Song of the Thin Man
Song of the Thin Man is a 1947 comedy-crime film directed by Edward Buzzell. The sixth and final film in the Thin Man series, it stars William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles, characters created by Dashiell Hammett. Nick Jr. is played by Dean Stockwell. Phillip Reed, Keenan Wynn, Gloria Grahame, and Jayne Meadows are featured in this story set in the world of nightclub musicians.
|Song of the Thin Man|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Edward Buzzell|
|Produced by||Nat Perrin|
|Story by||Stanley Roberts|
|Music by||David Snell|
|Edited by||Gene Ruggiero|
|Distributed by||Loew's, Inc.|
A charity benefit sponsored by David Thayer is staged aboard the S.S. Fortune, Phil Brant's gambling ship. The entertainment is provided by a jazz band led by Tommy Drake and featuring singer Fran Page and talented but unstable clarinetist Buddy Hollis.
After a set, Drake informs a displeased Brant that he is quitting, having gotten a much better booking through Mitchell Talbin. However, Drake has a problem: he owes gangster Al Amboy $12,000. When Amboy (who is at the party) hears the news, he demands full payment that night. Drake begs Talbin to give him an advance, but Talbin is unwilling to part with such a large sum. In desperation, Drake sneaks into Brant's office and opens the safe, when he is shot from behind and killed.
Brant and socialite Janet Thayer elope, as her father David disapproves of Brant's lower-class background. The next morning, they show up at Nick and Nora Charles's apartment, having learned that Brant is the prime suspect in the murder. When a bullet narrowly misses Brant, Nick turns him in to the police, having decided it is safer for all concerned. Then Nick starts investigating.
Sneaking aboard the Fortune, Nick discovers on the back of a sheet of music a receipt signed by Amboy acknowledging that Drake's debt had been paid. Nick then runs into Drake's band, allowed back on board to collect their instruments. When he questions them, he learns that the bandleader had many enemies, among them Buddy Hollis. Musician Clarence "Clinker" Krause agrees to help Nick track Buddy down, but they have no luck.
Nick and Nora visit a hostile Janet. The bullet that killed Drake likely came from an antique gun, and Nick knows Janet's father is an avid collector. Nick finds that one gun is missing from Mr. Thayer's collection. Janet leaves after getting a telephone call. Nick and Nora follow her to Fran's apartment where they find Fran's body, recently stabbed in the back. Janet claims Fran called to sell her some information, but that she arrived after Fran was killed.
Nick finds a matchbook from a hotel in Poughkeepsie that eventually leads him to a sanitarium where Buddy is undergoing treatment. The musician is too badly shaken to answer Nick's questions, though Nora's presence seems to calm him down. When Nora sneaks back later by herself, Buddy becomes agitated, confesses to the murder, pulls out the antique gun, and tries to shoot Nora but misses. Nick does not believe the deranged man's confession as Drake was slain by a well-aimed shot.
Nick gathers all the suspects by arranging a party on the reopened Fortune and announces that Buddy has fully recovered and that he will reveal the murderer's identity that night. It is Nora who notices the crucial clue: Amboy's wife shows up wearing a valuable necklace that matches the earrings owned by Mitchell Talbin's wife, Phyllis. Sometime later, the necklace mysteriously reappears on Phyllis's neck. When Nick confronts Mitchell, Phyllis reveals that it was she who paid off her lover Drake's debt using the necklace. As Nick prompts Buddy to finger the killer, Mitchell confesses to both killings and pulls out a gun. An enraged Phyllis shoots him first, but her husband is only wounded. Despite Nick's pleas to desist, she fires repeatedly, finishing the job.
- William Powell as Nick Charles
- Myrna Loy as Nora Charles
- Keenan Wynn as Clarence "Clinker" Krause
- Dean Stockwell as Nick Charles Jr.
- Phillip Reed as Tommy Edlon Drake (as Philip Reed)
- Patricia Morison as Phyllis Talbin
- Leon Ames as Mitchell Talbin
- Gloria Grahame as Fran Ledue Page (singing voice was dubbed by Carol Arden)
- Jayne Meadows as Janet Thayar
- Ralph Morgan as David I. Thayar
- Bess Flowers as Jessica Thayar
- Don Taylor as Buddy Hollis
- Warner Anderson as Dr. Monolaw
- Bruce Cowling as Phil Orval Brant
- Connie Gilchrist as Bertha, the Charles' housekeeper
- Henry Nemo as The Neem
- William Bishop as Al Amboy
- Marie Windsor as Helen Amboy
- James Burke as Captain Callahan
This Thin Man movie differs in several respects from the others in the series, and was one of two films in the series not directed by W. S. Van Dyke, who died in 1943. The script was one of three not written by the husband and wife team of Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich, who had worked with Dashiell Hammett to develop the Nick and Nora characters earlier in the series.
According to MGM records, the film earned $1,403,000 in the US and Canada and $902,000 elsewhere, resulting in a loss of $128,000.
The film was the last of six based on the characters of Nick and Nora Charles:
- The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.