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After The Thin Man - questions and SPOILERS


LsDoorMat
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After the Thin Man (1936)

This was on TCM yesterday, and I'm sure most regulars have seen it. However SPOILER ALERT anyways.

Nick and Nora are returning home to San Francisco on New Year's Eve, days after the events of the original Thin Man movie that was actually released two years before. Nora's cousin Selma is frantic because her ne'er do well husband, Robert, is missing. She figures he married her for her money. She figures he has another woman. She is right on both counts. Robert makes a bunch of other people mad too, so it is no surprise when he winds up dead of a bullet wound outside of the mansion of the matriarch of Nora's family - this is where Selma lives - a short time later.

The murder plot is much more convoluted than the first film, but Nick and Nora are always enjoyable. But I do have a few questions. If (BIG SPOILER WARNING) James Stewart actually shot Robert, as Nick concludes, it seems to me he would have to be capable of walking through walls. The shot comes from around the corner, opposite the direction from which Selma approaches. Selma even says this. But James Stewart comes up right behind Selma as she is kneeling over her husband's body. He then tells Selma to go back inside and say nothing, takes her gun, and throws it into the bay to actually prevent her from proving she didn't do it, because he wants her to hang.

Considering the intricate plan Stewart was originally planning on using to kill Robert that had nothing to do with Selma, it seems that this second plot to kill Robert was a bit off the cuff. Everything just fell into place with Selma coming out, gun in hand. Otherwise Stewart's character could have easily been spotted at the scene of the crime. Or Stewart's character would have been arrested or at least a suspect as the last person to see Robert alive and speak to him.

Well, that's one problem. The other problem is the end scene where Nora reveals she is pregnant. OK, just a couple of weeks have passed since the events of the first two Thin Man movies started, and Nora has been drinking to beat the band, even having six martinis at one time to keep up with Nick in the first film. She puts herself between Stewart and her cousin when he aims to shoot her, takes a sock on the jaw from Nick in the first Thin Man, and in general just puts herself in danger all of the time, wanting to sleuth along with her husband. She was even drinking champagne minutes before she reveals she is pregnant. Just seems like strange behavior for a pregnant woman.

Great film, but just a couple of pet peeves of mine after viewing this one.

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1 minute ago, NipkowDisc said:

I can't even figure out the title which sounds like someone is pursuing the thin man.

:lol:

And that would be hard to do since "The Thin Man" is long dead. The Thin Man was actually the suspect in the first Thin Man movie, but it morphed into being a pseudonym for Nick Charles. Else how could the Thin Man go home in 1944 ("The Thin Man Goes Home") if he has been dead for ten years? I know everybody on these boards knows these films and knows everything I'm saying already. It's just stuff that has bothered me over time about this series. That and the fact that the original Thin Man movie had it snowing heavily in September in New York City. Looks like global warming has been going on much longer than I figured for that to be true!

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1 hour ago, NipkowDisc said:

I'm not a fan or watcher of the thin mam movies so alotta that is news to me as I thought the thin man was ALWAYS a pseudonym for nick Charles.

:lol:

Nope. It does surprise me that a board regular hasn't seen these films about ten times, but then everybody has their own classic film tastes.

Back to "The Thin Man" series, this was actually close to the first box set of classic films on DVD that Warner Brothers released. It sold so well it encouraged them to release a bunch of other classic films on DVD  in great boxed sets. From 2004-2008 we were truly living in a golden age. Then came the stock market crash. Then streaming.

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There were no plans to make a sequel to The Thin Man after the release of the first film.    MGM cast Powell and Loy in 3 other films after TTM: Evelyn Prentice, The Great Ziegfeld,  and Libeled Lady.     The pair were such a hit with audiences that MGM decided to make a sequel.   

Note that back then films were only shown in theaters for a short period of time;  therefore 99.9% of people hadn't seen The Thin Man for 2 years when After TTM was released and thus wouldn't be aware of any plot inconsistencies.     This is a much different viewing experience than watching films 'back to back' on a DVD.

As for the murder in After:  these films were not straight detective films but rom-coms with a murder so plot inconsistency are to be expected. 

Also I assume audience 'back-then' didn't view a film more than once making it hard to 'catch' plot-holes; this is much different then 'rewinding' a DVD and viewing a scene over-and-over again.    If someone did go to the theater multiple times to view a film it is because they loved the stars and not to find plot-holes (so even if they found them, they wouldn't care).

 

 

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45 minutes ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

There were no plans to make a sequel to The Thin Man after the release of the first film.    MGM cast Powell and Loy in 3 other films after TTM: Evelyn Prentice, The Great Ziegfeld,  Libeled Lady.     The pair were such a hit with audiences that MGM decided to make a sequel.   

Note that back then films were only shown in theaters for a short period of time;  therefore 99.9% of people hadn't seen The Thin Man for 2 years when After TTM was released and thus wouldn't be aware of any plot inconsistencies.     This is a much different viewing experience than watching films 'back to back' on a DVD.

As for murder in After:  these films were not straight detective films but rom-coms with a murder so plot inconsistency are to be expected. 

