Monday, October 15, 2012

Oops, they did it remakes

ROSEMARY HARRIS: Whenever I hear that a classic film is being remade I can't decide if it's hubris or simply a dearth of original ideas. On a recent rowing machine kick, I've rowed through three different versions of Pride and Prejudice, three of Little Women, two of Dr. Zhivago and three of Anna Karenina. Now there's a new Anna coming.

My admiration for Keira Knightley is unalloyed and unalterable. Girl crush. I've loved her ever since Bend it Like Beckham. But I do wonder if the world needs another Anna Karenina a mere 35 years after the splendid PBS version.

Maybe it's good that every generation has it's own Anna - and Elizabeth Bennett, and Lara. And Sherlock (but more about him later this week...) But I can't imagine another Scout Finch. The young Jena Malone would have made a good one, but who could step into Gregory Peck's shoes? And could there be another Holly Golightly?

Which films would you like to see remade and which are "NO, don't mess with perfection!"

(For the record, my faves of the above classics..David Lean's Zhivago, Keira's Pride and Prejudice, Katharine Hepburn's Little Women and so far the Nicola Pagett Anna. Which are your faves?)

LUCY BURDETTE: Okay, so anyone who watched the Jungle Red Family Feud knows that I am weak on movies! But I hope no one messes with SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE, or for that matter, anything starring Meryl Streep. And TOOTSIE, remember that one? Could not do better than Dustin Hoffman and Jessica Lang.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Urgh. Can you imagine a remake of Casablanca?  Sacrilege! Key Largo?  And I'm with Ro on Breakfast at Tiffany's. No one else could play Holly Golightly. No one but Juliette Binoche could do Chocolat. And I agree on Sleepless in Seattle. A remake I did like? The updated version of The Italian Job. Great fun.

Oh, and Lucy, we get that you like Dustin Hoffman:-) Speaking of, nobody better dare mess with The Graduate!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Well, of course they ruined THE WOMEN (the genesis of Jungle Red, remember.) Even with the wonderful Annette Bening, it stunk up the place.

Can you IMAGINE a remake of To Kill A Mockingbird? NO way! And I bet they wouldn't dare try it. Not a chance to replace Gregory Peck, RO.

They could do a new WORKING GIRL, one of my everlasting favorites, but no one could be like Melanie Griffith and Harrison Ford. Sigh. That was SO good.

The remake of Music Man with whats-his-name was a bomb, wasn't it? And it is interesting, though to see the incarnations of James Bond. Do you all still imagine Sean Connery? Or has Daniel Craig crept into your consciousness?

And don't even think about Lawrence of Arabia.

HALLIE EPHRON: Speaking of Dustin Hoffman, I can't imagine a remake of Midnight Cowboy.

When an actor has nailed a role, it's hard to imagine anyone remaking that movie with a new cast. Audrey Hepburn OWNS Holly Golightly. And who else but Humphrey Bogart could be Sam Spade (even though he's not remotely like Sam Spade in the book) or Lauren Bacall Miss Wonderly? Or Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates? Or Sandra Bullock as Gracie Hart? Or Kathleen Turner as Peggy Sue.

JAN BROGAN: The beauty of Netflix is I just finished rewatching the Old PBS Anna Karenina and Ro, you are right. It was awesome. But I would love to see what Keira does with the role. Interesting, when her version of Pride and Prejudice first came out, it got terrible reviews - mostly because the new Darcy couldn't match Colin Firth, but I still loved it. It's just so visually rich, and I think she was a terrific Elizabeth.

ROSEMARY: much as I love Colin Firth - and Kristin Scott Thomas was a ninny to prefer Ralph Fiennes in The English Patient - I thought Matthew McFayden did a wonderful job as Darcy. Less wooden and more believable, although not nearly as hot.

JAN: Isn't Sleepless In Seattle sort of a remake itself?  Of An Affair to Remember Or is it just an "ode" to An Affair to Remember.

ROSEMARY: Ode. You've Got Mail was a remake of In The Good Old Summertime which was a remake of Shop Around the Corner. All charming.

JAN: I would hate to see a remake of The Philadelphia Story. Who else could pull off that Katharine Hepburn hyperactivity?

ROSEMARY: But they did...that was High Society with Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby! I don't think it matched up to the original.

JAN: Okay, can you imagine anyone but Jimmy Stewart in It's A Wonderful Life?  Hmmm...maybe Tom Hanks. He always reminds me of Jimmy.

