While on the surface The Thin Man (and its five sequels) embodies a very specific type of glossy Hollywood comedy of the 1940s, it has so much more to offer than witty wisecracks and swanky evening wear. Made between 1934 and 1947, the six Thin Man movies chronicle the adventures of a husband-and-wife detective team, but the true subject of the series is, well, true love – that, and the quest to be forever slightly potted. All six are crackling with cheer (and all are currently streaming at Amazon Video), though The Thin Man has a Christmas setting that makes it perfect viewing this week.
Each film is a fable of pixilated domestic bliss: The raffish Nick and wealthy Nora Charles solve crimes, yes, but never without cocktail in hand or hangover to be suffered together – the crimes seem mere trifles that intermittently interrupt the stream of martinis and endearments (sometimes exasperated, but always affectionate). William Powell and Myrna Loy trade dialogue like diamonds – hard, bright and sparkling, but never brittle – while their dog, Asta, is the most personable wire-haired terrier to hit stardom since Tintin's Snowy. The bubbling chemistry between Powell and Loy elevates The Thin Man to classic status, divinely screwy and delightful to the lees.