Saturday, December 24, 2011

Movies You Ought To See: The Thin Man Films

William Powell and Myrna Loy drink like fish, solve mysteries, and banter with the sort of affectionate gender animosity that passed for a happy marriage in the 1930s.  The movies are charming, funny, and (sexism, racism, and alcoholism aside) have a surprisingly modern sensibility.  The series spans my favorite period of history (first film 1934, last film 1947), and the clothes are straight-up gorgeous.  This is what Nick and Nora wear to get a midnight snack of scrambled eggs and toast:

Let's see that again from another angle:

Check out that giant bow on her dressing gown!  Infantilizing, impractical, and pure thirties.

The Charles family includes a preternaturally intelligent dog called Asta (and in the sequels, a son, Nick Charles Jr.):

not to mention a wardrobe full of truly great hats.  And the suits!  The suits are amazing.  Here's Nora in a smart little dress and bolero, displaying the keys to the liquor cabinet (which she has just pickpocketed from her killjoy relation, Colonel MacFay).

They're so cute.  I love them.  Look at this fond little glance:

They're supposed to be a bit of an odd couple--Nick is an ex-flatfoot, and Nora is a wealthy heiress (with many, many killjoy relations).  They're perpetually on the move, leaving their sumptuous mansion empty to gallivant around solving other people's mysteries.  It's all very Jeeves and Wooster.

Here's Nora in a long drapey dressing gown, with (left to right) a maid, a chauffeur, a nanny, and a fake bellhop who is about to rob them.  He's an old friend of Nick's.  It's a long story.  Check out the suit and hat on that nanny--she looks totally sharp:

Virginia Grey plays a young heiress in Another Thin Man, and I just had to spotlight this dress.  It's floor-length, bias-cut stripes all the way down, and I'm going to make one for myself someday if it kills me:

(Plus--the stripes don't quite match on the shoulders!  I find this enormously encouraging.)

In conclusion, here's Nora Charles scrunching her nose at you:

Happy holidays everyone!

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