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Films: any remakes that were better than the originals?

#1 · Posted: 1 May 2010 17:36
We have been having a lot of movie remakes in recent years: "Get Carter" with Stallone, "The Italian Job", "The Ladykillers" with Tom Hanks and "Psycho" in 1998.

Most of these have had rather negative press, but I'm wondering if anyone thinks any of them were actually any good or even better than the original. The only one that springs to mind is Bogart's "The Maltese Falcon" which was actually the third film version of Hammett's novel. (I've seen the first version, with Ricardo Cortez, and I can understand why it is pretty much ignored.)

Can anyone suggest a remake which was an improvement on the first version?
#2 · Posted: 1 May 2010 17:41
Planet of the Apes was quite a good remake its not as good as the classic original but its a very good different take.
#3 · Posted: 1 May 2010 20:48
This month Moviefone compiled a list of the 25 best remakes. It's a fairly solid list. The only movie they got wrong is The Magnificent Seven, that one was terrible compared to Seven Samurai.

#4 · Posted: 2 May 2010 00:27 · Edited by: jock123
he only one that springs to mind is Bogart's "The Maltese Falcon" which was actually the third film version of Hammett's novel.

Funnily enough, this was what went through my head too, when I first saw your thread title - and I've never managed to catch Satan Met A Lady, which was the second one made, with Bette Davis in it.
However, this is partly the crux of the matter, and touched on in the article that blueskirt linked to above: what is a "re-make", and what is just a different version of another source?
Strictly speaking, the three Falcons are actually just variations on the same book; the middle one is apparently a light comedy thriller, while the third is a hard-boiled (albeit wittly scripted) detective film.
Even the Moviefone list is inconsistent, as it says that Pacino's Scarface is a remake of the earlier Edward G. Robinson movie, when about all they share is a title: Robinson plays a thinly disguised Al Capone, whereas Pacino plays (really badly!) a Puerto Rican drug dealer. Same name, entirely different premise.
It's the same for things like the Ocean's Eleven movies - they share a name, and little more (and both are pretty dumb) - and the two Italian Job films (I like the newer one more than the original).
It is interesting to look at the Thomas Crown Affair; I agree with the list that the re-make with Brosnan and Russo is a more polished film. However, why not compare that and the original film to Entrapment, an "unrelated" film, which actually has the same premise (insurance agent sent to investigate suave criminal who can't be caught falls for the man she is investigating - or does she?). It is far more akin to a re-make of Thomas Crown than the two films called Scarface are of each other.

For true re-makes, there is one sequence I can think of, of films where the original has a re-make, and the re-make has a re-make, and they are all actually good and interesting films: the Douglas Fairbanks 1920 The Mark of Zorro (admittedly based on a novella) was remade for sound in 1940 (ditching Don Diego's mute servant in the process), with Tyrone Power; that was then remade for TV in 1974, starring Frank Langella, and retaining most of the 1940 version's script verbatim, much of its score too, and even some of the same locations. They are about as close as I can think (outside of exercises like the Psycho shot-for-shot treatment) of the same film being remade time and again.
#5 · Posted: 2 May 2010 06:13 · Edited by: Moderator
The Magnificent Seven, that one was terrible compared to Seven Samurai.

They are both equally good - I have them both, and I wouldn't say one is better than the other.
A film with Coburn, McQueen, Bronson, Wallach and Bryner in it can't help but be very good. It's a great film, full of action.
Kurosawa's film is a classic as well; although John Sturges more-or-less ripped-off the idea, so did Kurosawa, who said in an interview that John Ford heavily influenced him when making the film.

A Fistful of Dollars is a better film than Yojimbo, but the third remake called Last Man Standing isn't all that good.
#6 · Posted: 2 May 2010 18:03 · Edited by: jock123
There's also a curiosity in the "simultaneous re-make": it was often seen to be cost-effective to make foreign language versions of early movies "live" on set, in the studio, rather than re-dubbing later on, which would have been very difficult with the technology of the time.

Laurel & Hardy (re)made several of their movies this way, shooting the English-language dialogue scenes first, then repeating the action, but this time speaking in French, then again in German, then in Spanish. Some of the supporting actors changed, to cope with the dialogue, and L&H worked phonetically with interpreters coaching them to work in languages they did not actually know.

Other movies were re-made with completely different casts, and an interesting example of this is the 1931 Dracula; after director Tod Browning and the English-language cast knocked-off for the day, a Spanish-speaking cast arrived, and, directed by George Melford made the same film over on the same sets.

It is said that the Spanish-language version, although made for less money, improves on the Browning version (as opposed to The Browning Version, which is something else again!); partly this was down to Melford and his Dracula, actor Carlos Villarías, being able to watch the scenes already shot in English, and then using these to come up with improved staging and camera angles for the night-shift.

Some editions of the Dracula DVD have both versions of the film on them, so you could compare them yourself.
#7 · Posted: 2 May 2010 22:59
An Affair to Remember was better than the source film, I believe.

There's an interesting pair of Raoul Walsh movies...Colorado Territory and High Sierra. I believe High Sierra came first and was a noirish film about a crook on the run. The former was a fairly loyal remake, with the setting (and characters) transposed to the old west. Both are quite good.

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