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MOVIE INFO

Director:
W.S. Van Dyke
Cast:
William Powell, Myrna Loy, James Stewart, Elissa Landi, Joseph Calleia, Jessie Ralph, Alan Marshal
Writing Credits:
Dashiell Hammett (novel), Albert Hackett, Frances Goodrich

Tagline:
Continuing the fun in their new hit!

Synopsis:
The sparkling series featured the irresistible William Powell and Myrna Loy chemistry as husband and wife sleuths who solved murders with the aid of their wire-haired terrier, Asta. Set in the glamorous world of 1930s upper-class Manhattan, The Thin Man and its sequels established the standard for witty comedy, clever dialogue and urbane one upmanship. The 7-Disc set includes The Thin Man, After The Thin Man, Another Thin Man, Shadow Of The Thin Man, Song Of The Thin Man, The Thin Man Goes Home, and the Alias Nick & Nora bonus documentary disc.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Monaural
French Monaural
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 112 min.
Price: $59.92
Release Date: 8/2/2005

Available Only as Part of The Complete Thin Man Collection.

Bonus:
• Radio Show
• Radio Promo
• “How to Be a Detective” Comedy Short
• “The Early Bird and the Worm” Cartoon
• Trailer


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

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After The Thin Man: The Complete Thin Man Collection (1936)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 19, 2005)

In the Thirties, sequels weren’t as inevitable as they are today, but they occurred. After the success of 1934’s The Thin Man, a second tale with the same folks seemed logical. Eventually the series would encompass five sequels, the first of which came out in 1936.

After the Thin Man picks up right where the first film finished. Nick Charles (William Powell) and wife Nora (Myrna Loy) return to California from their time in New York. They just want a quiet New Year’s Eve at home, but friends and hangers-on have taken over their house for a surprise party.

Nick and Nora slip out when they get an invitation for dinner from her Aunt Katherine (Jessie Ralph). Nick doesn’t like the “old battleaxe” but when Nora’s cousin Selma (Elissa Landi) pleads for their presence, he agrees to go. We sense something dire is afoot with Selma but don’t get more hints at this time.

When they arrive at the party, Selma reveals that her husband Robert (Alan Marshal) has been missing for three days. The upper crust Katherine doesn’t report this to the police as she worries about press, so they entreat Nick to investigate. He agrees, and we hear some other aspects of the case such as Selma’s belief Robert only married her for the money. We also meet her friend David (James Stewart), a dude who obviously has long carried a torch for Selma.

Complications ensue when Nick and Nora find Robert at a nightclub. He’s having a fling with singer Polly (Dorothy McNulty), as is club owner Dancer (Joseph Calleia); she strings him along so the pair can use him. Robert also attempts to blackmail David: for $25,000, he’ll divorce Selma so David can finally marry her. Someone eventually shoots and kills Robert, which launches the mystery. Selma is the prime suspect, but she denies involvement, so Nick reluctantly steps in to solve the case.

Like most sequels, After bears many similarities to the original flick – Nick’s reluctance to work as a detective being one of these elements. This worked better in the first movie, as his reticence becomes tiresome here. He seems especially curmudgeonly since Selma’s part of the family, and the gag gets old, particularly since we know there’s no chance Nick won’t eventually investigate; it wouldn’t be much of a movie if he didn’t do his detective thing.

I won’t discuss the details, but After also offers an ending that strongly resembles the conclusion of the first film. In a change, Nora gets more to do here; she was awfully passive in the original flick, whereas this movie gives her a moderately more active role. Asta’s part increases as well, at least for a few cutesy moments. We meet “Mrs. Asta” and his pups, though these are thrown-away elements that have nothing to do with the main story.

And what about that primary plot, anyway? I must admit it lacked the intrigue of the “Thin Man” mystery. Frankly, I never really cared who did it. Both films offered lots of complications, but at least The Thin Man managed to keep our interest. That doesn’t happen here, or at least not to the same degree. With all the different curveballs, I eventually realized that I wasn’t terribly concerned with the identity of the culprit and I just wanted the movie to end.

Granted, the mystery was never really of prime importance in the first film. We cared more about the fun interplay between Nick and Nora and the other comedic elements. Unfortunately, they lack the same zing here. The banter lacks the same pep and zest. A few scenes reprise the goofy tone of the original, but usually the project displays few signs of life.

I must admit After the Thin Man comes as a disappointment to me. I expected a project that offered similar cleverness and creativity compared to its predecessor, but I found a flick with little of the same spark. It has some moments but it usually plods and fails to deliver the goods.


The DVD Grades: Picture B-/ Audio C+/ Bonus B-

After the Thin Man appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. While the transfer wasn’t stellar, at least it marked an improvement over the first film’s visuals.

Sharpness remained a little inconsistent, but not as much. Some softness crept in occasionally. Most of the time the flick came across as reasonably well-defined and distinctive. No problems with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and only a little edge enhancement appeared.

As one expects from an old movie, print flaws were the dominant problem, though they also declined when compared to the first flick. I saw examples of spots, marks, grit, specks, line, grain, nicks and blotches. These never became heavy, though they appeared with moderate consistency. Blacks improved and looked nicely dark and tight. Shadows were also better. They occasionally seemed a bit murky, but low-light shots usually offered nice definition. This all added up to a “B-“ transfer.

I thought the monaural soundtrack of After the Thin Man was pretty similar to the audio for the original film. Speech showed a little edginess and usually seemed thin. Nonetheless, the lines offered good intelligibility across the board. Music played a more prominent role, and the score and songs were somewhat shrill. They generally seemed acceptable given their age, though, and the harshness in the upper register wasn’t too intrusive.

Effects stayed tinny and without heft, but that was expected. A little hiss and background noise accompanied the mix. Again, this was an unspectacular but more than acceptable piece of audio for a movie from 1936.

The big attraction among the DVD’s extras comes from a June 17, 1940 Lux Radio Theater Broadcast. This 59-minute and 10-second program offers a version of After the Thin Man and features William Powell and Myrna Loy in their roles as Nick and Nora. Most of these radio adaptations badly chop up the source material, but this one actually seems surprisingly complete. It retells the story well and provides a fun piece.

A Radio Promo called “Leo Is On the Air” lasts 14 minutes and 24 seconds. This highlights popular songs from movies of the same era as After. That means it includes a tune from the flick, which is why this program is here. The songs mostly sound like clunkers to me, but this offers a neat historical element.

In addition to the film’s theatrical trailer, we get two shorts. 1936’s How to Be a Detective features Robert Benchley and provides a predictable but amusing “tutorial” on understanding and tracking criminals. 1936’s The Early Bird and the Worm offers a cartoon with such a heavily cutesy bent that it becomes tough to watch. A pair of lazy crows present its only amusing moment.

Many folks seem to regard After the Thin Man as a film as good if not better than its predecessor. I don’t agree with that. I thought After was a fairly lazy rehash of the original and it lacked much of the same spirit or creativity. The DVD offers average to good picture and audio along with a decent little set of extras. I think fans will be pleased with this release.

Note that you can buy After the Thin Man only as a part of a seven-DVD set called The Complete Thin Man Collection. The latter includes The Thin Man as well as sequels After the Thin Man, Another Thin Man, Shadow of the Thin Man, The Thin Man Goes Home and Song of the Thin Man. It also comes with a disc of extras that features two documentaries and an episode of the Fifties Thin Man TV series. The package retails for $59.92 and is currently the only way to get the five sequels and the bonus disc; only the original Thin Man can be purchased on its own as of August 2005.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.2857 Stars Number of Votes: 7
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