In Praise of the Martini… And Diane Keaton

Cable television entered our house in the early 1970’s. I remember vividly the day it happened because I kept getting punished by Mrs. Flynn in 1st Grade, I was too excited to sit still. Finally I could watch The Flintstones after school at 3:30 on Houston’s Channel 39. The Flintstones!! From the big city! And so high up the dial! This was a really good day.

Then, in the late 70’s, premium channels entered our house and my life truly changed. Showtime and HBO were just starting off. They were kind of weird, very cool and a little scary. The ads and interstitials still stick in my mind. They were so strange to me, conveying a sensibility I had not yet encountered. Along with a ton of movies I now had the chance to see, the world of Showtime and HBO after 10 PM was, um, eye opening. It wasn’t just the soft core porn that aired (Lady Chatterley’s Lover! Fellini’s Casanova! Oh my!) but the more adult films I’d not yet encountered by my early teens. One night I watched Annie Hall.

Though I’d never seen Annie Hall, I was certainly aware of it. Mostly because it won Best Picture in 1977, the year Star Wars was also nominated for Best Picture and lost, and Close Encounters should have been nominated but wasn’t. There was much grumbling among the male youth of America about Annie Hall’s win over Star Wars, myself included. We found it “wacked”. But then I saw the movie and fell in love. I was so turned on by the humor, by the outrageous narrative structure, by New York City. It remains in my top 5 of all time.

There was also Diane Keaton.

I love Diane Keaton. There. I’ve said it out loud. I’d say it again but I am trying to be slightly intelligent here. What is it about her? So many things! Her charm, her wit, her own innate intelligence. She has an incredible natural quality always present, even amidst all the lovely quirks she can evidence. Keaton has ‘that thing’ a few lucky people have that makes you think, “I want to spend time with her. It would be so enjoyable. And if we could have even a little time together, I bet she would like me. And call me tomorrow.” The woman is just so damn talented. Talent itself is extremely attractive and she has it in spades. I’ve followed her ever since and if you think she’s only a great comedic actress, check out some terrific dramatic performances in little seen films such as Mrs. Soffel, Marvin’s Room or Shoot the Moon. She is simply one of our best actresses.

Excuse me, I thought this was about martinis? Relax.

One of Keaton’s best performances is in Nancy Meyer’s wonderful Something’s Gotta Give. It’s a remarkable performance. She manages to be funny and smart, honest and vulnerable, capable of showing the deepest hurt emotion, sometimes all at the same time. There are expressions she has in the movie where we see an entire world go across the character’s face in just a quick moment, yet we understand not only the depth of what she is feeling but the lifetime of moments that led up to it. Rare is the actor who can convey so well the inner process of thought. Oh, and did I mention how incredibly hot Keaton is in the movie? When she comes through the door wearing the black dress and both Keanu Reeves and Jack Nicholson lose their breath, we can only do the same. At that moment we see the incredible combination of great actor AND movie star that only a few people combine.

Ok, martinis.

One of my favorite moments in Something’s Gotta Give is when Diane Keaton takes a sip of a martini. Don’t remember? Probably not, unless you love martinis, for it is a brief transitional moment into a scene. Here it is (pardon the slight aspect ratio squish):

Fellow martini aficionados and I wistfully reference this moment all the time because it captures so perfectly the love of a good martini. There’s nothing quite like that first sip of a martini at the end of a long day to make everything seem right in the world. Whether at home after a tough day or relaxing with good friends in a favorite restaurant or sitting alone at a beautiful, long wooden bar, good book in hand for an hour of respite, nothing beats the martini. That first sip from the ice cold glass is a bit of delicious nirvana that seems completely undeserved yet somehow has found its way to your lips.

Keaton captures this perfectly. She even nails the illusive, momentary love you have for the person who delivers you this gift. Watch how she responds to the waiter. There is a flirting sexual quality but within the emotion is also a feeling of ‘thank you so much, my new best friend, for being so generous as to provide this for me. If only you could sit down with me and share this, who knows what interesting things could happen?’

