After the Thin Man

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After the Thin Man
Theatrical release poster
Directed byW.S. Van Dyke
Produced byHunt Stromberg
Written byDashiell Hammett (characters, story)
Screenplay byAlbert Hackett
Frances Goodrich
StarringWilliam Powell
Myrna Loy
James Stewart
Elissa Landi
Joseph Calleia
Jessie Ralph
Music byWilliam Axt
CinematographyOliver T. Marsh
Edited byRobert J. Kern
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
December 25, 1936 (1936-12-25)
Running time
113 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$673,000 (est.)[1]
Box office$3,165,000 (worldwide est.)[1]

After the Thin Man is a 1936 American film, starring William Powell, Myrna Loy, and James Stewart, that is the sequel to the film The Thin Man. The movie presents Powell and Loy as Dashiell Hammett's characters Nick and Nora Charles. The film was directed by W. S. Van Dyke and also featured Elissa Landi, Joseph Calleia, Jessie Ralph, Alan Marshal, and Penny Singleton (billed under her maiden name as Dorothy McNulty).

This was actually the sixth pairing for Myrna Loy and William Powell. The two made 14 pictures together, six of them in the Thin Man series.[2] It contains perhaps the earliest film example of the Walk This Way visual gag.


Nick (William Powell) and Nora Charles (Myrna Loy) return from vacation to their home in San Francisco on New Year's Eve, where Nora's stuffy family expect the couple to join them for a formal dinner. Nick is despised by Nora's Aunt Katherine (Jessie Ralph), the family matriarch, as his immigrant heritage and experience as a "flatfoot" are considered below Nora. Nora's cousin Selma (Elissa Landi) tells Nora that her ne'er-do-well husband Robert (Alan Marshal) has been missing for three days. David Graham (James Stewart), Selma's unrequited love, offers to pay Robert $25,000 ($451,379 in 2018 dollars) if he will leave and grant Selma a divorce. Nora successfully badgers Nick into helping to locate him.

Lobby card for After the Thin Man (1936)

Nick and Nora find Robert in a Chinese nightclub, where he's been conducting an affair with Polly (Penny Singleton), the star performer. They tell Robert about David's offer, and he agrees to it. Unknown to Robert, Polly and the nightclub's owner, Dancer (Joseph Calleia), plan to steal the money. After being paid off, Robert sneaks back into Aunt Katherine's home to retrieve some clothes. Nick sees Dancer and nightclub co-owner Lum Kee (William Law) each leave the club on their own as well. Robert leaves Aunt Katherine's at the stroke of midnight, and is shot dead in the foggy street. David finds Selma standing over Robert, a gun in her hand. Lt. Abrams (Sam Levene) considers Selma the prime suspect, and her fragile mental state only strengthens his belief. Selma insists that she never fired her gun, but her claim cannot be backed up as David threw the gun into San Francisco Bay (thinking she was guilty). Nick begins to investigate to find the true murderer.

A note (wrapped around a rock) is thrown through the window of Nick and Nora's home. It accuses Polly and Dancer of conspiring to kill Robert, and says Polly already has a husband, Phil Byrnes. (Polly admits that she told Dancer that Phil was her brother.) When he goes to Phil's hotel room, he discovers the ex-felon dead. Nick investigates Polly's apartment, and discovers that someone, who goes under the pseudonym of "Anderson," had bugged it from the apartment above. While in the upper apartment, Nick hears Dancer enter Polly's home. Nick pursues Dancer into the basement. Dancer has vanished, and Nick discovers the body of the apartment building custodian, Pedro. Nora casually mentions that Pedro used to be her father's gardener.

Lt. Abrams agrees to gather all the suspects in Anderson's apartment. Dancer and Polly confess they intended to use a forged check to steal Robert's money, but claim they are innocent of murder. While discussing Pedro's identity, David says he has not seen him in six years, but remembers him well due to his long white mustache. Nick realizes that Pedro had a small, black mustache years ago, and that David must have seen Pedro recently. Nick reconstructs the murder, accusing David a.k.a. Anderson—who has long harbored well-concealed hatred of Selma for rejecting him—of killing Robert and trying to frame Selma for the crime. David killed Phil after Phil tried to blackmail him. When Pedro recognized David as the mysterious "Anderson" who rented the apartment above Polly, David killed him as well. David pulls out a gun and threatens to kill Selma and then himself. Lum Kee knocks the gun out of David's hand, and Nick and Lt. Abrams overpower the killer.

Nick and Nora leave San Francisco for the East Coast on a train, accompanied by Selma. Later, alone with Nora, Nick sees she is knitting a baby's sock. Nick realizes that Nora's odd cravings and behavior throughout the film means she is pregnant. Nora gently chides him, saying, "And you call yourself a detective."


The cast is listed in order as documented by the American Film Institute.[3]

Cast note:

  • Penny Singleton was billed as "Dorothy McNulty".


The film's story was written by Dashiell Hammett, based on his characters Nick and Nora, but not a particular novel or short story. Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich wrote the screenplay.

The film was second of six based on the characters of Nick and Nora:


The film was nominated for an Oscar in 1937 for Best Writing, Screenplay.[4] The film carries a 100% rating at Rotten Tomatoes, and 89% audience rating.

Box office[edit]

After the Thin Man grossed a total – domestic and foreign – of $3,165,000: $1,992,000 from the US and Canada and $1,173,000 elsewhere. It made a profit of $1,516,000.[1]

Radio adaptation[edit]

An hour-long radio adaptation of After the Thin Man was presented on the CBS Lux Radio Theatre on June 17, 1940. Powell and Loy reprised their roles.[5]


  1. ^ a b c Sedgwick, John (2000). Popular Filmgoing in 1930s Britain: A Choice of Pleasures. University of Exeter Press. ISBN 9780859896603. Retrieved August 7, 2014.
  2. ^ "After the Thin Man (1936)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved November 4, 2015.
  3. ^ "After the Thin Man". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-02-06.
  4. ^ Awards for After The Thin Man on IMDb
  5. ^ "Those Were the Days". Nostalgia Digest. 43 (1): 39. Winter 2017.

External links[edit]