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The Thin Man (Blu-ray Review)

Warner Archive Collection’s tail end of July slate included the Blu-ray debut of the legendary mystery/detective film from the 1930s, The Thin Man. This comedy bending caper was a pretty big hit in the decade and hindsight shows it was quite a big one, developing into one of cinema’s earliest series (Or as we would call them today, “franchises”). The Thin Man spawned a number of sequels through the 1940s as well as a television series in the 1950s. Will this initial release prove to be the first of many Thin Man mysteries to hit Blu-ray? One has to wonder if there are plans to release the remainder. Its probably dependent on how well the sales and actual demand turn out to be for this first film. So, if you’re wanting more Thin Blus (#ThinBlus ???), you’ll probably have to fork over the dollars to this one regardless. Its the name of the game as a boxed set of all the films likely is not in the cards at all. You can grab the original here by finding it on Warner Archive Collection’s site or the Amazon link after the review.

Film 

William Powell and Myrna Loy light up the screen in this intoxicating screwball murder mystery that is as seductively charming now as it was 85 years ago. Debutante Nora shocked 5th Avenue when she married laconic gumshoe Nick Charles; Nick, on the other hand, shocked himself by getting the one girl who was every bit his match in wit and detection. And it’s a good thing, too, because it will take both their minds, and many jiggers of gin, for them to solve the disappearance of The Thin Man and save his daughter (Maureen O’Sullivan).

The Thin Man is a mystery film that’s likely to charm your socks off, most especially if you’re are into classic Hollywood films. More than being a murder mystery, the film uses its strength as a screwball comedy to drape a funny aesthetic around the whole thing. We do take quite some time to meet our main pair, but once it hits the first act turn, things really rocket forward with some terrific chemistry and fun dialogue that drives the film smoothly with a competent voice.

As a whodunit, the film is an okay to follow with clues here and there, but ultimately this is one of those where the viewer isn’t going to get ahead of the onscreen gumshoes. No matter, part of the fun is watching our detective deliver a big speech on his findings and painting a picture of what actually happened. Its easy to see why audiences would want more and more from not just these actors, but in these same characters as well. I had heard of the film for many years but never made it through the endless pile to see The Thin Man until now. And now, its an easy recommend if you don’t turn your nose up to vintage classics.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: I’ll let the presser speak on the restoration here; “Painstakingly restored from a 4K scan of the best available elements, The Thin Man sparkles like the finest vintage champagne in glorious black and white on this wondrous Blu-ray Disc.” And that sells it quite right. There is a little grain in this overall strong image with good detail and overall sturdy sharpness. This one looks really good on the format and one would feel this one could have been a bit tough to get some clear and crisp.

Depth:  Strong spacing for a black and white film of 80+ years of age. Movements are smooth, cinematic and features no issues with distortion on bigger, quicker movements.

Black Levels: Blacks look lovely here with a nice consistency, wit good shades and textures that find detail holding strong in the image. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: N/A

Flesh Tones: Skin tones keep a consistent white/gray mesh from start to finish of the film. While facial features, textures and detail are very good in the close ups, further out shots proved to surprise here and there as well.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: The Thin Man comes with rock solid and pretty impressive 2 channel mono track that primary showcases the vocals from the actors (As it drives the film). However, the mix does do well with effects and what little ambiance there is in the film as well. Overall, you probably couldn’t ask for better for this film with this presentation.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp with a hint of an analog hiss in its source that one can hear accompany the speech from the actors.

Extras 

The Thin Man TV Series: Scene of the Crime 10/24/1958 (SD, 25:48) 

Lux Radio Theater Radio Broadcast 6/8/1936 (HD, 58:21) 

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 3:18)

Summary 

The Thin Man is a fun, adorable little screwball mystery that charmed me quite well and equally had me drawn it with its mystery though it is second to the character to character relationship work in the film. Warner Archive Collection does yet another outstanding job in restoring a classic as both audio and video are about as best as you could hope for. Seeing how old this film is, these bonus features here are quite fun, adequate and on topic. An easy pick up for classic Hollywood, comedy and mystery fans.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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