Saturday, February 12, 2011

More Bad Remakes

Just to follow up today’s post on ARTHUR. For every good TRUE GRIT remake, there seems to be ten bad ones. A reader pointed out MY MAN GODFREY reboot. Off the top of my head, here are a few more. Feel free to add to the list.

THE JAZZ SINGER (Not Neil Diamond’s best work)
KING KONG (all nine versions)
THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (Yes, I know it has Denzel Washington)
TAKING OF PELHAM 1-2-3 (Yes, I know it has Denzel Washington)
CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN (Yes, I know it’s Steve Martin)
THE PINK PANTHER (Yes, I know it’s Steve Martin)
THE OUT OF TOWNERS (Yes, I know it’s Steve Martin)
THE BLOB (How do you improve on perfection?)


Jeff Hirsch said...

I would have 2 and you touched a nerve.
1) Bedazzled
2) in laws
Does mission impossible count. As every one of the tv episodes is better than the incomprehensible garbage that those movies were

te said...

Sgt. Bilko (yes, I know it has Steve Martin -- Steve Martin?

Dragnet (OK casting; story stupid beyond belief)

"Lolita" was a remake? And I kinda liked "Heartbreak Kid." Never much use for the original, however.

Devlin Thompson said...

Turns out that JUST GO WITH IT is really CACTUS FLOWER. Though I was unaware that that started out as a French stage farce.Speaking of French farces that were also stage pieces along the way, I'd argue that THE BIRDCAGE is better than either of its previous incrnations. And don't forget that THE MALTESE FALCON was the THIRD version of that material in ten years, which makes DEATH AT A FUNERAL and I THINK I LOVE MY WIFE seem a bit less hasty (if not good).

spreng said...

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Andy said...


VP81955 said...

THE JAZZ SINGER (Not Neil Diamond’s best work)

Or, in 1953, Danny Thomas (who probably thanked Neil Diamond to the end of his days for making his version even more forgotten). Danny was a wonderful nightclub comic and sitcom star, but this movie turn was all wrong for him.

jason said...

Recently: Clash of the Titans

Yeah, the first one wasn't a classic film, but the "camp" value was fun. The new remake was just crap.

Alex N said...

I am SO very glad you put the remake of "The Poseidon Adventure" down -- can't believe the special effects were better in the original!!

Unknown said...

Unfaithfully Yours (Yes, I know it has Dudley Moore in it)

estiv said...

The remake of Bedazzled reminded me of what you had to say, Ken, about the original UK version of Couples versus the American remake: casting makes a huge difference. Elizabeth Hurley was good looking and a competent actress, but comparing her comic talent to Peter Cook's is, well, there's no comparison. And Brendan Fraser as one of life's quiet losers? Yeesh. All wrong.

ajm said...

BILLY JACK GOES TO WASHINGTON was nowhere as good as the Frank Capra/Jimmy Stewart original.

Nathan said...

35 years from now, the remake they'll make of TIMECOP still won't fill the holes in the story. (And I'll have Steve Martin's Head In A Jar in it.)

evie said...

Who remade Rear Window????? Sacrilege.

Thursby said...

THE LADYKILLERS (Don't try to improve on Ealing)

Anonymous said...


The Rear Window remake was aTV movie with Christoper Reeve, post-accident. He may have directed it as well, though very slowly...

Kirk said...

Little Shop of Horrors-The remake had better special effects and certainly better lighting, but the original was funnier.

The Thing--OK, I'll admit that remake had a better horror element, and that may be all that matters since it was, after all, a horror film, but I enjoyed the banter between characters in the original as they tried to figure out how to defeat the monster.

Good Dog said...

The Truth About Charlie. Remaking Charade with Wahlberg and Thandie Newton in place of Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn... Oh good grief!

Get Carter, replacing Michael Caine with bloody meat-slab Stallone.

A while slew of Hollywood remakes of great European movies like La Femme Nikita. Learn to read the subtitles you useless illiterate bastards!

Greg Ehrbar said...

How about the remake of Rear Window called "Disturbia?"

Tom Rathke said...

Mostly agree but the wife like the Sabrina remake because she loves anything with Harrison Ford in it (her only flaw). And I enjoyed The Italian Job mostly due to the use of the Mini. Considered buying one after I saw the movie. But my addition to the list would have to be Tron. Why remake a perfectly stupid movie? I thought the original was stricktly an exercise in FX for the time.

scottmc said...

'Good Dog' came up with a great choice. 'Charade' was written by Peter Stone, who wrote the screenplay for the original 'The Taking of Pelham 1,2,3'.

