Apropos of Nothing: The Thin Man series

23 Aug

This is about mood and not about cinematic critique or synopsis, so do bear with me.

thin-man-powell-loy-astaI am exhausted. My brain hurts after finishing a more-grueling-than-usual production process and though said show is closed and has been for nearly a week, the grey matter is still greyer than usual. Difficult to focus, difficult to start the new projects that it’s time to start; even the movies I’ve been meaning to catch up on for this site are all foreign or heady or in some way exhausting to focus on.

I don’t say any of this by way of beweeping my outcast state or presuming that everyone doesn’t get tuckered now and again. This is all just a setting of scene.

When I am creatively exhausted or emotionally exhausted, I look for inspiration in Tati or Keaton or the Marx Brothers. When I am Just Plain Exhausted, there are specific reinforcements I call in, particular mac’n’cheese movies  – there’s a short list. They’re very personal preferences and should not, in most cases, imply an endorsement of quality; merely attachment.

another-thin-manBut that’s not true in the case of The Thin Man, After the Thin Man, Another Thin Man (which is on as I type – Asta has run off with the knife and Nick is leading an oafish group of cops out to look for…shots are being fired! What will happen?!), Shadow of the Thin Man, The Thin Man Goes Home, and Song of the Thin Man. They’re solid top to bottom.

People talk about the earlier ones being better, about the Nick and Nora Charles aging out of the fun of their first two or three outings.  I have no opinion on this sort of misguided talk from the sort of misguided people who would choose a favorite child.

Don_Costello_in_Another_Thin_Man_trailer(Movie update: could Don Costello as “Diamond Back” be more of a character in a Thin Man movie? The guy with the thick glasses he keeps wiping; the one staking out Sheldon Leonard’s house? Look at him. Second only to Nat Pendleton.)

All I offer is that on such a night as this, when feeling proverbially full of sleep and nodding by the fire, it is good to reflect that there are mysteries that have already been solved and whose solution is secondary to the way one works on the case. That to seek to make a world wherein both seediness and classiness are appreciated for their own respective modes of erudition is a noble and valiant quest. That one could do with a liberal nip before being forced to suffer the gats and chivs of outrageous fortune.

the_thin_man_william_powell(And now a Cuban specialty dance number out of nowhere. Why? BECAUSE IT’S TERRIFIC.)

I’ll be writing more soon. There’s a calmish weekend ahead (which includes an outdoor projection of Take Me Out to the Ball Game at the house of a five-year-old friend who has seen so much Gene Kelly that she’s running out of movies and isn’t quite ready for Les Demoiselles de Rochefort) and the juices will no doubt be replenished soon. L’chaim!

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