Emily Blunt has signed on for a new project at Amazon, with Deadline reporting that she’ll be working (in a producing capacity) with her Jungle Cruise pal Dwayne Johnson for a film about 19th century detective Kate Warne. Warne is famed as a pioneer in law enforcement, having broken barriers in the 1850s when she became, uh…the first female detective for the infamous Pinkerton Detective Agency. Hm.
Okay, so let’s get into this. We should start by noting that Warne’s activity with the Pinkerton Agency, which ended with her death from “congestion of the lungs” in her mid-30s in 1868, predates many of the activities that made the name “Pinkerton” far more infamous in the years to come. There’s no clear historical evidence that she participated in any of the labor violence, strikebreaking, or general violent oppression by the wealthy of the poor that were the Pinkerton’s stock in trade for many decades, and which have rendered the company’s name a go-to watchword for villainy for anyone with even a smidge of labor sympathies in the modern era. (Also, anyone who’s watched Deadwood.) That being said, she did volunteer to be part of an armed private police force founded to serve the interests of the rich, and was closely associated with Allan Pinkerton himself, so it’s hard to paint her as perfectly blameless in the company’s actions. It’s just that visualizing her broadly as a sort of “strikebreaker girlboss” is probably a bit of a stretch—but so too, maybe, is the movie’s logline assertion that she was a “female Sherlock Holmes.”
Warne is most famous for her association with the Agency’s efforts to protect Abraham Lincoln from purported assassination plots in the early 1860s—per the company’s own mythology, it’s “We Never Sleep” motto supposedly stems from a restless night she spent watching over president-elect Lincoln during a train journey to Washington D.C. in early 1861. She also reportedly worked throughout the South for the Union during the Civil War, posing as a Southern lady to collect intelligence from loose-lipped society mavens. And, really, it’s not hard to see why Blunt might be drawn to Warne’s story, which is legitimately groundbreaking and exciting—despite its unavoidable association with a company that would go on to become a popularly reviled boogeyman.
In any case, Blunt is set to star in and produce on the film, which is being produced at Amazon through The Rock’s Seven Bucks Productions company. It’s not clear yet, meanwhile, how Securitas AB—the Swedish security company that acquired the Pinkerton brand in 1999, and which has raised legal objections to use of the company’s trademarks in other media—will react to the news, although the inherently positive aspects of Warne’s stories will probably make them more sympathetic than when Red Dead Redemption 2 depicted the company’s agent (not unfairly, given the historical record) as little more than aggressive and violent thugs-for-hire.