W.S. Van Dyke, 1939
Starring: William Powell, Myrna Loy, Skippy, Otto Kruger
The third entry in the Thin Man series is my favorite next to the original Thin Man, despite the fact that Nick and Nora now have a baby, little Nicky Jr. This sequel probably holds up so well because director W.S. Van Dyke returned, as did screenwriting husband and wife team Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett. Some of the filler scenes from the second film are removed, leaving us with more Nick and Nora, a better mystery, and more laughs.
Nick, Nora, Asta, and Nicky Jr have returned to New York, but they are immediately summoned to the Long Island home of Nora’s family friend, Colonel MacFay. It seems the questionable Phil Church has been threatening the Colonel and even though the old man has dramatically increased security at his country estate, he wants Nick to get to the bottom of things. Despite Nick and Nora’s arrival, the Colonel is soon killed and Nick uncovers many more suspects than just Phil Church, including members of the Colonel’s own household. Can he and Nora discover the real murderer before someone else dies?
I was afraid that the addition of a baby would ruin a lot of the fun for this third film. Though Nora doesn't seem to drink at all and Nick drinks a lot less, the comedy keeps rolling. There’s a particularly funny scene where the Colonel has locked up his liquor cabinet to keep Nick focused and Nora embraces the old man in order to steal back the key. My only real complaint with the humor in the second film and this one are the constant jokes about Nick’s supposed infidelity, which is assumed a fact by many of the other characters. The first few times it was funny, but it has just become tedious by this point. Another Thin Man makes up for it a little more than the second film by including a funny scene at a night club where Nora attracts about a dozen men and is forced to dance with a particularly zealous admirer.
There’s also a lot more action in this film and more murders than the previous efforts. The Colonel and the family dog both gruesomely have their throats slit, plus there’s the fact that someone murdered a dog at all (fortunately it’s not Asta). Another body goes missing, someone sets the Colonel’s swimming pool on fire, Nick is almost killed in the dark, and his life is repeatedly threatened. Though the film starts off as a parlor room mystery, it is soon awash with a number of characters ranging from questionable to unsavory. Nick’s usual ex-con friends show up and they are involved in what is probably the funniest scene in the film. Delighted that Nick and Nora have a baby, all of Nick’s old friends “borrow” babies and show up for a toddler birthday party.
The acting is, as usual, wonderful and William Powell is as charming as ever, despite major life issues during this period. He took a break from filming Thin Man films to undergo several colon operations and was apparently quite weak during the filming of Another Thin Man. He was also mourning his fiancee, actress Jean Harlow, who died suddenly of renal failure in 1937. Loy, though now obviously creeping into middle age, is just as delightful as in the previous two films and the introduction of Nicky Jr lightens things up a bit. Otto Kruger (High Noon) makes an appearance as a suspicious D.A., Nat Pendelton returns as one of the detectives working with Nick, and C. Aubrey Smith steals a few early scenes as the stuffy, yet lovable Colonel. Tom Neal (Detour) is fittingly creepy as his secretary.
Overall this comes highly recommended. If you only watch two films in the series, make it The Thin Man and this one. You can find Another Thin Man and the other five films in The Complete Thin Man Collection DVD box.