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The Thin Man

The Thin Man(1934)

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Dashiell Hammett's novel first appeared in Redbook in December 1933. Some early trade reviews list the running time variously at 80 minutes and 95 minutes. According to information in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, M-G-M was advised that some dialogue such as William Powell's line "He didn't come anywhere near my Tabloids," and Myrna Loy's line "What's that man doing in my drawers?" were "censorable," the picture was approved for exhibition in 1934 and was granted a PCA certificate in August 1935. After the film's release, some territories did censor some lines of dialogue, and at least one theater owner from the South wrote to the PCA to complain of excessive drinking in the picture which his patrons found offensive. Although the "Thin Man" of the title was the character Clyde Wynant, fans of the picture and the subsequent series began to refer to the Nick Charles character as "The Thin Man," and all subsequent films included "The Thin Man" in their titles. The film was one of the top-ten money-makers of 1934 and one of the biggest hits of William Powell's and Myrna Loy's careers. In addition, it earned four Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director and Best Actor. It was also named one of the top ten films of the year by Film Daily and New York Times. Powell and Loy recreated their roles for a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on June 8, 1936. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, the film was shot in only sixteen days. Though many films of the era were shot within a ten to fifteen day period, sixteen days was considered very quick for a major film such as The Thin Man. Modern sources note that the speed of this film and others shot by director W. S. Van Dyke led to his nickname, "One Shot Woody." A news item in Hollywood Reporter on May 11, 1934 noted that the picture was "back today for added scenes," subsequent to the picture's press preview, and that actor William Augustin was to appear in the scenes, his appearance in the film has not been confirmed and it is possible that the added scenes did not appear in the released film. Many modern sources have credited the film's sophisticated style, blending mystery with comedy and romance as the inspiration for a new type of detective film that was to remain popular for many years. Five additional films were made by M-G-M in the series, After the Thin Man (1936), Another Thin Man (1939), Shadow of the Thin Man (1941), The Thin Man Goes Home (1943), and Song of the Thin Man (1947). Powell, Loy and "Asta," their dog appeared in all six films. In 1938, Powell was said to be leaving the series, at least temporarily, due to illness. Melvyn Douglas and Reginald Gardiner were both considered as replacements, but Powell did return to the series in 1939. In addition to the M-G-M films, there was a radio series in the 1930s based on the Dashiell Hammett characters, a television series from 1957 to 1959 starring Peter Lawford and Phyllis Kirk and a 1977 television movie called Nick and Nora starring Craig Stevens and JoAnn Pflug. A musical play called Nick and Nora, starring Barry Bostwick and Joanna Gleason, opened on Broadway on December 8, 1991, but closed on December 15, 1991.