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You know, classic movies donít get much better than this. Glamorous stars, witty banter, a bit of screwball comedy and everything wrapped in a dilly of a mystery- that is why THE THIN MAN ($20) ranks as one of my favorite movies of all time. Movie stars of the caliber of William Powell and Myrna Loy just donít exist anymore and very few of todayís thespians can light up the screen the way this duo did. Their screen chemistry carried them through quite a number of movies, making them one greatest romantic screen teams of all time. Based upon the novel by Dashiell Hammett, THE THIN MAN features Powell and Loy as the husband and wife sleuthing team of Nick and Nora Charles.

Nick is a retired police detective enjoying a life of leisure (and continual inebriation), along side his beautiful society wife Nora. On a trip to New York, Nick catches up with some old acquaintances, many of whom he sent to prison, as well as becoming involved with the disappearance of an old friend and a murder. Of course, Nora is utterly fascinated by the colorful characters from her husbandís past and even encourages Nick to investigate the murder, which he is very reluctant to do. Nick is eventually forced into a bit of sleuthing, especially after a number of less than savory characters begin beating a path to the Charlesí door. The cast of THE THIN MAN also features Maureen O'Sullivan, Nat Pendleton, Minna Gombell, Porter Hall, Henry Wadsworth, William Henry, Harold Hube, Cesar Romero, Natalie Moorhead, Edward Brophy and Edward Ellis.

Warner Home Video has made THE THIN MAN available on DVD in a black and white transfer that frames the film in its proper 1.37:1 full screen aspect ratio. Considering that THE THIN MAN is nearly seventy years old, I was very pleased with the transfer. Although not as perfect as some of Warnerís higher profile classics, this transfer looks great and more than qualifies as the best looking home presentation of THE THIN MAN. There is some speckling and scratches on the print, but they are relatively minor for a movie this old. Noticeable film grain has been greatly reduced from previous video and broadcast versions of the movie, which was rather excessive. The transfer itself is pretty sharp and nicely defined, which brings out the beauty of James Wong Howeís black and white cinematography. Blacks are solid and inky, while whites appear clean and stable. There is a rich grayscale and the picture has very pleasing contrast. Digital compression artifacts are well concealed throughout the presentation.

THE THIN MAN comes with a more than decent sounding Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack. Considering that these are ancient sound recordings, I was pretty satisfied with how well Warner was able to clean them up for DVD presentation. The majority of background hiss and surfaces noise have been stripped from the soundtrack, which provides for a non-distractive aural experience. However, some hiss does remain and the fidelity of the track is quite limited, which renders music and sound effects very thinly. There is also a bit of distortion on the soundtrack, but it isnít particularly troublesome. The sparkling dialogue is always completely understandably, which is all anyone could really want from this movie anyway. A French language track is also present on the DVD, as are English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.

While the presentation isnít as pristinely perfect as other higher profile classic titles that Warner has painstaking restored in the digital realm, THE THIN MAN still looks and sounds quite good for a movie from 1934. I know I was very happy with the DVD release and I am sure that film buffs will most definitely want to add this disc to their collections. One final note, my Laserdisc box set of all six Thin Man movies remains one of my most prized possessions. Warnerís DVD release of the first film is a great first step towards replacing that boxed set, but Iíll be holding on to it until AFTER THE THIN MAN, ANOTHER THIN MAN, SHADOW OF THE THIN MAN, THE THIN MAN GOES HOME and SONG OF THE THIN MAN all come to DVD. Hey Warner- youíve just been dropped a none too subtle hint. Please take it.



Thin Man (1934)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2002 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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