Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Thin Man

You may not think of "The Thin Man" in terms of Christmas.
You'd be surprised!
This classic movie with William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles starts in New York in late October and picks up just before Christmas!
They spend so much screen time around it that they even have a joke with their dog, Asta, getting . . . shall we say chummy? . . . with the tree while Nora is decorating it!
One of Miss Maven's favorite scenes is Christmas morning when Nick is enjoying his new air rifle as they discuss the mystery of "The Thin Man."
Part of the charm of the scene, of the whole series, lies in the working relationship between Loy and Powell as she describes in her autobiography, "Knowing and Becoming" (with James Kotsilibas-Davis, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1987, pages 88 - 89):
I played differently with Bill. He was so naturally witty and outrageous that I stayed somewhat detached, always a little incredulous. From that very first scene, a curious thing passed between us, a feeling of rhythm, complete understanding, in instinct for how one could bring out the best in the other. In all our work together you can see that strange--I don't know what . . . a kind of rapport. It wasn't conscious. If you heard us talking in a room, you'd hear the same thing. He'd tease me a little and a kind of blending emerged that seemed to please people. Whatever caused it, though, it was magical, and Woody Van Dyke brought it to fruition in our next picture--perhaps the best remembered of my hundred and twenty-four features. . . .
What other director would introduce his leading lady with a perfect three-point landing on a barroom floor--even if it was the Ritz bar? I was supposed to stroll in looking very chic, laded down with packages and leading Asta on a leash. "Can you fall?" Woody asked. "Do you know how to do a fall?" I said, "I've never worked for Mack Sennett, but I'm a dancer. I think I can do it." I would have done anything for Woody, because I was devoted to him. "You just trip yourself," he explained, "and then go right down."
He put a camera on the floor, a mark where he wanted me to land, and we shot it without any rehearsal. I must have been crazy. I could have killed myself, but my dance training paid off. I dashed in with Asta, and all those packages, tripped myself, went down, slid across the floor, and hit the mark with my chin. It was absolutely incredible!
(Courtesy of www.iloveasta.com)
Just as incredible as the talents of Myrna Loy, William Powell, Woody Van Dyke and everybody else involved in "The Thin Man" . . . and that includes Asta, who has his very own website!!
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