The Thin Man
If you're a Philistine and have somehow not seen this delightful classic, this 1934 film directed by W.S. Van Dyke (and based on Dashiell Hammett's novel) gave the world its introduction to the greatest of all screen couples, William Powell and Myrna Loy as the intrepid and clever detective duo, Nick and Nora Charles. Nick is retired from his line of work at the beginning of the film, but when a friend disappears, he's pulled back into being a private eye.
A murder mystery may be the set up for the film, but it's hardly a dark or dour film, quite the opposite in fact. This is a snappy, sassy film that revels in its love of playful banter paddled back and forth between Loy and Powell like a game of verbal ping pong.
It's a bit of a bold statement, perhaps, calling Loy and Powell the greatest of screen couples considering how many truly great pairings exist, but no other couple has the same spark, the same energy, the same sense of history that these two project.
What really stood out to me on my most recent revisit of the film is something that you don't really see very often in screen couples. Nick and Nora really seem to love each other. Nick is simply madly in love with his wife and Nora is just crazy about him. Such love and affection is what makes the playfulness and energy feel that much more impactful.
This is a perfect movie. You simply can't ask for a better couple or dialogue or…anything, really. Plus, Asta. I defy you to find a better dog in any movie ever made. You can't do it.
— Stewart Smith
Or in the dinner scene when Nora says, “Waiter, will you serve the nuts? I mean, will you serve the guests the nuts?”
Then Nick says, “The murderer is right in this room, sitting at this table. You may now serve the fish.”
It's difficult to see what they eat in the movie but one thing is sure there are lots of martinis and you most definitely need to serve the nuts.
Christmas Martini Punch
- 15 clementine oranges
- 2 cups orange-flavored vodka or plain vodka
- 3 cups cranberry juice
- 8 strips or curls of orange peel
Peel three of the oranges and set the sections on a plate lined with wax paper. Place in the freezer. Cut some of the orange peel into thin strips or curls to use as garnish. With the remaining clementines cut them in half and juice them. Strain the juice into a large pitcher. Pour in the vodka and cranberry juice. Stir to combine. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. When the clementine sections are frozen and you are ready to serve add ice to a cocktail shaker and add some of the martini mixture to the shaker. Shake until the shaker is frosty on the outside. Strain into martini glasses. Garnish with a strip of orange peel and a couple of frozen clementine sections. Note: Instead of clementines you can use a 15 ounce can of Mandarin oranges. Use the liquid from the can as your juice and freeze the mandarin sections as your garnish.
Recipe by Christine Gardner
Warm Mixed Nuts
- 5 cups mixed nuts, such as walnuts, cashews, almonds, pecans, and hazelnuts t tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 small shallots, thinly sliced crosswise into rings to yield about 1/4 cup
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced lengthwise
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon firmly packed dark-brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon coarse salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the nuts in a single layer on 2 rimmed baking sheets. Toast until the nuts are golden and fragrant, 8 to 12 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through cooking. Transfer the nuts to a large bowl, and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic; fry until golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the shallots and garlic to paper towels. Set aside. Melt the butter and pour it over the nuts. Add the rosemary, cayenne, brown sugar, and salt, and stir well to combine. Toss in the crispy garlic and shallots. Serve warm. The nuts may be reheated in a 300-degree oven for 10 minutes.
Recipe from Martha Stewart's Hors d'Oeuvres Handbook