Remakes: Best, worst and WTF?

OK, I want to see this. But where would you put the musical numbers?

Tom Savini’s remake of Night of the Living Dead wasn’t bad. I like it quite a bit. In Romero’s original, Barbara is in shock for most of the picture. In the remake she’s freaked out for awhile but comes out of it and ends up surviving because of her ability to look at the situation logically.

I also really enjoyed the remake of Dawn of the Dead.
I have been trying to find a copy of the original “Man on Fire” so I can compare it to the Denzel Washington version, which I love.

Any scene that previously had Travolta in it.

Great remakes: Ocean’s 11, Dawn of the Dead (2004), The Fugitive (based on the old TV series, but a great movie on its own), Little Shop of Horrors (the musical adaptation), The Thing.

Sorceror (1977, d. William Friedkin), remake of Le Salaire de la Peur (“The Wages of Fear”) (1953, d. Henri-Geroges Clouzot)

This was supposed to be the big summer movie of 1977. Remember Norma’s line in Sunset Boulevard, “we didn’t need dialogue, we had faces!” Something changed in the 24 years between those two films, something about the way suspense and action movies are made. In the original, you have to read much of what happens on the faces of the actors. When the trucks are bouncing along a bumpy road, or trying to turn an unstable switchback on the side of a mountain, you see the men dealing with the situation more than the situation itself. By the time of the remake, expectations were different. Now we see the potholes and mudslides and the rope bridge. The original was also a little more existential; there’s no backstory to explain why these characters are hanging out in a small town on the buttcheek of hell. And sometimes a downer ending just comes out of nowhere. (In another thread, I called it a deus ex michelin.) The remake gives these guys reasons for being where they are.

They’re both great movies, but I like the remake a little better.

One that I’m looking forward to later this year, Sleuth. The original was brilliant, but the remake has potential.

The Good: Can we all agree on Casino Royale?

I have to disagree with this one. ]i]Sorcerer* is a competent action movie (alhtough with numerous technical flaws) but The Wages of Fear is a classic suspense movie, with elements which influenced subsequent films through the modern day. The end is out of left field, but appropriate, methinks. (And there is a backstory as to why the guys are there, but it’s in the original European cut, not the bastardized American cinematic version.)

Damn skippy we can. The recent remake of Casino Royale was not only better than the original (either of them), but frankly better than just about every Bond film in four decades.


That’s your opinion. As part of our Psychology Club activities in college, we watched both movies back to back. I stand by my statement.

My nomination for both worst and WTF remake is Wild Wild West. The roles of West and Gordon were merely studio-driven bad choices, but what they did to Dr. Miguelito Loveless was a slap in the face to Michael Dunn.

The Best: Jet Li’s “Fist of Legend” remake of (Bruce Lee’s) “The Chinese Connection” - this, from a die-hard Bruce Lee fan. When I heard that there was a remake of CC, I was very skeptical. But after seeing “Fist”, I could not help but see that it was a superior take. (What is interesting is that with Jet Li’s “Fearless”, he’s now also done the prequel. So he’s played both the teacher and the student).

The Worst: the list is extremely long. But the recent “Poseidon” (“The Poseidon Adventure”) comes to mind. I saw this on cable, and whereas the special effects are noteworthy, it looks like they went to great lengths to remove ALL the human drama from the story. What made the original wasn’t a capsized cruise ship, but how the survivors reacted to being placed in that predicament.

The WTF: Again, the list is long. “The Avengers” (remake of the TV show) comes to mind. Not only a horrible movie, but seemed to have very little in common with the original show other than the names of characters.

I wasn’t expecting the remake of Father of the Bride to be good, but it was as sweet and funny as the original.

A stupid idiotic remake was The Bachelor, with Chris O’Donnell. It was a remake of Buster Keatons’ Seven Chances. The latter was one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. The remake was just stupid.

Good call. It’s as if they hooked the TV series up to a machine that sucked all the charm, wit and intelligence right out of it and that’s what became the movie.

Plus, Uma Thurman not only is no Emma Peel, she is also no Linda Thorson, no Cathy Gale, no … um, nothing! She is not no nothing! So there!

