While it would likely have been heretical to the characters' creator Dashiell Hammett, the couple seems to have given up liquor, with Nick compulsively nipping at a flask of nonalcoholic cider. This doesn't stop Nora from mistrusting his ability to stay on the wagon, and wishing maybe that he would ("Sneaking off like that and getting drunk ... without me."). The film eases ever so slowly into the mystery that we know is coming, following the couple up to the town on the town, and setting up Nick's relationship with his stern and disapproving father. The mystery, which involves a horrid painting of a windmill that everyone wants to get their hands on, Maltese Falcon-like, and a townful of neighbors who keep stopping by, wondering if Nick is working on a case. He'd prefer not to and would rather sit in a hammock with his cider jug and reading Nick Carter detective stories, but he gets sort of goaded into it once the stranger shows up on Nick's parents' doorstep and gets shot before he can get a full sentence out.
More in keeping with a classic British mystery - with its seemingly genteel town hiding more than its share of dirty secrets - than Hammett's hard-boiled American style, the whole mess gets sorted out with surgical ease in a crackerjack climactic sequence where Nick herds all the suspects into a room and lays out the case for them (and us, the somewhat befuddled viewers). As usual, Nora gets most of the best lines, standing off to the side and giving a sarcastic running commentary of this stock plot device, trying to warn a man that there might be shooting: "It's called payoff. I usually duck under the sofa when it happens."
One wishes they could have stopped the series here.
The disc includes a trailer as well as a comedy short and cartoon, so you can make a full night at the Bijou of it.
Run time: 100 mins
In Theaters: Monday 1st January 1945
Distributed by: MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 60%
Fresh: 3 Rotten: 2
IMDB: 7.4 / 10
Director: Richard Thorpe
Producer: Everett Riskin
Starring: William Powell as Nick Charles, Myrna Loy as Nora Charles, Lucile Watson as Mrs. Marta Charles, Gloria DeHaven as Laura Belle Ronson, Anne Revere as Crazy Mary, Helen Vinson as Helena Draque, Harry Davenport as Dr. Bertram Charles, Leon Ames as Edgar Draque, Donald Meek as Willie Crump, Edward Brophy as Brogan, Lloyd Corrigan as Dr. Bruce Clayworth, Anita Sharp-Bolster as Hilda (as Anita Bolster), Ralph Brooke as Peter Berton, Donald MacBride as Police Chief MacGregor, Morris Ankrum as Willoughby Peavy, Nora Cecil as Miss Peavy, Minor Watson as Sam Ronson, Irving Bacon as Tom, Virginia Sale as Tom's Wife