Jerry Stahl Writing The Thin Man

For Johnny Depp and Rob Marshall

As previously reported, Johnny Depp has apparently either developed a thing for Dashiel Hammett or William Powell, preparing a new version of The Thin Man with Warner Bros. and On Stranger Tides' director Rob Marshall. The sozzled private eye project now has a writer: Jerry Stahl is taking a crack at The Thin Man's eccentric script.

The Thin Man, you'll be well aware, was Hammett's fifth and final novel, published in 1934 and filmed the same year starring Powell as supposedly-retired gumshoe Nick Charles, and Myrna Loy as his wealthy socialite wife Nora (and "Skippy" as their Fox Terrier). Hammet never wrote a follow-up, but the brilliant, breezy, fast-talking murder mystery spawned five movie sequels, which eventually forgot that the titular skinny bloke wasn't actually Powell.

Eighty years is a long time for a classic novel to go without an adaptation though, hence Depp's enthusiasm and today's news. Stahl is an interesting choice for the screenplay. He's probably best known for his heroin memoir Permanent Midnight (Nick and Nora drink a lot, but they're hardly addicts on that scale) but his writing CV includes episodes of CSI, Northern Exposure, Twin Peaks and Moonlighting, which, when it was good, had more than a touch of Nick and Nora about it.

Mainstream crime mixed with quirky David Lynch-ness is, we're saying, a sensibility that could work very well here (although Stahl also had a hand in ALF and Bad Boys 2). Warners believe Stahl is the right man to "give The Thin Man a contemporary attitude while maintaining a period setting". And a fast-talking drunkard detective is, obviously, a potential gem for Depp. Is Nick Charles the next Jack Sparrow?

Depp is producing with his Infinitum Nihil production company cohort Christi Dembrowski and Warners' Kevin McCormick. More developments as we get them.