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Film: The Thin Man
Director: W.S. Van Dyke
Performers: William Powell, Myrna Loy, Skippy (Asta the Dog)
Breed featured: Wire Fox Terrier
Production information: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1934 (USA)

This Dashiell Hammett murder mystery classic did not, in my opinion, transfer well to the filmic medium, nor does it endure the test of time. I’m far less charmed by the witty repartee of Nick and Nora Charles, the glamorous detective couple, than the antics of their Wire Fox Terrier, Asta.

“Asta, you’re not a terrier, you’re a police dog!”

Thankfully, he gets a decent amount of screen time, punctuating the otherwise stuffy, ponderous script with moments of puppy levity. The most notable action scene in this film is mere seconds in length. On Christmas morning, Asta plays with a balloon which suddenly pops, causing the terrier to scramble and reel back in surprise.

A totally spontaneous, attractive scene.

Alas, Asta the dog provides more vivacity than all the other characters combined. I’m not willing to mine the rest of the series for such precious few gems. I suppose I’m curious about the others that were filmed locally (specifically, Shadow of the Thin Man from 1941). But honestly, there are hundreds of other titles ahead in the queue. Maybe someone who’s a bigger fan than I would be willing to write a dog-centric review of the rest?

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