Friday, January 27, 2012

But wait…there’s more!

I want to thank everyone who entered Thrilling Days of Yesteryear’s “Burns & Allen Treasury” giveaway, and only wish I had enough of the CD sets to give one to every person who e-mailed an entry (and I would, too, because that’s how I roll).  The winner of the 10-CD set (a $39.98 value) is Ellen E. from Undisclosed Location, North Dakota (Ellen didn’t send me a snail-mail when she entered so I’m guessing at the coordinates) and I will get her prize out as soon as I hear back from her.

To temper the disappointment for those who didn’t win, I’d like to announce another TDOY giveaway—this time, it’s the Radio Spirits release Sergeant Preston of the Yukon: Arctic Odyssey.  An eight CD set containing sixteen broadcasts, this collection is unique in that the episodes included were previously uncirculated and for many listeners, will be the first time they have been available since their original airing.  Paul Sutton stars as the square-jawed, straight-shooting member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who is assisted by his trusty dog King in rounding up the various miscreants, scofflaws and ne’er-do-wells that ran rampant in the Yukon Territory at a time when gold fever was rampant and so were men slightly-less-than-honest.

Sergeant Preston of the Yukon—also known in its early years as Challenge of the Yukon—was sponsored in its half-hour form by Quaker Puffed Wheat and Puffed Rice (“The breakfast cereal shot from guns!”), and because the Quaker people’s mission to was to sell as much cereal as possible they would often offer up premiums to younger listeners: nifty little prizes that could be obtained by mailing in boxtops and a small amount of coinage (usually a dime or a quarter back in those days).  There’s a story arc in this collection that just does that, offering up five totem pole models to coincide with the events on the show…I’d be curious as to whether or not anyone out there still has these totems as a souvenir.

So you know the drill: if you’re interested in a chance to win this set, just drop me an e-mail at igsjrotr(at)gmail(dot) com before 11:59pm next Friday (February 3) and Saturday morning I will draw a winner from what I’m sure will be a bodaciously large stack of entries.  Just make sure you put “Sergeant Preston Giveaway” in the subject header (I thought about using “Arctic Odyssey Giveaway” but that sounds like something that would wind up in my spam e-mailbox) and if you’d rather wait to see if you’re a winner before including a mailing address, that’s fine and dandy with me.  This 8-CD set, which retails at $31.95, comes as a courtesy of my splendiferous working arrangement with Radio Spirits, for which I am truly grateful…and having listened to these shows, I think you’ll be pleased with the end result.  Thrilling Days of Yesteryear—where the winning tradition continues!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Department of Corrections

Peggy, a loyal member of the TDOY faithful, e-mailed me this morning to inform me that she kept getting her “Burns & Allen Treasury” contest entry bounced and the reason for this is because I left out part of the e-mail address to send the entries to.  It’s igsjrotr(at)gmail(dot)com (I stupidly forgot the “otr” part—irony can be very ironic sometimes), so thanks to her for pointing out the error and good luck to everyone who enters (I’ve also corrected the addy in the original post).

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Fabulous prizes…er, prize!

Things have not been dull here at Rancho Yesteryear, despite the erratic posting schedule—I just finished the notes for a Richard Diamond, Private Detective release that will be coming your way via Radio Spirits in the near future, and am also plugging away on another project that I hope I’ll be able to do a little chest-swelling about soon (I’ve mentioned it to a few of the people in my “inner circle,” aka the people who e-mail me from time to time).  Speaking of busting buttons, my Mom fished an Radio Spirits circular out of the mailbox yesterday and noticed that the company has two new releases out that I had a small hand in: a collection of Our Miss Brooks broadcasts that was as fun to write as it was to listen (and is pictured at your left), and a smaller (but just as pretty) set of The Life of Riley.  Both of these classic radio comedies are among my all-time favorites, so sometimes it’s like being paid to attend a party.

The collection pictured on your right is one I did last year for RS (and I had planned to do this earlier but things kept getting in the way); it’s a 10-disc set of twenty broadcasts featuring the immortal comedy team of George Burns & Gracie Allen, with a few of these shows making their compact disc debut for the first time since their original broadcast.  One of my all-time favorite Burns & Allen shows is on this one, a riotous December 4, 1947 outing with Der Bingle as guest star (I referenced this show in a review I did for the 1933 film College Humor back in April 2011), and the two broadcasts featuring Cary Grant are most enjoyable to listen to as well (Grant was a big George & Gracie fan, and once offered to appear on their show without pay…something that I’m sure went over big with his agent).  Among the Hollywood celebrities you can hear in this collection are Brian Donlevy, Ray Milland, Ann Sheridan, Pat O’Brien, Hedy Lamarr (that’s Hedley!), Loretta Young and Ida Lupino.

