David Knights' Weblog

January 17, 2019

Movie review: The Thin Man Goes Home (1945)

Filed under: General — dknights @ 3:47 pm
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This is the fifth of the sixth Thin Man movies and the first that doesn’t take place mainly in NYC or San Francisco.  The fourth film was filmed in 1941, before America’s entry into WWII.  This film was originally slated to begin production in 1942, but Myrna Loy declined the job and instead she moved to NYC to marry the heir to the Hertz car rental fortune and to work in the Red Cross in New York.  Like many celebrities of the time, she threw herself into war related activities and did not return to film until shooting this film in mid and late 1944.  The film premiered in early 1945.

Though Nick and Nora have a child, he does not appear in this film.  It is explained in dialogue that Nicky is in kindergarten and they didn’t want to take him out of school.  If my guess about Nicky’s age in the fourth film is correct, that would mean that though 3-4 years have passed between production of the last film and this one, in the film world’s time, this film follows closely on the heels of the last one.

Though this movie was made while the US was deeply involved in WWII, there is no direct reference to the war in the film, though there are many oblique references to it.  The opening scene where Nick and Nora are traveling on a train to go to Nick’s old home town show plenty of men in uniform and the train traveling conditions are extremely crowded as was the case in the wartime USA.  In addition, a character is referred to as having returned from “the South Seas” and is waiting for his discharge from the Army.  The victim is shot with a Japanese Nambu light machine gun, though it is called a sniper rifle in the movie.  Finally, it turns out the reason for the murder is a plot to steal propeller plans for “a foreign power”.

While several years in real time have passed, neither Powell or Loy have lost any of their spark.  Their interplay is as good as in any of the films, and the writing really sparkles.  In fact, this may be the funniest film since the first one, with Loy stealing several scenes, including the climactic reveal of the killer, where she lampshades the entire process in a running commentary to Nick’s father.

I really enjoyed this one.  5 stars.

 

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Angering the dragon

Filed under: Politics — dknights @ 12:46 pm
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Looks like the US Navy and the Royal Navy are teaming up to further piss off the PLAN.  While this does nothing to lower tensions in the region, it is a good idea.  A little now will go a long way later.

 

January 14, 2019

Boeing’s transonic wing

Filed under: Technology — dknights @ 10:10 am
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Boeing is working on a “transonic wing” that will allow airliners to fly close to, but not exceed the speed of sound.  This would cut some longer flight travel times by a significant amount, at a much lower cost than a supersonic airliner.

January 10, 2019

It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad

Filed under: Technology — dknights @ 12:10 pm
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The sorry saga of the Zumwalts

American history

Filed under: General — dknights @ 6:53 am
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American history is filled with interesting stories.  I stumbled across this one recently.  Instead of another comic book movie, someone in Hollywood should turn this story into a movie.

January 9, 2019

Movie review: Shadow of the Thin Man (1941)

Filed under: General — dknights @ 12:28 pm
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This is the fourth entry in the Thin Man series and the weakest of the four so far.  Not that its bad, it isn’t.  It just doesn’t have as much of the interplay between Nick and Nora, which is the heart of these films.  This may be, in part, due to the presence of Nick and Nora’s child, Nicky, who was a baby in the last film, but who appears to be about 5 in this film.  The film also stars famed acting teacher Stella Adler in one of her only 3 or 4 film roles.  Also, a very young Donna Reed, plays a key role.  This is several years before her breakout in It’s A Wonderful Life and decades before her sitcom.

For this film we are back in San Francisco.  Nick and Nora and their son Nicky are ensconced in the hotel St. Cloud.  This is interesting, as we established previously, Nick and Nora have (had) a home in San Francisco, which they returned to at the beginning of the second film of the series.  Have they sold it?  Is it just a continuity gaff? We don’t know.  When the last film (released in 1939) ended, Nick and Nora were celebrating Nicky’s first birthday.  As this film opens, Nick and Nicky are walking in the park together and Nicky appears to be about 5, which would put the events of the film occurring about 4 years after the end of the last film.  Young Nicky’s play outfit is a soldier’s uniform, and it serves as a reminder that the film was shot in August 1941 as Europe was at war and the US was gearing up it’s military.  The film was released in November 1941, only a few weeks before Pearl Harbor.

The film features a scene of the, at the time, brand new San Francisco-Oakland bay bridge.  It also features a scene at a wrestling match, giving the viewer a view of the early years of the development of professional wrestling.  As usual, the film ends with Nick gathering all the suspects together and figuring out who the killer is.  In the climactic scene, Nora gets to play the hero, wrestling Nick’s gun away from the revealed killer as he was about to shoot Nick.  It turns out the gun was unloaded, but of course Nora didn’t know that.

In the course of watching these films, I did learn two interesting things. 1. The original Thin Man film was nominated for an Academy Award.  2. Though they starred in 14 films together, including the 6 Thin Man films, and had fantastic screen chemistry, Powell and Loy were never romantically involved in real life, unlike a lot of screen couples of the time. (i.e. Bogart and Bacall, Gable and Lombard, etc.)

I’d give this film, 4 out of 5 stars.

January 3, 2019

Space news

Filed under: Technology — dknights @ 6:33 am
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NASA has done a fly-by on an object far beyond the orbit of Pluto.  It is the farthest object that a man-made satellite has closely observed. (Post in memory of Mike Nofsinger)

December 31, 2018

Movie review: The Thin Man (1934)

Filed under: General — dknights @ 3:37 pm
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Shot in only 16 or 18 days (depending on your source) The Thin Man was the first of 6 movies over a 13 year period starring William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles.  Adapted from a Dashiell Hammett novel, the movie was a surprise hit, mainly due to the chemistry of its stars.  Powell and Loy had an easy grace on screen and man, Myrna Loy was a looker.  Not a bombshell, but easy on the eyes in a wholly different way.  Over the years, the cultural idea of feminine beauty ebbs and flows between thinner and more curvy women.  At this point in the mid 30s, the thinner look was in an Myrna Loy embodied the look.  In fact, if you notice all the “good” women in the film are thinner and more petite while the “bad” girls are bigger and curvier.

The plot is that Nick Charles is a former detective (it is unclear from the movie if he was a private detective or a police detective) who married the rich socialite Nora and they now spend their time drinking and socializing.  Nick is clearly enjoying his new life of leisure.  Part of what seems to attract Nora to Nick is the sense of adventure he brings and she clearly loves being around all of the former lowlifes Nick knows from his former life.  She also encourages him to get involved in solving murders that happen in their social circle.  The plot is ok, but it is the wordplay and chemistry of the stars that makes the movie a pleasure to watch.

If you haven’t seen it, I urge you to watch it.

December 17, 2018

Boston Tea Party

Filed under: Politics — dknights @ 9:44 am
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Yesterday was the anniversary of the 1773 Boston Tea Party.  It was a study in both civil action and how unjust taxes can stir the populous to action.  Politicians today should take note.

December 5, 2018

China’s carrier woes

Filed under: Politics,Technology — dknights @ 4:56 pm
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Looks like China might be having trouble coming up with the money to pay for its next carrier.  Frankly I think the current US administration is using trade pressure as one way to deprive the Chinese of money to invest in their defense.  I think this is a wise move, even if it means more expensive goods here.

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