Modernizing the classics? Don't mess with a good thing - Omaha.com
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BOB'S TAKE

Modernizing the classics? Don't mess with a good thing
By Bob Fischbach
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER


Excuse me, pardon me, sorry.

That loud groan you may have just heard was me, reacting to the news in Entertainment Weekly that they're going to remake "The Thin Man."

Not that I should be surprised. These days, Hollywood is into nothing more than rehashing and cashing in on old ideas with name-brand identity.

It's just that they don't usually reach back as far as 1934 when they do it.

William Powell and Myrna Loy were so fantastic as mystery solvers Nick and Nora Charles, with that mix of screwball comedy, flirty volleys of dialogue, overindulgence in martinis and arch comments that were at least as dry and tasty as the cocktails.

"The Thin Man" series was such a product of its time. I shudder to think what contemporizing this duo could mean. It's like remaking "The Women." Didn't work, really.

The EW article says Johnny Depp has signed on as Nick, and Rob Marshall ("Chicago") will direct. Not bad choices, but still ... there really is no substitute for Powell or Loy.

EW was rife with speculation on who might take Loy's place, bandying about such names as Amy Adams, Rachel Weisz, Carey Mulligan, Emily Blunt and Kristen Wiig.

Nope, can't really see any of them doing what Loy could do with a single lifted eyebrow above those almond eyes.

Deep sigh.

I suppose I picked the wrong week to talk about rehashing ancient properties, since "The Three Stooges," a movie project also once rumored to involve Depp, also goes back to the early 1930s.

The new movie version of the Stooges, which opens Friday, stars Sean Hayes, Chris Diamantopoulos and Will Sasso. It's directed by the Farrelly Brothers, the comedy duo that brought us the clever gross-out precursor "There's Something About Mary" — but also the dumb and dumber "Dumb and Dumber." (A sequel is expected in 2014.)

Some past hits should just be left alone, don't you think?

I was reminded of this the other night watching Doris Day and David Niven in "Please Don't Eat the Daisies." Doris, the guest of the month on TCM, has been popping up everywhere these days, maybe because she just celebrated her 88th birthday.

There's just no matching that effervescent smile, sunny disposition and silky-smooth voice — plus her lifelong devotion to man's best friend.

Imagine dirtying up Doris for contemporary audiences, making explicit all those veiled sexual references in the frothy comedies she made with Rock Hudson, James Garner and so many other leading men.

What would be the fun in modernizing Doris? Or Cary Grant? I say don't even try.

By the way, I thought of Doris when "experiential journalist" A.J. Jacobs reported in his new book "Drop Dead Healthy" that Oscar winners live, on average, three years longer than nonwinners.

No, Doris never won an Oscar, though she was nominated for "Pillow Talk."

But have you noticed how many big stars do live to a ripe old age?

The Motion Picture Academy just marked the 65th anniversary of one of my favorite old films, "Gentleman's Agreement," with a screening in New York, and who do you think showed up? Celeste Holm, who won an Oscar for that movie and who later this month will turn ... wait for it ... 95.

Olivia de Havilland, a double Oscar winner for "To Each His Own" and "The Heiress," will be 96 on the first of July.

Ernest Borgnine, who won for "Marty" and is still working, is also 95.

I'm sure there's a long list of elderly Oscar winners I'm overlooking, but you get the point — which ought to cheer double winner Alexander Payne, a youngster at 51.

This age thing about Oscar reminds me of that shocking report from the Los Angeles Times just before the Academy Awards.

While the roster of the Academy's 5,765 voting members is kept secret, the Times reviewed Academy publications, resumes and biographies to confirm the identities of more than 5,100 of them.

They are 94 percent white, 77 percent male and their average age is 62.

Only about 14 percent of those voting members have actually won an Oscar, though more than a third have been nominated.

It does make you look differently at the awards, who gets nominated and who wins — or maybe, more to the point, who doesn't.

I wonder what Betty White would have to say about all this.

Hear World-Herald reviewer Bob Fischbach's summary of what's opening each week at the movies Friday mornings on KQKQ-FM, 98.5, at 8:50 a.m.; and The Big O, 101.9, at 8:35 a.m.

Contact the writer: Bob Fischbach

bob.fischbach@owh.com    |   402-444-1269

Bob reviews movies and local theater productions and writes stories about those topics, as well.

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