Gary Collinson selects his Five Essential Hollywood Remakes…
Given the current Hollywood trend of shunning creativity and originality in favour of a quick cash-in based on name recognition, the remake (reboot, reimagining, rehash, or whatever you’d like to call it) has firmly cemented its place as the order of the day. Although the number of upcoming remakes is pushing astronomical levels – just check this list out at TheMovieInsider.com – it would be (slightly) unfair to suggest that the entire concept is nothing but a recipe for disaster. Over the years a handful of gems stand out among the seemingly endless list of pointless, sub-standard travesties, such as the following Five Essential Hollywood Remakes…
5. The Maltese Falcon (1941, dir. John Huston)
Regarded as the first film noir, The Maltese Falcon is based on Dashiell Hammett’s novel of the same name and stars screen legend Humphrey Bogart as private eye Sam Spade on the trail of a priceless MacGuffin. First adapted ten years earlier by director Roy Del Ruth, the original was outlawed under the restrictive Motion Picture Production Code (later seeing release under the title Dangerous Female), leading Warner Bros. to produce a new version from director John Huston. Nominated for three Academy Awards including Best Picture, The Maltese Falcon remains one of the finest mysteries in cinema history.
4. The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956, dir. Alfred Hitchcock)
Alfred Hitchcock’s Hollywood remake of his earlier British classic sees James Stewart and Doris Day as an American couple who find their daughter kidnapped after the family become embroiled in an assassination plot. When comparing the movies in discussion with French film-maker and critic Francois Truffaut, Hitchcock suggested “the first version is the work of a talented amateur and the second was made by a professional”, and the latter is certainly the more polished, suspenseful and satisfying of the two (but don’t let that put you off the 1934 original).
3. The Departed (2006, dir. Martin Scorsese)
Boasting a stellar cast including Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg, Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin and Ray Winstone, The Departed is an American remake Hong Kong crime thriller Infernal Affairs (and elements of its two sequels) from directors Andrew Lau and Alan Mak. Although by no means Scorsese’s best work, it did finally bag the director a long overdue Oscar statuette along with successes in the Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay and Editing categories, and stands as the finest example of a Western take on Asian cinema. Whether it manages to improve on the original however, is another matter entirely.
2. The Thing (1982, dir. John Carpenter)
Based on John W. Campbell, Jr.’s novella Who Goes There? (published under the pseudonym Don. A Stuart), which had earlier hit the screen with 1951’s The Thing from Another World, John Carpenter’s sci-fi horror classic The Thing stars Kurt Russell as the leader of an Antarctic research team who find themselves attacked by a hidden killer – a parasitic alien life form that assumes the identity of its host. Despite poor box-office returns and mixed reviews the film has went on to achieve cult status, while its elaborate visual effects remain highly impressive to this day. Coincidently, a remake/sequel/prequel is currently in development from director Matthijs van Heijningen.
1. Scarface (1983, dir. Brian De Palma)
Updating Howard Hawk’s classic gangster film to a then contemporary 1980 setting, Scarface is a bloody and brutal epic that details Cuban refugee Tony Montana’s (Al Pacino) pursuit of the American Dream, his ascension through the ranks of organised crime and eventual violent downfall. Despite a Razzie nomination for Worst Director Brian De Palma delivers a masterclass in the execution of a successful remake, while Pacino is electric in arguably his greatest performance as Montana, a cold-blooded and ruthless killer who will stop at nothing in his pursuit of the American Dream, and a character truly worthy of his iconic status.
His Girl Friday (1940, dir. Howard Hawks)
The Fly (1986, dir. David Cronenberg)
Cape Fear (1991, dir. Martin Scorsese)
Insomnia (2002, dir. Christopher Nolan)
3:10 to Yuma (2007, dir. James Mangold)
And of course for the perfect example of what not to do, see Day of the Dead. Or rather, don’t.
Agree? Disagree? We’d love to hear your comments on the list…