Monday, November 8, 2010

Nothing cures a cold like The Thin Man

Okay, I'll admit it. I'm sick. Sick-as-a-dog. Queen Teen has been sick for a week and I've busily been caring for her while guzzling tea and sucking down Vitamin C and D to hold back my own stuffy nose and sore throat. For a while it looked like I had fought off the bug, but on Saturday it knocked me flat on my ass like a germ-infested Sumo wrestler. Queen Teen went back to school today, still a little stuffy, but in good spirits and fever free. I climbed into bed with a box of tissues, the portable DVD player and a stack of old movies.

I am a 1930's and 40's movie fanatic. My favorite movie of all time is The Thin Man (1934), followed in close second by The Thin Man Returns (1936) with Myrna Loy and William Powell.

Originally a book by Dashiel Hammet, the Thin Man is a comedic, mystery movie featuring husband and wife crime fighting duo, Nick and Nora Charles. Nick Charles is a former P.I. with a love for alcohol and a reputation for solving the unsolvable. After marrying his heiress wife, Nora, he gives up fighting crime and instead pursues the perfect cocktail. But Nora won't let him retire. When an old aquantance disappears, Nora badgers him to take the case. Nick reluctantly gets pulled in by the police and the missing man's family.  Eventually he solves the mystery, effectively coming out of retirement, even though he continues to deny wanting to be a detective again. Nora is thrilled by the excitement of solving mysteries and lends a hand whenever she can, or when her husband is unable to stop her. 

But it isn't the mystery that makes this series of films so memorable. It is the quick wit and hilarity of the characters, Nick and Nora.

Nora: Take care of yourself
Nick: Why, sure I will.
Nora: Don't say it like that! Say it as if you meant it!
Nick: Well, I do believe the little woman cares.
Nora: I don't care! It's just that I'm used to you, that's all.

Nick: I'm a hero. I was shot twice in the Tribune.
Nora: I read where you were shot 5 times in the tabloids.
Nick: It's not true. He didn't come anywhere near my tabloids.

Nick: The important thing is the rhythm. Always have rhythm in your shaking. Now a Manhattan you shake to fox-trot time, a Bronx to two-step time, a dry martini you always shake to waltz time. 

Besides being a brilliant detective, Nick is an alcoholic. If he isn't drinking, he's looking for a drink. Some people may find the constant reference to alcohol and drinking offensive, but in the context of the time period, it's hysterical. Remember, The Thin Man was made only one year after prohibition ended, so alcohol had just returned to the main stream and being a drunk was considered funny.

Nora is that rare 1930's movie wife who is beautiful, funny, adventurous and smart. She keeps up with Nick's wit and drinking, and their chemistry together is what really makes The Thin Man a classic. It isn't the mystery that keeps us hooked, it is the romantic relationship of Nick and Nora. 


leah said...

My mom LOVES old movies (I'm a big sci-fi geek). I'll have to suggest this one to her- she loves nothing more than to cuddle up with her DVD player and watch old flicks!

Anonymous said...

That was a fun interlude, but sorry you had to get sick to share it. I get glimpses of old movies on my Mom's tv (too, leah). The last one was really funny, too - 2 old maid aunts (to the protagonist) who killed people (their mission) and buried them in the basement. I think Cary Grant was the star.

Also, thanks for your blogroll - tells me when Princess Abigail has made a recent appearance.

Terena said...

That would be Arsenic and Old Lace, which does indeed star Cary Grant. I'll have to review that one some time soon. I watched it on Halloween.

rebecca said...

dear very busy soul...
come, it is friday and we are haiku-ing hearts.
you have certainly touched mine.
it is lovely...and it's every friday.

Anonymous said...

rebecca reminded me to offer this:
She does haiku Fridays, too.

Sarcastic Bastard said...

Never saw this one. I'll see if I can catch it.

Love you. Hope you are feeling better.