Nick and Nora remain Dashiell Hammett's most enduring pair of private detectives, and The Thin Man, adapted by W.S. Van Dyke from the mystery novel of the same name, is an exemplary film noir. Hammett’s story of a vanishing family patriarch and the murders his disappearance entrains is a thriller of great intrigue and intricacy, still compelling 80 years on.
It's a wickedly fun, sexy, intelligent intoxicant. You get something of a contact high watching the dazzling, slightly anarchic Nick and Nora imbibe, tossing off their good-natured barbs with such elegant ease. And the picture remains a still-modern depiction of what is, let’s face it, an aspirational marriage. A daring merging of darker crime elements with screwball comedy (decomposing bodies as dinner repartee), the picture was something of a risk, and one that paid off.