'The Truth About Charlie' is unique in one way; they decided not to use the original script but the new version was so bad that they hired Stone to come in and fix their work. Stone was credited under the name 'Peter Joshua', one of the names Cary Grant goes by in the original.

Phillip B said...

Anyone who could sit still for 4 hours and watch "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and then "Billy Jack Goes to Washington" and not begged to be killed would be brave indeed.

Google responses to "bad remake" in rough order:

King Kong - both remakes of the 1933 classic

Somebody Killed Her Husband (1978) - surely this will work; Farrah Fawcett and Jeff Bridges stand in for Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant in Charade. (There was another version in 2002 called The Truth About Charlie with Thandie Newton, Mark Wahlberg and Tim Robbins)

Psycho (1998) vs. the ghost of Alfred Hitchcock '63

Get Carter (1971) and Michael Caine vs. the 2000 version with Sly Stallone

Planet of the Apes (1968) vs. a very odd 2001 Tim Burton version with Mark Wahlberg

Heaven Can Wait (1978) - remade as Down to Earth with Chris Rock in 2001

An entire string of shameful remakes starring Adam Sandler - the egregious IMHO being The Longest Yard

And virtually every horror movie, where remakes and sequels are hard to distinguish....

And on and on....

Stef said...

"Heaven Can Wait" is itself a remake of the vastly superior "Here Comes Mr. Jordan" with Robert Montgomery(1941)

It's not a remake of the totally different "Heaven Can Wait" (1943) with Don Ameche. Also superior.

Big Clyde said...

Is it just too easy to say any original is awesome and all remakes are crap?

Certainly, your list makes for a compelling case, but even some songs are better when covered by a more recent band with different energy and tones.

Two examples to make my point:

Shaft with Samuel L. Jackson really was better than the ridiculous original.

You've Got Mail was better than the odd and plodding Little Shop Around The Corner. (Eventhough Jimmy Stewart is fantastic in everything).

Begin the hating.

Blaze said...

So many of these remakes are SO forgettable, I was caught off guard. I saw the title, immediately conjured images of the classic original, and then slowly (painfully) recalled that they did, in fact, try it again.

I'm no scholar of motion pictures, but I do know some of movies we consider the original, classic version are actually only eligible to the "classic version". The originals were made in the silent era or soon afterwards.

Ref said...

Steve Martin, in the movies you listed her, is the equivalent of De Niro in the Focker horrors. In other words, that wasn't Steve Martin.

Ref said...

Listed "here" dammit!

gottacook said...

te: The original Lolita was Stanley Kubrick's film immediately before Dr. Strangelove and also features Peter Sellers in "multiple" roles: He plays Clare Quilty, who takes on various personas, mostly with American accents, in order to tweak Humbert, played by James Mason. Shelley Winters is Charlotte Haze. Aside from Lolita (Sue Lyon) being several years too old, it turned out well, I thought - far from humorless. Helps that it's in black-and-white, somehow.

Nabokov himself is credited with the screenplay of the 1962 Lolita but little of what he contributed was actually used; his version was published in the early 1970s. (Kubrick did retain Nabokov's idea of starting out with the final scene of the novel, then the rest as flashback.)

spreng: The first remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers in 1978 was good. The two that followed, not so much.

Jim said...

"You've Got Mail was better than the odd and plodding Little Shop Around The Corner."

You are joking, aren't you? Go off and watch some more Lubitsch, even the not-quite-his-best stuff like "That Uncertain Feeling" and it's got a zing to it that really makes modern comedies seem slow. OK the cutting may be faster, but that often is just to hide teh shortage of jokes.

Actually Lubitsch was one director who was pretty good at remaking his own films - quite a few of his early talkies are reruns of stuff he did without sound, and he usually gets both versions spot on.

"The Front Page" is another pretty unkillable film. All versions of that are more than decent.

A personal why-the-hell of remakes? Louis de Funes was France's greatest physical clown in films. Even if you don't understand French take a look at this two minute clip from Oscar where he finally goes completely mad. It looks more than a bit over the top taken out of context but it gives you the idea of the sort of actor he was. So which Hollywood exec saw that and thought "I know. We'll remake it with Sylvester Stallone."

VP81955 said...

"You've Got Mail" was better than the odd and plodding "Little Shop Around The Corner." (Even though Jimmy Stewart is fantastic in everything).

Begin the hating.

Well, first of all the title of the film you're putting down is "The Shop Around The Corner." Might you have mixed it up with "Little Shop Of Horrors"? (Now that would be a juxtaposition!)

