Tag Archives: Barry Nelson

Shadow of the Thin Man

1941

directed by: W.S. Van Dyke

220px-shadow_of_the_thin_man

So we’re starting a new theme here at the blog.  Donna Reed movies pre-It’s a Wonderful Life. There are 19 in all between 1941 & 1946 (Think of anyone in Hollywood being in 19 movies today over the same span).  Definitely doable, review wise though.   Shadow is #2 of 19.

Shadow of the Thin Man is the 4th installment in the six part ‘Thin Man’ series which ran from 1934 to 1947. All 6 starred William Powell and Myrna Loy.  So, here we are again with Myrna Loy.  Can’t seem to keep away from her.  Now, admittedly, watching the 4th movie in a series first is a bit unfair, comparable to seeing say, the … 4th Harry Potter movie? and understanding all the meanings and characters and stuff. Thankfully, this movie punished me as a first-time viewer by perpetually involving cameos by people who appeared in earlier films in a sort of ‘aw-shucks remember me?’ way.

Plot-wise, it’s a normal murder mystery P.I. film.  Powell plays Nick Charles, a playboy (though married to Loy’s character, Nora), drunk, Sherlock Holmes-ian guy whom everyone in America seems to know & love.  As mentioned earlier, it was tough to keep track of the characters, not knowing if they were ‘just stopping by to say hello’ or a murder suspect or a friend or a friend but not really or a mobster or what.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot.  Donna Reed. I’m doing a terrible job already.  She was decent as the secretary to one of the mobsters and girlfriend to Barry Nelson (much better in this role, his screen debut, than opposite Debbie Reynolds 22 years later in Mary, Mary. Holy moly, that was bad.)  She shows up 27 minutes in, doesn’t really factor into anything substantial plot-wise, and then she shows up later on when they all (Nick, Nora, her and Nelson) go out to dinner.

To wrap it up: TONS of dry humor, confusing plot, don’t start with the 4th movie in a series.

Underrated Actors: a soft-toss to Donna Reed. Too easy.  Sam Levene was also good as the police Lieutenant.

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Mary, Mary

1963

directed by: Mervyn LeRoy

First off, sorry about the lack of updates lately.  Lot on my plate (got a job offer!).  Also, expect some better movie posts coming up.

Debbie film #29 of 37.  Had a hell of a time finding a picture.  Apparently if you google image search “Mary, Mary”, a lot of…non-Debbie Reynolds results come up.  Also, there isn’t even a dedicated Wikipedia page for the film.  Also, this film took me about 10-12+ sittings to get through.  Here’s why.

Mary, Mary is based on a play.  In fact, one could argue it is a play.  The entire movie (give or take a couple cutscenes) takes place inside the living room of an apartment. THE ENTIRE MOVIE.  The acting is play-acting.  The dialogue is play-dialogue. The plot is a play-plot.  It stunk.  Bad.  Might as well get my normal Debbie gripes out of the way as well.  Debbie plays Mary (She’s 31 at the time).  Barry Nelson (the ex-husband) is 46 (he was awful).  She has a brief (very brief) fling (very brief) with a 54 year old (the guy from The Day the Earth Stood Still…you know that guy).  Golly.  Couldn’t find a movie with someone in their mid 30’s to play alongside Debbie? … It’s starting to make me miss the days of I Love Melvin even…  Her hair is also getting poofier and shorter, very 60’s, it’s not the greatest.

So the plot is pretty bland.  Divorced couple.  Guy is about to remarry.  She has brief jealousy-inducing moment with new man. He realizes he still loves the ex-wife.

Sooo, what else? … Oh he makes a Ginger Rogers / Kitty Foyle reference, and I almost lept out of my seat.  So excited for an arcane movie reference within an even more arcane movie!! I can tell NO one I know.

Underrated Actors: Diane McBain as the ‘about to remarry’ new fiance.  Hiram Sherman as the lawyer.