By Christopher Campbell | Spout October 21, 2010 at 2:32AM
I'm not entirely opposed to remakes. Historically there have been some great ones. And even though "The Thin Man" is one of my all-time favorite films (and franchises), I really don't see the harm in redoing it. The W.S. Van Dyke version is based on a book by Dashiell Hammett, whose work is associated with some of the best examples of worthwhile remakes and reworkings ("The Maltese Falcon" and the many films loosely based on "Red Harvest" and "The Glass Key" -- including "Yojimbo" and "Miller's Crossing" -- for instance). Plus, it's already spun-off some terrific to so-so sequels (the first, "After the Thin Man," is even better than the original, in my opinion), as well as radio and TV series and a stage musical.
Johnny Depp, who is reportedly interested in doing a new version of "The Thin Man" with director Rob Marshall ("Chicago," the upcoming "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tide") on board, could be a very good incarnation of Nick Charles. Something like the midpoint between his Ed Wood and Jack Sparrow, perhaps? And I find it interesting that the plan is to combine the first two films. I might have otherwise thought this would be one of those "remakes" that is actually just another adaptation. According to Deadline, some of the writers contending for the gig include Terry Rossio ("Pirates of the Caribbean" parts 1 and 4), Jerry Stahl ("Bad Boys II," and somewhat fittingly a couple of "Moonlighting" episodes) and Christopher McQuarrie ("The Usual Suspects," Depp's upcoming "The Tourist").
But who should play Nora Charles?
First of all, people need to realize that no, nobody is going to really fill the shoes of William Powell and Myrna Loy. It doesn't even matter if you believe Warner Bros. exec Jeff Robinov's claim that only Depp is perfect for the role of Nick or that Robert Downey Jr. would be better suited. It's Depp's gig, at least for now, and so the important matter ahead is to figure out what actress has the best chemistry with the actor. She doesn't have to look or sound or act like Loy. No one today does. She was one of a kind (the kind I wish I could go back in time to marry). And that's fine. Julianne Moore, who is a huge fan of Loy's (as displayed in a great TCM tribute), might in other circumstances make a good Nora. But does she look right next to Depp? Here they are together in "Benny & Joon":
Okay, how about Penelope Cruz, as a very different sort of Nora? She can be quite playful, yet her accent might make some of the verbal wit difficult to catch. She's also in the next "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie and has previously worked with both Marshall (on "Nine") and Depp. Here they are together in "Blow":
Do we want Nick and Nora to be that hot together? We're so used to seeing them in separate beds. Also, the couple spend most of the movie hating each other, with Cruz being more bitch than stitch.
Other Depp co-stars that people have been suggesting include Helena Bonham Carter, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard and Angelina Jolie. They might as well include the also very wrong Winona Ryder and Christina Ricci. Suggestions from commenters on other sites have also included Cameron Diaz, Tina Fey, Naomi Watts, Elizabeth Banks, Isla Fischer, Amy Adams, Anne Hathaway, Christina Hendricks, Kristen Bell, Audrey Tautou, Renee Zellweger, Reese Witherspoon, Maggie Gyllenhaal. Hell, people are just naming every actress in the world, it seems. And most of them are terrible for the role.
One of my initial ideas was Rachel McAdams, but she's out of the running for me on account of she was in "Sherlock Holmes," which was unfortunately referenced in Deadline's report as an inspiration for this project. And, you'll want to kill me for this, but I thought about if someone else were redoing "The Thin Man" as an awful rom-com that Sandra Bullock would be the only person acceptable. Especially since she's actually pretty funny as a drunk (not that Loy's Nora ever acted too wasted).
Finally, for real this time, having enjoyed her in "Heartbreaker" this past summer, I wonder if Depp's partner Vanessa Paradis might be a worthy choice. The couple have never acted together before, though they are set to co-star in "My American Lover," about the love affair between Simone de Beauvoir and Nelson Algrin. They must have some great chemistry together. And she must have a fitting sense of humor for them to be together 12 years now.
My favorite choice so far comes from Josh Rottenberg at EW's PopWatch: Cate Blanchett. She and Depp worked together in Sally Potter's "The Man Who Cried," which I've never seen (and the only clip I could just now find was of a very off-putting love scene between Depp and Ricci that looked like Captain Jack was raping Wednesday Addams). I also can't really find any better picture of the two together in the film than this:
I'm pretty sure they aren't romantic in that film, though, anyway. But if they want an even bigger reunion, I'd love to see John Turturro in the Cesar Romero role. Any other ideas?
Here are the trailers for both the original and the sequel, since they'll be combined.
That reminds me. Wonder who they'll get for the Jimmy Stewart part.