Monday, May 9, 2011

You might have mentioned me first on the billing.

So, I have a bit of a bone to pick. (I actually don't like that expression very much.) The Thin Man remake.

Please bear with me on this one - I tried to make it as cohesive as possible (it was hard not to just ramble). I'm actually torn about the whole thing - not 'torn' in that I want to see it and I don't want to see it. I'm torn in that I'm infuriated that they're even attempting to touch on something so unbelievably perfect as The Thin Man but also a little annoyed with my own fury.

I'll tackle the latter first. The Thin Man (1934) was filmed in about two weeks. I read Myrna Loy's autobiography (which is amazing, by the way, and I highly recommend it) and she really mentions the whole experience rather briefly. After all, the whole thing took very little time. She talks often of William Powell and their friendship, but the actual film itself holds little space in the pages of her memoir. All in all, I'm probably holding the film on a far higher pedestal than those who created it really intended.

Be that as it may, the movie is perfect (in my opinion). Okay, so... not really perfect. I could do without the actual plot often times because, let's face it, I'm really just watching it to see Nick and Nora. I don't really care who done it and, no matter how many times I've watched it, I'm still a little foggy on the motive. What makes this timeless film so wonderful is Nick and Nora. William Powell and Myrna Loy. They're brilliant together. Inspired. Adorable. Sexy. You just can't duplicate that kind of chemistry.

Which, frankly, is why I'm shocked anyone is even attempting it. They don't even know who will play Nora yet (or if they do they're not telling). But, it seems to me, that if you're going to remake a film that is famous for the chemistry of its two leads, wouldn't you go into the project with two leads that you know have good chemistry to begin with? It's not about how well Johnny Depp can capture Nick Charles. Or how well whoever it is can play Nora. William Powell was perfect as Nick Charles (I actually liked him better than Dashiell Hammett's original sleuth). In my opinion, he was Nick Charles. But William Powell was a remarkable actor. He was probably really good as Philo Vance too (although I haven't yet seen it). The movies weren't good because William Powell was so fantastic as Nick; they were good because he and Myrna were so outrageously perfect together.

Now, that being said, the remake is an old and reputable tradition. I really shouldn't be freaking out as much as I am. After all, My Favorite Wife, Move Over Darling, and Something's Got To Give were all made and remade within about 20 years of each other. And I've even admitted that my favorite among The Shop Around the Corner, In the Good Ol' Summertime and You've Got Mail is the most recent one. When we like something, we really like it. So, why not The Thin Man? My main issue is that now if the movie does well, people will say, "Oh, that's the movie with Johnny Depp, right?" ugh. Kill me now.

My other issue, my really worrisome one, is that times have changed. Sensibilities have changed. Senses of humor, of romance, of suspense have all changed. I highly doubt that this new film will be the light and frothy concoction that it was in '34. We don't have to see Nick and Nora having sex back then to know that their sizzling relationship isn't confined to separate beds. But nowadays, entendre and subtext are kind of thrown by the wayside. Clever wordplay is exchanged for lewd humor. Why show gangsters with shadows and lighting tricks when we can just show gore instead? The subtlety is gone. I'm very worried that they'll do to my favorite detective couple what they did to Longfellow Deeds. (Really? Adam Sandler? Really?)

So, despite my understanding that remakes have been around for quite a while, I'm very wary of this upcoming one. Please be careful, Johnny Depp. You have something very precious in your grasp.


  1. I definitely agree with you on the subtlety. Johnny Depp doesn't exactly bring that, at least, not lately. All his "quirky" products these are so hammy and over-the-top. I am sort of curious to see how it is done, but it will not be the same. The originals are wonderful.

  2. I completely agree with you on this 'remake'. Ugh. It's not like it's a film that NEEDS to be remade. It was perfect the first time. How about just re-releasing the original?

  3. Just a minor correction...the "other" detective notably portrayed by Powell was Philo Vance. In fact, during her marriage to Powell, Carole Lombard often jokingly referred to him by that name.

  4. I feel the same way. Like you, I think You've Got Mail is far superior to The Shop Around the Corner, and I think that has something to do with the fact that the original was far from perfect. The Thin Man is generally perfect, though, so why remake it?

    Now it's not that I think Johnny Depp can't be Nick Charles (I think his performance in The Tourist shows he's capable of being more than Captain Jack), but it's like you said: it's not about the individual actors. I just don't think that there are any two people, alive, dead or a combination of both that could come near Myrna Loy and William Powell's chemistry. They were perfect for The Thin Man, and no one else can touch that.

  5. Oh man, I agree - I'm so scared to see this movie. I'm worried I'll be boiling over with hatred for it. Or maybe I'll avoid it altogether, like I did with the remake of The Women. But I do like Johnny Depp. Ugh, but no one can be Nick and Nora like William Powell and Myrna Loy. This remake is just a bad, bad idea!!

  6. You might not see the sex in the remake, but you are likely to see lots of explosions and gun play. It's not going to be subtle.


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