Another Thin Man (1939, W.S. Van Dyke)

I’d heard that the first four or five Thin Man movies were almost equally good, but to me they seem to be getting weaker. This one wisely lets up on the drunk jokes and doesn’t give Asta any solo scenes. One would think from the poster (and the finale of part two) they’d be making a big deal over Nick & Nora’s new baby, but not really – Nick Jr. factors into the first few scenes and the last one, but not much in between. There’s more detective work going on, Nick solving the crime rather than gathering all the suspects and waiting for one to slip up. And of course the film is just cluttered with characters. It’s a very watchable 90 minutes, I’ll give it that.

Katy & I figured out how to spot the killer in a Thin Man movie, anyway – it’s whoever is least likely to have done it, on whom there’s no suspicion whatsoever. That means here it’s the innocent young girl Lois (Virginia Grey, later of The Naked Kiss and All That Heaven Allows) whose dad the Colonel (blustery cowboy C. Aubrey Smith of The Scarlet Empress – he’s Nora’s lawyer, I think?) was killed, presumably by revenge-seeking neighbor Phil Church (Sheldon Leonard of Guys & Dolls).

There are a hundred more red-herring characters including a creep named Creeps, large-faced Nat Pendleton as a cop, Ruth Hussey (Jimmy Stewart’s photographer friend in Philadelphia Story), a love interest, a secretary (Tom Neal of The Brute Man!), an overly suspicious nanny, Abner Biberman as “The Cuban” (Katy points out it’s not a very Cuban-sounding name), and apparently Shemp Howard. Otto Kruger (bad guy in Power of the Press) plays lead cop Van Slack. I didn’t get a good bead on this guy because our disc skipped during his entire scene in the middle of the movie. Convoluted murder scheme involves laying a gun on the ground and covering it with a wet newspaper. Lois has a secret identity, kills Phil Church, and would’ve gotten away with it if not for those two meddling society detectives.