These two films were suggested to me by a friend, and for a while I wasn’t sure what they had in common and then it hit me, marital bliss. Admittedly with one of these films I’m being very sarcastic when I say that.

The_Thin_Man_1934_PosterMy first film, The Thin Man, was one of these films that I had known about as one of the classics for ages, but had never gotten around to seeing it.

The Thin Man is a classic by the numbers murder mystery including a closed room finale (though it has the nice twist of all of the players being frogmarched in by the police)

What makes this film great our our witty, hard drinking couple Nick and Nora Charles, played wonderfully by William Powell and  Myrna Loy (and their dog Asta played by Skippy) Having only known about the married couple as heroes I had first thought Nick and Nora were the young idealistic couple we were introduced to in the very beginning of the film and was pleasantly surprised it was the older eccentric socialites we meet fifteen minutes in.

Power and Loy have great chemistry and make Nick and Nora a very believable as a couple and equal partnership. And that what makes it interesting is that such a partnership is even considered in this era and how well it works.

WCF_It's_a_Gift_1934In It’s A Gift we go the opposite way. W. C. Fields goes though domestic hell which includes an obnoxious sun, a loving but oblivious daughter and a shrill overbearing wife played with wonderful over the tap self importance by Kathleen Howard.

Beyond this it’s like every thing in the world is out to get him from annoying neighbors to idiotic employees and that’s not getting into what fate has planned.

Most of the story is just a means to link together a string of brilliant slapstick routines but somehow it transcends this with wonderfully poignant overtones. Despite everything Fields wants to do right by his family. Despite everything that happens.

I also found it fascinating of how it presented a carraccature of the era. I’d frequently suspected that the  comical stereotype of the nagging wife was an exaggeration and even it wasn’t what other weapons did a woman have at her disposal during that period. Either way Howard  brilliantly plays the ultimate exaggeration of this stock character always assuming the worst from her husband and completely misunderstanding any situation be it someone calling with the wrong number at the middle of the night or her husband speaking to other women (yelling at the neighbors)