The pair made 14 movies together, but are best known for the six "Thin Man" movies. They starred as Nick and Nora Charles, the dashing private detective and his rich, glamorous wife, with their wire-haired fox terrier Asta. Nora is a classy society dame, while Nick's work puts him in touch with the world of cops and crooks, touts, safecrackers and ex-cons -- and they're never far from a shaker of dry martinis.
The Thin Man Series - Plotting
After a few bits of gunplay and detecting work (often with Asta uncovering a key clue), it all unwinds when Nick gathers all the suspects in the same room and eliminates them one by one, until he unmasks the killer -- and wouldn’t you know, it’s always the person you least suspect. (The plots are so predictable that the characters start making fun of of the whole shtick in the fourth movie.)
The Popularity of the Thin Man Movies
It doesn’t hurt that Powell is suavely charming as Nick, or that Loy parades around each movie in a series of slinky, gorgeous gowns and sharply tailored suits that show off her slim figure. She’s forever sporting a collection of ridiculous, adorable hats that showcase her perky little nose. The pair are witty, sophisticated and usually a bit tipsy, and Asta can do backflips. What more could you want in a famous detective?
The series is also fun for the peek at what fashionable rich people did in the 30s and 40s -- or at least what the movie-going public expected of them. Nightclubs and dancing, fashionable restaurants, the racetrack, pro wrestling, swanky dinner parties. The sets are actually fairly simple, shot mostly on sound stages and very inexpensive -- but with fancy cars and clothes, and set design that was meant to look spare, elegant and modern.
After the Thin Man - 1936
Another Thin Man - 1939
Shadow of the Thin Man - 1941
The Thin Man Goes Home - 1944
Song of the Thin Man - 1947
The “thin man” of the title in the original Hammett story actually referred to the murder victim, not to Nick Charles, but audiences assumed the reference was to the slender star, and the studio kept the franchise going by using the "thin man" mistake in the title of each subsequent film.
The Thin Man Movies - The Bottom Line
Nicky, darling. Fix me another dry martini.