Any Good Remakes?

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Any Good Remakes?

Postby Polynikes » Tue Jan 22, 2013 4:25 pm

I could make a long list of awful remakes. It puzzles me why directors, producers and actors want to be associated with films which generally turn out to be dreadful distortions of much loved classics.

I suspect the only good remakes (few and far between) are ones which are often described as "re-imaginings" or to put it more prosaically, where there are marked changes to the original's plot and/or characters. To be honest, I am struggling to think of any remakes which surpass the original. The ones I think stand at least respectably in comparison with the originals are Assault on Precinct 13 (2005), The Manchurian Candidate (2004), King Kong (2005), The Italian Job (2003)and 3:10 to Yuma (2007). It's a thin enough list, and I can't think of any remake where I found myself thinking how pleased I was that someone had taken the decision do it and what an improvement it was. Can anyone offer an example? I am told True Grit) (2010) was good, but I have not seen it.
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Re: Any Good Remakes?

Postby Tom B » Tue Jan 22, 2013 11:33 pm

I'm sure that when the subject of remakes comes up, most people think of more contemporary abominations, like Sharon Stone's Gloria or Van Sant's Psycho misfire. There are acctually a lot of older and smaller films that are remakes, and that often overshadowed the originals.

Douglas Sirk remade at least two films into glossy '50s melodramas: Both Imitation of Life and Magnificent Obsession had versions in the '30s. Likewise, Waterloo Bridge (1940) had a '31 version that's supposed to be grittier; nonetheless, the 1940 version is hardly an embarrassment.

Robert Altman's Thieves Like Us is a remake of a great little noir from the '40s, They Live by Night. Theodore Dreiser's book An American Tragedy was filmed twice: Once under that name in the '30s, and as A Place in the Sun in the '50s. His Girl Friday was based on the play The Front Page, which was filmed under that name in the '30s.

And, of course, there's Ben-Hur. And Hitchcock's own reworking of The Man Who Knew Too Much, one from the '30s, one from the '50s.

Maybe not exactly what you're looking for, but something to think about.
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Re: Any Good Remakes?

Postby J.M. Vargas » Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:45 am

Cronenberg's remake of "The Fly" is, IMO, heads and shoulders above its 50's original. The original can stand on its own as a glossy sci-fi spectacle though, so a remake doesn't necessarily have to be better to be good or memorable. It just has to be good and have an identity/reason of being (besides cashing on the name of the original) and a remake can rock.
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Re: Any Good Remakes?

Postby mavrach » Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:50 am

J.M. Vargas wrote:Cronenberg's remake of "The Fly" is, IMO, heads and shoulders above its 50's original. The original can stand on its own as a glossy sci-fi spectacle though, so a remake doesn't necessarily have to be better to be good or memorable. It just has to be good and have an identity/reason of being (besides cashing on the name of the original) and a remake can rock.


The Fly always comes up as a great remake, and Cronenberg's movie is superior IMO, but watching the two movies points out something odd - is it really a remake? The characters settings, events, everything, have NOTHING in common between the two movies. I was a fan of Cronenberg's version and when I went back to see the original I was surprised to find a movie about a lab in French Canada involving two brothers, a mystery involving a man getting flattened by a press, and a lack of Seth Brundle or the 3-character storyline from the remake. They're the same only in the concept of the monster. But does that make The Lost Boys a remake of Dracula?? I guess the fly fusion teleport mishap monster isn't as regularly used as vampires, so they had to call it a remake. At least they give credit to the original concept.

A lot of remakes are like that.
+1. this is very interesting.
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Re: Any Good Remakes?

Postby Dan Mancini » Wed Jan 23, 2013 7:46 am

John Carpenter's The Thing is a major improvement over The Thing From Another World (which is a good flick in its right).

I'm probably in the minority, but I think Christopher Nolan's remake of Insomnia is better than Erik Skjoldbjærg's original. Both are strong, but Nolan's is more impressive visually and the main character's internal conflict is weightier and more direct because Nolan bends the story to align with his own fascination with characters stuck in no-win situations.
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Re: Any Good Remakes?

Postby Paul Kile » Wed Jan 23, 2013 7:46 am

Back From Eternity from 1956 was a direct remake of the 1939 film Five Came Back, a group of people stranded in the jungle after their airplane was forced down in a storm. It was unusual in that the director John Farrow decided to remake his own film. I've always thought the acting in BFE was better, particularly Robert Ryan as the alcoholic pilot, Rod Steiger as the anarchist, and Gene Barry as the coward. The acting in the earlier film was a lot more wooden, even the presence of Lucille Ball couldn't help things.
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Re: Any Good Remakes?

Postby Polynikes » Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:50 pm

Tom B wrote:I'm sure that when the subject of remakes comes up, most people think of more contemporary abominations, like Sharon Stone's Gloria or Van Sant's Psycho misfire. There are acctually a lot of older and smaller films that are remakes, and that often overshadowed the originals.