You mean no one other than people who watch TCM; they show the originals from time to time.

I think the biggest WTF is Psycho. At this point I don’t believe that any movie is sacred and that no one could possibly find something interesting to do working from the same starting point. Still, remaking the film shot for shot? Why? What’s the point? That’s the artistic equivalent of copying off the smart kid’s test. To make matters worse it illustrated what an incompetent director Gus Van Sant was since even though he was cribbing off a master he missed the nuances that made the original great.

Ihave seen three versions. Dangerous Blonde (1931) is great. The Maltese Falcon with Humphrey Bogart is just as good, although it looks to be almost frame-for-frame the same movie. The one with Bette Davis was WTF.

My nominees:

Best: Ocean’s 11 the Rat Pack version was cute but didn’t make a lot of sense.

Worst: Stepford Wives

WFT: All the King’s Men I usually like Sean Penn, but he was not Willie Stark. He might have worked as Jack Burden.

For good, I will go with The Thing, back when John Carpenter made good movies, and this combined amazing special effects with a nightmarish environment.

For bad, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner which had a funny and poignant story mixed with an amazing cast and turned into some goofy ass forgettable comedy.

In the WTF category, sticking with classics, Cheaper by the Dozen which was also funny and heartwarming and turned into some Steve Martin embarrassment.

A WTF: Barb Wire, which was a remake of Casablanca with Pam Anderson in the Bogart role.

To be fair, it was based directly on a forgettable comic book series from the early '90s, even if the story was a repackaging of Casablanca.

You mean apart from the Dopers (and more Dopers) and thousands of other people who have bought the three-disk DVD set that includes all three films? :smiley:

I have it, and the 1931 version is in many ways more true to the Hammet novel than the more famous 1941 version. It’s grittier and shows Spade as more of a womanizer and a little less noble than the Bogart version. For instance, the morning after Spade and Brigid sleep together (which, because of the Production Code, is only very obliquely hinted at in the 1941 version) he ransacks her apartment while she’s still sleeping. He then plays innocent when she frantically tells him about it later. Also, Cairo is (IIRC) explicitly called a fairy (or some other derogatory name for homosexual) by characters in the earlier film, whereas only the gardenia cologne and Peter Lorre’s mannerisms imply that fact in the 1941 version.

Satan Met a Lady is a broad comic retelling of the basic story of The Maltese Falcon with all the names and details changed. E.g., in this version, the dingus isn’t a jewel-encrusted falcon, but “The Horn of Roland.” As a version of the Hammet book it stinks, but as a fast-paced light thriller/comedy with vaguely familiar elements, it’s not the worst way you could spend 74 minutes. And the 28-year-old Bette Davis never looked cuter.

However, the 1941 film is in most respects superior to the 1931 version, and even improves on the novel in many ways. For instance, in the book Gutman has a young teenage daughter who appears in only one (rather lurid) scene. She plays no other part in the story, and her existence raises some rather troubling and unanswered questions about Gutman. Although you could argue that this serves to make Gutman even more sinister, Huston was wise to cut her out altogether.

In general, Huston’s screenplay (in response to the Production Code) tones down the grittiness of the novel, but even so, I would argue that few films have ever been more literally faithful to their source than the 1941 Maltese Falcon. I’m working on a detailed analysis comparing the text of the book to the screenplay, and although I haven’t quantified it (yet), the vast majority of the movie’s dialog is lifted verbatim from the book. It’s quite remarkable. Although Huston was a brilliant director and writer, a large part of his brilliance in this case was to recognize Hammet’s genius and leave it intact.

How much?

Wow. The breadth of opinions available on this board never ceases to astound me. the Minnelli original is a perfect, flawless movie, and one of the most powerful artistic statements ever made about parenthood and a father’s tragic joy in watching his child become an adult and grow out of his life. The remake is, IMHO, a horrifyingly vapid black hole of dreadfully unfunny comedy and absolutely nothing else. When I’m president, all those involved will be shot.

If by “improvement” you mean more fake history, homoeroticism and homophobia, then yeah, you suspect right.