionable death announced by town coroner Bruce Clayworth (Lloyd Corrigan), several of the townsfolk become agitated and genuinely nervous about his murder investigation including his girl friend Laurabelle Ronson (Gloria DeHaven), her disapproving father Sam (Minor Watson), critical co-worker Willoughby Peavy (Morris Ankrum) at Burton’s full-time job at the local factory, artshop owner Willie Crump (Donald Meek) who sold Burton’s work, Mrs. and Mrs. Edgar Draque (Leon Ames, Helen Vinson) who bought Burton’s paintings, and town character Crazy Mary (Anne Revere) who has some secrets of her own to hide. Between swilling cider and trying to sidestep the grouchy local police chief (Donald MacBride), Nick finally arrives at the truth.
The screenplay by Robert Riskin and Dwight Taylor lays on the comedy pretty thickly in this fifth installment having a less flashy murder to solve and with less colorful people and less shadowy surroundings as a setting for the crime (with Nick on his best behavior and drinking cider rather than martinis, we have another great difference between this film and the rest of the series). Nora figures in many of the comedy sequences including the couple making their way through an enormously overstuffed train (being the only Thin Man filmed during wartime, overcrowded trains crammed with lots of service men and regular passengers were the norm), Nora struggling with an uncooperative lawn chair (a funny bit with a hilarious payoff), Nora tailing the man she suspects of the murder (Nick’s crony Brogan played by Edward Brophy) in a sequence that’s almost pure padding, and Nora succumbing to the jitterbug at a local charity dance. Journeyman MGM director Richard Thorpe handles the comedy (easy gags with a continuously collapsing table and Nick’s cider addiction) and the mystery with a sure if unremarkable hand, and the cozy denouement with all of the suspects crowded into a room while Nick traces the motives and methods of the murder carefully point by point recalls all of the earlier entries of the series.
William Powell doesn’t really add any new colors to the Nick Charles he’s created in four previous movies, but he’s as steady and reliable as always. Myrna Loy’s Nora seems a little denser here than in the previous films. All of the esteemed character actors who pop up throughout the movie are aces here: sweet and warm Lucile Watson and crusty Harry Davenport as the parents, amusingly befuddled Donald Meek as the craft shop owner, Leon Ames as the secretive Edgar Draque, artificially solemn Gloria DeHaven as the town flirt, Lloyd Corrigan as the jolly town coroner, Edward Brophy as Nick’s mysterious ally (who always seems to be “in the bushes” at important moments), and the priceless Anne Revere as the troubled and tragic Crazy Mary. Trust the MGM of the time to have just the right persons to place in parts that suit them utterly.
3D Rating: NA
The film’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.37:1 is faithfully recreated in this 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Sharpness is excellent and consistent throughout, and the grayscale features especially deep black levels and wonderful contrast that often allows the picture to “pop.” There are no traces of age-related scratches, splices, or spots to mar the viewing experience. The movie has been divided into 25 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono sound mix is exactly what one would expect for a movie of this era. Dialogue has been recorded most professionally and has been combined with David Snell’s unassuming background score and the multiple sound effects for a pleasing aural presentation. There are no problems with anomalies like hiss, crackle, pops, or flutter.
Special Features: 2/5
Why Daddy? (9:24, SD): Robert Benchley comedy short
Screwball Squirrel (7:25, HD): 1944 animated short
Theatrical Trailer (2:11, HD)
A lesser if still pleasingly entertaining entry in The Thin Man series, Richard Thorpe’s The Thin Man Goes Home adds the fifth of six entries on Blu-ray in the celebrated, classic mystery series. With only Song of the Thin Man to go, collectors can now eagerly expect to have their collections complete in the (hopefully) near future.
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