Tag Archives: William Henry

The Thin Man (1934, W.S. Van Dyke)

While enough cannot be said about the efficiency of W.S. Van Dyke’s direction of the The Thin Man, the efficiency of the script deserves an equal amount of praise. Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich get in so much little character stuff for the supporting cast, it’s hard to imagine how the film could possibly function without it. Robert Kern’s editing is essential for it to work too–the pace of reaction shots is fabulous.

Of course, the script’s structure is also peculiar. Until their second big scene–their first one alone–William Powell and Myrna Loy aren’t the leads of the story. Instead, it’s Maureen O’Sullivan. She starts out the film and it then moves to introduce various people into her story. Even at the end, after O’Sullivan has long since given up the primary supporting role to Nat Pendleton’s police inspector, she’s still integral.

From Powell and Loy’s first scene, their chemistry commands the film. The script has the banter, but it’s the way the actors play off each other (under Van Dyke’s able direction). Also wonderful is how the intercuts of their dog enhances the scenes. Van Dyke cuts to these reaction shots of Asta the terrier and it makes the viewer feel part of this peculiar family.

It’s important too, since much of the film takes place in Powell and Loy’s hotel suite.

The leads are great, the supporting cast is excellent–Edward Brophy, Harold Huber, Minna Gombell, Porter Hall being the standouts.

The Thin Man’s a masterpiece; it’s brilliant filmmaking.

4/4★★★★

CREDITS

Directed by W.S. Van Dyke; screenplay by Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich, based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett; director of photography, James Wong Howe; edited by Robert Kern; music by William Axt; produced by Hunt Stromberg; released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Starring William Powell (Nick), Myrna Loy (Nora), Maureen O’Sullivan (Dorothy), Nat Pendleton (Guild), Minna Gombell (Mimi), Porter Hall (MacCaulay), Henry Wadsworth (Tommy), William Henry (Gilbertt), Harold Huber (Nunheim), Cesar Romero (Chris), Natalie Moorhead (Julia Wolf), Edward Brophy (Morelli), Cyril Thornton (Tanner) and Edward Ellis (Clyde Wynant).


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THIS FILM IS ALSO DISCUSSED IN SUM UP | THE THIN MAN.

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What Do You Think? (1937, Jacques Tourneur)

Well, What Do You Think? is one bland short film.

There are some definite strengths to it. Tourneur’s direction of the actors is outstanding, especially at the beginning at a Hollywood party, when he’s cutting between various actors. All of Think is told in narration (from Carey Wilson) and so Tourneur has got to make the actors convey without dialogue or music.

And he succeeds.

He even succeeds when Think hits the main plot, involving William Henry’s Hollywood screenwriter going through a near death experience. Tourneur does a fine job with Henry’s investigation of his strange experience, but there’s nothing to do be done about the silliness of the plot after the investigation concludes.

The ending is far too literal for the short, which never sets itself up to be a grand revelation into the paranormal. Or even a minor one.

It’s too bad, as Tourneur’s work is definitely impressive.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Jacques Tourneur; produced by Jack Chertok; released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Starring William Henry (John Dough); narrated by Carey Wilson.


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