Jerry Stahl has been hired by Warner Brothers to script their planned adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s classic detective novel The Thin Man. Johnny Depp is attached to star in the film and Rob Marshall is currently in talks to direct the film.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the studio had been searching for “a writer who would give [a new adaptation of The Thin Man] a contemporary attitude but retain the period setting.”
Published in 1934, the book was a bestseller for Hammett, with readers entranced by the story of retired detective Nick Charles goaded back to work by his wife Nora to solve the case of a missing inventor. When it is discovered that he has been murdered, Nick finds himself investigating the inventor’s rather eccentric family.
The book was brought to the big screen later that year by director W. S. Van Dine with the suave William Powell and sassy Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles. The pair had an unbeatable chemistry that helped the film to become one of the biggest box office hits of that year. In addition to starring in five Thin Man sequels, MGM paired Powell and Loy in several other films, often to great box office response.
As The Thin Man series is perhaps my most favorite series from the Golden Age of Hollywood, I have a tendency to automatically bristle at the idea of a remake. The movie is not only a great adaptation of the book, but is just a great film in its own right. Powell and Loy are sublime and while I think Depp is a fine actor, I don’t see him in the role of Nick Charles.
That said, I am having a hard time quibbling with the choice of Stahl as screenwriter for this. Among the many credits on his resume are episodes of the classic 1980s comedy-mystery series Moonlighting, which definitely has at least a small Thin Man influence lurking in its makeup.