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Pop Culture 101-THE THIN MAN

The huge success of The Thin Man led to five sequels over the years, all of them starring Powell and Loy as the Charleses: After the Thin Man (1936), Another Thin Man (1939), Shadow of the Thin Man (1941), The Thin Man Goes Home (1945), Song of the Thin Man (1947).

A TV series modeled on the story debuted in 1957 with Peter Lawford as Nick and Phyllis Kirk as Nora.

In addition to their appearances in the other Thin Man films, Powell and Loy proved to be such a popular and natural screen couple that they were paired in seven other movies: Evelyn Prentice (1934), The Great Ziegfeld (1936), Libeled Lady (1936), Double Wedding (1937), I Love You Again (1940), Love Crazy (1941), The Senator Was Indiscreet (1947). The two had also appeared together previously in Manhattan Melodrama (1934).

The Thin Man spawned a number of other mystery-comedy movies featuring a sleuth (either amateur or professional) and his wife or girlfriend, who insinuates herself into his cases. Among the better known are The Ex-Mrs. Bradford (1936, Powell again, teamed with Jean Arthur); the sleuthing series Fast Company (1938), Fast and Loose (1939) and Fast and Furious (1939); Remember Last Night? (1935), whose story of a couple involved in a murder mystery revolves, like The Thin Man, around the consumption of a great deal of alcohol; There's Always a Woman (1938) and its sequel There's That Woman Again (1939); and Mr. And Mrs. North (1942), which also became a TV series in the 1950s.

The Thin Man, along with It Happened One Night (1934) and Twentieth Century (1934), is credited with setting the style and tone for what would become one of the most popular Hollywood genres for a time, the screwball comedy. Among the more famous films in this category are My Man Godfrey (1936), The Awful Truth (1937), Bringing Up Baby (1938) and Midnight (1939).

Skippy the wire-haired terrier made such an indelible impression as the Charles's dog Asta that he became the best-known dog in the country, second only to President Franklin Roosevelt's Scottish terrier Fala. He also spawned a craze for the breed (leading to overbreeding by "puppy mills" cranking them out to meet demand). Skippy went on to become a staple of the screwball comedy, playing a key role in The Awful Truth, Bringing Up Baby and Topper Takes a Trip (1939), in addition to four other Thin Man movies.

by Rob Nixon

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