The Thin Man is one of the greatest “whodunit” detective movies of all time, effortlessly combining comedy, mystery, and romance like that of an Alfred Hitchcock film (before such things were cool). It was so good, in fact, and so popular, that it spawned countless sequels, each one progressively worse but still all kinds of enjoyable; it also spawned a TV series in the late 1950s.
The story of The Thin Man, which is based on the novel of the same name by Dashell Hammett (The Maltese Falcon), follows Nick Charles, a former private detective, and his socialite wife Nora, both of whom get dragged back into the business of solving mysteries after a girl is murdered and Nick’s friend—‘the thin man’—goes missing.
Besides being part-time detectives, Nick and Nora (as portrayed by William Powell and Myrna Loy) were also massive alcoholics and one of the greatest, most endearing onscreen couples ever. Indeed, their chemistry and back-and-forth are legendary, to this day. Fans of the book—and its cinematic adaptation—Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn, are no doubt keenly aware that the protagonists in that story were named after the protagonists in The Thin Man.
Check out some choice video clips from the originals below:
I’m usually very accepting of movies made from previously adapted books that are unfairly labeled as remakes. The Thing, for example, has much more in common with the original source material than Howard Hawks’ The Thing From Another World. But The Thin Man isn’t known primarily for the book written by Dashell Hammet; rather, it’s known for the classic movies directed by W.S. Van Dyke. I find it incredibly difficult to imagine that this modern movie will take its cues from anything but those classic movies, thus paling in comparison.
And when has remaking a classic ever worked? Psycho was an abysmal failure. The Manchurian Candidate, while not terrible, was terribly forgettable when stacked next to the original. I just cannot understand Hollywood’s incessant need to remake every last movie until nothing whatsoever is left. Is it really that cost-effective, or are you really just that unoriginal?
Apparently, Johnny Depp is looking to develop The Thin Man through Infinitum Nihil, a Warner Bros. production outfit run by his sister, Christi Dembrowski, with ex-WB executive Kevin McCormick also producing. Rob Marshall might end up directing, but he’s also being courted to helm the big-screen version of the Broadway hit musical Wicked, which would, at the very least, not be a remake.
Admittedly, it’s very possible that I’m just being too cynical here. If anybody can do William Powell’s Nick Charles justice, it’s Johnny Depp, right?
Fans of Depp can see him next alongside Angelina Jolie and Timothy Daulton (otherwise known as James Bond number four) in The Tourist, which hits theaters December 10th. Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides is currently shooting and is set to be released next May.