Tag Archives: Asta

Dinner With Nick and Nora

Movie Night!

Didja ever play the mental game of planning the guest list for an ideal imaginary dinner party? I do it all the time. Most of the time I include Nick and Nora Charles from THE THIN MAN.

If Nick and Nora are among your guests, you’ll feel secure in the success of your dinner party as long as the bar is amply provisioned and a stylish cocktail shaker is at hand. You know there’ll be no awkward gaps in the table chatter and there could quite possibly be some fascinating party crashers named “Rainbow” Benny, “Face” Morgan, or “Spider” Webb.

Warning: there could also be gunplay.

Throw in some weepy drunks, a befuddled police detective or two, a crooked bookkeeper, a murderous jockey, an inscrutable Asian, a socialite grande dame with sleepy siblings, a bitter rejected lover, a gardener with or without his mustache, and you’ve got a shindig that Anita Madden would covet.

I would even let them bring their dog. Our Chloe would totally ramble through the house with their Asta. The pups could swap tips on expanding their respective household dominance which is already near total.

I could pretty well watch “Thin Man” movies forever.

Flash the Wonder Dog…Meh

janie 86 chloe-futon

Movie night!

I confess. After almost a year and a half, I still keenly feel the loss of my movie-watching canine partner, the late and lamented Lilly the Pup. Lil boasted a voluminous film-watching resume. She watched anything and everything with me and usually had a trenchant point or two to make about each flick. I pretty much granted her opinions great deference, whether about how she would have made a better “Asta” in the “Thin Man” movies, or whether the mailman was making far too many uninvited visits to our front porch.

Hey! That’s why you have a dog in the first place. Capiche?

Curiously, Sprite, my “dumb blonde” tortie, has physically assumed Lilly’s movie-watching spot (two blankets on the futon). I’m not deceived by this into thinking the kitten might have hidden depths. I suspect she also misses Lilly.

Chloe, Lilly’s clueless and constantly ecstatic successor, tries as best she can but…well…she’s clueless and constantly ecstatic. She’d like a play date with Asta.

Lil would have been thrilled with our film selection tonight; THE FLAMING SIGNAL. This super-cheap 1930’s flick features Flash, a Rin-Tin-Tin knockoff, and airplanes, and jungle islands. You can’t miss with a combo like that.

Moments of wonder abound;

  • Flash (a dog, remember) breaks out of his shack/prison, fetches his parachute, crawls under airplane propellers, and stows away on his master’s endurance flight to Hawaii.
  • As the plane plunges to destruction in a storm, Flash’s master puts the parachute on his disobedient pooch and watches from the cockpit as Flash floats to safety on an uncharted island whose roadways (on an uncharted island) are perfectly visible in the camera shot. So…the island is uncharted, but there could possibly exist a road map of the area.
  • Flash’s master has obviously confused his role as airplane pilot with that of a ship’s captain and goes down with his plane. Clearly, the dog is the brains of this duo.
  • Never fear. Flash, having shucked his chute (try saying that three times real fast), leaps into the stormy ocean and drags his master to shore where they immediately encounter an alluring white woman gleefully and provocatively bathing in a SUNNY jungle pool. Where did the storm go?

It just keeps gettin’ better from there.

But none of that is as historically important as Mischa Auer’s role in the show. Mr. Auer plays Manu, the tribal leader of the natives of the island. He makes dour pronouncements by the tribal fire, leads torch-bearing islanders in revolt against the evil trader (who does he trade with on this uncharted island?), gets killed, comes back to life, and gets killed again. I’m convinced that this resilient fellow is the inspiration of the legendary film so admired by Walter Tunis; MANOS, THE HANDS OF FATE.

This is all essential stuff to know and why you keep me around.

By the way, Flash (a dog, remember) eventually saves the day (if not the film) by carrying a torch to a convenient but unexplained (and I assume uncharted) pile of combustible material. The resulting “flaming signal” attracts a passing ship…because of course no other passing ship has ever noticed tribal fires or torches on the island before and thought they perhaps should investigate.

It was great. I loved it.