As part of its Cannes coverage The Hollywood Reporter mentions a couple of prospective movie remakes:

CANNES — MGM could be bringing back the Cold War.

“Red Dawn,” John Milius’ 1984 tale of a group of American rebels fighting Soviet forces, is a candidate for a remake, studio toppers Harry Sloan and Mary Parent revealed Saturday at the American Pavilion in Cannes.

They also confirmed that 1987’s “Robocop” could resurface in a new version.

Two mediocre essentially B movies seem like odd prospects for remakes. I guess it’s their cult status, especially among people of a certain age, that has caused the studio to turn its attention to them.

I can understand why an American studio would remake a foreign original—for the money. Remaking classics is harder to understand and remaking some pictures, e.g. Casablanca, would be a sacrilege.

Some remakes are interesting. For example, 1952’s Prisoner of Zenda was a shot-for-shot remake in Technicolor with Stewart Granger and Deborah Kerr (did any actress cry out more for Technicolor than Deborah Kerr?) of 1939’s black and white version featuring Ronald Coleman and Madeleine Carroll. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. was so wonderful as the charming nogoodnik Rupert of Hentzau that I think it’s a crying shame that Rupert of Hentzau, the sequel Anthony Hope wrote to the Prisoner of Zenda, was never remade with him in the title role.

Most of the recent crop of remakes make one wonder why they bother. I’m thinking of pictures like The Fog, Sabrina, The Truth About Charlie (an awful remake of the delightful Charade). IMO most remakes are pretty awful. Of course there are a few that prove the rule.

I think the all-time greatest remake was probably The Maltese Falcon. You know, the one with Humphrey Bogart, Sidney Greenstreet, and Mary Astor. It was a remake of 1931’s The Maltese Falcon, which featured Ricardo Cortez and Bebe Daniels. That was actually a pretty decent picture itself but nothing like as good as John Huston’s remake.

More recently, 1995’s A Little Princess, was enormously superior to the rather tepid Shirley Temple vehicle of 1939. That itself was a remake of a silent featuring Mary Pickford as Sarah. I’ve never seen the silent version so I can’t comment on it. It is remarkable how many of Shirley Temple’s pictures were remakes of silent originals.

There’s a pretty interesting site devoted to movie remakes.

So, do you have a favorite remake? A most detested?

4 comments… add one
  • PD Shaw Link

    What is a remake? It would not have occurred to me, until I looked at the Movie Remakes website that Dracula (1931 Spanish) might be considered a remake of Dracula (1931 American). IIRC they were shot at roughly the same time on the same set. But both might be remakes of Nosferatu? But personally if a new Dracula movie was announced, I wouldn’t think of it as a remake, but a new adaptation. Same with Lolita.

    Best movie remake? High Society (though not superior to Philadelphia Story)

    Worst? Guess Who (Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner)

  • I think I’d say that successive movie adaptations are remakes. They may be loose remakes or tight ones but they’re remakes nonetheless.

  • Funny, screenwriter Robert Avrech just did a post on Ricardo Cortez.

    I’m not sure why anyone would want to remake period pieces like Red Dawn or Robocop (why any of these would do better than a remake of Rollerball is beyond me).

    Of course, the stupidest remake I could imagine, Speed Racer is out there. (I know Speed Racer wasn’t originally a movie; it was worse. It was a stupid badly dubbed Japanese cartoon that some ten year olds loved 35 pr so years ago. *blush*)

  • “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” 1956 edition, is one of the few remakes that improves upon a good original (the 1934 edition). Of course, it doesn’t hurt that both were directed by Hitchcock. I think it’s up there with the Maltese Falcon.

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