AFTER THE THIN MAN continues the fun, with this second case-capade of The Couple Charles coming two years after the 1934 classic. The word had spread about ‘Nick’ (William Powell), ‘Nora’ (Myrna Loy) and ‘Asta’ (Skippy) and this was an even bigger hit, the 6th most popular flicker diversion of 1936. The deftly screwy script—Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett adapted Dashiell Hammett’s novella “Return Of The Thin Man”—was Oscar-nominated, a $6,600,000 take solved a $673,000 tab; droves exited theaters smiling.
Amusingly complicated plot has Nick & Nora starting an investigation on New Year’s Eve in San Francisco, trying locate a relative of Nora’s. Family squabbles, two-timing, payoffs and murder: we wouldn’t have it any other way. Add San Francisco fog, nightclubs, wiseguys and holiday celebrating. Throw in a great gallery of supporting suspects, including 27-year-old riser James Stewart, busy getting noticed in seven movies that year. Once again, pacing was guaranteed by director W. S. Van Dyke, who slammed out six assignments in ’36, including San Francisco, the year’s biggest hit.
Smart and snappy work from everyone: only quibble, is Sam Levene, from Broadway and new to movies; insisting on bellowing dialog like he’s on stage rather than screen.
As in the first movie, the booze flows like Niagara. Was this hooch worship a happy hangover of happiness from lifting Prohibition? Asta has his own case of breaking & entering to solve this time around, adding extra chuckles to the 112 minutes.