Second, do you actually believe someone can beat Ernst Lubitsch at his own game? (Mel Brooks learned it can't be done.)

Third, is the supporting cast in "You've Got Mail" anywhere as good? Does anyone reach the wonderful heights of Frank Morgan, in what may be his finest performance (and that's saying a lot, given that he was one of filmdom's greatest character actors)?

That's not hating, just a feeling that, like Humphrey Bogart in "Casablanca," you are misinformed.

unkystan said...

Take a bad movie ("Bedtime Story") with a good idea. Re-name it so we won't know it's a remake. Actually write it and cast it better (yes, Steve Martin) and you get the vastly superior "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" Point? Never remake a good movie of any kind!

VP81955 said...

It should be noted that even in what we term the "golden age," remakes were plentiful. "Holiday," with Ann Harding in 1930, was remade with Katharine Hepburn in 1938 (both versions are fine). "The Awful Truth" was a remake of a 1929 film no one remembers.

But as a rule of thumb, most screwball comedies remade after World War II simply don't have the elan that characterized the originals. I think of two examples from 1946 -- "Easy To Wed," a lackluster remake of "Libeled Lady" where Esther Williams tries to reprise Myrna Loy and Lucille Ball attempts likewise with Jean Harlow (Van Johnson was either William Powell or Spencer Tracy, and I forgot who the other guy was), and "Cross My Heart," a remake of "True Confession" in which Betty Hutton's energy is no substitute for Carole Lombard's genius (although this is the one film of Carole's that Lombard lover Leonard Maltin has little affection for).

Anonymous said...

Good news, everyone! They're remaking Logan's Run!

Well, it can't be worse than the Wicker Man remake ... can it?

bevo said...

I do not disagree with anyone about movies that should have never been remade.

Hachi was a really good remake. Cried during the entire final two-thirds of the film.

Some people claim Match Point is a rip off Crimes and Misdemeanors. Wrong. Similar ideas but different arguments.

However, I would nominate the Last of Sheila for a remake. A slightly better casting and a much better director would deliver a first rate mystery.

Also, I would add the third Matrix desperately needs to be redone.

Pete Sutcliffe said...

I don't see how you can put Adrian Lyne's version of Lolita on that list. As good as Kubrick's version was, Lyne's version was a beautiful film and much, much closer to the tone of the book.

Kubrick turned the story into a comedy, and Sellers ad-libbed his way through the role -- very funny, but not true to the character. Lyne's version played out the story as pathetic tragedy, which is the way it should have been. Jeremy Irons was born to play such sad figures as Humbert.

What Kubrick did to the story was probably necessary to get such a controversial book filmed in the 1960s. But it looks dated -- it looks like a product of the swingin' sixties and not the 1940s, when it takes place.

When I saw Kubrick's Lolita, I felt like I was watching a Kubrick film -- not a bad thing. But when I saw Lyne's film, I really felt like I was watching the book that I read.

Big Clyde said...

Okay, I'm really not trying to start anything here, but let me add a few more comments on "You've Got Mail".

The supporting cast is a bit marginal in their roles, but look at the positives in the Hanks/Ryan movie!

Hanks. Ryan. Ephron. New York. The David vs. Goliath story played out between two retail booksellers. The new intimacy found via e-mail vs. our two protagonists personal relationships. Good dialogue. Killer soundtrack.

As a remake, it is superior to the original.

Anonymous said...

How in hell is the original of "The Italian Job" supposed to be better than the remake? The remake actually had a story and one of the best written character scenes ever. (Charlize Theron undercover in Ed Norton's house trying NOT to punch him in the face.)

The original "Italian Job" was a horrible movie where they went so far as to never even try to finish the movie. It has no ending! The movie just stops! (Michael Caine in the middle of a life & death situation going "I have an idea!" doesn't cut it!)

Cap'n Bob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cap'n Bob said...

Casablanca with David Soul.

Buttermilk Sky said...

"Night of the Living Dead." As you say, why try to improve on a classic?

"Psycho" with Vince Vaughn. Why not just colorize the original?

"His Girl Friday" is better than any "Front Page" before or after it.

Who was less believable as Babe Ruth, William Bendix or John Goodman?

The French "Three Men and a Cradle" was remade as "Three Men and a Baby" because market research found Americans don't know what a cradle is. True!

"The Ten Commandments" and "Greatest Story Ever Told" are much funnier with color and sound.

Hitchcock remade his own "The Man Who Knew Too Much," and improved on it. Nobody has improved on "The 39 Steps."

David Soul in "Casablanca"? Please tell me he was Victor Laszlo.

gottacook said...

