Richard Thorpe | 96 mins | DVD | 1.33:1 | USA / English | PG
After four glamorous adventures, high-living sleuths Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell and Myrna Loy) head to small-town America to visit his parents (Harry Davenport and Lucile Watson), and naturally find themselves embroiled in a murder plot.
For my money, The Thin Man Goes Home is unquestionably the series’ weakest entry so far, though others disagree — some even reckon it their favourite. The charm and banter between Powell and Loy is present and correct, though Nora seems a little dippier than usual, perhaps. Thankfully they’ve ditched the kid (he’s been left at school) and there are some good Asta bits. Plus, after four whole films, there’s finally a gag about there being a hotel homophonic with said dog.
But moving the action to a small town, rather than the series’ usual ritzy milieu, feels… wrong. It’s constrained, low-key, and not in-keeping with the series’ style. Throw in a convoluted plot about a painting, and a supporting cast that includes a significant role for Edward Brophy, co-star of three Falcon films, and it almost feels more like an entry from RKO’s comedy sleuthing series. It’s not bad, just not right.
Other unusual quirks include it taking a full half-hour for the murder plot to arrive. I’ve acknowledged before that the mysteries aren’t the real point of these films, but it still feels tardy. I honestly began to wonder if there was even going to be a mystery, or if new-to-the-series director Richard Thorpe was attempting to deliver an hour-and-a-half hanging out with Nick and Nora in their downtime. Also, almost the entire story is their fault! Okay, there’s a criminal scheme going on anyway, but if the Charleses hadn’t turned up and Nora hadn’t started meddling, then no one would’ve been murdered. (Probably.)
As I said, The Thin Man Goes Home is by no means a bad film, with plenty of Nick, Nora and Asta moments to enjoy and buoy up the less-than-stellar mystery. Nonetheless, I think it’s the least Thin Man-like instalment of the series. This change from the norm obviously works for some of the series’ fans, but not for me.
Read my reviews of all the Thin Man films on Thin Man Thursdays.