Read The Thin Man once again by Dashiell Hammett. I think I liked it better this time than the last time. The last time I read it I was really into the action and movement of the thing. This time, I was much more attracted by the writing style and the dialogue. Ebert said on his review of the movie that William Powell (the actor who played Nick Charles,) was to dialogue like Fred Astaire was to dancing. Powell was a big star already when he made the first Thin Man movie with Myrna Loy. The movie was a quick (two weeks) and very low budget ($226,000) film. Low in dollars even for those times. The shoot was fast and dirty, on all stage sets, and was a wrap before most people could blink. W.S. Van Dyke, the director, was apparently famous for bringing films in on time. No doubt, everyone was amazed at the instant success of the film so much so that the studios went on to make several more Thin Man movies in the series. The Thin Man even went to TV and was a popular show in the 60’s.
Recently the grand-daughter of Dashiell Hammett has been making the scene and doing talks about two new books about her grand-father. These are Selected Letters of Dashiell Hammett: A Daughter Remembers, Return of the Thin Man and The Hunter and Other Stories. I plan to go see what the shouting is all about. But, once again, I have to comment on Hammett’s short, snappy dialogue style that was at once so fresh for the times when it came out and may have been the fore-runner of that his and hers/back and forth that has become so popular in so many movies. I am thinking of course of His Girl Friday with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell and many other Hepburn and Tracy films. The genre can be seen today in the entire Iron Man series with Robert Downey, Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow and their brisk banter in every film.