William Powell and Myrna Loy are Nick and Nora Charles in “After the Thin Man” and Asta is Asta (1936) – reviewed by George

Gee, what a great start to a comedy-mystery! Nick, Nora, and Asta are on the Sunset Limited from NYC to San Francisco and are only five minutes out. Nick is trying to shave and Nora is trying to pack.
Nora: “How they can expect a woman to still have any mystery left for a man after being in a place like this for three days, I don’t know.”
Nick: “You don’t need mystery. You’ve got something better and more alluring.”
Nora: “What?”
Nick: “Me.”
As soon as they’re off the train they start running into people who know Nick – a bevy of women (Asta hates navigating through a forest of legs), their California chauffer Harold who has brought the car to pick them up, Fingers the purse snatcher, and a horde of street boys – Nick must have lived here for a long time; it seems that all San Francisco knows him. As they motor away from the last group, a very well-dressed couple in another convertible recognizes Nora and they exchange greetings while driving.
Nick: “Who are they?”
Nora: “You wouldn’t know them, darling. They’re respectable.”
Their home is beautiful. No wonder they’re so happy to get there, and just in time for New Year’s Eve. As they approach the front door, Nick removes Asta’s leash, and Asta charges around to the kennel to see Mrs. Asta and all the little Astas, and he gets a surprise he doesn’t like. And then Nick and Nora get a surprise that they aren’t thrilled about – their house is full of people partying.
As they enter, a man rushes up to welcome them and take their coats (Harold has the luggage). “It’s a Welcome Home party for Nick and Nora! Better get some Napoleon Brandy; it’s going fast!”
And it’s not just him. No one recognizes them except the staff who are all in the kitchen worn down by the influx. And they think everyone was invited.
Suicide seems a viable option, but then Nora’s cousin Selma (Elissa Landi) calls insisting that they accept Aunt Katherine’s (Jessie Ralph) invitation and come over there for New Year’s Eve.
Naturally there’s a murder and while I was hoping it would be Aunt Battle-ax, it was Selma’s husband Robert (Alan Marshall). Selma quickly becomes the subject of the police investigation, since she knew Robert was cheating with Polly (Dorothy McNulty), a singer at a local night spot. Selma’s former boyfriend David (James Stewart) is also under suspicion because it’s not a secret that he still loves Selma.There are more murders, and Polly’s employers, “Dancer” and Lum Kee (Joseph Calleia and William Law) have motives (the same one). And other household members are suspected: Polly’s brother Phil (Paul Fix) and her physician, Doctor Kammer (George Zucco).
A good solid mystery with comedy, and Asta. And I hope you figure it out because I sure did not. Recommended (love that dog).
From the Story by Dashiell Hammett, Screen Play by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, Directed bt W.S. Van Dyke.

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