Starring: William Powell, Myrna Loy, Maureen O’Sullivan
Director: W.S. Van Dyke
Running Time: 91 mins
The Thin Man is an American film about a married couple who decide to investigate a murder for the fun of it.
A film that nicely blends comedy and murder mystery, there’s a lot of fun to be had with The Thin Man. It might not be a laugh-a-minute affair, nor is it the most breathless mystery ever made, but with fun-loving sensibilites, strong performances and a good bit of intrigue, it’s an enjoyable watch.
Now, there are definitely better murder mysteries out there. After all, The Thin Man may strike up moments of intrigue and brief tension as it follows its leading couple through their investigation, but what really makes the film such a fun watch is its comic sensibilities.
With a host of enjoyable and energetic performances, The Thin Man sits right on the fence between full-blown comedy and more earnest murder mystery. In that, it’s not a purely silly affair where the story doesn’t matter, but nor is it too serious that its comedy and fun factor cheapens the real heart of the story.
With rapid-fire dialogue, original and dynamic characterisation across the board and an enjoyable brand of self-aware humour, The Thin Man provides laughs and chuckles throughout.
William Powell and Myrna Loy are great in the lead roles, with an enjoyable back-and-forth that leans slightly on elements of screwball comedy. But with a more traditional dynamic between them, the pair are great fun to watch and support as they delve further into the mystery.
The film’s comedic sensibilities are without a doubt its strongest suit, and what make it such a fun watch. The mystery plot, however, doesn’t work quite as effectively.
While the characterisation is strong throughout, the investigation of the murder is far from riveting. At times it feels a little too easy for the characters, and at others it takes a little too much of a backseat to the comedy.
That’s not to say the comedy cheapens the mystery, just that there really isn’t enough intrigue in that mystery plot to match up to the humour. Yet given that the film tries to balance itself between comedy and mystery, that misjudged split proves a little frustrating at times.
Overall, I enjoyed The Thin Man. It’s a fun, likable movie with a good sense of humour, great performances and engaging characters. Bolstered by quick-witted dialogue and a brilliant dynamic between its two leads, there’s a lot of fun to be had, although it doesn’t quite deliver great intrigue on the mystery front. So, that’s why I’m giving it a 7.2.