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.