Pete Sutcliffe: Are you aware that Jeremy Irons recorded Lolita (unabridged) around the same time he did Lyne's movie? You should go out and get it if you don't have it already.

As a fan of the novel (I've owned Alfred Appel's The Annotated Lolita since the 1970s), I understand why some readers don't appreciate the type of humor that finds its way into Kubrick's film. But I think the poignance of the final scene between Humbert and the pregnant Mrs. Richard F. Schiller wouldn't have had the same impact if the tone of the movie had been tragic throughout.

Tim W. said...

The only movie on the list I liked was The Italian Job, but I've never seen the original. I didn't love it, but that was partially because I ended up seeing one of the trailers that basically gave away the entire plot. Literally. That pissed me off. Still, I never actually paid for the movie.

And two remakes that eclipsed the originals were Birdcage (as previously mentioned) and Oceans 11. Just leave Oceans 12 out of the conversation, please.

WV: groped

I just wanted to add that.

RCP said...

The remake of "The Haunting" was atrocious.

Black and white films being "colorized" resulted in a new genre of "bad remakes."

DwWashburn said...

R:E the Jazz Singer. I'm a silent movie buff and I have seen the Jolson Jazz Singer. Have never seen the Danny Thomas or the Neil Diamond but did see the Jerry Lewis TV version when I was in college. With that said, you must admit that the Jolson movie was not a great movie. Historical yes (even though that is debateable) but a great movie no. So these remakes couldn't have messed it up too much.

Now the 1990's movie version of Miracle on 34th Street. P U!!

cshel said...

On this list - I have seen most of the originals and none of the remakes.

The thought of anyone trying to reprise the role of Jack Lemmon in THE OUT OF TOWNERS or Audrey Hepburn in SABRINA is especially egregious. Any of their films for that matter.

I have to say that I'm looking forward to the remake of WESTWORLD though, from a technology standpoint. I hope it won't suck.

Mark said...

The Bishop's Wife (I know it has Denzel Washington)

emily said...

How have we missed ROCKY 2, 3, 4, 5, etc.?

Brian Phillips said...

Citizen Kane (YES, I know it starred George W. Bush)

Mark Patterson said...

We agree on everything but Sabrina. Which is fine. SOMEone had to like it. Not trying to convince you, just standing up for something I enjoyed. Yes, I have seen the original.

Anonymous said...

From Jan:

I find the following particularly egregious: “Lady Killers,” “Bedazzled,” “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” and “Psycho.” I refuse to see the remakes.

I would have to add, although it was a television movie, “Night of the Hunter.” I watched about two minutes with Richard Chamberlain in the Robert Mitchum part--and in color to boot--and couldn’t stand it. What were they thinking????

One of my main complaints, though, is about all the American (inferior) “remakes” of foreign films: The French “The Dinner Game” became the awful “Dinner for Schmucks”; “Les Compères” became “Fathers’ Day”; “La Chèvre” turned into “Pure Luck”; and “Les Fugitives” morphed into “Three Fugitives.” I’m sure there are other examples, but that’s all I can think of right now. Fortunately there are Zone 1 DVDs for all of the above except for “Les Fugitives,” which I still keep hoping will eventually come out (or else I’ll have to break down and buy a zone-free DVD player).

And if you consider all the great British TV shows that have become inferior American remakes, that would make a whole other column.

Guess you touched a nerve with this column, Ken.

Ed D. said...

Diabolique... French version so much better.

And I disagree with one of the posters about La Cage Aux Folles... original French ones so much better. Nathan Lane is, for me, always way too much over the top... and I always expect Robin Williams to start riffing - his true art.

Magnificent Seven a good remake of the Seven Samurai I think. Although the 5 or 7 hour "Samurai" much better than either.

Joad Cressbeckler said...

As good as Casino was, it was a much inferior remake. The original, Goodfellas, was stellar. One of those masterpieces Hollywood should not have tried to improve upon.

LinGin said...

I'm going to give my approval of two remakes on that list: Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes, and Jonathan Demme's "Manchurian Candidate."

I saw Apes in my early teens during the original release and the ending left me slack-jawed. Never have watched any of the sequels because the story was done, as far as I was concerned. But I like Burton's version because of it's outright championing of liberalism, Tim Roth's Thade, and yes, the ending. Burton's ending was a surprise of a different sort and made me want to see more of the story.

