The Thin Man

  • Review Date: June 29, 2011
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Classic
  • Release Year: 1934
  • Running Time: 91 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Death and drinking in otherwise superb Hollywood classic.
  • Review Date: June 29, 2011
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Classic
  • Release Year: 1934
  • Running Time: 91 minutes

Age(i)

2
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5
6
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8
9
10
11
12
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15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Most of the movie is focused on having a good time, but some good ideas can be found buried inside. Over the course of the movie, Nick learns that doing detective work, solving problems, and helping others is perhaps more satisfying than drinking and being lazy. Dorothy learns not to jump to conclusions about her father. And Nora encourages her husband to help others, while at the same time learning to tolerate the more "uncouth" aspects of his job.

Positive role models

Nick the skilled detective who helps people is a good role model, but Nick the lazy drinker is not. More appropriately the married couple here is an interesting model, showing in small measures how to encourage one another, communicate, and compromise.

Violence

This murder mystery has three deaths as part of its plot. Guns are brandished and fired, and there are gunshot wounds (no blood). In one scene a woman hurls a cooking pot at a man's head. Additionally, there is punching, slapping, and fighting (women are slapped), plus arguing and threats.  

Sex

Some very mild sexual innuendo, more playful than anything else. The married couple likes to lovingly tease one another. We see some kissing. There's some vague discussion of couples cheating on one another, plus a quick image of a man ogling a "sexy" magazine ad.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The main characters -- especially Nick -- are almost constantly drinking hard liquor (rye whisky and gin). There are many jokes about wanting another drink. Nick sometimes acts a bit loose and slurs his words a bit, but he rarely seems to have any difficulty with his drinking, and he stops for the final stretch of the movie (when he's solving the murder). Nora appears once with a hangover. Minor characters are seen smoking a few times.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this classic Hollywood screwball comedy/murder story from 1934 includes free-flowing hard liquor -- characters drink a great deal, with very few realistic consequences (only one hangover). Three dead bodies are involved in this murder story, and several guns are brandished and fired, though there's no gore or blood. The lead characters are married and occasionally pass some playful innuendo back and forth. Given that the movie is about grown-ups in grown-up relationships, some kids or teens may not be interested, but if they relent, they'll probably enjoy it. (Plus, there is a cute dog.)

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What's the story?

The famous detective Nick Charles (William Powell) visits New York with his new, wealthy wife Nora (Myrna Loy). He has left sleuthing behind, interested mainly in drinking and enjoying life. He runs into an old acquaintance, Dorothy (Maureen O'Sullivan), whose father, Clyde Wynant (Edward Ellis), is a successful, yet elusive inventor (and the "thin man" of the title). When Wynant is accused of murder and disappears, Nick finds himself pushed and pulled into the case from every direction. Before long, it appears that Wynant is actually guilty -- except that Nick doesn't believe it. Will he finally take action, solve the case, and clear the Wynants' good name?

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Adapted from Dashiell Hammett's novel, The Thin Man is one of those rare examples of a Hollywood studio production on which everything came together perfectly. Director W.S. Van Dyke, also known as "One Take Woody," reportedly shot the entire movie in 12 days, giving it a kind of zippy, relaxed quality, which is odd -- and refreshing -- for an otherwise glossy MGM production. Van Dyke seamlessly combines a playful post-marriage romance, sophisticated comedy, and a tense, beautifully-crafted murder mystery in such a way that has rarely been repeated.

William Powell and Myrna Loy came together onscreen with perhaps the most perfect chemistry ever seen; they bounced off one another with a sparkle and shine that has rarely been matched (they repeated these roles five more times, and appeared together in eight additional movies). Throw in the adorable pooch Asta, and you've got a winner. Though the movie was made for adults, it's entertaining enough that teens should get a kick out of it.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the massive alcohol consumption in the movie. How do the characters behave around or under the influence alcohol? How realistic is this depiction? What is missing?

  • What is special about the relationship of the married Nick and Nora? Why aren't more married couples portrayed onscreen like this?

  • This movie was released during the Great Depression. Discuss why it was a success. What would have drawn so many people to see this kind of movie?

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Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 25, 1934
DVD release date:August 2, 2005
Cast:Maureen O'Sullivan, Myrna Loy, William Powell
Director:W.S. Van Dyke
Studio:MGM/UA
Genre:Classic
Run time:91 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of The Thin Man was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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