Directed By: W. S Van Dyke
Starring: William Powell, Myra Loy, Barry Nelson, Donna Reed
Disclaimer: Warner Archive has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections.
Shadow of the Thin Man (1941) is tragically the final Thin Man movie from W.S Van Dyke who directed the entire series up until this point. Still, I think the movie series never fully recovered after the introduction of Nick and Nora's baby boy. This also marks the first Thin Man film without the original screenwriting duo of Albert Hackett and Francis Goodrich. Now, the screenwriters that they did get were no lightweights. Harry Kurnitz co wrote the classic Witness for the Prosecution (1957) and Irving Brecher penned Meet me in St. Louis (1944) among others. The dialogue still crackles though I feel like it misses the touches that Hackett and Goodrich brought. It also is played for laughs but Nick and Nora's partying days are long gone- even more so than the previous film.
Still, I think that the movie does have enough wit, and twists and turns and a engaging mystery which Dyke always brought to the The Thin Man movies. William Powell and Myra Loy as always are the beating heart of this series. This film also marks the first film appearance by Ava Gardner and Barry Nelson. Even cult icon Tor Johnson makes an appearance as a wrestler of course. Even when the series got shall we say questionable, Loy and Powell and their amazing talent and chemistry helped a lot. Two time Oscar winning cinematographer Charles Rosher (The Yearling, Sunrise) gives the film a further polish and scope. The carousal sequence is masterful.
Shadow of the Thin Man is still a good movie despite not having the flavor of the previous entries. Sadly, I think that the series post Dyke is uneven at best.
Picture: Shadow of the Thin Man is yet another excellent Warner Archive restoration. And, yet another reason why classic film fans will want to upgrade these. The black-and-white photography is pristine, clean and don't have a single dirt, artifact or noise present. Rosher's photography and inventive camera work is showcased to its utmost splendor. The black-and-white is as typical for WA well balanced and honestly its hard to find any real issue with it. Small details like costumes, sets and locales all stand out in striking detail.
Sound: Shadow as DTS 2.0 track. Dialogue comes through nicely as does the score and sound design. No audio issues or unwanted background noise that I could detect.
Extras: Extras include the short The Tell-Tale Heart and classic cartoon short The Goose Goes South and the original trailer.