I say “you can hear” because, yes, I have a set to give away to some lucky member of the Thrilling Days of Yesteryear faithful.  All you need to do is shoot me an e-mail at igsjrotr(at)gmail(dot)com with “Treasury giveaway” in the subject header by 11:59pm next Thursday (January 26) and if you want to include your snail mail address, that’s fine (that allows me to send it out quicker) but if you’d rather not divulge that info until you’re certain you’re the winner that’s fine and dandy as well.  If you desire, you can even compose something in the e-mail along the lines of “I desperately want to win this set, and if I do not I shall throw myself off from the highest turret.”  I will draw a winner Friday morning the 27th using the old reliable random number generator at and send out the prize with all deliberate speed.  The Burns & Allen Treasury CD set (a $39.98 value) would make a nice addition to your OTR library or a nifty gift to the OTR/classic film fan on your list, and I want to thank Radio Spirits for sending this freebie my way.  Thrilling Days of Yesteryear…where the winning tradition continues!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Go west, young critic

Back in 2009, the Western Writers of America composed a list of what its members felt to be the Top 50 boob tube oaters, splitting the tally into two separate countdowns—one for miniseries, and the other for regular shows.  In fact, I composed a post about that very list that expressed how pleased I was with the choices even though I had a tiny nitpick or two.  (I apologize for leaving out the miniseries list; I focused mainly on the other.)

A writer named Roger Catlin over at has put together a list that he calls “TV’s greatest westerns” in one of those slide shows that used to be the specialty of the site’s former TV critic, Matt Zoller Seitz, before he went traipsing off to work for New York Magazine.  I wish Matt nothing but the best, but I also wish he’d reconsider coming back to Salon because despite my tendency to disagree with some of the pieces he put together for them in the past he never came up with anything as mind-boggling asinine as Catlin’s slide show.  Here’s his list of (my emphasis added) TV’s greatest westerns:

 1. Gunsmoke
 2. Deadwood
 3. Lonesome Dove (miniseries)
 4. The Big Valley
 5. McCloud
 6. Firefly
 7. The Wild Wild West
 8. Rawhide
 9. Wanted: Dead or Alive
10. Have Gun – Will Travel

If you haven’t already burst a blood vessel in your brain, you’re probably thinking (as I did) right now—what for the love of Shiloh is Firefly doing on this list?  Firefly was a short-lived science-fiction series that came and went in 2002, the creation of writer-director-producer Joss Whedon, who was also responsible for Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  The show attracted a significant fanboy (and fangirl, judging by some of my Facebook friends) element to live on despite its brief run in the form of a 2005 feature film, Serenity, and a myriad number of comic books, role-playing games, fan fiction, etc.  Catlin writes:

Joss Whedon’s first series after “Buffy” and its spinoffs was this fanciful futuristic space show that he quite explicitly described as a western. That could be seen too in the adventures of the spaceship, led like so many cowboy series, by a pair of soldiers from the recent Civil War (in this case the Unification War,) in which planets banded together to resist the controlling Alliance.

So the show was, in essence, an evocation of Western elements.  Fine and dandy.  But that doesn’t make it a western.  My Facebook compadre Archie Waugh points out that if that is the case, Star Trek would go on this list ahead of Firefly—creator Gene Roddenberry (who cut his teeth writing many an episode for Have Gun – Will Travel) sold that series as “Wagon Train to the stars.”  (Archie also argues that any number of shows—The Rifleman, Kung Fu, Alias Smith and Jones—would be better choices, which I heartily concur.)

The show he lists at #5, McCloud, also contained western elements—cowboy cop, horse, etc.—but it, too, is not a western…it’s a cop show.  I even have a problem with The Wild Wild West ranking so high on this list (and I’m a huge fan of the show) because it’s more of a spy show than western…but at least it takes place in the period in which we generally associate westerns.

Any “greatest TV westerns” list that doesn’t include Bonanza (even though I’m not a fan, it’s still an essential western) or Maverickhe left off Maverick, ferchrissake!—isn’t worth the bandwidth he used to stick this up on the Internets.  I don’t begrudge anyone tallying up such a list, you understand—Catlin puts Wanted: Dead or Alive in his Top 10 and while I think Wanted is a good western I’d hardly call it a great western.  (I think Catlin included it just so he could make a Bon Jovi joke.)  But he would have been a hell of a lot better off if this had been titled “My Favorite TV Westerns.”

