Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Most movie remakes are at best unnecessary and at worst an insult to the originals. Yet Hollywood continues to crank out mediocre remakes featuring actors who are inferior to the stars of the originals (I am waiting for an announcement that THE WIZARD OF OZ will be remade with Miley Cyrus).

While not a bad movie, NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN was totally unnecessary. The sole motivation for making the movie was money – to cash in on Sean Connery returning to the role of James Bond for one last time.

Adam Sandler is no Burt Reynolds, let alone a Gary Cooper (one critic wrote, “Adam Sandler is to Gary Cooper what a gnat is to a racehorse.”). His remake of THE LONGEST YARD was totally unnecessary and his remake of MR DEEDS GOES TO TOWN was an insult to a classic movie.

A literal shot-by-shot remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO added absolutely nothing to the original.

There was even a remake of the classic Cary Grant-Audrey Hepburn romantic thriller CHARADE, perhaps "the" classic film of its genre, titled THE TRUTH ABOUT CHARLIE, which lasted about a day and a half in the theatres, and rightfully so.

Some remakes are not really remakes - they simply steal the title and a basic plot idea. The producers hope to boost the box office of their movie by evoking memories of a far superior film. The Steve Martin CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN films had absolutely nothing to do with the Clifton Webb original other than the fact that both films are about a family with 12 children, and was, to say the least, an inferior film.

Don’t get me wrong. There have been remakes that have improved and expanded on the original film – though this is the exception and not the rule. In two of the best examples of this exception the remake was done by the same director. Alfred Hitchcock remade his THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH some 22 years after the original. And Frank Capra remade his 1933 film LADY FOR A DAY as POCKETFUL OF MIRALCES in 1961. Although I have not seen the original films, the remakes are certainly top notch classic films.

KING KONG was remade twice. The 1933 original was a breakthrough masterpiece. The first remake, made in 1976, was totally unnecessary, and inferior in every way, even though I was in the film (my friend Howard Bernstein and I were among the crowd that ran across the top of the World Trade Center tower to avoid a falling Kong). The recent “threemake” was better, and relatively respectful to the original, although I was not keen on the casting of Jack Black.

So, does anyone out there want to suggest a movie remake that you think was better than the original?



Stacie Clifford Kitts said...

My grandparents Rita and Phil were both managers of movies theaters way back when. In fact, that is how they met. My granny is keen on telling stories about the day when movie stars were truly glamorous. "There will never be stars like the stars we had," She would say. My mother spent many hours watching movies and being catered too by doting ushers while grandma managed the theater. As a result, my mom is a true movie buff. Moreover, her love of movies was something she passed on to me. I was raised watching every classic movie ever released. My husband is always amazed at how I can identify movies by watching a few seconds of any clip.

I admit that I am usually disappointed when I watch a remake of a great movie classic. It always amazes me that some filmmaker thinks it is a good idea to "modernize" the story. I can't think of a single story that was better than the original. Let's face it, if the movie needed improvement the first time around, then it wouldn’t be a classic now…duh.

Monica said...

Thanks for reminding me of a couple of my favorite classics! I love Charade and The Man Who Knew Too Much. I'm a huge Hitchcock fan. I think my favorite is Notorious.

Robert D Flach said...


I am partial to THE BIRDS.

Did you know that the screenplay for THE BIRDS was written by the same author who wrote the 86th Precinct police procedurals under the pen name Ed McBain (if you like I can tell you why he used a pen name for that series) and who wrote BLACKBOARD JUNGLE as Evan Hunter? It was from a story by Daphne Du Maurier.

The original ending of THE BIRDS had Rod Taylor and Tippi Hedren driving into San Francisco and seeing that the havoc was not localized.

Speaking of remakes, it appears that George Clooney will star in a new version of THE BIRDS. Totally unnecessary!