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'Thin Man' on DVD: Highballs, High Spirits

Its success may seem apparent now; but in 1934, W. S. Van Dyke's movie adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's The Thin Man was considered a dubious prospect in Hollywood.

After all, Hammett's novel was a dark, hard-boiled affair that didn't exactly seem ripe for light comedy. And the stars, William Powell and Myrna Loy, were best known respectively for their roles as villains and temptresses.

Powell and Loy starred as Nick and Nora Charles, a married police detective and heiress who traded wisecracks and slugged down cocktails as they investigated the murder of an acquaintance.

Van Dyke's gamble paid off: the pair proved so lovable that the film spawned five more installments. Now all six films, plus a disc featuring documentaries about Powell and Loy, are being released in a DVD set by Warner Bros. Home Video. Scott Simon talks about the films with Christopher Orr, a contributing editor at The New Republic.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.