Also I assume audience 'back-then' didn't view a film more than once making it hard to 'catch' plot-holes; this is much different then 'rewinding' a DVD and viewing a scene over-and-over again.    If someone did go to the theater multiple times to view a film it is because they loved the stars and not to find plot-holes (so even if they found them, they wouldn't care).

I realize that the first Thin Man would need to be a success before sequels would be planned, and that repeat viewings were simply not the case in the 30s and 40s. I was just posting about things I found a bit strange in the series. Have you ever seen a film where it was clear that the studio WAS planning a sequel, but then the first (and only) film bombed and a sequel never appeared? I can think of one off of the top of my head. "The Last Starfighter" (1984) was a summer release, so right off the bat you can tell that good things were expected, and the end sets it up for a sequel that never happened because the box office was disappointing.

Didn't they ever bring films BACK for return engagements? I can remember going to the movies in 1971, and "Krakatoa: East of Java" was playing as the feature although it was three years old. "Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid" was playing in theatres in 1974 although it was five years old.  That's back when movie theatres had one or two screens instead of fifteen.

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One of the things I have learned (and my wife constantly reminds me about), it's a movie (or TV show).  Don't pick at it, just enjoy it.  We are big fans of The Thin Man series and it was probably among the first boxed sets of DVD's we purchased.  For those who missed it, it also contained a DVD with the featuretes TCM did on Loy and Powell - excellent.

As for Loy drinking while pregnant.  She didn't know she was and more importantly this did not become a health issue until much, much later.

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Speaking spoiler-freely, why can't the killer in this type of movie just plead the fifth at the end??  Just say you want to see your lawyer!  You won't get caught, the detective can't do anything, nobody knows you did it, END OF MOVIE right there.  Instead, in this kind of movie, the killer ALWAYS confesses everything to the camera at the end, complete with over-the-top emoting, instead of doing what is always done since the beginning of time: just say, "Talk to my lawyer, please!"

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2 hours ago, DVDPhreak said:

Speaking spoiler-freely, why can't the killer in this type of movie just plead the fifth at the end??  Just say you want to see your lawyer!  You won't get caught, the detective can't do anything, nobody knows you did it, END OF MOVIE right there.  Instead, in this kind of movie, the killer ALWAYS confesses everything to the camera at the end, complete with over-the-top emoting, instead of doing what is always done since the beginning of time: just say, "Talk to my lawyer, please!"

In this type of film, the killer is so sure he will get away with it, he hasn't even thought about what to do if caught because it could never happen. They are proud to tell how did it because getting away with it is part of the thrill. I see this a lot with the old Columbo series.

And The Thin Man set the standard of having all the suspects in a room at the end and the expert finally figures out who is the guilty party.

And frankly, its more fun that way.

 

 

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16 hours ago, DVDPhreak said:

Speaking spoiler-freely, why can't the killer in this type of movie just plead the fifth at the end??  Just say you want to see your lawyer!  You won't get caught, the detective can't do anything, nobody knows you did it, END OF MOVIE right there.  Instead, in this kind of movie, the killer ALWAYS confesses everything to the camera at the end, complete with over-the-top emoting, instead of doing what is always done since the beginning of time: just say, "Talk to my lawyer, please!"

Simple answer;  because its a movie and the lead (in this case the detective,  Nick),  must get his man.

Logically you're on target,  but if logic was applied shows like Perry Mason  (and hundreds of others, TV shows and movies) wouldn't exist.  

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22 hours ago, calvinnme said:

I realize that the first Thin Man would need to be a success before sequels would be planned, and that repeat viewings were simply not the case in the 30s and 40s. I was just posting about things I found a bit strange in the series. Have you ever seen a film where it was clear that the studio WAS planning a sequel, but then the first (and only) film bombed and a sequel never appeared? I can think of one off of the top of my head. "The Last Starfighter" (1984) was a summer release, so right off the bat you can tell that good things were expected, and the end sets it up for a sequel that never happened because the box office was disappointing.

Didn't they ever bring films BACK for return engagements? I can remember going to the movies in 1971, and "Krakatoa: East of Java" was playing as the feature although it was three years old. "Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid" was playing in theatres in 1974 although it was five years old.  That's back when movie theatres had one or two screens instead of fifteen.

To me the most obvious attempt to launch a series was REMO WILLIAMS: THE ADVENTURE BEGINS.

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1 hour ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

Simple answer;  because its a movie and the lead (in this case the detective,  Nick),  must get his man.

Logically you're on target,  but if logic was applied shows like Perry Mason  (and hundreds of others, TV shows and movies) wouldn't exist.  

It's not really about logic, but screenwriting skills.  The first Thin Man movie is done much better: the killer is revealed and is knocked out cold right away, end of movie.  We don't have to endure any over-the-top histrionic confession.  I was being facetious when I suggested the killer should call the lawyer, but ANYTHING other than a histrionic confession would be fine with me.

