9 Rather Decent Movie Remakes

Published: 27th Oct, 2009

Not including The Italian Job, which wasn’t good…

Italian Job

Next year is going to find remakes all over the place. There’s Robin Hood, Clash of The Titans, The Wolfman, and someone has even dared to smear their fingers all over Red Dawn – a film that should remain untouched for eternity. Fame has just been remade, and totally brutalised. The Italian Job (pictured) was obliterated, as was Alfie. The Wicker Man will forever provide a fecal smudge on Nic Cage’s career CV. And yet, some of the greatest movies of all time have been reinterpretations of something that came before. Ben Hur in 1959 was the third outing for the movie – having been made originally in 1907, and again in 1925. Fatal Attraction lifted the core of its story from a British television play starring Cheri Lunghi, called Diversion. And Alfred Hitchcock famously made The Man Who Knew Too Much twice – first in 1934, and again in 1956. With that in mind, we thought we’d list some of our favourite remakes. Nine of them, to be precise… 

(Incidentally, once you’ve read this, have a look at the 50 Biggest Movies of 2010 here)

1. Scarface (1983) – remake of Scarface (1932)

REMAKE Scarface ACTUAL

Since his heyday in the 1970s, Pacino has morphed into rather an acquired taste – basically he shouts a lot. It’s a hit-and-miss acting technique that rendered him practically impossible to watch in that film where he’s a blind man, and he’s equally bellowing in the one where he can’t find a good night’s sleep for love nor money. In 1983’s Scarface, however, his over-the-top style completely suited Tony Montana – a sneering Cuban climbing the cocaine ladder in 1980s Florida. It’s a great movie, as is the original version, directed by Howard Hawks in 1932. In that case, it follows the journey of Tony Camonte, a character loosely based on Al Capone, and trivia fans will be delighted to know that the great Harold Lloyd’s brother – cruelly christened Gaylord – lost an eye during filming. Below is the original trailer…

  

2. The Thing (1982) – remake of The Thing From Another World (1951)

REMAKE The Thing

If we were forced to name our top thirty-four films of all time, The Thing would certainly be on the list. If we were then asked to name our favourite Kurt Russell movie of all time, this might just top it. He’s a brilliant actor, that Kurt Russell. Really underrated. For those who haven’t seen it, The Thing is a horror/suspense classic, about Arctic bases, a blood sucking monster, and paranoia. It was adapted from Who Goes There? by John W Campbell Jr, as was its 1951 predecessor The Thing From Another World – another Howard Hawks film. Below is that trailer for that one…

3. The Fly (1986) – remake of The Fly (1958)

REMAKES The Fly

The original version of The Fly stars Vincent Price – famously the creepy voice from Michael Jackson’s Thriller video – attempting to get to the bottom of what looks like a wife murdering her husband. And then things get complicated. The upshot being that her husband was a mad scientist who had invented a crude teleportation device, and ended up swapping his head and a couple of limbs with an innocent household fly. It famously twists at the end with the dead hubby’s tiny head crying out for a little help on a spider’s web. The 1986 version – starring Jeff Goldblum – shifts focus somewhat to the scientist’s shocking transformation into a fly, and features some pretty gruesome eating techniques. Both great films, below is the first one…

 

4. Brewster’s Millions (1985) – remake of Brewster’s Millions (1914, 1921, 1935, 1945)

REMAKE Brewsters Millions

Brewster’s Millions must be one of the most remade films ever – at last count, there were five versions. The two most successful come from 1945 and 1985. The stories stay pretty faithful to one another, with the former featuring an ex-soldier having to spend $1 million in two months without keeping any assets, to secure an $8 million fortune left to him by his dead uncle. Whilst the latter shifts the figures to $30 million in thirty days, to score a windfall of $300 million. One is saved by a cab fare, the other by a lawyer. The 1985 version kicks bottom thanks to two factors – Richard Pryor, and John Candy. Below is the 1945 version…

