Lately when we go to the movies, we might experience a feeling of Déjà vu. It seems that Hollywood has run out of new ideas, and is remaking old movies. However, this is nothing new. Filmmakers have been remaking movies since the beginning of the industry.
Remember “The Maltese Falcon” starring Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, and Sidney Greenstreet? That famous film was actually a remake of the 1931 first version of the story written by Dashiell Hammet in 1930. The original film starred Richard Cortes as the ubiquitous hard-boiled detective, Sam Spade. If you remember watching Ben-Hur and The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston, you may not be aware that these films are remakes of earlier versions from Hollywood’s early days. Remakes are nothing new.
The Man who Knew Too Much (1954)
This was a remake of a 1934 Alfred Hitchcock spy thriller, directed by none other than Alfred Hitchcock! He had once told Director Francoise Truffaut that the 1934 version was directed by a talented amateur, and the newer film which starred Jimmy Stewart, and Doris Day was directed by a professional. Still, Hitchcock preferred the original film for its lack of polish.
The Thing (1982)
This John Carpenter directed science fiction film has become a classic in its own right. It was remade from the 1951 Sci-Fi classic film “The Thing from another World”, directed by Christian Nyby. Both films were based upon a short story written by John W. Campbell. The original film featured James Arness (of television’s “Gunsmoke”) as the creature in the film. The remake starred Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, and Keith David. Carpenter’s version was much closer to the original story than the first film, and featured some incredible special effects. A second remake is in production for release in 2010.
The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (2009)
This John Travolta, Denzel Washington action thriller is actually the second remake of the 1974 film “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three” which starred Robert Shaw and Walter Matthau. A made for television version aired in 1998 on ABC. That version starred Vincent D’Onofrio, and Edward James Olmos as the protagonists. All of the films are based upon a novel of the same name by author John Godey which was published in 1973.
Cape Fear (1991)
This Martin Scorsese directed remake starred Robert Deniro as convicted Rapist Max Cady – arguably one of his creepiest roles, since Taxi Driver. Nick Nolte plays Sam Bowden, who had been Cady’s lawyer 14 years before. Cady thinks Bowden withheld evidence at his trial that could have gotten him acquitted, and begins a campaign of intimidation of Cady, his wife and daughter. The original version from 1962 starred Robert Mitchum as Cady, and Gregory Peck as Bowden. Interestingly both Peck and Mitchum have small roles in the update.
Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
Academy Award winner Stephen Soderbergh (Erin Brockovich, Traffic) directed this remake of the classic heist film from 1960 which had starred Rat Pack members, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Angie Dickinson. The remake offered George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, and Julia Roberts. Andy Garcia was the heavy of the piece, while Caesar Romero filled that role in the original.
Remakes in Hollywood are as common as long winded acceptance speeches at the Oscars. These are a few of the good ones.