nick and nora and the thin man

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I was leaning against the bar in a speakeasy on Fifty-second Street, waiting for Nora to finish her Christmas shopping, when a girl got up from the table where she had been sitting with three other people and came over to me. She was small and blonde, and wether you looked at her face or at her body in powder-blue sports clothes, the result was satisfactory. “Aren’t you Nick Charles?” she asked.

from “The Thin Man”

Crime Meets Screwball Comedy

Dashiell Hammett created Sam Spade the immortal private eye of the The Maltese Falcon, the blueprint for the hard-boiled detective who is committed to solving the murder mystery of his partner. Is there anybody out there who never watched the classic movie starring the iconic Humphrey Bogart?

Later on he created Nick and Nora Charles, also busy in the private eye business. However, Nora is a millionaire who managed to marry Nick, a successful private eye. After his marriages Nick – let’s say – retired, although every now and then … when a case suddenly emerged … As a consequence Nick and Nora start investigating. So now the challenge: Is there anybody out there who never watched the classic movie The Thin Man starring Myrna Loy and William Powell who turned the crime mystery in some sort of screwball comedy?

I, Marlowe, think it’s necessary to clarify the series. Of course Dashiell Hammett wrote only one single novel about Nick and Nora – and I wouldn’t call it a crime comedy. However, the novel was more than predestined to become a movie. Following a recent trend Nick and Nora represented a people living the good and easy life staying overnight in luxury apartments resp. hotels, drinking cocktails, smoking – and Nora was at the same level as Nick i. e. no submissive, prissy, nice housewife happy to cook and clean etc. I think the success of Nick and Nora was mainly due to the movies which led to a series of movies.

Nick is a misfit concerning Nora’s rich family, although he is welcome to solve any problems when somebody gets lost or is involved in a crime. In the original novel Nick and Nora are investigating the sudden disappearance of an old freed of Nick whose young daughter desperately asks Nick for help. Nick starts working alongside to happy hours and dinners under surveillance of Nora. Of course Nick is successful.

Somehow it reminds me of Raymond Chandler’s later Philip Marlowe who also marries a millionaire and tried to carry on with his business. However, the comedy aspect is missing.

So if you like to relax just start reading – or re-reading – The Thin Man and watch the movie.

by Marlowe

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