Like many of the best things in life, this all happens for just a few dazzling moments, then it’s gone. Unlike a great glass of wine, which improves the further along you drink, nothing ever quite hits the high of that first sip of a martini. Each successive sip is terrific but not quite as marvelous. This makes the drink a bit of a tease, which only heightens its allure.  If I order a second martini…as I’ve been known to do on occasion…I rarely finish the second one. The second one is pretty much over after that first sip. But that first sip is so good, ordering the second one can be worth it.

A great movie can be the same. I’ve watched certain movies over and over again, enjoying them again, certainly, and learning from the, but also hoping I might catch that wild, wonderful feeling I had the first time I was dazzled. Hope does spring eternal. Who knows, perhaps one of us might even be lucky enough to have a martini one day with Diane Keaton. Talk about a first sip.

BTW… Gin. Always gin. It’s really not a martini if you use anything else. Or have apple in it.. or… you get my drift.

If you are looking for a terrific vermouth, I highly recommend Dolin.

Oh and here is your host, enjoying said cocktail:

36 thoughts on “In Praise of the Martini… And Diane Keaton

  1. Love love love Diane Keaton. My favorite Keaton movie was Baby Boom. When I lived in Los Angeles and peddled my wares at the Santa Monica Arts & Antique show, I had the rare opportunity to watch Ms. Keaton shop every month. She always wore a hat and gloves and she was exquisite. She was always polite, and her smile was infectious.

    1. It’s 11:07 am in MN, I’m at work, and it’s almost 5 years since you posted this, and guess what I want to drink?!

  2. When we lived in the Palisades, our dream house was right down the street. A huge new Craftsman with an Asian flair to it (including a meditation room), and 3 guest houses. We did a viewing, just because we could. And Diane Keaton was there also viewing. She did not buy the house. Nor did she have a martini at the time. But we were under the same roof for a few minutes…..

  3. How nice to meet another gin martini lover! I was reading along and getting nervous that you may start talking vodka smack. Hendrick’s Gin is by far my favorite, and you are absolutely right about the first ice-cold sip…heaven sent.

      1. SERIOUSLY! I want to be your friend! Food, movies and now Hendricks! We are meant to be soul mates. As long as we can squeeze some Rangpur in occasionally. Your description of the first sip, and wanting to be in a relationship with the waitstaff who gave it to you… Spot on!

  4. One of my favorite Diane Keaton movies….”Running Mates” – cute political satire with Ed Harris. Keaton and Harris had great chemistry and well….anything with Ed Harris is pretty entertaining in my book. I loved her name in this movie…Aggie Snow. She was witty and flighty….classic Keaton. As for the gin, too bitter for my taste. However, my brother loves a smooth gin gimlet and he takes on the persona of a calculating mad scientist as he concocts his idea of perfection in a glass. I prefer vodka based drinks. A quality vodka does not cause near the fallout the next morning as other aperitifs. Perhaps a movie and vodka pairing in the near future, if you will please.

    1. Kate, I agree Vodka takes much less of a toll! I wish I liked it more. But soon to come I’ll post a Pomegranate Cosmo I invented that many friends of mine love. Tell Don and co hello!

  5. When I was about 10, my grandpa gave me a sip of his martini. Oh how he loved both gin and scotch. I took a sip thinking it would be something fabulous and proceeded to cough it out my nose. Not fabulous by any stretch of the imagination. Fast forward to me at 38, sitting in the bar at Jar with my friend Tom who ordered me a gin martini. Expecting the worst, I took a sip… and tasted pine trees and winter weather… and was vividly reminded of my grandpa. Now, like him, I think gin and scotch are quite the thing.

  6. Unfortunately, my stomach won’t allow me to drink an entire martini anymore, but I still get to experience the best part by stealing a first sip from Lindsay’s.

    And yes, Diane Keaton. She is infectious.

    I remember the first time I saw “To Kill A Mockingbird.” Had not read the book. Didn’t know anything about it. Sat with my family on a Friday night in the living room, turned to the channel that showed “old movies” and was mesmerized – wept at the end. Wish I could experience it that way again.

  7. As a lover of a (slightly) dirty martini and the movie Something’s Gotta Give, I thoroughly enjoyed this blog, Tom. And given that I read it on a Friday afternoon, I now am hankering for a dirty martini with extra olives. But since I have a session with my personal trainer after work, that’s not going to happen. Thus, I think you should invite me over for martinis and a Diane Keaton movie some evening soon. 😉

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