William Powell (Nick Charles) and Myrna Loy (Nora Charles) starred in a series of six immensely-popular “Thin Man” movies in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Number 5 in the series, “The Thin Man Goes Home”, features a train ride to “Sycamore Springs” during World War 2. Although mostly filmed on sets, the train-factor is good taking up the first 15 minutes of the picture.
To complicate matters, the couple attempt to smuggle their dog Asta aboard rather than crate him to destination in the baggage car. Or so they try…
No locomotives seen in this film, although we hear whistles and bells in the background. Let’s see what train travel was like (okay, maybe a tad exaggerated) during the hustle and bustle of the Second World War.
Once onboard, the movie pokes fun at the overcrowded conditions on train travel. Nick and Nora are actually sitting on the armrests of a day coach. This referenced a popular Is-Your-Trip-Necessary? poster at the time.
Impressive station set meant to resemble either Grand Central or Pennsylvania in New York City; A smirking Nick explains to Nora how he’s gonna smuggle Asta onboard inside his coat; Scene-stealer Asta ready to go; At the ticket counter forking over the cash for coach tickets.
As Asta yanks on the leash, Powell (or at least his stunt double) takes an enormous pratfall; Seated on his rear, Nick explains to a station cop that no, he isn’t drunk.
Once on board, things are overcrowded to say the least. Now perched on an armrest, Nick pours Nora some “cider” from his enormous hip flask.
A running gag throughout the Thin Man movies is that Nick and Nora are big drinkers, but in “Goes Home” Nick states he has replaced his booze with cider for the duration (for the War effort?). How boring…
Tickets, please!; Nick solemnly hands over the ducats; The conductor spots Asta’s tail wagging and sends the couple to the baggage car to ride there.
On his way forward, a mother hands Nick a bottle with instructions to have the dining car staff warm it to the proper temperature; Nora expresses her dismay at Nick’s new drinking problem.
Two of the passenger car names visible are DESDEMONA and WILLA WANNA. The former is a character in the Shakespeare play, “Othello” and the latter is just a nonsense name — perhaps a take off on Walla Walla.
Once through the crowded vestibule, Nick & Nora confront a hallway completely stuffed with humanity.
Getting by is quite chummy and the situation is made more dire by the appearance of an enormous fellow coming the other way.
Nora explains to the man that she’s a mother (Nick produces the bottle) and needs to reach the diner. Gallant chap that he is, Mr. Big reverses course and plows a path for the Charles couple to get through.
As Nora and Nick settle in for the remainder of their journey, various livestock in the baggage car harass poor Asta who finally retreats behind a milk can. The box behind Asta is marked for General Delivery to someplace in New Hampshire.
As they near Sycamore Springs, Nick points out the windmill where he grew up — Nora humors him.
The baggage man chats up the couple as they pull into the depot.
Only one forlorn character is on hand to greet their arrival, Crazy Mary (played by Anne Revere). The Charles’ alight from the baggage car as cargo is unloaded behind them.
I think this scene was filmed on a studio lot using ancient truss-rod equipment. Check all those rivets!
As the train pulls out, Nick remembers the bottle and hands it off to the bemused porter in the gangway.
Yelling heating instructions at the porter and making silly faces, prompt Crazy Mary to explain to Nora that “…around here we call him Crazy Nick”.
While Powell hams it up, we get a good look at the old passenger car trucks and heavyweight steel-sheathed coaches.
The depot scenes conclude the train bits, so I’ll just end my review here. The rest of the movie is an enjoyable murder who-done-it making this film worth an evening’s entertainment…with suitable adult beverages, of course.
Here’s what IMDb has to say about The Thin Man Goes Home:
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