The (Sinatra) Manchurian Candidate is one of my 10 best so I thought I wouldn't go near this. But the cast was too damn good for it to be schlock and I was surprised at how much I liked it. It's not the original -- and I gained a lot of respect for Jonathan Demme for reworking the characters and plot while preserving the spirit of the original. I think he made one improvement in that Janet Leigh's Rose doesn't make any sense in the original version (although she makes it work); Thandie Newton's version is realistic in Demme's reworking.

And eternal blessings on Jonathan Demme for not attempting to re-do the garden party scenes. Those sequences are some of the most perfect in all of film history and he had the good sense to leave them alone.

Maybe damning with faint praise but the reworking (not remake) of The Manchurian Candidate is a damn sight better than it had any reason to be.

WV: latiffi - the .French Queen Latifah

Bobo said...

Chuck Russell's remake of "The Blob," though it has some unforgivable cheese in it (Kevin Dillon's hair, Kevin Dillon's clothes, Kevin Dillon's motorcycle), is actually a really fun, scary movie, with some very effective--and very nasty--scares in it. Remaking (and amping up) a classic b-movie is no great sin, especially if the results are pretty good.

The Guvna said...

Allow me to lend my voice to the "what the hell are you smoking, Ken?" chorus, with regards to LOLITA. I know that Kubrick is considered infallible, and that some people will reflexively dismiss, on principle, the very idea that the director of FLASHDANCE could have made a better Nabokov adaptation than Stanley Kubrick did. But I'm afraid he just did (and, for the record, I think that Adrian Lyne is one hell of an underrated director, besides).

There is a tendency to lionize films on the basis of who made them, and an equal tendency to marginalize films on the basis of who made them. Kubrick's LOLITA, while a good enough picture in its own right, I suppose, is a classic example of a fair-to-middling work championed well above its station by myopic film bitches who see the names "Kubrick" and "Sellers", and effectively end their critical analysis right there. It might be a good(ish) picture, but it's a piss-poor adaptation.

Lyne's version, on the other hand, nailed the book in a way that Kubrick not only did not, but that he was also seemingly uninterested in even trying to do. Adrian Lyne undoubtedly couldn't make a better DR. STRANGELOVE, or a better 2001, or a better A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (I'm fairly certain he could have at least equalled BARRY LYNDON, however). But credit where it's due: He *did* make a better LOLITA. Given that Lyne's career has largely concerned itself with the sexual politics of male-female relationships, I suppose it was kind of inevitable.

Elsewhere, the remake of SHAFT is nowhere near as cool as the original, but the screenplay of the remake is vastly superior (Ernest Tidyman was good; Richard Price is better), namely because no one calls anyone else "shitty" in it, as far as I can recall. Oh, and Chuck Russell's remake of THE BLOB is ten miles better than the piece of shit original. It captures the goofy fun of the 1958 version, while adding something approaching technical competence to the mix. GET CARTER is one of the worst remakes I can think of off-hand, but Rob Zombie's HALLOWEEN desecration is in its own league.

Cap'n Bob said...

Did anyone mention 3:10 to Yuma?

Ha-ha. My WV is clonsi.

te said...

Gottacook: The Kubrick version of Lolita is the one I was thinking of. Ken mentioned a remake; I was asking if there's been one since then (could look it up on IMDB, of course, but what's fun in that?

Geoduck said...

I'll add another vote for The Blob remake. It's no classic, but if you like monster movies, you'll enjoy it. Along with what Bobo said, having modern special effects to work with helped it as well.

D. McEwan said...

You left out Hamlet.


Sgt. Bilko, terrible as it was, was not a "Remake". There is no other Sgt. BILKO movie.

"'Lolita' was a remake?"

Well, the remake of Lolita was a remake. (Actually, I just watched the remake of Lolita last week, and while it isn't as stylish or funny as the Kubrick film, it is able to be franker about the film's topic, and it is truer to the novel. (Yes, I know Nabakov is credited with the Kubrick screenplay, but if you compare Nabakov's screenplay, which has been published, with Kubrick's film, you'll see a lot of rewriting was done, along with the improvisations of Peter Sellers.) But whoever had the idea to cast Melanie Griffiths in the Shelley Winters role, as Charlotte HAze, needs to find a different line of work than casting.

"jason said...
Recently: Clash of the Titans
Yeah, the first one wasn't a classic film"

It wasn't? News to me, who saw it the day it opened, and many times since. Arguably, Harryhausen's best film. The remake did suck.

"evie said...
Who remade Rear Window?????"

Christopher Reeve, so the disability was real. It was a TV movie, and Reeve directed as well as starred in it. Given he was paralyzed from the head down, and couldn't even breathe on his own, directing and starring in a TV movie was one hell of an achievement. It was not a "sacrilige". It was actually pretty darn good.