At least he got the #1 oater right.  And Brother Edward Copeland can “enter his house justified” that Deadwood is finally getting a little respect.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

“How would you like one ‘cross your lips?”

Forty years ago on this date, NBC premiered Sanford and Son—a sitcom starring legendary nightclub comedian Redd Foxx and stage veteran Demond Wilson as a bickering father-and-son team of junk dealers that became a smash sensation in its first “half-season” despite its “time slot of death” at 8pm on Friday nights (the series ranked #6 in the Nielsens in its freshman start).  The success of the series allowed NBC to establish a beachhead on Fridays, turning the later Chico and the Man into a Top Ten favorite and putting such series as The Rockford Files and Police Woman in the Top 20.

Although Sanford and Son seemed like an unlikely hit at the time, the producers of the program—Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin—had to suspect the show would catch on because of its pedigree: it was an Americanized version of Steptoe and Son, a popular Britcom that had been entertaining U.K. audiences since 1962 (it would be the second success of a British sitcom adaptation for the two men, following Tandem Productions’ All in the Family—known as Till Death Us Do Part across the pond).  I wrote a little tribute to the series that you can read at Edward Copeland on Film…and More, and in revisiting Sanford and Son discovered to my delight that the show still holds up pretty well today.  There are probably more than a few of you who are saying right now “No duh, you big dummy”…but it’s been a while since I’ve seen the series and when I did run across it (I caught it on TVLand once or twice during my hospital stays in March-April 2010, if memory serves) the episode always seemed to be one of the outings from the last two seasons when the show wasn’t quite as good.

I watched a few Sanfords over at in preparation for my Copeland essay, and enjoyed those so much that when I happened to spot the Sanford and Son: The Complete Series box set on sale at for $23.23 I popped that puppy in my shopping cart faster than you can say “I’m comin’ to join ya, Elizabeth!”  (17¢ an episode—it’s a junk man’s dream.)  Had I known that our household would soon be receiving the show as part of our recent acquisition of Antenna TV (which repeats the sitcom at 11pm weeknights) I might have given it a second thought but that’s the great thing about TV-on-DVD—it doesn’t have to conform to any schedule.

Friday, January 13, 2012

It’s a most unusual day

I know today is Friday the 13th, but it’s actually turning out to be one of those days when the Cable Gods are smiling down upon my ‘umble existence here at Rancho Yesteryear.  Let me see if I can explain why in a few short sent…oh, hell—you should probably know by now it’s never going to be a few short sentences…

Last night, I turned on the TV set in my bedroom shortly before eight o’clock because Thursday evenings offer up my boob tube favorites: Parks & Recreation, The Office…and I would have Community on this list except NBC has for the time being assigned it to that frustrating television limbo known as “hiatus” in order to put 30 Rock back on the schedule.  (I also like Up All Night, despite what majorly important TV critics say.)  But the channel I had watched when the set was last on was the digital feed of MSNBC, and I noticed when the set came on that all that was left of the Lean Forward people was a blue screen with a “No Signal” box floating around in all its blue-osity.

This is generally a sign that our cable company, CharredHer Communications, has done a shuffle of their channel line-up and the last time this happened I thought (briefly) that I had lost my fiancée, Me-TV.  So I went ahead and reprogrammed the set, and when I was finished noticed that many of the digital channel versions of some of the stations I watch had vanished…which was a small disappointment.  However, since Me-TV was still intact I didn’t get too worked up about this.

This morning, I started surfing the new channels and came across Seems Like Old Times (1980) on one of them…and since I had nothing else to do at that time, watched a bit of it until the station break.  It was at that time that I was informed I was watching…wait for it

Antenna TV!

(Heavenly chorus)

I know what you’re saying/thinking right now:  “It takes so little to make him happy.”  And you would be right, though I’d be in a much better humor if you removed a little of the sarcasm from that remark.  But the addition of Antenna TV to our Athens environs (courtesy of WATL in Atlanta) can only be a good thing, because now I have access to such TV chestnuts as Bachelor Father, Father Knows Best, Gidget, Hazel, The Flying Nun (touché, Ms. Driscoll!), The Monkees, The Partridge Family, Burns and Allen, Jack Benny and so many more.  With great TV comes great responsibility, however…I’m fearful I may never emerge from my bedroom again.

