Still from The Thin Man Goes Home THE THIN MAN GOES HOME

 1944  100 min  MGM  b&w

William Powell (Nick Charles), Myrna Loy (Nora Charles), Lucile Watson (Mrs. Charles), Gloria DeHaven (Laura Ronson), Anne Revere (Crazy Mary), Harry Davenport (Dr. Charles), Helen Vinson (Helena Draque), Lloyd Corrigan (Bruce Clayworth), Donald Meek (Willie Crump), Edward Brophy (Brogam), Leon Ames (Edgar Draque), Paul Langton (Tom Clayworth), Donald MacBride (Chief MacGregory), Minor Watson (Sam Ronson), Anita Bolster (Hilda), Charles Halton (Tatum), Morris Ankrum (Willoughby), Nora Cecil (Miss Peavy), Wally Cassell (Bill Burns).

The fifth, and penultimate, entry in the THIN MAN series finds Powell and Lay somewhat under form as they swear off the booze when they go to Powell's home town for a family reunion. His sleuthing reputation follows him even to this sleepy community and he is soon approached by a young man obviously distraught about something. Before he can speak, though, he is shot down by an unknown assailant. Powell takes up the investigation and learns from an old friend, Corrigan, that the victim was a painter of landscapes. He further learns that some of the paintings were sold by an art dealer to a mysterious couple new in town. Powell suspects that there are spies involved, probably out to steal the plans for a secret new type of propeller under development at a nearby defence plant.

As his investigation proceeds, Powell puts a number prominent citizens under an unpleasant light and they threaten to withdraw funding from the hospital his doctor father is building if he doesn't lay off the case. Powell's father, Davenport, is unconcerned about this threat and tells his son to go on with his detecting. Powell learns that the victim's mother is a local eccentric named "Crazy Mary" who lives in a shack outside of town. When he goes to see her, he finds her murdered, but also finds a sketch that confirms his suspicions. He calls all the suspects together in his usual fashion and reconstructs the case until he reveals that there is indeed a spy ring operating in town, and the mysterious couple buying the paintings, Vinson and Ames, are part of it. But it is Corrigan, who had been helping the investigation so he could keep a leash on it, that is the spymaster.

Perhaps the new sobriety of Nick and Nora were to blame for the flatness of this instalment, or perhaps it was the way Nora's IQ, once a match for Nick's, seemed to have fallen through the floor since the earlier films, or the fact that Woody Van Dyke, who had helmed all the series to this point, was dead. Loy had not acted in three years, being kept busy with her war work and her marriage, and some of the chemistry that she and Powell once had was definitely gone. On the plus side, though, audiences were happy to be rid of little Nick, Jr., and the inevitable cloying cuteness he always brought, and the performances of the MGM stock company of character actors were fine as always, particularly Watson and Davenport as Nick's parents. The film was a big hit at the box office, and although the series would produce one more episode, the fizz was definitely gone.

Credits: p, Everett Riskin; d, Richard Thorpe; w, Robert Riskin, Dwight Taylor, Harry Kurnitz (based on characters created by Dashiell Hammett); ph, Karl Freund; m, David Snell; ed, Ralph E. Winters; art d, Cedric Gibbons, Edward Carfagno; set d, Edwin B. Willis.

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