Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Very Best Christmas Movie: The Thin Man!

Much of the sparkle and fun of Christmas is for children, even after Santa fades into parents.

But one great bauble for grown-up holiday spirits is the 1934 film The Thin Man. I don’t know why it isn’t on best Christmas movie lists across the land.

The oddly non-eponymous series (the Thin Man was actually the victim Clyde Wynant, not Nick Charles) began with this first of the six films, set during the holidays. Nick and Nora Charles are pulled into solving a mystery, but their real talent is throwing a Christmas Eve party in their hotel room---is there anything more glamorous than the rich staying in a hotel suite over the holidays, complete with a Christmas tree?

Nicky’s old crime buddies hear he is town and stop by. The suavest of hosts, Nick glides around the room with a tray or martinis offering his guests “Ammunition.”

Nick: Do you want a drink?                          
Guest: No, I’m okay
Nick: Oh, that’s a mistake

 As the murder plot thickens, "Jingle Bells" is in the background, the gang sings a blurry “O Christmas Tree,” and Nora, in a chic dress with a candy-cane motif, calls down to the concierge to send up sandwiches for everyone.

After the party a thug comes by with a gun and Nick is grazed by a bullet. Scene up, Christmas morning. The Charles’s have opened their gifts. Nora is sitting in her new mink coat, Nick is recuperating on the couch, playing with his air gun, firing at the balloons on the Christmas tree. Their banter sparkles amid the gift wrappings. It’s a lovely scene.

Surely Nick and Nora Charles should be seen as much a part of the cinematic fabric of Christmas as that Bailey clan.


Ross Ruediger said...

Never even occurred to me to think of this as a X-Mas flick. Thanks Peel - now I've got something else to watch over the next couple days. This is where that hefty box set will come in mighty handy.

M.A.Peel said...

Hey Ross, glad to add to your holiday movie watching.

Of course it's all just time vamping until "The End of Time."

scribbler50 said...

Not only watched this over the holidays but DVR'd the entire Nick and Nora marathon... what a treat! Talk about Christmas cheer, I haven't see that much drinking... (save for Mad Men)... since my last day on the job.

A belated Happy and Merry...
"The Hathaway Man"

Della said...

M.A., I love the Thin Man movies! Dave's friend who is an anthropologist in the Aleutians introduced us to them years ago and they had faded into memory for me. Thanks for the reminder! I hope you find your Christmas cheer, my friend!

M.A.Peel said...

Del, not many people can so blithely put "Aleutian Islands" and "The Thin Man" movies in the same breath! Merry Christmas to everyone up there.

Della said...

We're nothing if not eclectic here in the far North!