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The Discourse

We Don’t Talk Enough About: Geena Davis’ Shot Glass Trick In ‘The Long Kiss Goodnight’

Can you do this? I can't do this.

Forge / The Steve Tisch Company / New Line Cinema / YouTube Screenshot

It’s been 25 years since the 1996 Renny Harlin/ Shane Black spy thriller The Long Kiss Goodnight was released to an unsuspecting audience. While it bombed at the box office, it’s carved out a nice little niche for itself in subsequent years as an underappreciated favorite among critics and a cadre of die-hard fans alike.

More than anything, though, The Long Kiss Goodnight stands out to me as the movie where Geena Davis does The Trick. And frankly, I think we don’t talk about this enough.

If you’ve seen the movie, you know what I’m referring to. If you haven’t, here’s what you need to know: Geena Davis plays a government assassin who has amnesia and forgets she’s a government assassin and then remembers she’s a government assassin at which point this happens:

Oh, right, Samuel L. Jackson is in this too. In fact, it’s one of his favorite movies!

Anyway, did you catch the trick? It’s right there at the end of the clip.

What mixture of magnetism and sorcery is this? How??

Does this add anything to the plot, or character development, or serve any purpose beyond being an extremely gratuitous bit of show-offery? Absolutely not. It’s almost corny in its unnecessary-ness. It’s as if the director told Davis to “take a shot, but…I’dunno…do it cool.” And boy did she deliver like Domino’s.

Let’s break it down:

Press the glass against your cheek:

Roll it from your fingers to your palm as you position it above your chin:

Somehow keep the glass flush against your palm while you tip it back to take the shot:

Lower the glass, continue rolling it to the other cheek, and let go:

I was floored the first time I saw it and I’m still floored now. I think about this scene just about every single time I see a shot glass. Can you do this? I can’t do this. I’ve spent years trying to replicate this three second bar trick, and either I’m just grotesquely uncoordinated (true) or Geena Davis is superhumanly predisposed to being cool as shit (also incredibly true).

I’ll probably keep trying to do this move for the rest of my life, until I finally nail it or drop and shatter every single shot glass I own. Despite — or perhaps because of — being a laughably overwrought little maneuver, it’s somehow the coolest bar trick I’ve ever seen in a movie. It’s cooler than Tom Cruise spinning bottles in Cocktail. Cooler than James Bond ordering his watered-down martinis. Cooler than The Dude ordering a White Russian, and cooler than John Belushi doing anything at all in Animal House. If I saw someone actually pull this off in person as effortlessly as Davis does on film I would lose my entire mind, right then and there. I love it.

Anyway, this is just something I think we don’t talk about enough.