Douglas Sirk remade at least two films into glossy '50s melodramas: Both Imitation of Life and Magnificent Obsession had versions in the '30s. Likewise, Waterloo Bridge (1940) had a '31 version that's supposed to be grittier; nonetheless, the 1940 version is hardly an embarrassment.

Robert Altman's Thieves Like Us is a remake of a great little noir from the '40s, They Live by Night. Theodore Dreiser's book An American Tragedy was filmed twice: Once under that name in the '30s, and as A Place in the Sun in the '50s. His Girl Friday was based on the play The Front Page, which was filmed under that name in the '30s.

And, of course, there's Ben-Hur. And Hitchcock's own reworking of The Man Who Knew Too Much, one from the '30s, one from the '50s.

Maybe not exactly what you're looking for, but something to think about.


Some good examples. Most of these (as far as I recall) considerably expand what were originally shorter versions. I have never seen the 1931 version of Waterloo Bridge. I have never heard of Gloria, so thanks for the warning!
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Re: Any Good Remakes?

Postby Mach6 » Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:21 pm

I enjoyed the 2010 The Crazies with Timothy Olyphant but I have to admit I never saw the George Romero original. Olyphant & Radha Mitchell were strong leads as the couple trying to survive one intense scene after another. It's an effective B-movie with no fat on it.

From what I heard about the original, I probably wouldn’t like it since it seems Romero pushed his politics & portrayed the military as one dimensional “Shoot First”, heartless killers that I saw in Avatar.

I’m going need help from the Jury Room with this one. Anybody seen the original & was it better or worse than the remake?
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Re: Any Good Remakes?

Postby mkiker2089 » Wed Jan 23, 2013 8:43 pm

I'm going to say the remake of The Crazies is better. Not for political reasons but because Romero has never been good at action flicks. His action movies often feel like vignettes pieced together. He does better when he gets political because then he has something to tie it all together, hence why Dawn, Day, and Land are his best works even though Night gets all the glory.

Romero also does better with people looking over his shoulder, but that's for another thread.
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Re: Any Good Remakes?

Postby Dan Mancini » Thu Jan 24, 2013 8:37 am

The remake of The Crazies is also better because Romero's version is shrill. Practically every scene involves a group of characters yelling at one another.
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Re: Any Good Remakes?

Postby mkiker2089 » Thu Jan 24, 2013 12:44 pm

Agreed. Actually I'd say that Romero's version suffers from almost anything EXCEPT politics. His characters may be one dimensional but that isn't intentional.

That said it's a decent movie. It's in that list of movies that I'm glad I saw and would recommend anyone who likes the remake to see, but have no desire to view again.
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Re: Any Good Remakes?

Postby hoytereden » Fri Jan 25, 2013 4:10 pm

The history of remakes is probably almost as old as films themselves. For example, my favorite film era is the early '30s and until I started finding out more about the individual titles in those years I had no idea how many we're being remade, in some cases within the same decade. Of course back then, since there was no home video, the movie going public I'm sure had little way of knowing they would be seeing a remake unless it was a well known title like Waterloo Bridge since a studio often kept the exact same plot and would give the remake a different title.
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Re: Any Good Remakes?

Postby tucco » Mon Feb 18, 2013 3:51 am

I enjoyed the WALKING TALL remake several years ago. For the simple fact that it tried and succeeded at retaining the small town feel of the original. I remember hoping that they kept this element from the original and was pleasantly surprised. It's a solid, enjoyable film that keeps the spirit of the original. Not a very important film (even in the way the original was) but it was an example of a good remake.
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Re: Any Good Remakes?

Postby Burson_Fouch » Fri Feb 22, 2013 9:51 am

mkiker2089 wrote:I'm going to say the remake of The Crazies is better. Not for political reasons but because Romero has never been good at action flicks. His action movies often feel like vignettes pieced together. He does better when he gets political because then he has something to tie it all together, hence why Dawn, Day, and Land are his best works even though Night gets all the glory.

Romero also does better with people looking over his shoulder, but that's for another thread.


The Crazies remake is a much better film that Romero's original, both technically and in acting. Unlike, NOTLD, the budgetary limitations pretty much sink the original, imho.

Other than the basic premise, I'm not sure Cronenberg's Fly is a remake of the 50's version. The 50's film is a pretty faithful adaptation of the orginal novella, while Croneberg tossed out everything but the basic premise of the monster and went in his own brilliant direction
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Re: Any Good Remakes?

Postby Jim_Thomas » Fri Feb 22, 2013 12:00 pm

Friedkin's Sorcerer is a pretty good remake of The Wages of Fear. I understand Friedkin is working on a BR release even now...
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