5. The Magnificent Seven (1960) – remake of Seven Samurai (1954)

REMAKE The Magnificent Seven

The Magnificent Seven sticks very faithfully to the story of the Seven Samurai, and they’re both wonderful films. In each case, seven guns/swords-for-hire are called on by lowly farmers to protect their land from bandits, who keep robbing, looting, and generally freaking everyone out. So they hatch a plan to muscle the thieving bastards off their land, with bittersweet results. The latter film famously stars Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, and Robert Vaughn. That’s quite a cast. Below is the trailer for Akira Kurosawa’s Japanese take on things…

6. Twelve Monkeys (1995) – remake of La Jetée (1962)

REMAKE 12 Monkeys

Unlike his fellow 1980s action heroes, Bruce Willis has gone on to some pretty meaty cinema movies since he hung up his vest. Particularly Twelve Monkeys, which found Terry Gilliam on fine, weird, form. It’s a tale of time travel, world wars, freaky visions, mad scientists, and not really any monkeys whatsoever. It adapted much of the plot from a 1962, short French film called La Jetée, which featured only still images and a voice over. In that case, a man travels through time, meets a beautiful woman, then realises that his childhood memory of watching a man get shot was actually him witnessing his own death as an adult. Sounds very familiar, that. Below is a bit of the 1962 version…

7. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) – remake of You Only Live Twice (1967)

REMAKE The Spy Who Loved Me

Some people might argue that Bond films are perpetually being remade, but, well, they’d be wrong. For the most part, they switch the story-line – at least a bit. Less so, however, with four of their movies. The Spy Who Loved Me is astonishingly close in story to You Only Live Twice, and Never Say Never Again was a remake of Thunderball. We chose to ignore the latter, however, mainly because The Spy Who Loved Me is probably our favourite Bond film of them all. You Only Live Twice features a spacecraft hijacked from orbit by a guffawing cat-stroking maniac intent on world domination, whilst The Spy Who Loved Me finds submarines disappearing, thanks to an equally berserk bad guy. Cue skiing, giants with metal teeth, and the gorgeous Barbara Bach. Below is the original version, written by Roald Dahl no less…

8. Three Men and a Baby (1987) – remake of Trois Hommes et un Couffin (1985)

REMAKES Three men and a baby

Two films, both the story of three handsome bachelors attempting to stop a child from crying, learning how to change filthy nappies, and slowly coming to terms with their less macho sides. One was set in beautiful Paris, starred a trio of French men, won multiple Cesar Awards (the French Baftas), including Best Film, and was even nominated for an Oscar. The latter was directed by Spock, starred two of television’s greatest leading men – Tom Selleck and Ted Danson – alongside Mahoney from Police Academy, and it went on to win a People’s Choice Award for Best Comedy About Three Men and Babies… or some such. We know which one we’d like to sit through. Still, below is a bit of the French one…

9. Ocean’s Eleven (2001) – remake of Ocean’s Eleven (1960)

REMAKE Ocean's Eleven

For the 2001 version, the Rat Pack crew of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jnr and the rest was replaced by smouldering A listers like George Clooney, Brad Pitt, the Bourne Identity, the brilliant Elliott Gould, and Ben Affleck’s little brother. Not to mention Don Cheadle channeling the spirit of Dick Van Dyke. And the latter is an example of a remake that totally blitzes the original. First time around, the gang takes down five casinos, then basically loses the money. In 2001, and intricate plot saw them not only crucify the casino boss, but also startle the audience with a plan that no one saw coming. Unfortunately the sequels have been rubbish. Below is the original version…

Josh Burt
About the author:
Josh has been a writer and journalist for the best part of twenty years and has written for modern staples like FHM and Cosmopolitan and The Daily Telegraph and The Sun. He has also written a small handful of so-so books that you can still buy.

One Response to 9 Rather Decent Movie Remakes

  1. Mikey says:

    Brewster’s Millions has, as you say, been made and remade an immoderate number of times. I put it to you though sir that Freaky Friday AKA Vice Versa AKA Big has been remade more or less every hour on the hour since the invention of the movie camera.

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