"Kirk Jusko said...
Little Shop of Horrors-The remake had better special effects and certainly better lighting, but the original was funnier."

You mean the movie version of the stage musical based on the original film? Like Hairspray? It had better songs also, given the original had no songs, and mostly better performances, and come to think of it, I find the remake funnier also.

D. McEwan said...

" Big Clyde said...
Is it just too easy to say any original is awesome and all remakes are crap?

Yes, and it's also wrong. Again, as has been pointed out earlier, The Maltese Falcon with Bogart was a second remake! The Wizard of Oz was a remake. Hitchcock himself remade his The Man Who Knew Too Much, making it better the second time. Nothing like making a sweeping generalization to insure you are wrong.

"Buttermilk Sky said...
Hitchcock remade his own 'The Man Who Knew Too Much,' and improved on it. Nobody has improved on 'The 39 Steps.'

Were you the author of the novel The 39 Steps you might well disagree with that assesment. I imagine Buchanon beoing deeply puzzled as to whether Hitch too anything form his book besde the title and some character names. The actually-pretty-good version that ran on PBS a year ago was at least a recognizable adaptation of the novel Hitchcock threw out.

"Pete Sutcliffe said...
Kubrick turned
[Lolita] into a comedy.

In her review of Kubrick's Lolita, Pauline Kael mocked people saying this, since they have missed what a dark, dark comedy the novel is. (Even Lynne's remake is funny from time-to-time.)

D. McEwan said...

"Brian Phillips said...
Citizen Kane (YES, I know it starred George W. Bush)"

You know, for a joke to work, it needs some sort of relation to reality. Charles Foster Kane was an unsuccessful political candidate who never held public office. George W. Bush has never even read, much less published, a newspaper. Also, to some degree, Kane was motivated by a desire to help the poorer classes, albeit as his gift rather than their right, but Bush has no such concerns - ever! "Screw the poor" has always been his motto.

I actually liked the Peter Jackson remake of King Kong, though it's certainly a hour too long. The Jeff Birdges version is an abomination.

I will never argue that Tim Burton's remake of Planet of the Apes was any good, but has everyone forgotten what a camp mess the original is? The Burton film is a bad remake of a bad original. For Heaven's sake, the original stars Heston, a dreadful block of wood who never was any good as an actor.

I had forgotten that TV remake of Night of the Hunter, probably because, like "anonymous", I didn't last even 15 minutes into it. What possesed Chamberlin to think he could play that role? Well, at least we know why Harry Powell wouldn't sleep with his new bride this time. He's gay.

Jeremy Dylan said...

Well, it can't be worse than the Wicker Man remake ... can it?
Hey, the Wicker Man remake rocks!

"Killing me won't bring back your god damn honey!"

One remake that is definitely superior to the original is the Werner Herzog version of BAD LIEUTENANT. Now that's a movie!

Matt Patton said...

The twee and money-sotted YOU'VE GOT MAIL better than THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER? well, it's a free country. In defense of the original (besides the fact that everyone in the film is as good as Stewart, and he's wonderful), I would note that this is a rarity, a smart, sophisticated romantic comedy built around people without much money (except for their boss, Mr. Matuscheck, and even he's modest as movie rich people go).

I'm not really fond of either version of LOLITA -- Kubrick's version is in many ways a cleaned-up betrayal of the novel, although James Mason and Shelley Winters are wonderful casting as Humbert and Charlotte (Sue Lyon was whip-smart and funny, but she seemed too old--even though she wasn't--and the script makes her the aggressor with Humbert, when the novel makes it clear that he manipulates her pseduo-sophistication to make her more vulnerable and willing. Speaking of the script, it was mostly re-written by Kubrick, who threw out about 75% of the screenplay that Vladimir Nabokov presented to him, a script that would have been much tougher and more unsettling without getting in too trouble with the censors). The first film's fatal flaw, though, was the casting of Peter Sellers as Quilty. In the novel, Quilty is (a)barely seen until the end of the book and (b) is a loud vulgarian. Seller mostly did the accent schtick he perfected during his music-hall and nightclub days and did clever little cameos. And he was never mean enough. I keep seeing Lenny Bruce in the role. He was one of the meanest and dirtiest (and funniest) comedians about. The second film of LOLITA is closer to the book, but too pretty and remote and picturesque. And the girl (I don't even remember her name) felt like a pretty ex-model floating through a vaguely-pervy fashion shoot.

