This review has been a little longer coming than I had anticipated, but it is good that it’s coming out now for it is about a mystery which was enacted and solved during a Christmas season.
No one else put mystery and comedy together in such a delightful mix as William Powell and Myrna Loy when they played Nick and Nora Charles, husband and wife detectives. I can still remember seeing this movie for the first time on television one afternoon during summer vacation when I was a kid. I’ve loved this one ever since.
I’m not the only one to give this film a high rating. Leonard Maltin rates the entire series as the best. The repartee between Nick and Nora is unparalleled in recent times. No matter what amount of bantering went on, they were always united in the end. It only showed their comfortableness in their marriage and their trust of one another. Present day films espouse edginess more than harmony between film characters.
The two detectives threw themselves into the troubles around them. Instead of ducking out and looking for a way around, they always forged ahead and found a way through. They didn’t leave others to stew in the consequences of the evil devisings of others, but they set things to rights.
This may not have been the first example in film or literature of rounding up all the suspects to solve the crime, but it is certainly the most effective. People are often unwilling to come to a solution. They would often rather go along as they are than to take the energy required to make a difference.
Then, who can forget their dog, Asta. He had more personality than many of the human actors in the film. His point of view was often ours, that of the perplexed bystander who is allowed to have a crucial part in things. He is the one who discovered the body which led to the final solution of the mystery.
Somewhere along the way the significance of the title changed as it was used in the titles of the other five films in the series. Originally it referred to Clyde Wynant, eccentric inventor, who was assumed to be the murderer. Then from a pejorative it turned into an enduring term of identity for the detective himself. This has a parallel for the Christian. God can turn us from a suspect into a loved member of the family. We can be comfortable before God. He loves us as a person no matter how ill-manneredly we’ve put ourselves to Him. He has pushed through all things to bring us to His side.
3 years ago