Johnny Depp and Rob Marshall hire Billy Ray to rewrite ‘Thin Man’ remake

Earlier this week, talking about the casting of Werner Herzog as the bad guy in the first Reacher film, “One Shot,” I mentioned how nervous I am about that film.

There is one other film in development that makes me more nervous, though, and it’s because someone’s adapting one of my very favorite things, and I’m still not sold on the creative team that’s attached.  I want to believe, though.  The last thing I want is to be negative about a new “Thin Man” movie.

In general, “The Thin Man” is important to me.  I love Dashiell Hammett’s novel.  I love the film series starring William Powell and Myrna Loy.  But more than anything, I just plain love Nick and Nora Charles.  They may be my favorite fictional married couple of all time.  There’s just something delicious about their chemistry, and part of it is the way Nora seems to indulge and support all of Nick’s worst habits.  There is an understanding and an acceptance that is part of their relationship that I love dearly, and it’s always been the thing I’ve sought in my own relationships.  I don’t think all of the “Thin Man” movies are as good as that first one, but their chemistry stayed crisp and compelling in every scene in every movie they made together.

I was unsure about Rob Marshall as a director for “The Thin Man” even before I saw “Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” but now I’m positively petrified.  I’ve never really been confident about Marshall, and I get that Johnny Depp is the one calling the shots, able to pick any collaborator he wants, and the collaborators he works with these days are either people he admires from a distance, like Bruce Robinson, or people he’s already worked with.  Marshall must be great on a set in terms of how he deals with his performers, because he and Depp are locked at the hip on this one, and I get the feeling that as long as Depp’s on the film, so is Marshall.

They’ve gone through a few writers already, though.  Jerry Stahl, a master of bad behavior in his own right, was the first guy on the film, and then David Koepp was on for a while.  Now it appears they’ve hired Billy Ray to work with Depp and Marshall to try and pin down a draft that gets everyone excited.  Billy Ray’s been busy lately.  He was one of the main writers on “The Hunger Games,” he’s writing “Peter Pan Begins” for Sony, and he’s also working on the Somalian pirates movie for Tom Hanks.  That’s in addition to the “24” movie he’s writing for Fox and the remake of “The Secret In Their Eyes,” which makes you wonder when Ray sleeps or how he’s going to fit one more project into his schedule.

I’m sure he’ll make the effort.  “The Thin Man” could easily be the launching pad of a new franchise if they get it right, and the opportunity to wade in and play with those characters is sort of irresistible.  All I know is the talk I’ve been hearing about musical numbers in the film makes me itch.  Please, guys… get this one right.