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Film / Another Thin Man

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Another Thin Man is a 1939 film directed by W.S. Van Dyke II, starring William Powell and Myrna Loy. It is the third of six films in the "Thin Man" series that started with The Thin Man in 1934.

In this one Nick and Nora Charles (Powell and Loy) have returned to New York City with their infant son Nick Jr., whereupon they are summoned out to Long Island to meet with Col. MacFay, a stuffy old Brit (played by C. Aubrey Smith, patron saint of stuffy old Brits), who has been managing Nora's business interests. MacFay has become convinced that Phil Church, formerly an employee of his that went to prison for shady business dealings, is out to get him. His daughter Lois (Virginia Grey) is terrified for her father. Sure enough, the Colonel is murdered while Nick and Nora are staying at his mansion, and Nick Charles is drawn against his will into another murder mystery.

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Eighth of fourteen films starring Powell and Loy. Powell's return to movie-making after nearly dying from colon cancer.


Tropes:

  • The Alcoholic: Nick, as usual. This time he's swilling drinks he finds in apartments that he and the police are searching.
    "Oh, we had a lovely trip. Nick was sober in Kansas City!"
  • The Alibi: Lois is with Nick and Nora when the Colonel's shot goes off, so she is believed to be innocent. It is revealed that with Phil's help she set up an elaborate timing mechanism in which she first killed her father, and then rigged the gun to go off five minutes later, after she'd left.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Not that it excuses the scheme he worked out, but as Nick himself points out, it's possible that Church really did have a legitimate beef with MacFay.
  • Artifact Title: Really sets in with this film. In the original, the "Thin Man" was a secondary character, a murder suspect. Calling the sequel After the Thin Man was logical enough. But the name "Thin Man" became associated with Nick Charles, and so this movie got called Another Thin Man for no particular reason.
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  • Asshole Victim: "Asshole" might be stretching it a bit, but MacFay is a cantankerous demanding old coot that nobody is really broken up to see dead. Not even his daughter- she was the one who killed him. Heck, more people are genuinely upset when Church is murdered.
  • Becoming the Mask: Church's female accomplice genuinely falls for him.
  • The Blade Always Lands Pointy End In: As seen when Church's Mook Dum-Dum throws one at Nick and it lodges in a mantel.
  • Blind Without 'Em: Vogel, one of Church's partners-in-crime and a particularly intimidating character, is rendered helpless when his glasses get knocked off.
  • Busman's Holiday: Nick never wants to go detecting. He didn't even want to visit MacFay in the first place, much less solve the man's murder.
  • Brought Home the Wrong Kid: Some of Nick's hoodlum friends decide to throw Little Nicky a first birthday party, and bring all their own kids. One of them has to rent one to attend. The villain of the story, after being revealed, attempts to get away by claiming to have kidnapped Nicky. Nora goes to check and sure enough, there is another kid in his place. Turns out the villain was bluffing; Nick's friend had grabbed the wrong kid when he left, and the villain happened to notice before everyone else. The second kid's enraged mother then returns with Nicky, clearing it up.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: As usual in the Thin Man series, a character that seemed perfectly innocent was the murderer. This time it's Lois, who killed her own father in order to get her inheritance. Hilariously, the formerly prim and proper Lois starts talking in a distinctly low-class voice after she's exposed.
  • The Glasses Gotta Go: Nick remarks of the Charles' bespectacled new secretary Dorothy that "You know, she wouldn't be a bad looker if she took her specs off." Sure enough, the lovely Ruth Hussey appears without her glasses later in the movie.
  • Going by the Matchbook: Played straight, when Nick finds a matchbook from a nightclub in a suspect's coat, and follows the lead.
  • I'll Take Two Beers Too: Nick and Nora are at a night club. Nick asks the waiter for a bourbon, then looks at his wife and says "uh, two bourbons." Nora says "The same."
  • Impersonating an Officer: At one point Vogel flashes a fake badge at Nick, who isn't fooled for a minute, but wisely pretends to believe it.
  • Inspector Javert: Played with. The cops pursue Nick as a suspect a few times, but eventually DA Van Slack realizes Nick's a better investigator than they are.
  • It Was Here, I Swear!: The sight of a body lying in the road causes Nick to stop the car and jump out. The body then disappears. It turns out to be Dum-Dum, playing mind games.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Mrs. Bellam, the MacFay maid, tells Lois that she is her mother. It turns out that she was making it up, what with Lois having just inherited a lot of money.
  • Never One Murder: Part of the "Thin Man" formula. In this one, Church is killed towards the end.
  • Never Trust a Title: So...why is it called Another Thin Man?
  • Patricide: Lois is revealed as The Sociopath who killed her father because she wanted her inheritance so she could live the high life.
  • Papa Wolf: Phil Church makes a thinly veiled threat against Nora and Nick Jr. Nick immediately stands up and slugs him, in one of the few times we see him with a completely serious look on his face.
  • Red Herring: The secret ex-con Dorothy legs it immediately after the first murder, but didn't have anything to do with it.
  • Shame If Something Happened: Phil Church's confrontation with Nick ends with Church demanding money, then making an obvious threat, explaining that people he's dreamed of always die after his third dream of their death—and that he might start dreaming about Nora and their baby. This gets Nick really pissed and leads to the Papa Wolf moment (see above).
  • Skewed Priorities: Rather than indulge the police's attempts to put the blame on Nick, Nora zeroes in on the many girls Nick apparently had relationships with.
  • Summation Gathering: As with all Thin Man films. This one is a little different in that Nick has already figured out who did it. In the first two films he didn't know before the gathering and had to tease out a slip-up from the killer.
  • Undying Loyalty: Dum-Dum towards Church. He does not take the latter's death at all well.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: MacFay's business partners and employees are oddly blase upon seeing his corpse, much to Nick's confusion.
    Dudley Horn: That's a mean way to die.
    Nick: Is there a nice way to die?
    Mrs. Bellam: Well, we all have to go someday. Should I call the sheriff?
  • You Don't Want to Catch This: Nora is surrounded by admirers and Nick wants to have a word in private with her.
    Nick: Now Mommy, you know you shouldn't be out and about like this, your first day out of bed. What would the health inspectors say? They'll put you right back in quarantine!
    Nora: (playing along) I won't go back into quarantine, I don't care who catches it!
    (Everyone around them quickly make excuses and leaves.)

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