David Koepp to Write Rob Marshall’s THE THIN MAN Starring Johnny Depp

     August 30, 2011


Screenwriter David Koepp (Spider-Man) has been tapped to write Rob Marshall’s adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man starring Johnny Depp.  The 1934 novel follows retired detective Nick Charles who is trying to happily live his life with his charming wife Nora and their dog Asta.  However, when one of Charles’ former client Clyde Wynant goes missing and his secretary turns up dead, Nick is reluctantly drawn back into the case and the web of intrigue created by Wynant’s terrible family. Also, everyone in the book, particularly Nick and Nora, drinks like a fish but hardly anyone gets drunk.  Hammett’s novel was successfully adapted into a franchise starring William Powell and Myrna Loy although Hammett only wrote one novel featuring Nick and Nora.

Hit the jump for more on this story and my thoughts on adapting The Thin Man.

the-thin-man-book-coverWhile The Lone Ranger currently works through its budget issues, Depp is looking to stay busy and The Thin Man would provide a reunion not only with Marshall (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) but with Koepp who wrote and directed the adaptation of Stephen King’s Secret WindowDeadline reports that there’s no new script of The Thin Man so Koepp will be working from scratch.

However, Deadline adds that this won’t be a direct adaptation of the book but rather “the original intention is to take elements of the first two films and work them into one film, putting it into a period setting and giving it a Sherlock Holmes-like stylized treatment.”  I’ve only seen the first film, but I’m sick and tired of every period movie now getting the “Sherlock Holmes” treatment.  Perhaps Hollywood thinks that modern audiences have attention spans too short to accept anything that doesn’t fly at them a mile-a-minute and filled to the brim with anachronisms, and to tell the truth, Hollywood is probably right.

I’m not opposed to working from the films rather than the novel because The Thin Man is a rare instance where the movie is better than the book.  I’m a big Hammett fan, but the novel meanders, Nora is an underdeveloped character, we never really get to know Charles other than he’s bored by all the scheming around him, and the way the dialogue is written makes it difficult to follow who’s talking (obviously that last issue isn’t a problem for a movie). But the basic premise is good and Koepp’s real challenge isn’t in exceeding the novel but the original film.  My concern lays more with Depp and Marshall seeing as their first collaboration, Pirates 4, was one of the worst movies I’ve seen this year.

Koepp was recently hired to work on the script for Paramount’s Jack Ryan reboot.  His latest directorial effort, the thriller Premium Rush starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Michael Shannon, is due out January 13, 2012.

[Update: I overlooked that Marshall may want to throw in a musical number or two.  I presume they would be worked in as shows that Nick and Nora go to because if the main characters start breaking out into song and dance...hoo boy.  I'm not against musicals.  I'm against sporadic musicals.]

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  • JLC

    It all comes down to Nora. The scripts for the Thin Man movies are good, but not on the level of the classic screwball comedies of the day. The movies are great because of the chemistry between the incomparable Powell and Loy. Find someone that has great give-and-take with Depp, and the movie should take care of itself.

  • Pills26

    Ugh. I’m not too sure about Koepp’s ability to handle fast witty dialogue, or Johnny Depp’s ability to deliver it (after seeing his failed attempt at a screwball in The Tourist).

    Unless long as they cast Nora for their chemistry and not star power, I will continue to begrudge this highly unnecessary remake.


  • kim

    “I’m sick and tired of every period movie now getting the “Sherlock Holmes” treatment.”


    “Pirates 4, was one of the worst movies I’ve seen this year.”

    AMEN to that too.

  • Billie Sue

    The new Sherlock Holmes looks painfully bad. Have we met our quota of men in drag and bromances with gay overtones yet?

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  • Max

    Depp doesn’t seem to fit the part too well, but the key here will be Nora. While there’s at least a *chance* that Depp could work as Nick, I can’t think of a single actress today who would do Nora. The closest I can get is Mary Elizabeth Winstead. But that’s more based on her look– I haven’t seen her in anything that leads me to believe she can live up to Myrna Loy. Now, of course they could take the role in another direction, but then why do it as The Thin Man? It’s not like it’s a known property to today’s target audience.

    And Steve Buscemi better be in it somewhere. He would fit right in as a character actor of the 30′s. He’d be a good Nunheim.

    What they should really do is combine this with a horror film and make “The Thing Man.” Or not.

    • Colleen

      Helena Bonham Carter would be perfect.

      • Max

        Too old. Yeah, I know Depp isn’t exactly exactly a teenager, but Nora is younger than Nick. Loy was 29 in the first film; Helena Bonham Carter would be 46 or 47 when this goes into production. (Depp will be 50, which is at least closer to the 44 that Powell was.)

        But age aside, after all, no one says they need to be exactly the same age as the original cast, I don’t think Helena could do that kind of personality with as much naturalness as Loy. Helena is a really great actress– underrated even with all the praise she gets– but I just don’t think her (and Depp) could be as light as Powell and Loy.

        Which, again, makes me wonder about why bother with a remake. It’s not necessarily the story that was great, it was the *cast*. And while it had loads of great dialog, it was the cast’s delivery that made it work.

        I don’t mind remakes, whether they try to be the same or when they try to be different, but this one seems like a less-than-great idea to me. I’m willing to give it a chance though.

  • Jordan N.

    You need to stop beating the Pirates 4 horse. It wasn’t that bad. Certainly not as bad as 2 or 3. And if that’s the worst movie you’ve seen this year, you obviously haven’t seen Transformers.

    • kim

      Mmm. Okay, not the worst movie we’ve seen this year, but the most mediocre one. And, at least in Transformers had a couple of very good action set pieces, whereas Pirates 4…

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