CharredHer Cable is a completely evil entity (in league with the USPS, by the way) but every now and then they do something worthwhile…and they’ve come a long way from RTV, which we no longer get but that I also no longer miss (CharredHer in Athens doesn’t carry the RTV affiliate in our area, WYGA).  I welcomed Antenna TV on Facebook this morning, and this is the response I received:

Thursday, January 12, 2012

We’re registered at Kohl’s…

On Facebook today, my pretend girlfriend Me-TV rolled out a brand new promo for The Second Greatest Cable Channel Known to Mankind™ (and if Rick Brooks thinks he’s getting a piece of that action, he’s out of his tree):

I was so taken with this that I finally got up the nerve to propose in the Facebook comments.  I didn’t get a definite yes, but the response was encouraging:

(You may have to click to embiggen.)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Let us now praise the carpenter

You may remember reading in an earlier post that one of the gifts I received for Christmas was the DVD collection I’m Dickens…He’s Fenster: Volume 1, a 3-disc set containing the first sixteen episodes of the ABC situation comedy that lasted a solitary season from 1962-63.  Created and produced by Honeymooners/Phil Silvers Show scribe Leonard Stern, who would later have a hand in such later shows as Get Smart, He & She and McMillan and Wife, the series starred John Astin (Dickens) and Marty Ingels (Fenster) as a pair of enthusiastic (if sometimes inept) handymen who were bosom buddies despite their disparate lifestyles: Arch Fenster was a carefree and somewhat irresponsible bachelor, with pal Harry Dickens the more stable (if a bit insecure) married man, lawfully wedded to supportive spouse Kate (Emmaline Henry).

I’ve talked about the show on the blog before, how I was looking forward to the release after having previously enjoyed sampling it through my nefarious bootleg connections.  The Volume 1 set was mailed out to interested parties in the early part of December (provided you purchased the collection directly from the website) in advance of its official April 10th date, and those who jumped on the special deal also got a bonus in an autographed postcard from one of five performers who had appeared on the show (I scored one with Lee Meriwether) in addition to getting a credit when Volume 2 (the final sixteen episodes) is released as a “co-architect.”  I’m sure I don’t have to remind you of my irritation with split-season DVD collections but I find it hard to be angry at this one (“Stay not mad!” as Stacia would say) because of the bodacious extras…including commentaries from creator Stern, cast members Astin, Ingels and Dave “Agent 13” Ketchum and guest stars Meriwether and Yvonne “Batgirl” Craig (Chris Korman, son of Harvey, also offers some insights on an episode his pop had a part in, “The Acting Game”).

Of the episodes of Dickens…Fenster that I’ve watched so far, my favorite is probably “The Joke”…and I consider it my favorite possibly because it would be the episode that I’d show to someone who’d never seen the series.  I talked about the episode in this January 2008 post but a few of the other outings on this collection that I deeply enjoy are “The Double Life of Mel Warshaw” (Harry, Arch and their pals attempt to fix up a dilapidated cabin), “Harry, the Father Image” (which includes a falling-down funny scene that has Astin having to cope with a sudden influx of Ingels’ girlfriends as he tries to keep them from meeting Marty’s fiancée, played by Ellen [McRae] Burstyn) and “Here’s to the Three of Us” (Astin executes similar laughs as he rushes around his house hiding party food, keeping Ingels from learning about a shindig to which he’s not been invited).  “How Not to Succeed in Business” is also a pip; the highlight is a riotous scene where Harry and Arch, striking out on their own and inviting potential clients to dinner, get stuck with a check they cannot pay.

Of special interest to OTR fans is an episode “Party, Party, Who’s Got the Party?” which was penned by Ray Singer and Dick Chevillat, the two men who wrote the wonderful Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show.  The episode begins with some hilarious physical comedy in a restaurant as Astin’s Harry is explaining the plot of Big Deal on Madonna Street to Ingels’ Fenster and Ketchum’s Warshaw…but Harry keeps getting interrupted as a result of his being seated too close to the door to the kitchen, much to the amusement of another co-worker, Bob Mulligan (played the great Henry Beckman).  Harry’s irritation can clearly be detected in this exchange with his pal Arch:

ARCH: Saturday night…I think I’m due at somebody’s house for dinner…
HARRY: You’re always due at somebody’s house for dinner…
ARCH: Well, what’s that supposed to mean?
HARRY: Just what I said…
ARCH: You’re mad at Mulligan and that door and you’re takin’ it out on me…I’m no moocher!  If I’m not due for dinner, I don’t go…
HARRY: If you’re not due for dinner you don’t eat
ARCH: Oh yeah?
HARRY: Yeah!
MEL: Hey, you guys…if I wanted to hear a fight, I’d eat at home

