I guess a lot of people would think this an odd film to be reviewing on Christmas. But the fact of the matter is that over many years of reviewing rather more standard and predictable ‘Christmas films’, the sort that stress on the joy and goodwill of the festival, I’ve become a bit jaded to the whole idea—at least onscreen, where it more often than not tends to become a little too syrupy for my liking.
Therefore, for a change: a film that’s set around Christmas, and has lots of props, scenes, and more that reference the celebration of the festival—but is actually a murder mystery. The Thin Man is one I’ve been meaning to watch for many years now, since lots of people have recommended this to me, so it was high time anyway.
Based on the novel of the same name by Dashiell Hammett, the film begins at the shop of an inventor named Clyde Wynant (Edward Ennant). Wynant is crotchety and impatient with his assistant, but a more affectionate side of him is revealed when his daughter Dorothy (Maureen O’Sullivan) arrives, bringing with her her fiancé Tommy (Henry Wadsworth) and the news that they’re going to be married shortly after Christmas, a few days from now.
The very first English language film I remember watching was a war film (a farcical comedy called Our Miss Fred, which I’ve never managed to get hold of since). Over the years, and especially during my teens—thanks to a local VHS lending library which stocked mostly war films—I watched a lot more of this genre. I’ve watched violent war films, adventurous war films, propaganda-heavy films, war films that crossed genres and combined war with everything from crime and mystery to comedy, to romance. I’ve watched war films that showed the futility of war.
War seems to be a favourite subject with many film makers.
But who stops to think of what happens when war is over? The Spanish film Bienvenido, Mr Marshall! did explore this idea in a humorous way, but from the point of view of people who were mostly non-combatants in the war itself. What happens, however, to men who have spent a few years in battle, men who have actually been in combat, and that too on the other side of the world from where they usually live? What happens when men come back to their everyday lives, their families and friends, to find that their world has moved on? And that they, too, have changed?
This particular film review was supposed to have been dedicated solely to blog reader Professor in Peril, who first recommended The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (also known as Bachelor Knight) to me. Then, since bombaynoir has been raving about Cary Grant for the past several weeks, I figured she’d enjoy this too.
The other day, my husband asked me my plans for the day, and I mentioned I’d be watching this film, because I was planning to review it. “The bachelor—and the bobby socks her?” my husband asked, completely at a loss. We’ve been rewatching Jeeves and Wooster the past couple of weeks, and I can well imagine my husband’s bewilderment: who is the lady in question? Who was the bobby? And why did he sock her?
So. To Professor in Peril, bombaynoir, and Tarun: this post’s for you. Enjoy!