Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Thin Man
The Thin Man is the title of the first of six comic detective films starring William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles, a hard-drinking and flirtatious married couple who banter wittily as easily as they solve crimes. Their dog, the wire-haired terrier, Asta, played by Skippy, was also a popular character.
Completed in 1934 and nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, the film was directed by W.S. Van Dyke from a script by Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich; the screenplay was based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett, supposedly based on his relationship with playwright Lillian Hellman. Also appearing in the film were Maureen O'Sullivan, Nat Pendleton, Minna Gombell , Cesar Romero, Porter Hall , Henry Wadsworth , William Henry, Harold Huber and Natalie Moorhead .
The "Thin Man" of the title was actually the murder victim, but the name was thought by virtually everyone to refer to Nick Charles, and it was used in the titles of the sequels, although no one ever called him that. (This is similar to the situation with Frankenstein, where the name of the doctor who created the "monster" was applied to his creature in the film sequels to the novel.)
This movie was followed by five more in the series:
- After the Thin Man (1936)
- Another Thin Man (1939)
- Shadow of the Thin Man (1941)
- The Thin Man Goes Home (1944)
- Song of the Thin Man (1947)
The 1934 film has been selected for preservation in the United States' National Film Registry. There were also a radio series starring (at first) Les Damon and Claudia Morgan and a half-hour weekly TV series produced by MGM and shown on NBC for three seasons from 1957-1960. The TV series starred Peter Lawford (who became a hot item then, because his wife's brother John F. Kennedy was the successful candidate in the presidential election of 1960) and Phyllis Kirk as Nick and Nora Charles. Jack Albertson had a recurring role as well. In 1975, Craig Stevens and Jo Ann Pflug starred in the film Nick and Nora on TV.
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