Harry explains to Arch that he has social obligations to meet—that he should repay the people who’ve had him over to dine over the years, so Arch decides to throw a big “roof raiser” and invite everyone to whom he’s duty-bound, including Harry and wife Kate since they’ve had him over the most times.  (Also since he’s throwing the shindig at their house.)  In making the menu arrangements, Arch has to prune his list of guests to accommodate the caterer he’s hiring…and when he insists on inviting co-worker Mulligan, Harry puts his foot down—if the obnoxious Mulligan is going to be in attendance, no party.  Arch compensates for this by asking Mulligan if the party can be hosted at his house, and Harry parries by planning a gala for the same night; he even has the inspiration to invite their boss, Myron Bannister (the hilariously deadpan Frank DeVol), to insure everyone that works with them comes.  But Arch gets to Bannister first, and so Harry and Kate spend their Saturday night alone in pajamas playing gin until Arch comes by to plead with his friend to reconsider coming.  After some initial reluctance, Harry agrees and while Kate is getting dressed Arch introduces Harry to his date…Mulligan’s cousin.

ARLENE: You know, I’m awfully glad you’re coming to my cousin’s party…
HARRY: Well, I’m…I’m happy to count Bob Mulligan among my closest, at work and at play…
ARLENE: Oh, he’s very fond of you, too…
ARLENE: Yes, he’s always talking about you…the fun you two used to have together…playing cards, hunting, bowling…
HARRY (interrupting): Excuse me…he told you about the hunting trip?
ARLENE (laughing): Funniest story I ever heard…you and that moose…I know it by heart; he tells it every time he comes to Cleveland
(A look of terror can be seen on Harry’s face as Arch tries to warn his date off the subject…)
HARRY: They know about me and the moose in Cleveland?
ARLENE: Oh, yes!  And say…I meant to ask you something, Mr. Dickens…that time in the woods when you…
ARCH (interrupting): Arlene, I think we’d better go… (Rising off the couch) Harry, I’ll meet you at the party…
HARRY: Now wait a minute!  I want to hear this…what was your question, Arlene?
ARLENE: When you were swimming in that lake…and you hung your pants and shirt on what you thought was a branch of a tree (Arch buries his face in his hands as Arlene laughs)…did you really have to chase that moose three miles up a mountain just to get your clothes back?

Harry becomes furious once again, and changes his mind about going to the party (Arch: “There’ll be one empty place…”  Harry: “Invite the moose!”) just as Kate emerges from the bedroom, dressed and ready to go.  The Dickenses resume their gin game, and Arch soon returns—this time with Mulligan, who apologizes for being an asshat and laughing at Harry’s various predicaments, promising to be the picture of sobriety.  So Harry agrees to let bygones be bygones and while Kate returns to the bedroom to resume gussying up, Harry demonstrates to Arch and Mulligan how he puts on a tight cummerbund.   The article of clothing goes sailing out the window once Harry exhales and Mulligan is helpless with laughter.  That’s what leads to the camel being buried in a straw stack, only this time Arch insists he’s not returning to the party because he, too, has been insulted by the way Mulligan has treated his friend.  As a wrap-up, Harry dreads explaining to Kate that they are definitely not going to the party but she’s one step ahead of them…removing her wrap, she reveals underneath that she’s still in her housecoat.

The Dickens…Fenster set closes out with the hysterically funny “The Godfathers,” in which co-worker Mel is about to become a father…for the eleventh time…and Harry and Arch agree to baby-sit for his brood while his wife is delivering.  There’s some first-rate slapstick and sight gags in this one, my favorite has our heroes gathering up milk bottles for the milkman and the two of them go back and forth carrying multiple containers, culminating with Harry’s dragging of a milk urn to the door.  (Arch takes out a pad of paper and pencil to leave the man a note: “Please leave one cow.”)  Astin does some uproarious physical comedy in this outing, including falling over not just one but two skates and getting trapped in a converted bed.  I like how even though Astin’s character was considered the more sensible of the two he carries most of the slapstick…but I’ve also developed a new appreciation for his acting talent (he’s always been a favorite since my macabre childhood days staring at The Addams Family) because I get the impression that despite their exemplary chemistry he and Ingels never really got along on the show (and yet the only way you’d know this is by listening to Ingels’s audio commentary on “Harry, the Father Image”).

