Oh, how I was hoping talk of this remake would just go away. But nope, it looks like they’re serious about remaking The Thin Man with Johnny Depp. *sigh* When I first heard about this, I think I yelled, “NO!” the exact same way Myrna Loy did in that scene from the first Thin Man movie where Nora is very hung over and Nick offers her a pick-me-up.
To me, The Thin Man is a movie that simply can’t be remade in a way that would do justice to the original. There are a lot of reasons that the original movie is so perfect. You’ve got Myrna Loy and William Powell, who are both simply divine in their respective roles. But Johnny Depp is a good actor, right? I do like Johnny Depp, but when you’re best known for playing a Keith Richards-inspired pirate and being a muse to Tim Burton, I have a very hard time picturing you in any role originated by William Powell. Then there’s W.S. Van Dyke’s direction. But Rob Marshall is an Oscar nominee, so he must be good, right? OK, so I don’t really have a problem with Marshall directing. And I can’t forget the razor-sharp writing of the original movie! Considering the article I linked to names Jerry Stahl as the writer for the remake, then cites him as being a writer for CSI and Bad Boys II, I’m rather concerned about just how genuinely witty and sophisticated this will be.
But the acting, direction, and writing aren’t the only reasons why The Thin Man was excellent. The real glue that brought the movie together was that spectacular chemistry between Myrna Loy and William Powell. Their chemistry is always a joy to watch in any movie, but when you put that spark together with that director and that ultra witty script, you get cinematic perfection. Even if Johnny Depp surprises me and does a great job as Nick Charles and the screenplay is truly delightful, they will never be able to recreate that infamous Loy/Powell chemistry.
I believe that remakes, in theory, can work. But when a huge part of the appeal of the original hinges on an intangible quality, I really don’t have much hope for the success of a remake. The part of Nora Charles has yet to be cast, but whoever it ends up being could have fabulous chemistry with Johnny Depp, but it could be the wrong type of chemistry for something like this. Just try to imagine The Thin Man with some other classic film duos as Nick and Nora. It just wouldn’t have worked as well starring Bogie and Bacall, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, or Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. Even though I don’t think a Tracy/Hepburn version would be so bad, it just wouldn’t be the same without Loy and Powell. They were made for movies like The Thin Man and trying to recapture that is like trying to make lightning strike the same place twice.