Rob Marshall says Johnny Depp’s “The Thin Man” isn’t a remake, movie version of “Wicked” would pull from stage and book

Rob Marshall says Johnny Depp’s “The Thin Man” isn’t a remake, movie version of “Wicked” would pull from stage and book (photo)

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Nick still needs a Nora.

A new version of Dashiell Hammett’s “The Thin Man” is moving forward, and director Rob Marshall has made key decisions about what the film will be like — but some questions remain, such as who will play Johnny Depp’s wife?

“I think anticipation [for the film] must be high,” Marshall said while attending the Princess Grace Awards gala last week in New York. “People are even asking me, ‘Are you going to write it?'”

Marshall won’t be handling those duties — screenwriter Billy Ray (“The Hunger Games,” “Shattered Glass”) is now aboard, after Jerry Stahl (“Permanent Midnight”) and David Koepp (“Premium Rush,” “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”). “It’s funny that those writers were even announced,” Marshall said, “because we hadn’t really started with either of them, with Jerry or David. Neither had written a word. Billy is the first writer who’s actually writing a draft.”

Ray’s draft is not a remake of “The Thin Man,” Marshall said, but “a reimagination.” Hammett’s novel, published in 1934, has been transformed into television shows, radio programs, stage plays, Broadway musicals, and movies, taking place in eras from the original 1930s to the 1950s.

“We’ll be setting it in the ’30s,” Marshall said, “because it is of that world. It’s an era that we have a great affinity for. I think both [producer and partner] Johnny DeLuca and I feel like we were born in the wrong era, and Johnny really feels like he lives in the ’30s. So we’re going to be able to inhabit a world that we really, truly love … in the time of speakeasies, one of those rich, beautiful times in America.”

The story centers on “these incredible characters, these iconic characters that have been with us for many years,” as Marshall called them: Nick and Nora Charles, a married, wealthy, and witty detective duo, who inspired later sleuthing couples in Moonlighting, Remington Steele, and Hart to Hart, among others. In a series of six films, Nick and Nora Charles were “brilliantly played” by William Powell and Myrna Loy, as Marshall put it. In his version, Nick would be Johnny Depp — but who would be Nora?

Marshall said Nora remains to be cast, but whoever plays her needs to have “humor and an effortlessness,” as well as “elegance.” That’s not something that’s easy to find!” Marshall said. “It’s about this relationship. The core of all these wonderful thrillers is always that great relationship with each other. That’s what drew us to it, and what drew Johnny to it.”

A nightclub scene might bring a musical number to the film, but the film itself will not be a musical, Marshall said. “I don’t know if Johnny will be part of the music part of it,” he said, “because it has to be organic to the story.”

Marshall plans to start shooting next year, with a targeted 2013 release. Meanwhile, the director is still in the running for the screen adaptation of “Wicked,” for which he says there is “no rush,” despite Brett Ratner’s recent entreaties that he get to take it on instead.

“They’re looking to establish the rights from ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ which is complicated, so they have the flexibility to do everything they need to do with the film,” Marshall said. “[Producer] Marc Platt is a great, dear friend of ours, and I’ve met with the writers, and they’re incredible. They want to do it right.”

The film version would pull from both the stage production as well as Gregory Maguire’s book, he said. “There’s a lot of material to work from,” he said. “It’s a film! So you’ve got to approach it differently, from a different angle. It’s what gives you so much more flexibility, and what makes it scary, too! That’s the tricky part.”

Let us know what you’re hoping to see from “The Thin Man” and “Wicked” movies in the comments below, or on Facebook or Twitter.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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Byrning Down the House

Everything You Need to Know About the Film That Inspired “Final Transmission”

Documentary Now! pays tribute to "Stop Making Sense" this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Cinecom/courtesy Everett Collection

This week Documentary Now! is with the band. For everyone who’s ever wanted to be a roadie without leaving the couch, “Final Transmission” pulls back the curtain on experimental rock group Test Pattern’s final concert. Before you tune in Wednesday at 10P on IFC, plug your amp into this guide for Stop Making Sense, the acclaimed 1984 Talking Heads concert documentary.

Put on Your Dancing Shoes

Hailed as one of the best concert films ever created, director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) captured the energy and eccentricities of a band known for pushing the limits of music and performance.

Make an Entrance

Lead singer David Byrne treats the concert like a story: He enters an empty stage with a boom box and sings the first song on the setlist solo, then welcomes the other members of the group to the stage one song at a time.

Steal the Spotlight

David Byrne Dancing
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Always a physical performer, Byrne infuses the stage and the film with contagious joy — jogging in place, dancing with lamps, and generally carrying the show’s high energy on his shoulders.

Suit Yourself

Byrne makes a splash in his “big suit,” a boxy business suit that grows with each song until he looks like a boy who raided his father’s closet. Don’t overthink it; on the DVD, the singer explains, “Music is very physical, and often the body understands it before the head.”

View from the Front Row

Stop Making Sense Band On Stage
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Demme (who also helmed 1987’s Swimming to Cambodia, the inspiration for this season’s Documentary Now! episode “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”) films the show by putting viewers in the audience’s shoes. The camera rarely shows the crowd and never cuts to interviews or talking heads — except the ones onstage.

Let’s Get Digital

Tina Weymouth Keyboard
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Stop Making Sense isn’t just a good time — it’s also the first rock movie to be recorded entirely using digital audio techniques. The sound holds up more than 30 years later.

Out of Pocket

Talk about investing in your art: Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz told Rolling Stone that the members of the band “basically put [their] life savings” into the movie, and they didn’t regret it.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Stop Making Sense when “Final Transmission” premieres Wednesday, October 12 at 10P on IFC.

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