When THE STORM OF THE CENTURY blew into town yesterday afternoon, I was a little worried we wouldn’t be able to get to the library before it closed and we’d have to postpone our Nick and Nora weekend until next Friday. But no! My Darling B’s winter driving skills prevailed against the snow and slush and idiot drivers and she picked me up from work at just ten past five, plenty of time for us to swing by the library and pick up the movies we had on hold.
We decided to watch the movies in order, so B reserved The Thin Man and After the Thin Man to start off our little film festival. I have to credit B with the idea for a Nick and Nora weekend. We were talking about how so many different kinds of cocktails originated during Prohibition, then we got to talking about how much people used to drink back then, and that naturally led to Nick and Nora. If you’ve seen just five minutes of any Nick and Nora movie, you know why.
It would only be natural to have a cocktail instead of popcorn during the movie, but after talking it over we opted to wait until Nick and Nora had their first drink. It happened seven minutes into the movie, when William Powell made his appearance. He was lecturing the bartenders in a ritzy hotel dining room on the finer points of how to properly mix a martini. I paused the movie while B whipped up a pair of perfect martinis (gin w/sweet and dry vermouth). Good thing she put the Hendrick’s in the fridge before dinner.
Before we even reserved the movies, we realized it would be impossible to match Nick and Nora drink for drink from beginning to end of the film, and stopped at just the one opening drink. If we’d tried to keep up, we would’ve been under the table before the end of the first scene, when they each drank six martinis. You could count on one hand the number of scenes Nick appeared in while he wasn’t drinking, even if you’d lost a finger or two. Halfway through the second act, he gets out of bed to mix himself a highball. That’s how dedicated he was to the pursuit of drinking all the gin in the world.
Besides all the drinking, The Thin Man is notable for featuring a detective who does very little detecting. None, actually. Nick spends just about all of the movie telling everybody else in it that he doesn’t know anything about the murders that take place and doesn’t want to. In the one scene where he goes creeping around in a dark warehouse, looking for clues, he doesn’t find the most important one. Asta, his dog, finds it for him. He just digs it up. Amazingly, he doesn’t take a pull off a hip flask afterwards.