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THE THIN MAN
1934, Warner Bros., 93 min, USA, Dir: W.S. Van Dyke

Adapting the Dashiell Hammett novel, W.S. Van Dyke helms the first and best in what was to become one of MGM’s most successful franchises of the 1930s. William Powell and Myrna Loy are transcendentally flighty as the carefree rich couple Nick and Nora Charles - a wise-cracking, hard-drinking detective and his heiress wife, a gal who aspires to fight crime too (along with their terrier, Asta). Their partying lifestyle is interrupted when friend Dorothy Wynant (Maureen O’Sullivan) asks them to help find her father, an inventor who has been missing for three months. Set over Yuletide in New York City, the pair piece together clues while barhopping and hitting holiday cocktail parties (which always seem to be crawling with Nick’s former shady underworld acquaintances). Watch for hungover Nick shooting ornaments off the tree on Christmas morning! Nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.


SAN FRANCISCO
1936, Warner Brothers, 115 min, Dir: W.S. Van Dyke

Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy and Jeanette MacDonald star in this lavish MGM production scripted by Anita Loos, a prime example of the studio system at its finest. An out-of-work singer (MacDonald) and a priest (Tracy) join forces to try to reform saloon owner Gable, but history intervenes in the form of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The spectacular finale is still a wonder to behold.


IT’S A WONDERFUL WORLD
1939, MGM Repertory, 84 min, Dir: W.S. Van Dyke

The unbeatably likable Jimmy Stewart stars in this crime comedy as Guy Johnson, a detective with a heart of gold who gets caught hiding a wrongly accused friend. When both Guy and his friend are hauled into the police station, tried in court and sentenced to prison time, Guy unearths a new clue that may rescue them both and point the feds in the direction of the real criminal. With Claudette Colbert as Guy's delightful love interest.


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