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overeasy

Nick Charles as cop?

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Did I really hear Ben refer to Nick Charles as a "former cop" during the intros of The Thin Man marathon on New Year's Eve?  As far as I know, Nick was never a cop.  He had worked as a private detective and maybe as a Pinkerton, but never as a cop.  So why the disconnect?

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Hmmm...well maybe Ben just got William Powell and Sam Levene mixed-up somehow?!

(...I mean, they both sported those thin little mustaches, now didn't they?!

;)

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I think the police reference was either an intentional, or unintentional nod to the fact that Pinkerton officers essentially acted (and were seen) as a private police force before local/state/federal resources became strong enough to absorb most of those functions.

In The Thin Man Goes Home, there's a conversation between Nora & Nick's mother, where Nora asks whats up between him & his father - his mother replies that his father was all set on Nick becoming a doctor, but that Nick did his own thing - whereupon Nora follows by suggesting 'He became a policeman?' - a notion that his father repeats later on. Nick's parents appear to either believe that Nick is a policeman, or that they regard being a private detective as being synonymous - Nora obviously knows the difference, but that suggestion indicates that she already had an idea what Nick's father thought of his career choice.

 

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7 hours ago, limey said:

I think the police reference was either an intentional, or unintentional nod to the fact that Pinkerton officers essentially acted (and were seen) as a private police force before local/state/federal resources became strong enough to absorb most of those functions.

In The Thin Man Goes Home, there's a conversation between Nora & Nick's mother, where Nora asks whats up between him & his father - his mother replies that his father was all set on Nick becoming a doctor, but that Nick did his own thing - whereupon Nora follows by suggesting 'He became a policeman?' - a notion that his father repeats later on. Nick's parents appear to either believe that Nick is a policeman, or that they regard being a private detective as being synonymous - Nora obviously knows the difference, but that suggestion indicates that she already had an idea what Nick's father thought of his career choice.

 

You got it.   To hoods, and people Pinkerton officers helped put in jail,  they were coppers in drag.

 

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15 hours ago, overeasy said:

Did I really hear Ben refer to Nick Charles as a "former cop" during the intros of The Thin Man marathon on New Year's Eve?  As far as I know, Nick was never a cop.  He had worked as a private detective and maybe as a Pinkerton, but never as a cop.  So why the disconnect?

Freudian slip regarding law enforcement.

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Somehow I can't picture Nick Charles as a strike breaker,

unless the strike was against a gin distillery. 

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49 minutes ago, Vautrin said:

Somehow I can't picture Nick Charles as a strike breaker,

unless the strike was against a gin distillery. 

That's why the films play down the specifics of Nick's previous employment, other than his knowledge and his vast array of contacts with members of the police & with the generally more likeable rogues of the naughty-doing-fraternity.

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22 hours ago, overeasy said:

Did I really hear Ben refer to Nick Charles as a "former cop" during the intros of The Thin Man marathon on New Year's Eve?  As far as I know, Nick was never a cop.  He had worked as a private detective and maybe as a Pinkerton, but never as a cop.  So why the disconnect?

Yep, that struck me as wrong, too.  As far as I know Nick was never a cop, always a PI.  I do have the Dashiell Hammett book here, so, I'll take a look at that. (Not that Hollywood follows every novel to the letter but I have seen "The Thin Man" about a zillion times and it was never my impression that Nick was a cop turned PI.

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6 hours ago, limey said:

That's why the films play down the specifics of Nick's previous employment, other than his knowledge and his vast array of contacts with members of the police & with the generally more likeable rogues of the naughty-doing-fraternity.

I was being somewhat facetious as the Pinkertons were well known as

strike breakers. I will say that the Thin Men movies are intricately plotted.

I've seen most of them over the years and it would be a lot easier if one

watched the last ten minutes first so one could understand the plots, that

is if one had already seen it once before.

 

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16 hours ago, lydecker said:

Yep, that struck me as wrong, too.  As far as I know Nick was never a cop, always a PI.  I do have the Dashiell Hammett book here, so, I'll take a look at that. (Not that Hollywood follows every novel to the letter but I have seen "The Thin Man" about a zillion times and it was never my impression that Nick was a cop turned PI.

The Thin Man was released before The Maltese Falcon and other late 30s \ early 40s films defined the PI.    

In the Hammett books the PI generally works with the police and has a solid relationship with them (verses the latter works where the PI (e.g. Marlowe \ Spade) was an outsider that most of the police department felt was crooked.

The Pinkerton officers were well respected by the police and were often former police officers and Nick being a former Pinkerton officer earned that respect from both the police and the people he set up.

(verses a 40s style PI who was much more in the middle in the battle between cops and robbers).

 

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