Over the course of my PhD, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and writing about MGM’s six Thin Man films. I’ve even crossed the Atlantic to speak about them. In the UK at least, these movies have faded from popular memory. As a result, I’ve explained the series’ premise in casual conversation countless times. “They’re films about a married couple who solve mysteries,” is my usual line of patter, followed by, “Based on a Dashiell Hammett novel. The guy who wrote Maltese Falcon?”
This week several sources reported Johnny Depp is now developing a remake. I suppose that means I won’t need to do any more explaining…
Depp wants Rob Marshall to direct, with whom he is currently working on Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and possible screenwriters are Terry Rossio, Jerry Stahl and Christopher McQuarrie. Depp has been quoted as saying, “The Thin Man has long been a favourite of mine and with Rob at the helm, I know we’re in great hands.”
There’s no news yet as to who’ll be playing Nora to Depp’s Nick (or who’s been cast as Asta). It’ll have to be a pretty sensational teaming to stand up to comparison with William Powell and Myrna Loy, the greatest of screen couples.
Most intriguing of all is the suggestion that this new adaptation will combine the plots of the first two MGM films, The Thin Man (1934) and After the Thin Man (1936). This got me wondering how Depp’s version will acknowledge the Powell and Loy films. After all, one of Depp’s most recent projects was Public Enemies (2009), which ended with the death of Dillinger outside a screening of Manhattan Melodrama (1934), the first Powell-Loy movie. Some reports suggest that Rob Marshall, who also directed Chicago (2002), is planning some musical numbers for the new film, which were a feature of the original series.
I think there is some potential in reviving Hammett’s Nick and Nora (who were somewhat harder-edged than Powell and Loy’s interpretation of the characters) and I’ll be interested to see how the film positions itself as a period piece.
What do you think? Is Depp good casting? Do we need another Thin Man?