Shadow of the Thin Man

[3.5 stars] Shadow of the Thin Man (1941) on IMDb [Amazon Img]

Netflix apparently lost all their copies of 1941's Shadow of the Thin Man, because it sat for a real long time in the "Saved" (not yet available) section of my queue. But they bought a couple more, and—yay!—sent it along.

It's the fourth of the six Thin Man movies, where Nick and Nora Charles are played by William Powell and Myrna Loy. In this installment, they're back in San Francisco with toddler Nick Jr. Nick still has his preferences for drinking and gambling: he reads to Junior from the Racing Form instead of his fairy tale book, and Nora calls him back home with a cocktail shaker.

But Nick gets sucked into a mystery when a race-throwing jockey is found shot in a shower stall at the track. Intrepid reporter Paul Clarke smells the involvement of two local hoods, Link Stephens and Fred Macy. He relies on his girlfriend Molly, who just happens to be Macy's secretary, to give him underworld insight. But Paul's investigation leads him into conflict with a crooked reporter, who quickly winds up dead, with Paul looking good for the rap.

Nick decides to find out what's really going on. And—don't worry—eventually, all the possible suspects are gathered in a room where Nick fingers the guilty party.

It's a lot of fun. Especially good for checking out the supporting cast: Paul is played by a fresh-faced Barry Nelson, and IMDB notes that this is his first movie. And it's also Ava Gardner's first appearance (in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it role—and I missed it). Donna Reed plays Paul's girl Molly.

Also: an early appearance by Will Wright; you may not recognize his name, but he was a go-to guy for playing an "old man" role in nearly everything back in the 40's and 50's. And even though this was one of his first movie appearances, he plays a pretty old guy here too. (As a bonus, the DVD contains a 20-minute version of Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart. And Will Wright is in it, playing one of the (old) suspicious cops.)

Finally: the famous acting teacher Stella Adler shows up as the girlfriend of one of the hoods. IMDB shows that this was one of her very rare acting roles.

Last Modified 2012-09-18 4:01 PM EDT

The Phony Campaign

2012-09-02 Update

[phony baloney]

It appears the Republican National Convention provided Mitt Romney with a solid phony bump: President Obama's phony advantage is now a mere 4.08-to-1, while last week it was 5.04-to-1:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Barack Obama" phony 6,080,000 +30,000
"Mitt Romney" phony 1,490,000 +290,000
"Gary Johnson" phony 450,000 -15,000

Will the Democrats' convention enable Obama's lead to widen again? Stay tuned!

  • Mark Steyn was among many who noted some phoniness behind an Obama campaign ad titled "Republican Women for Obama".

    Prominently featured among these lifelong Republican women is a striking brunette who is aghast to find out that Romney wants to reverse Roe v Wade. This totally Republicanly Republican GOP-type conservative-to-the-hilt woman has since been identified as Maria Ciano of Colorado. She's a registered Democrat, but don't let that fool you. Her accumulated Facebook "likes" over the years testify to her rock-ribbed Republicanism. They include Amy Goodman,, Bernie Sanders, and a Facebook page called "I Love It When I Wake Up In the Morning and Obama Is President".

    Ms. Ciano still self-identifies as a woman, and is "for Obama", so probably considers herself only one-third phony.

  • Keith Hennessey responded to President Obama's weekly address, which managed to be unusually phony with respect to Medicare. You should Read The Whole Thing™, but here's his response to the President's wish that "the millions of Americans who are working hard right now deserve to know that the care they need will be available when they need it."

    Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid are growing at unsustainable rates. The "millions of Americans who are working hard right now" are paying taxes into a system that will be unable to afford to pay the benefits it is promising them today. President Obama says these workers "deserve to know that the care they need will be available when they need it," but he has not proposed policy changes to produce that outcome.

    Fearless prediction: no such proposals will be forthcoming in the next couple months.

  • Your intrepid blogger did not watch any convention coverage. I hate watching speeches. When I disagree with the speaker, I get mad at their cheap focus-grouped, fallacy-laden demagogic appeals.

    A more subtle danger is when I agree with the speaker, and fail to notice that I'm falling for their cheap focus-grouped, fallacy-laden demagogic appeals. Which makes me mad at myself.

    Either way, a waste of time.

    But Clint Eastwood is not a pol, and I've been a fan ever since his spaghetti-western days. So I checked out his controversial GOP convention speech at YouTube. My reaction: not bad for 82! But for a more nuanced reaction, see Jesse Walker at Reason.

    In short: A widely beloved figure came onstage, offered a politically popular critique of the other party's candidate, put it in transpartisan terms that are more likely to appeal to undecided voters, and did it in a way that guaranteed we will remember it. He was human, eccentric, funny, weird, relatable. Maybe I would have preferred a performance of Eastwood's anti-government monologue from The Outlaw Josey Wales, but I'm not the target audience. I say the speech helps Romney.

    By coincidence (honest), The Outlaw Josey Wales is in my media-consumption list over there on the right. (No, your right.) Click to buy at Amazon; you might need something to watch, because I hear there's another convention coming up…

Last Modified 2014-12-05 12:00 PM EDT