Another Thin Man

Myrna Loy and William Powell return for another installment of the Nick and Nora saga. Saga is probably putting too much weight on it. Adventure would probably be more of an apt word. Hauling a one year old, a dog, and a glass of whiskey, Nick and Nora return to New York City once again and get wrapped into another mystery by accident. They go down to Long Island to see their gruff and paranoid financial advisor. This advisor had made some mistakes in the past and it led to one of his engineers being sent to jail for ten years. Well this engineer was not too happy about it and started very publicly threatening him by telling him that he has been dreaming about his demise. Well his dreams come true and the advisor ends up dead and Nick is thrust in the middle trying to figure out how it happened and who did it. Once Nick figures it out, he gathers everyone in one room and shocks everyone by telling who the real murderer is.

In my last entry on this series, I reveled in what a good time I had with the series. I was in love with the husband and wife dynamic, the effortlessness of the crimes being solved and witty dialogue. All of those elements are present in this installment but something seems to be missing. I think it is because Nora has again taken such a back seat. This is Nick’s mystery, Nick’s story, and Nick’s source of one liners. Although they have some scenes together, and she makes a valiant effort at trying to figure out who it was, she is made to seem ridiculous by her need to be involved. For example, after being left again by her husband, she decides to meet this informant at a nightclub to find out the whereabouts of one the bad people. She dresses like a vamp and tries to meet the informant, but she gets entangled with the wrong guy who insists on dancing with her. Also by this point Nick had already figured out where this particular bad guy was and how irrelevant he was to the investigation. He sits back and watches his wife go through this embarrassment without helping her out at all or letting her in on the secret. She is made to look ridiculous for wanting to be active in the mystery, she should have just stayed home with her baby. How can this glaring inequality of gender in this film not go unnoticed by people who were watching it? Nick is always made out to be the valiant one, the one who can solve any mystery while sipping at his ever-present whiskey, but Nora is made out to be the controversy hunter, the one who always wants to solve the mystery but never even comes close. It is frustrating to watch.

I don’t want to leave the impression that I hated this film. In fact it was quite the opposite. I had a good time with the silly circumstances, the witty banter, the ridiculous minor characters (The Happy Birthday song being sung by a bunch of thugs is so hilarious that I still chuckle while thinking about it), and figuring out who really did it. But I just want a little more of an equal relationship between Nick and Nora. They have such an easy chemistry that I prefer to see them on the screen figuring out the mystery together like they did in After the Thin Man. Is that so much to ask?


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