The "Thin Man" Classic Movie List

Cocktails and Crime Solving with Nick and Nora

Few Hollywood franchises were as successful as the Thin Man series, featuring William Powell and Myrna Loy as sophisticated, witty detectives Nick and Nora Charles, solving crimes with a martini in one hand and their little dog Asta’s leash in the other.

The first film was such a box-office smash that the duo made six movies in all over 12 years. The plots were pretty much all the same, but the sparkling screen chemistry between the two stars kept audiences coming back, even when the quality of the writing didn’t quite match the flat-out fun of the original.

Here’s a list of all six "Thin Man" movies.

The first and the best in the classic movie series, The Thin Man introduces the perpetually tipsy Charleses and the antics of Asta, a wire-haired fox terrier, and inveterate scene stealer. Tightly plotted and true to Hammett’s crime novel, it still feels fresh and funny. Don’t miss Nicky’s target practice with the Christmas tree in their posh New York apartment.

Almost as good as the first movie, After the Thin Man starts where the original left off, with Nick and Nora arriving back on the West Coast by train from their exhausting holiday vacation in New York. It features a juicy murder among Nora’s high-society relatives, Asta running off a competitor for Mrs. Asta’s attentions, and a very young Jimmy Stewart in a key role.

The third film picks up after the birth of Nick, Jr. and takes the Charleses back to New York. Another Thin Man is not nearly as good as the first two films, but still engaging and entertaining. The murder mystery is pretty predictable, but it’s just too bad Nick and Nora, good parents that they are, can’t spend quite as much time drinking as they’d like.

The fourth entry in the series is so-so but still serviceable. In Shadow of the Thin Man, little Nicky is old enough to talk, but he’s still inhibiting his parent’s domestic drinking. (I do not watch these movies to see Nick Charles drink milk.) Thank heaven Nick and Nora leaves the boy at home when they head for the pro wrestling bouts and the horse races. The murder takes place at the racetrack this time, but the plot is pretty forgettable.

This may be the bottom of the Thin Man barrel. Nick’s got his flask all right, but it’s filled with cider, and he’s going home to Sycamore Springs to see disapproving, dear old dad. It’s all much too wholesome, and the murder at the ancestral door is kind of lame. The wartime release probably prompted the silly spy plot, and the wretched Hayes Production Code ensured that Nora’s once slinky gowns would be more prissy than revealing. Not my favorite, but it’s still Nick and Nora, cracking wise.

The last movie in the series is more like it - smoky clubs, hot jazz, and a floating gambling casino. Hot-cha! A bandleader gets whacked, and Nick, Nora, and Asta better gather the usual suspects and solve the caper. They’re joined by a fantastic cast - Gloria Grahame as the sultry singer, Jayne Meadows as a society dame, and Keenan Wynn as a juke-joint johnny who helps the sleuths get their man. Not quite as good as the first two, but not bad.