As for GET CARTER, the first re-make of the film came a lot earlier than 2000, it was HIT MAN, which starred Bernie Casey, who's good (heck, Bernie Casey is almost always good) and Pam Grier, who manages to be striking even if she has a nothing role (the same was really true of Brit Ekland in the original). It was a lot better than the Stallone version, but then the folks behind HIT MAN, at least the actors, were really working at it, while Stallone has mostly been coasting for years.

Mark said...

The Lolita remake defense league is cracking me up here.

The remake of Lolita was okay if you think the girl in the story should have no charm and that narrative tension is a bad idea. The remake is marginally closer to the book in some literal ways, but in exchange it jettisons any claim to being an exciting movie. The remake is the answer to all those folks who predicted that Lolita would one day change from taboo to yawns-ville. Kubrick did not make a masterpiece, but he made a hell of a movie. The best I can say of Lyne's film, lathered up with voice over and dull cul-de-sacs, is that it makes you want to read the book again.

WizarDru said...

What I find amusing is the 'fill-in-the-blank is spinning in his/her grave' statements. As if actors are so protective of their past works that they would fly into rages if they heard a film was being remade that they had already done. I mean, Sir John Gielgud took roles both high and low...and as a Shakespearean actor would have seen plenty of actors taking on roles he'd done. I find it hard to believe that he'd care one way or other.

Michael Caine's recent (and second) auto-biography discusses several movies that have been remade, including Alfie and the Italian Job...and he certainly has no problem with them having been remade. In fact, he comments positively on Jude Law's portrayal of Alfie and comments on the ending of the original Italian Job.

For many actors and directors, particularly in older Hollywood, making a movie was a JOB. And while they did the best they could, that doesn't mean they had an emotional attachment so deep that they couldn't abide another version. In fact, the very existence of a remake usually indicates the quality of the original.

What's most amusing to me is how many of these remakes I forgot exist...because they're so FORGETTABLE.

danrydell said...

I thought the remake of 12 Angry Men wasn't offensive, at least. Not as good as the original, but not abysmal.

Steve Martin's Pink Panther is simply inexcusable. It's so bad.

Heartbreak Kid, I don't know how you make a movie knowing all along you're going to make the audience hate the main star at the end.

Cap'n Bob said...

The Bogart version of Thye Maltese Falcon was the third. It was filmed once as Satan Met a Lady, with Bette Davis, and another as The Maltese Falcon, with Ricardo Cortez. The third time was a charm.

HPFRic said...

TRUE GRIT IS NOT A REMAKE! The Cohens adapted their movie from the original source material: Charles Portis’ *novel*; they did not remake John Wayne’s version, which marginalized Mattie’s role considerably and turned it into a big ol’ JOHN WAYNE vehicle.

That’s a vitally important distinction. By returning to the source, the Cohens were able to find their own, original approach to the material and I think that’s a BIG reason why it’s playing so well. Hailee Steinfeld’s character and performance give that film a lot of warmth and heart, and it simply and effectively differentiates it from the Wayne version.

D. McEwan said...

So WizarDru, are you saying Michael Caine is not spinning in his grave? Because, if someone has prematurely buried him, he's probably very agitated about it. (Frankly, I rather enjoyed the Alfie remake. The same can not be said about the Sleuth remake, with Caine now playing the Olivier role. Since the story was powered by the snooty upperclass writer's insane jealousy of a cockney, class warfare was at the heart of it. Thus Caine was utterly miscast when moved up to that role. He's still a Cockney. But there was so much else wrong with that terrible movie, the miscasting hardly matters.)

Are you going to tell me Olivier wasn't spining in his grave When Mel Gibson played Hamlet? I think he was - from laughter. Shakespeare's bones may have been somewhat more annoyed. I was very amused when Dame Edna said to Mel on one of her TV specials: "No one can touch your Hamlet."

The most-insane thing about Steve Martin's Pink Panther was that he was playing the character BEFORE he became an inspector, which means he was playing him in his 20s. Martin was just turning 60 at the time (six years older than Sellers was when he died), and has had so many facelifts, he looks like an old Chinese Man. What kind of ego makes an actor of 60 think he can play a man in his 20s? (This question could also be applied to Kevin Spacey playing Bobby Darin though decades too old for the role.)

Sorry HPFRic, but your split-hair is meaningless. By that argument Lolita is not a remake (It is.) The Maltese Falcon was not a remake (it is), Horror of Dracula is not a remake (among dozens of Dracula remakes), etc. When a novel is filmed again it is a remake, period. Just because the new True Grit is considerably better than the first version, in large part by replacing non-actors like John Wayne and Glen Campbell with real actors, and also due to a more-faithful adaptation, doesn't make it not-a-remake. It's a remake. A good remake.

