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We found a table. It is almost impossible for me to separate the book from the movies. When I decided to reread this classic that spawned six great movies, Nick Charles was of course William Powell, and Nora We found a table.
Those actors are forever Nick and Nora for me. The book is famous for the witty exchanges between Nora and Nick, but the book is somewhat overshadowed by the wonderful repartee between Powell and Loy over the course of the six movies. I have a six month old Scottish Terrier, whose name is Astra after the state motto of Kansas, ad astra per aspera.
Astra in Latin means stars. For those who know us and how much we love The Thin Man movies, they always assume that it is also a nod to Asta There are usually some light hearted moments with Asta in every movie where they are chasing him around the room trying to retrieve a vital clue from between his jaws or other scenes where he is just doing something terminally adorable that brings a bit more lightheartedness to the script.
Hellman and Hammett fought like Siamese Fighting Fish. The fights that Nick and Nora get into are playful, funny, and foreplay that provides Nick with an opportunity to grab Nora and plant a kiss on her that will shake her fillings. Hardboiled mystery writers seem to focus on characters as singular individuals. Nick and Nora are best together, and as the investigation in the story moves forward, they seem a bit unmoored when they are apart.
They drink heavily, mirroring the Hellman and Hammett relationship in that aspect. So the way the stories go in the book and the movies is that invariably Nora drags Nick into an investigation. He reluctantly agrees to see what he can do, which is to cleverly solve the crime and wrap up the criminals for the bungling cops to haul off to jail.
In this book, he is investigating the murder of a mistress of the mad scientist Clyde Wynant, and in the course of his investigation, he and Nora have to contend with the whole Wynant clan, each as loony as the next.
The ex-wife Mimi is a real piece of work, a combination of curves and cunning. She tries to use both assets on Nick, and needless to say, things get out of hand. My, my goodness sakes, Nora. Do you kiss Nick with that mouth? Why yes, she does. If you take a drink every time Nick orders an alcoholic beverage, you will be plowed by the time you get 30 pages into the book or thirty minutes into the movie.
It might also be the key to why he stuck with Hellman so long. She was a heavy drinker too, and as happens sometimes, couples bond over drinking. Their drinking escalates with dual encouragement, and they become caught in a cycle of maladaptive drinking.
They can leave a city at the drop of the hat and go to any other city in the world. Money is not an issue, and time is something they have in abundance. They are about as free as two people can ever hope to be. Oh, and they are hopelessly, head over heels in love with one another. Freedom, plenty of money, and someone who loves us, what more could anyone wish for? I highly recommend the book and the movies paired with a few vodka martinis shaken not stirred.
El hombre delgado – Dashiell Hammett
El hombre delgado