directed by: W.S. Van Dyke
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.