Anonymous said...

The remake of Desk Set - two former jeopardy winners vs Watson.

danrydell said...

Just watched the trailer for the Arthur remake.

Nope. Not buying it. Liza is just... gone? There's no Liza? Look, I liked Russell Brand in "Sarah Marshall" and "the Greek," but I'm drawing the line here, especially after that crappy SNL.

HPFRic said...

Don't take my word for it, D. McEwan - check 2010 True Grit's credits: You'll see nary a mention of Marguerite Roberts, who wrote the 1969 film. But check the credits of the new Arthur and you'll sure-as-heck-fire see Steve Gordon's name.

That's the issue for me. Arthur was born a film and was brought to life successfully. There's nowhere else to take the property. A "remake" isn't exploring new ideas; its just lazily selling a pre-sold idea because no one in Hollywood has any creativity.

The 1969 True Grit, however, left plenty of room for another filmmaker to make a truer adaptation of the source novel. Had Wayne made a definitive adaption, I doubt the Cohens would have found anything interesting about the property.

WizarDru said...

"Are you going to tell me Olivier wasn't spining in his grave When Mel Gibson played Hamlet? I think he was - from laughter. Shakespeare's bones may have been somewhat more annoyed."

No, I really don't. It's not like hundreds of other actors hadn't already portrayed Hamlet before and after Olivier...arguably the greatest Shakespearean actor of the 20th century. If the movie had come out a year earlier, I'm sure he would have said that he didn't think that much of it. But I have a hard time believing he'd really care that much.

Let's not forget, even an actor as great as Olivier did his share of crap, including some of the remakes on this list. He was in the remake of The Jazz Singer, remember? I doubt he was terribly proud of Wild Geese II (or of being in ANY film with a 'II' in the title). I doubt he thought so highly of his participation in the original "Clash of the Titans"*, either. For every "Marathon Man", there is a "The Betsy".

My point is that these supposed sainted actors would not suddenly be filled with angst over some inferior remake of their original performance. Because they were involved in them too and since acting was their job, they often had a hand in some occasionally terrible movies themselves.

(side note: the new Clash of the Titans is an example of where more money does not equal a better movie. The newer effects are impressive, I suppose (though the original's are Harryhausen's masterwork)...but the main character is so agressively STUPID that it spoils the exercise and misunderstands what made the original myths so powerful to last 2 millenia).

Anonymous said...

Where is 'Yours, Mine, and Ours'? Travesty of a remake. I was crushed that Dennis Quaid took part in it.

D. McEwan said...

"WizarDru said...
'Are you going to tell me Olivier wasn't spining in his grave When Mel Gibson played Hamlet? I think he was - from laughter. Shakespeare's bones may have been somewhat more annoyed.'

No, I really don't. It's not like hundreds of other actors hadn't already portrayed Hamlet before and after Olivier...arguably the greatest Shakespearean actor of the 20th century."

Congratulations,WizarDru, on 100% completely missing my joke! I was using hopefully-comic irony to completely agree with you, and I find it hard to believe one of Ken's readers needs this OBVIOUS fact explained to them. Your entire reply is stating to me, as a correction, that which I so utterly agree with, it didn't occur to me someone would be so dense as to miss the irony in y take on it. Dozens of actors have played Hamlet on film, and millions onstage. I've played him myself.

So, did you thinkFrasier was a searing drama about a love-challenged radio psychiatrist? Because irony seems to have flown right over your head.

Christian said...

74 comments and no one's mentioned THE WAR OF THE WORLDS? Is Spielberg off limits here? Just wonderin'.

D. McEwan said...

The Spielberg War of the Worlds, deeply flawed as it is (Flaw #1? Tom Cruise.), is still considerably closer to the novel than George Pal's film, and of course, the improvements in special effects over 50 years was more than sufficient justification for a remake.

Tony Held said...

Don't forget the awful 2000 TV remake of the classic film version of Nevil Shute's novel "On The Beach." Armande Assante is no Gregory Peck, nor are any of the other leads worthy of Fred Astaire, Anthony Perkins, and the other male leads. And none of the actresses are worthy of Eva Gardner and the other female leads.

The TV version was long, boring, boasted horrific special effects, was downright weird at times, and, in the end, you don't care when the radiation from a nuclear war finally snuffs life out in Australia. In fact, the tragedy is that it does not happen sooner; none of the characters win sympathy as the cast chomps, chomps that scenery while their characters plod towards their doom.