THIN MAN GOES HOME, THE (director: Richard Thorpe; screenwriters: from a story by Robert Riskin & Harry Kurnitz/Robert Riskin/Dwight Taylor/Dashiell Hammett’s characters; cinematographer: Karl Freund; editor: Ralph E. Winters; music: David Snell; cast: William Powell (Nick Charles), Myrna Loy (Nora Charles), Lucile Watson (Mrs. Charles), Harry Davenport (Doctor Bertram Charles), Gloria De Haven (Laurabelle Ronson), Anne Revere (Crazy Mary), Ralph Brooks (Peter Berton), Helen Vinson (Helena Draque), Leon Ames (Edgar Draque), Donald Meek (Willie Crump), Edward Brophy (Brogan), Lloyd Corrigan (Dr. Bruce Clayworth), Anita Bolster (Hilda, the Charles’ Housekeeper), Donald MacBride (Police Chief ‘Mac’ MacGregor), Morris Ankrum (Willoughby Peavy), Nora Cecil (Miss Peavy), Charles Halton (R.T. Tatum), Paul Langton (Tom Clayworth), Wally Cassell (Bill Burns); Runtime: 101; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Everett Riskin; MGM; 1945)
“The Nick and Nora Charles crime formula story works even in the sticks.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The fifth Dashiell Hammett husband-and-wife, Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell and Myrna Loy), urban private detective team film in the successful “Thin Man” series is another good one–retaining their fast-paced witty dialogue, great chemistry together and clever plot twists. Crisply directed by Richard Thorpe from a story by Robert Riskin & Harry Kurnitz, it has the couple going by train on their holiday to the peaceful suburban community of Sycamore Springs to visit birthday boy Nick’s parents. After enduring the jibes of his disappointed dad that he only turned out to be a policeman and did not follow in his footsteps as a doctor, Nick gets a chance to prove to dad that he has an important job and does it well when the local artist and factory worker Peter Berton gets gunned down on his doorsteps.
Since it was made during wartime, espionage comes part of the plot as the bad landscape paintings of Berton’s are surprisingly in high demand by certain parties. It will turn out that an intricately involved scheme is in place to profit from smuggling top-secret airplane propeller plans developed at the plant inside Berton’s paintings. The complicated tale mixes heavy doses of the international espionage tale, a case of local slander and coverup, as well as having a laugh at Nick’s expense as he drinks only cider in respect of his visit to his upright parents (Lucile Watson & Harry Davenport).
Nick is helped in the case by his shady friend from New York, Brogan (Edward Brophy). Through clever sleuthing Nick is ready to crack the case and invites to his parents’ house all the parties involved, even remotely, in the multiple murders, and after summing up the case points his finger at the guilty party.
The Nick and Nora Charles crime formula story works even in the sticks; Powell and Loy and their pet dog Asta leave their sophisticated home turf for a refreshing change of pace in hayseed country. But as long as there are murders, the fun loving couple are in their element and have the wisecracks cranked up in high gear to prove they can also deal with a bucolic setting. Aided by a colorful supporting cast that includes Gloria DeHaven, Donald Meek, Lloyd Corrigan, Leon Ames, and Ann Revere, as the town loony who is called “Crazy Mary,” the film floats merrily by like a country breeze on a fine summer day.
REVIEWED ON 6/28/2005 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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