The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett

The Thin Man by Dashiell HammettThe Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett
Published: Vintage Books (1933), Paperback, 201pg
Source: Library
Genres: Mystery

Nick and Nora Charles are Hammett's most enchanting creations, a rich, glamorous couple who solve homicides in between wisecracks and martinis. At once knowing and unabashedly romantic, The Thin Man is a murder mystery that doubles as a sophisticated comedy of manners. (from Amazon)

For all that The Thin Man was written in 1933, it still feels like a pretty modern book. Partly that’s because of the short, sharp sentences and partly it’s because it’s just a COOL book. If this book were a person it’d be a hep cat smoking a cig in the corner of a gin joint (or something).

All the characters are messed up in some way– Nick’s an alcoholic, for instance, and most of the others are sexually deviant in some way– which makes the mystery a lot more complicated than it probably needed to be. (Fun to read, though.) Nick and Nora are totally adorable, though, and their interactions provide a lot of humor and warmth to what might otherwise be a dark and depressing story.

I’d definitely read another Dashiell Hammett mystery, and I’d LOVE to read another Nick and Nora mystery. Unfortunately, no more were published. Boo.

Read: April 24, 2013

The Thin Man (1934)

The Thin Man movie is VERY different from the book, so if you’re one of those people who want only faithful adaptations you’d no doubt be very disappointed. Myself, I just want the movie versions of books to have the same essence as the book– anything can be changed as long as it retains the same basic feeling/shape of the book. The Thin Man movie…doesn’t really do that. Instead of a super-modern noir-ish mystery, it’s a 1930s comedy mystery. It’s something along the lines of His Girl Friday, only with un-snappy dialogue and a very boring plot. Thin Man Movie

The whole THING is boring! All of the appeal of the book is gone, except for Nick and Nora. While I like them, they aren’t enough to make the rest of the movie non-boring. All the modern-ness of the book is now dated 30’s romcom stuff– bleh.

I’d actually tried to watch the movie years ago (before having ever read the book) and found it boring then, too, so I don’t think it’s even a matter of it being a crappy adaptation. But! Apparently it was so popular when it first came out that they made about a million sequels to it, and it’s on a ton of best-movies-ever lists, so it must be appealing to people other than me.

The DVD version I watched had some lovely extras, though. They were more interesting than the movie, haha! My favorite was the documentary thing detailing the premiere of the movie for some charity thing, where tons of old movie stars showed up and it was very fancy.

6 thoughts on “The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett”

  1. My mouth is frowning because I can’t comment on your Juliette Low post. I wanted to ask whether it is true that someone threw rice at her wedding and one grain of rice pierced her eardrum and she bled and bled and bled all over her wedding dress and went deaf in that ear.

    (I just googled it. It is true. So, withdrawn.)

    1. WHAT is with my posts turning off comments when I edit them? IDK what’s up with that, but the comments are back on now SOOOOOO.

      And yes! It’s true. She ended up using her deafness to her advantage in a way that reminds me a little of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, for some reason. (Bumbling old lady, or clever super sleuth? Deaf middle-aged divorcee, or founder of an empire teaching girls how to do stuff? HA.)

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