Cocktails & Screwball: Round Trois

I'm back at it again for a third time. Just can't help myself. What can I say: I love booze and early Hollywood comedies. Especially when they're together.


Movie: Easy Living (1937) + Cocktail: Tom Collins = Farcical Blunder

What if you were walking on the street and an expensive fur coat fell on top of you from above, almost as if it came down from the heavens? That's what happens to Mary Smith (Jean Arthur), who tries to return it, but that fails and her having the coat leads to everyone thinking that she and the coat's owner (Edward Arnold) are having an affair. Other zany things happen like the stock market plummeting and Mary meets a poor little rich boy (Ray Milland) who falls in love with her. Talk about fate and circumstance. The best drink to have with this movie is a Tom Collins. Hands down. Don't even try anything else (just kidding. You can, but I wouldn't). A Tom Collins is basically a sparkling lemonade with some gin thrown in, and I find that Jean Arthur's wholesome, working-girl role is a good surrogate for lemonade, but ending up with the fur coat and then having everyone assume she's easy is a perfect proxy for some wild, crazy gin.


Movie: Nothing Sacred (1937) + Cocktail: Gimlet = Inept Broadcasting

Carole Lombard in her only Technicolor movie!!!! That's a very high cinema bar. Luckily this movie surpasses that bar. Hazel Flagg (Carole Lombard) is told that she is dying from radium poisoning by her doctor (Charles Winninger), but this turns out to be a mistake, and Hazel is actually healthy. This would all be fine, if it were not for a New York City reporter (Frederic March) who offers to take her on an all-expense paid trip to New York, but it's only because she's dying. After an article is published about being so close to death despite being so young, Hazel becomes a celebrity. Believe it or not, it gets more complicated from there. I love drinking a gimlet when I watch this movie because a gimlet was originally created as a way to ward off illnesses, and since this movie is about deadly diseases, it seems very appropriate to have a drink that was intended as medicine. Really I'm being very healthy when I drink a gimlet and watch a movie about a young woman almost, but not really, die. This movie is also very deserving of a viewing because it shows the craziness and the ease that someone can become a celebrity, which seems to happen all the time these days.


Movie: Bringing Up Baby (1938) + Cocktail: Martini = Madcap Folly

I have a particularly special affection for Bringing Up Baby. Not just because it's well-done or funny (which it absolutely is), but this movie opened me up to wanting to learn more about classic film. I had always loved movies, but watching Cary Grant chase after a leopard named Baby mesmerized me so much that I ended up discovering one of my lifelong passions. It still shocks me that the movie was not a major critical or financial success back in 1938. In fact because the movie under-performed, the director Howard Hawks and Katharine Hepburn were let out early of their RKO studio contracts. The movie was re-examined as a classic a couple of decades later, and thank god because now it's beloved all over the world. Paleontologist David Huxley (Cary Grant) gets unfortunately involved with wacky Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn) and her leopard Baby, leading to the loss of an important dinosaur bone and a brief stint in jail. Too hilarious. I usually drink a martini when I watch this movie, and yes that is definitely the clich├ęd choice in the classic movies-cocktail pairing world, but it works. Lots of martinis are shaken and poured throughout this movie, and I always found that throwing in the olives fits with watching Cary Grant get thrown into Katharine Hepburn's whirling lunacy.


Movie: Ninotchka (1939) + Cocktail: Harvey Wallbanger = Forthright Comrades

Another great example of the 'Lubitsch Touch,' this is the movie where we finally see Greta 'I vant to be alone' Garbo laugh, and that is how the movie was advertised. Crazy that before Periscope and Instagram the general public had to actually go to the movies to see the stars experience a certain emotion (I'm totally kidding. That actually sounds much more sane). Comrade Nina Ivanovna 'Ninotchcka' Yakushova (Greta Garbo) is sent on a special assignment from the Soviet Union to go to Paris to retrieve three other comrades (Sig Ruman, Felix Bressart, Alexander Granach), who appear to have defected to the Western Capitalist regime that so many allow themselves to blindly follow. Uptight and stern, she softens towards capitalism with the love of a Count (Melvyn Douglas) and the beauty of Paris. Oh, and she actually does laugh. A Harvey Wallbanger is the perfect drink for this fantastic movie because it has vodka in it, to of course represent Russia (obviously), and it's a simple drink, only made up of orange juice, vodka, and a bit of Galliano, which fits with Garbo's (initially) no nonsense comrade.


Movie: The Devil and Miss Jones (1941) + Cocktail: Gin Rickey = Prosperous Mutiny

This little-known movie is one of the funniest from the 1940's. Mainly noted for the famous crowded Coney Island beach scene, but it deserves a viewing for many more reasons than just what Coney Island looked like at the time. Tycoon John P. Merrick (Charles Coburn) finds out that he is hated by his department store employees, so naturally he goes undercover at said store to find out which ones hate him. He ends up befriending Mary Jones (Jean Arthur), Joe O'Brien (Robert Cummings), and Elizabeth Ellis (Spring Byington), who help him become more sympathetic towards the many needs of his workers. Drinking a gin rickey is really the only alcohol-route to take with this movie. Watching the Coney Island scene makes me feel thirsty and warm so I like to cool off with this refreshing cocktail. Even if it's snowing outside and I'm watching this movie, I still end up feeling like it's summertime and only want to drink a rickey.