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WS Van Dyke II
William Powell, Myrna Loy, Donna Reed
Writing Credits:
Irving Brecher, Harry Kurnitz

Famous detective Nick Charles and his wife Nora try to find out who murdered a jockey.

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 97 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 8/17/2021

The Tell-Tale Heart Vintage Short
The Goose Goes South Animated Short
• Trailer


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Shadow of the Thin Man [Blu-Ray] (1941)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 25, 2021)

Seven years after the series’ launch, we get 1941’s Shadow of the Thin Man. This brings the fourth of six films in the franchise.

Detective Nick Charles (William Powell) and his wife Nora (Myrna Loy) head to the racetrack and hope to enjoy a pleasant afternoon there. Alas, this doesn’t occur, as someone murders a jockey in the locker room before they arrive.

LAPD Lieutenant Abrams (Sam Levine) wants Nick to help with the case, but our hero demurs. However, Nick eventually becomes involved and finds himself involved in a mix of related shenanigans.

Although I enjoyed the original Thin Man, I found diminishing returns with its first two sequels. While neither 1936’s After the Thin Man nor 1939’s Another Thin Man stunk, neither seemed particularly interesting or memorable either.

Still, I held out hopes that Shadow might bring back some life to the series. While it seems unlikely that a fourth film restores luster to a faded franchise, it can happen.

And it does – to a degree, at least. No one will call Shadow a great movie – or even an especially good one – but it manages decent entertainment.

When Shadow works, it does so almost entirely due to elements not related to the plot. The film tends to pinball from comedic scenes with no real connection to the narrative and those that exist solely to push story components.

The latter usually feel clumsy, and the filmmakers seem disinterested in them. Those involved know that they need to occasionally visit the murder mystery, but one senses they don’t enjoy these scenes.

As such, the film’s formal plot often stiffs. We just don’t really care about the murders or who committed them.

Happily, those lighter moments balance out the tedious story points. After four films, Loy and Powell show an easy chemistry, and the movie allows them to bounce off each other enough to make it enjoyable.

Of course, it seems possible that Shadow doesn’t really work any better than Another or After but given my disenchantment with those two, perhaps my lowered expectations make it seem superior. Whatever the case, this becomes a most enjoyable 93 minutes, even with its clumsy murder mystery.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus C

Shadow of the Thin Man appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The transfer worked well, especially given the movie’s age.

Sharpness satisfied overall. Some process shots led to a bit of inevitable softness, but the majority of the flick came with appealing definition.

Jagged edges and moiré effects caused no problems. Edge haloes remained absent, and with a layer of fine grain, I suspected no issues with digital noise reduction.

Black levels seemed nicely deep and dark, and contrast was appropriately displayed. The movie showed a good silvery look, and shadow detail was also concise and developed.

Source flaws failed to become an issue. The transfer eliminated those defects and left this as a clean presentation. I felt very happy with this transfer.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack, it replicated the original material with positive quality. Dialogue seemed fine for its era, and was relatively crisp and well-defined with no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility.

The movie featured a fairly spare score, but when we heard music, it was acceptably broad and clear. The material presented little low end but the dynamics were fine for a track of this vintage.

Though effects were similarly dated, they seemed adequately clean and realistic, and no aspects of the mix displayed signs of distortion. Background noise failed to become an issue. All in all, the audio worked fine for its age.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we find two short films from 1941: The Tell-Tale Heart (19:45) and The Goose Goes South (6:12). Adapted from the Edgar Allan Poe story, Heart comes directed by Jules Dassin of Rififi fame.

Indeed, Heart marked Dassin’s directorial debut. While it doesn’t offer a great take on Poe, it works fairly well and becomes a decent piece of suspense.

With South, we get an effort from Hanna-Barbera, one that leans more toward cute than funny. Still, it comes with some modest charm.

While Shadow of the Thin Man never excels, it offers reasonable entertainment. Despite a clunky murder story, the film comes with enough light charm to make it moderately enjoyable. The Blu-ray boasts very good picture, more than adequate audio and minor bonus materials. This becomes a likable tale.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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