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Return of the Thin Man: Two…

Return of the Thin Man: Two never-before-published novellas featuring Nick… (edition 2012)

by Dashiell Hammett, Richard Layman (Editor), Julie M. Rivett (Editor)

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7716156,384 (3.46)None
Title:Return of the Thin Man: Two never-before-published novellas featuring Nick & Nora Charles
Authors:Dashiell Hammett
Other authors:Richard Layman (Editor), Julie M. Rivett (Editor)
Info:Mysterious Press (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 320 pages
Collections:Read, Your library
Tags:fiction, mystery

Work details

Return of the Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett

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To the great credit of the producers of the audio version of this work, a great deal of effort went into peopling it with talented actors with distinctive voices, individuals who acted their roles with skill and verve. What's more, the work contains extended essays that explain the historical context of the screenplays, in the context of Dashiell Hammett's career and of the actual Thin Man movies themselves.

That having been said, I must confess that "The Thin Man" was my least favorite of Hammett's work, and I was never fond of the movies based on that character. The audio version of the screenplays confirmed my opinion. Maybe it is a reflection of my own failings, but I found the screenplay story lines difficult to follow. By 1/3 of the way into "After the Thin Man" I had lost track of who was who, and by halfway through I couldn't care less who had been murdered and why. Thinking I may have let my attention lag unduly, I was resolved to pay close attention in the second screenplay, "Another Thin Man." The results were the same, and not helped by the numerous confusing episodic scenes -- described in one sentence each -- that punctuate the last half of the work. (I am still not sure if they were intended to be a potpourri of successive episodes or if they were outlines of ideas to be fleshed out by subsequent writers and the film director.)

This was a project worth considering, and seems to have been enjoyed by many other readers and listeners. Fans of popular culture will appreciate the chance to compare the screenplays with the final versions of the movies that came from them. However, as read aloud, the bare screenplays did not contain enough description to hold my interest. What's more, the main character -- the supposedly tough but urbane "Nick" comes across (in the audio version) as a sardonic, snobbish lush who speaks in annoyingly prissy tones. By the middle of the series, I was strongly in favor of him being the next victim of murder. I am glad that others enjoyed the audio version, but I did not, despite my best efforts. ( )
2 vote danielx | Sep 24, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Overall, I enjoyed this audio book based on the recent book collecting the script and story work Dashiell Hammett did for the later entries in the Thin Man movie series.
This is another book I’ve received as part of Librarything.com’s Early Reader program.
Once the first movie was a hit, the studio paid Hammett for story and script work on the next three movies. This presents those stories based on his original work before any changes were made for the final film. In addition to the story treatment for After the Thin Man, this set has readings of the story treatment to Another Thin Man and a brief bit of story work that is just called a sequel to The Thin Man.
While it’s too bad there aren’t any more Nick and Nora Charles novels, it’s great to see these final pieces of Hammett’s work.
Hammett’s style and writing chops are evident and the stories are quite fun to listen to. Hammett is constrained by the studio’s requirements and these aren’t Hammett at his best, but they do read well and the Hammett touch is evident, even if these are not actually full developed novellas.
There’s also a great deal of detailed information on the scripting process of the movies, what was going on with Hammett at the time and his battles with the studio.
One problem I have is that this presented as the first publication of this material. However, the After The Thin Man script was already published in two issues of the Black Mask revival. At least one of the co-editors here knew this as Richard Layman co-edited those issues and his introduction is copied directly from them.
Overall, the audio work here is quite good. This is a full-cast recording with a number of good performances, particularly in the supporting cast.
I did have a slight problem with Peter Ganim’s interpretation of Nick Charles.
Charles is a difficult character to bring to life. He’s witty and urbane, snide and sarcastic, yet gets along with people from all walks of life. He’s comfortable in both high society and low dives. He’s clever, yet tough.
It’s been years since I’ve seen the original Thin Man movie, but I recall William Powell being quite good at finding the balance between witty and tough. Ganim is less successful. His Nick Charles is a bit fey, his performance is not masculine or tough enough for a Hammett leading character.
Similarly, Nicola Barber as Nora Charles is a bit weak. She just doesn’t have the moxie that made Myrna Loy a perfect foil for Powell.
This is a “reading” rather than a play. Most of the time this doesn’t matter, but occasionally the stage directions become distracting. As an example, there’s a spot where one of the supporting characters laughs, then the stage directions are read telling us that the man laughs. While it’s true to Hammett’s original writing, it’s a bit distracting when trying to listen to it as a story.
  haiirouchuujin | Aug 12, 2013 |
Dashiell Hammett is often referred to as one of the ‘Big Three’ when it comes to pulp fiction along with Raymond Chandler and James M. Cain. He is known for his hard-boiled novels turned film noir classics including The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man. Return of the Thin man is a collection of two previously unreleased novellas featuring Nick & Nora Charles from The Thin Man.

While “After the Thin Man” and “Another Thin Man” have been promoted as two never before published novellas, these are basically glorified screen plays by the pulp legend. The cynical ex-detective is back along with his very cleaver wife for some more drinking, flirting and crimes. But you really need to have read or seen The Thin Man before reading this because they are sequels that relay heavily on the character development that has already taken place.

The main problem is there are no stories here; nothing to demonstrate the power of Hammett’s pulp styles. These are just scripts for cashing in on the success of The Thin Man film adaptation. I think they would have worked a lot better if they were made into movies in the 1930’s. It reminds me of the recent movie release of Taken 2; all the plot and character development was in its predecessor, it is just cashing in on the success by trying to continue the story.

As a pulp fan I was looking forward to reading this and I really wanted to love it, but I was very disappointed. This is a gimmick release, not recommended for people new to Dashiell Hammett and Nick & Nora Charles. But if you loved The Thin Man there is a slight pleasure in seeing what Hammett had planned for these characters. The Thin Man was never a favourite of mine, I do really like Nora but for someone interested in trying the author I would recommend The Maltese Falcon or my personal favourite, Red Harvest.

This review originally appeared on my blog; http://literary-exploration.com/2012/11/04/book-review-return-of-the-thin-man/ ( )
1 vote knowledgelost | Mar 31, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Hmmm. This might have worked better for me in book form instead of audio. But I may just be too picky; it's happened before with audiobooks.

William Powell and Myrna Loy are somewhat ingrained onto my eardrums as the "right" voices for Nick and Nora; this put the actors playing them at a disadvantage. I appreciated the full cast approach, although some seemed too over-the-top and were distracting.

As to be expected, the stories were entertaining and witty. The interactions between Nora's family and Nick in the first story were particularly amusing. ( )
1 vote Sarahsponda | Feb 23, 2013 |
Dashiell Hammett's screenplays for the two films, After the Thin Man and Another Thin Man. Witty, charming, and you can easily see the movies in your head, well worth the read. ( )
  phoenixcomet | Feb 19, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dashiell Hammettprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Layman, RichardEditorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rivett, Julie M.Editorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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A train whistle sounds as the Chief arrives slowly in the Santa Fe Station in San Francisco.
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After the Thin Man -- Nick and Nora investigate a love triangle gone wrong after a dead man is discovered at their door. Another Thin Man-- After a wealthy business partner of Nora's father's is murdered, Nick and Nora's investigation brings them into the killer's crosshairs.… (more)

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