RHYS BOWEN: I can't actually think of a single remake that I enjoyed more than the original. Every time I've seen one I've wanted to shout "Why? Why?"
I would never go and see a remake of Roman Holiday (one of my all-time favorite movies,because nobody could equal Audrey Hepburn-- or West Side Story, Casablanca, or Out of Africa. I agree--don't touch anything starring Meryl Streep.

And sorry, I did not think the Keira Knightley version of Pride and Prejudice measured up to the TV version with Colin Firth (coming out of the lake soaking wet). 

ROSEMARY:...yeah the lake scene alone was worth the price of admission.  Sad to say I could not find a pic of him dripping wet but this one is mighty fine.


  1. I cannot imagine a different “Mockingbird” . . . or “It Happened One Night” . . . or many of the other films already mentioned here. Without exception, I cannot think of a remake that I liked . . . . I don’t know what spurs filmmakers to attempt remakes of sacrosanct classics, but I have yet to see a remake that could stand up to a comparison with the original. Can you really imagine anyone but Judy Garland skipping down the yellow brick road [or melting Margaret Hamilton] . . . anyone other than Charlton Heston as Ben-Hur . . . or Laurence Olivier as Heathcliff . . . or anyone other than Gene Kelly singing and dancing in the rain?

  2. Like you, I can't imagine remakes of a lot of the films mentioned. But one that really makes me cringe is was the remake of "Inherit the Wind." The original with Spencer Tracy and Frederick March was just so perfect. As much as I admire Jack Lemmon and George C. Scott, well, they just didn't measure up to the originals.

    By the way, while I don't consider the "Bond" incarnations remakes, no one will ever replace Sean Connery in my mind as the classic Bond (although Daniel Craig does a mighty fine job).

  3. They really only should do remakes if they change it in some way or take a movie or show that was terrible and give it a new spin like 21 Jump Street. And they really need to stop with Austen/Bronte remakes. I get they don't have to pay for the rights but there have been half a dozen Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice's. Enough IMO.

  4. I was going to say that, too, Jennifer Harlow - the movie has to be reimagined. And though I'm prejudiced, I think the remake of Little Shop Around the Corner into You've Got Mail is a good example of updating and reimagining.

    Yes, the Bond movies are sequels... same characters, new story. And sometimes those are pretty good. Like the Alien movies. And the Harry Potters.

  5. I guess I am an infidel, but I think Matthew Macfayden was both a better and hotter Mr. Darcy. And furthermore, Rupert Penry Jones trumps them both as Captain Wentworth!

    Anna Karenina is one of my favorite novels, so I'm looking forward to the movie. I think Kiera Knightley I truly wish there would be a film version of Madame Bovary. I have never understood the lack, and so I agree with the comments on the same remakes over and over.

    I think there would be rioting if someone tried to remake To Kill A Mockingbird.

  6. Cripes, my comment got all chewed up.

    I think Kiera Knightley will do a fine job as Anna. I wish there would be a version of Madame Bovary on BBC or Masterpiece. The couple of big screen ones didn't do the novel justice.

  7. I agree with the "Don't Touch!" movies mentioned here - Breakfast at Tiffany's IS Audrey Hepburn.

    I'm almost afraid to mention this movie here 'cause it's one people either really really love (like me), or really really hate - or they've never heard of it. Harold and Maude. Could anyone else even dare try walking into those roles played by Bud Cort and Ruth Gordon? Which brings to mind another fave - Rosemary's Baby. Could anyone other than Mia Farrow play Rosemary?

  8. Ben Hur was already a remake of a critically acclaimed movie mad by the same director. The 35 -year-old Anna Karenina was a remake. The Three Musketeers with Michael York was a remake. There have been a dozen Annas since the 70s. A lot of them in Russian. I think you're guaranteed a new version of A Tale of Two Cities every five to ten years for the rest of your life. Same thing with Little Women and Treasure Island.

    These movies make money. The remakes probably will continue to do so and a version you revile might be someone else's favorite version.

  9. Yup, there will always be remakes, but there will also be differences of opinion about definitive versions. Shop-Mail is a great example of an updating that was perfect.

  10. Ramona, glad to hear there's another Rupert fan out there! Totally agree on Captain Wentworth.

    And Kaye! Harold and Maude!!!! No one else could have played those fabulous parts!

  11. One movie that was miles better as a recent remake was True Grit. The new one is so much truer to the book, which was a sparely written, exquisite little jewel of a story. The John Wayne version was way too Hollywood to follow the original in a faithful way, in my opinion. Too much scenery chewing going on.

    Did anyone see the Tim Burton version of Alice in Wonderland? I loved that version, and thought it made a lot of sense that his Alice was a bit older than she's been portrayed in the past, on the very brink of adult womanhood, and conflicted about how her role was to change in a short time. The visuals were really stunning, too, as was Johnny Depp's incredible performance.

