After the Man


Rating 5

Directed by W S Van Dyke

Written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, based on an original story by Dashiell Hammett

Starring William Powell, Myrna Loy, James Stewart, Elissa Landi, Joseph Calleia, Sam Levene, Jessie Ralph, Alan Marshall, Penny Singleton, Paul Fix, Teddy Hart and George Zucco

Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell and Myrna Loy) arrive back in San Francisco following a three day train journey from New York City, after solving the murder of Charles Wynant (told in ‘The Thin Man’), only to discover a raucous party in full swing in their house. They reluctantly leave to go to a stuffy family dinner with Nora’s formidable Aunt Katherine (Jessie Ralph), who disapproves of Nick. Nora’s cousin Selma (Elissa Landi) tells them she is worried because her husband Robert (Alan Marshall) is missing. David (James Stewart), who is in love with Selma, tells them Robert has tried to extort money from him to disappear. Later that night Robert is shot dead and Selma becomes the prime suspect.


“Come on, let’s get something to eat. I’m thirsty.”

This sequel was made two years after the unexpected success of the 1934 film ‘The Thin Man’. It reunites William Powell and Myrna Loy and once again their on-screen chemistry crackles with life. The same writers are involved and the same director is at the helm. The screenplay is based on an original story written by Dashiell Hammett, the author of the original novel. Like the first film, ‘After the Thin Man’ was produced by Hunt Stromberg, who won a Best Picture Academy Award that same year for ‘The Great Ziegfeld’, which also starred Powell and Loy.

‘After the Thin Man’ does not quite have the same sparkle as ‘The Thin Man’, one of the best films to come out of Hollywood in the 1930s, but it is very nearly as good. There is slightly less emphasis on Nick’s drinking (and Nora’s, for that matter) this time around, especially following the murder that becomes the focus of the investigation. A couple of comic scenes involving Asta the dog and “Mrs Asta” could easily have been cut out without causing any detriment to the film, but they do lend it a certain period charm. So too do two enjoyable musical numbers, sung by Penny Singleton.

The story follows a similar pattern to the first film, with Nick bringing together the various suspects at the climax of the film and holding court as he unravels the labyrinth strands that tie them all together, much like Agatha Christie’s famous detective Hercule Poirot.

The film is also notable for an early appearance by James Stewart, who had made his film debut the previous year.

Review posted 19 February 2009


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