Among the bonuses on this set include a moving tribute to creator Stern, who left this world for a better one in mid-project…I’m hoping that the creative minds behind Volume 2 have something similar planned for Stern’s collaborator Mel Tolkin, who served as story editor and co-wrote many of the episodes (also working alongside the great Don Hinkley).  There’s also an amusing Ivory Soap commercial featuring Astin, Ingels and Henry as their characters, mot to mention a promo (which unfortunately doesn’t have the same video quality of the Ivory ad, but you do what you can with the tools you have) announcing the show’s premiere on ABC.  But above and beyond all that, there are sixteen half-hours of a show that was sadly canceled before its time; a marvelous blend of physical and verbal comedy that thankfully will see its second volume released soon.  Here’s a short preview of an episode I have not seen (it sounds hilarious—I like how Emmaline’s closing line in this clip reminds me of that current McDonald’s commercial), “Table Tennis, Anyone?”:

Monday, January 2, 2012

Guest Review: After the Thin Man (1936)

By Philip Schweier

Allow me to say up front that this review is spoiler-filled, so if you’d rather not have the movie ending ruined for you, it’s best to move along. I normally don’t do that, being a mystery fan myself, but in this instance, I’m taking my cue from the filmmakers themselves, who show little regard for us armchair detectives.

For those who may not recall, the climax of The Thin Man (1934) took place over Christmas, and ended with Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell and Myrna Loy) bound for home. Its sequel begins with their arrival in San Francisco the morning of New Year’s Eve, where Mr. And Mrs. Charles (and Asta) encounter a number of Nick’s pals – guys with names like Fingers and Lefty. Later, when they pass another open touring car, Nora acknowledges another couple, explaining to her husband, “You wouldn’t know them. They’re respectable.”

Well, respectable and high society don’t necessarily go hand in hand, as we learn from Selma Landis (Elissa Landi), Nora’s cousin. Her philandering husband Robert (Alan Marshal) has been on a bender, drinking and whoring his way along the Barbary Coast. Everyone tells her to dump the S.O.B., especially David Graham (James Stewart; yes, that James Stewart), who’s been carrying the torch for Selma for years.

Robert, for reasons that aren’t fully explained, decides it’s time he blew town, accompanied by his latest a fling, Polly Byrnes (Penny Singleton), a nightclub floozy. For $25,000 from David, Robert agrees to give Selma the divorce everyone wants her to have, allowing David free reign to mend her broken heart. However, as the clock strikes midnight, Robert receives a kiss from a .45, by persons unknown. David, devoted to the now widow Mrs. Landis, steps in to protect her from the eventual suspicion that she bumped off her husband.

The murder mystery is simple enough, but the writing of the movie sparkles, as we are introduced to Nora’s aristocratic family. To say her Aunt Katherine (Jessie Ralph) has Victorian sensibilities is kinder than the old broad deserves. While the family looks upon “poor Nora’s” marriage to Nick with extreme pity, Nick is eager to trade barbed comments with anyone who cares to stand in the way of his low opinion of high society. Meanwhile, Nora charms Nick’s less-than-reputable pals – except for one who shall remain nameless.

Nick refuses to get involved in the case, but nevertheless finds himself doing a little digging at Nora’s behest. As the case wraps up, Nick gathers all the suspects at Polly’s apartment, revealing that Polly and her no-goodnik brother (Paul Fix) had their hooks into Robert pretty good. It is also demonstrated the suspected murderer has been eavesdropping on the woman, and what follows is an eventual finger pointed at David.

Killing the louse provided him not only with the opportunity to get even for stealing his girl, but also lay the murder at Selma’s doorstep. It seems David never truly forgave Selma for throwing him over for Robert. Stewart presents a David Graham whose raging jealousy has driven him to the edge of madness, playing against type for the future star.

But what steers the fickle hand of justice in his direction to begin with is he seems privy to information that is revealed in a photograph. Nick Charles, as the detective, has the opportunity to see the photo, but it is never shared with the audience until the very end, denying us viewers a critical clue that would help us solve the mystery.

Screenwriters Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett and director W.S. Van Dyke capitalize on the growing chemistry between Powell and Loy, who are at the top of their game in wit and wonder. In this second installment of the Thin Man series, all the contributors have refined their parts to perfection, offering what I feel is the strongest entry in the entire series.

As for beloved James Stewart turning out to be the murderer, well, he can’t always play the lovable schlemiel George Bailey. After the Christmas treat that is It’s a Wonderful Life, it’s nice to see him spend his New Years exacting a little revenge on the cruel, cruel world.