  12. I tend to differentiate between remakes of movies that are principally known as movies (say, Sleepless in Seattle, Singin' in the Rain) vs. those known essentially as books, so that P&P, for example, is really fair game.

    Then again, anyone so misguided as to have a go at To Kill a Mockingbird would receive all the derision and failure they deserve.

    For the record, Psycho, It's a Wonderful Life, Roman Holiday and It Happened Once Night have all been remade. And forgotten.

  13. The problem with Hollywood is that they don't want to try something creative and original--they'd rather remake anything/everything that's been done before, including TV series that weren't a particularly good idea in the first place. It's part of their wanting "more of the same." Hope they never lay a hand on Mockingbird.

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  15. Kaye,
    I don't thnk Harold and Maude would fly today, with pedophilia in the news all the time. It was my husband's favorite movie and he made me go see it (maybe video stores?) years afer it came out.

    I think something got lost in the changing era. I couldn't get past the stealing-his-youth thing. No matter weird and lonely he was or how well it was written, directed and acted.

    I think that's an interesting way to think and categorize remakes.

    And Jennifer, I am a sucker for any new version of Austen or Bronte, but even I can see your point.

  16. Ro, so much fun today. I think some all the best and films are as good as they are, are as special as they are, due to the brilliant pairing of sets of actors with the characters they play within the story. I submit "The African Queen" with Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn.

  17. My speech-to-text voice was not up to par this morning. That should say: I think some of the best and most memorable films are as good as they are... . Sorry!

  18. Psycho was remade? So interesting!

    I don't look at High Society as a "remake" so much, but as an entity--and a wonderful one! In itself. (ANd now I am humming.."and then you has jazz jazz jazz..")

    How is anyone liking the new Sherlock--Elementary with LUcy Liu? Now there's a remake--sigh. Wish I would have thought of it.

  19. Oh, yes, Kaye, Mia Farrow was the perfect Rosemary. (That was SUCH a good movie.) But you know...I bet they could re-do. But would it be too--old-fashioned, now? Or is the story a classic? (NOw it's on TV, kind of, as 666 Park Avenue..)

  20. Did I read the words "Colin Firth"? Definitely my favorite "Pride and Prejudice."

    Remember the remake of "Sabrina" with Harrison Ford. I like Ford, don't get me wrong, but man...that stank.

    And speaking of Mr. Ford -- can you imagine anyone remaking the original Star Wars trilogy or Indiana Jones movies? Who would be the swashbuckler...uhm... actually...hmm...I wonder if Johnny Depp could get away with it. That man can almost do no wrong. :-)

    This weekend I'll be watching the Alfred Hitchcock REBECCA. Can't wait!

  21. Forgot to mention: Can you imagine "It's a Wonderful Life" without Jimmy Stewart?

  22. Somebody mentioned True Grit as a case in which the remake was better. Great point - agreed!

    I'd like to see remakes of some action flicks in which the original was let down by sketchy special effects, due either to budget or the technological limitations of the time. I nominate The Guns of Navarone and Force Ten from Navarone (both from Alistair MacLean books) as ripe for big-budget remakes.

  23. If they try to remake Harold & Maude I will picket the studio.

  24. So I guess nobody'll be going to the remake of THE GREAT GATSBY in 3-D?

  25. Lisa,

    Totally with you on Sabrina. It totally freaked out my daughter, who couldn't understand why any girl would fall for harrison Ford.

    He was TOO OLD for that part! The bench the ingenue when she's in her mid thirties but they allow those old guys to play the romantic lead FOREVER.

  26. It's so true--such a double standard! I'm not surprised that movie freaked out your daughter -- it freaked me out!

  27. So glad to hear from the "Harold & Maude" fans. Ruth Gordon brought a special magic to the part, and I'd hate to see an actress who's trying to get an Oscar wreck it by over-acting in the part.

  28. AND - would a remake of Harold & Maude mean different music? EEK!

    I guess I think of Rosemary's Baby as a classic, Hank. And if anyone else stepped into the role of Rosemary, I would still "see" Mia. Just as I would, I think, see Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly.

  29. I think the casting is generally one of the two main problems with remakes . . . remakes are pretty much doomed to failure when a treasured film has new actors and actresses portraying the characters and the viewer is remembering the much-beloved original cast. The other problem with remakes comes with filmmakers who do not remain true to the original film and change the essentials of the story so that there are things in the remake that don't match up with your expectations or with the expected behavior of the characters . . . .