After the Thin Man (1936)
, dir. W.S. Van Dyke, from a story by Dashiell Hammett.
Set apparently a few days after the conclusion of The Thin Man
(1934), Nick and Nora Charles arrive home in San Francisco on New Year's Eve, having just made headlines and spoiling Christmas for the killer by solving the "Thin Man Case" in New York. Dorothy and Tommy (the lovebirds from the first film) must've departed the train en route (in Dashiell Hammett's treatment, which I got from the library today, they are accompanying the Charles' in this film).
I posted this to the Ongoing Name That Movie
thread on May 37, the 80th anniversary of the opening of the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge
. Filmed in (edit)
late September through October 1936, the film's opening panning shot of Nick, Nora, and of course Asta arriving in Pioneer Plaza in front of the Lillian Coit Memorial Tower
(location doubling for the Charles' mansion) shows the GG Bridge in only partial form. Either haze obscures the Marin side tower, or it's not there yet. I can't tell from the DVD. Coit Tower, another highly recognizable landmark, had been completed in 1933.
Polly Byrnes, the singer, is played full-to-the-hilt by Penny Singleton (credited as Dorothy McNulty) who later went on to play Blondie (dyed) in a popular film series, and was the voice of none other than Mrs. Jane Jetson in that original series. She has one of the most brilliant lines in the film, "Whaddya mean illiterate
? My mother and father were married right here in City Hall!"
Look for another very young actor, Paul Fix, as Phil Byrnes.
This film also marked a very early appearance by a contract player named James Stewart. You might'a heard of him.
Sam Levene, Joseph Calleia, Jessie Ralph, and George Zucco round out the huge cast. In the first film, a lot of the humor is based on socialite Nora meeting Nick's old criminal world acquaintances. This story reverses it for a while, showing Nick reacquainting himself with Nora's stuffy old money relatives (much to his dislike in this case).
Directed by W.S. Van Dyke from a story by Dashiell Hammett (his treatments were recently published under THE RETURN OF THE THIN MAN), this sequel featured a better budget, better photography, location shooting in San Francisco, and a cracking good script by the married team of Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich.
Throw in a couple of song and dance numbers, a heaping helping of that trademark, boozy "Thin Man" humor, and you've got a winner. No wonder it rates 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, nearly that high on IMDb.
If you haven't seen one of the Thin Man
series (too obscure?), or haven't seen one recently, The Thin Man
(from Dashiell Hammett's bestselling novel, nearly his last published work) is a great place to start, but After the Thin Man
(released Christmas, 1936) is IMHO the crown jewel of the series. Still youthful, gay, a little bawdy, and loaded with comedy, intrigue, mystery (can you guess the killer before Nick does?), high society, low lifes, swells dressed up for New Year's Eve.