July 29, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT

EW reviews ”The Complete Thin Man”

Until William Powell and Myrna Loy swanned in as husband and wife Nick and Nora Charles of the Thin Man mystery-comedy series, ”marriage was something that movie characters were trying to get into or get out of,” notes Kathleen Turner in a supplemental doc on Loy. ”Nick and Nora showed there could be life within marriage.” Few Mr.-and-Mrs. teams have twinkled so effervescently on screen. Nick’s a detective who solves murders and swigs martinis, while heiress Nora helps with the legwork and cracks wise. (Meanwhile, pet terrier Asta provides Oscar-caliber supporting work.) Powell and Loy’s irrefutable chemistry is the stuff of history: Besides these, they made eight other films, a screen-pair record. None is better than the first Thin Man, an irreverent classic (they drink a lot) that still draws belly laughs. It was a bad idea to amp up the mystery and roll back the booze in five increasingly formulaic sequels, but this set — which includes MGM shorts, cartoons, trailers, radio shows, docs on the stars (though not for Asta — woof!), and a bizarre 1958 TV adaptation with Peter Lawford — makes an unbeatably classy wedding gift. Thin Man: A
After the Thin Man: A-
Another Thin Man: B+
Shadow of the Thin Man, The Thin Man Goes Home: B
Song of the Thin Man: B-

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