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1 hour ago, DVDPhreak said:

It's not really about logic, but screenwriting skills.  The first Thin Man movie is done much better: the killer is revealed and is knocked out cold right away, end of movie.  We don't have to endure any over-the-top histrionic confession.  I was being facetious when I suggested the killer should call the lawyer, but ANYTHING other than a histrionic confession would be fine with me.

To me it is about logic;  you want a logical screenplay that handles this situation in a way that is realistic.  As Gerald  said,  the director \ producer wanted an ending with gun play,  with juice,  with the killer showing over-the-top emotions etc...   because this is a more thrilling ending.

As for your comparison to the first Thin Man;  In many ways that ending is unrealistic and illogical:  MacCauley was a lawyer.    It is unrealistic to believe a lawyer would pull out a gun.   Instead he would have just waited to be arrested.   (but again, that would have been boring).

Note that in After TTM,  David was full of anger and emotion.  He hated Selma with a deep passion;  so when cornered it is realistic for a man with such feelings to go off and try to kill the gal that done-him-wrong.

 

 

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25 minutes ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

To me it is about logic;  you want a logical screenplay that handles this situation in a way that is realistic.  As Gerald  said,  the director \ producer wanted an ending with gun play,  with juice,  with the killer showing over-the-top emotions etc...   because this is a more thrilling ending.

As for your comparison to the first Thin Man;  In many ways that ending is unrealistic and illogical:  MacCauley was a lawyer.    It is unrealistic to believe a lawyer would pull out a gun.   Instead he would have just waited to be arrested.   (but again, that would have been boring).

Note that in After TTM,  David was full of anger and emotion.  He hated Selma with a deep passion;  so when cornered it is realistic for a man with such feelings to go off and try to kill the gal that done-him-wrong.

 

 

I'm afraid you're over-analyzing this, my friend.  My original post was clearly a complaint about movie cliches (hence, screenwriting skills), but I guess I wasn't too clear.  I believe the term is "talking killer:" a villain who, at the most decisive moment, suddenly becomes a vociferous talker, an act that ultimately leads to his or her doom.  Another example is that when a killer has the prey cornered and all he needs to do is pull the trigger; but then he starts talking ("Hahaha, are you afraid?  Do you regret ____ my ____ ?  Oh, I'm going to make this nice and slow, hahaha", etc.), just giving his prey enough time to find a way to escape.  How many times have we seen this, and the example in After the Thin Man?  Thousands.

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11 minutes ago, DVDPhreak said:

I'm afraid you're over-analyzing this, my friend.  My original post was clearly a complaint about movie cliches (hence, screenwriting skills), but I guess I wasn't too clear.  I believe the term is "talking killer:" a villain who, at the most decisive moment, suddenly becomes a vociferous talker, an act that ultimately leads to his or her doom.  Another example is that when a killer has the prey cornered and all he needs to do is pull the trigger; but then he starts talking ("Hahaha, are you afraid?  Do you regret ____ my ____ ?  Oh, I'm going to make this nice and slow, hahaha", etc.), just giving his prey enough time to find a way to escape.  How many times have we seen this, and the example in After the Thin Man?  Thousands.

I believe I understood;  to me it has little to do with screenwriting skills;  i.e. that the screenwriter was inexperienced or didn't know how to write a scene that didn't use movie cliches.

Instead the director \ producer told the screenwriter to write the screen with movies cliches because that is what they wanted because they assume that is what audiences wanted.

As you note we have seen this thousands of time; that says to me it has nothing to do with screenwriters and their 'skills'  but instead what the suits, directors and producers wished to provide.

PS:  the same two screenwriters were used on both The Thin Man and After TTM,  expect that After added someone else;  That would be author Hammett.     So if screenwriting skills went down,  Hammett is to blame (ha ha).

  

  

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4 hours ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

Simple answer;  because its a movie and the lead (in this case the detective,  Nick),  must get his man.

Logically you're on target,  but if logic was applied shows like Perry Mason  (and hundreds of others, TV shows and movies) wouldn't exist.  

Quote

DVDPhreak then says:

Another example is that when a killer has the prey cornered and all he needs to do is pull the trigger; but then he starts talking ("Hahaha, are you afraid?  Do you regret ____ my ____ ?  Oh, I'm going to make this nice and slow, hahaha", etc.), just giving his prey enough time to find a way to escape.  How many times have we seen this, and the example in After the Thin Man?  Thousands.

And, I was just thinking how coincidental it is that James brought up the TV character of Perry Mason here, and then DVDPhreak says what he says above.

You see, I can think of two notable movie instances where before he became primarily known as an inquisitor for the good of the law due his long-running television portrayal as Perry Mason, a character played by Raymond Burr as a murderous villain does exactly as DVDPhreak mentioned above.

Those films would be in 1947's Desperate, and in which during the closing moments of this film he sits at a table across from actor Steve Brodie and with the intent of shooting him while they wait for a clock to strike midnight, and in 1951's His Kind of Woman, and in which he captures Robert Mitchum on board an anchored yacht, and then takes so long a time to dispatch Mitchum that he too ends up escaping with his life and just as Brodie does in the other film.

(...well, I thought it was quite a coincidence here, anyway)

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