Top 10 Remakes
Sequels, prequels, adaptations and remakes. It seems like Hollywood is running out of ideas these days. That’s not to say the occasional slice of originality doesn’t slip through every now and then but let’s take a look at some of the good remakes. Sometimes a movie is so good that a studio feels the need to remake it down the road. This doesn’t always work out (talking to you Godzilla and Psycho) but here is a list of my favorite remakes. Thanks to IMDB for movie descriptions.
The Sons of Katie Elder was first released in 1965 starring John Wayne and Dean Martin and is still a classic western. The movie tells the story of ranch owner Katie Elder’s four sons determine to avenge the murder of their father and the swindling of their mother.
Jude Law would take on the role in the 2004 film of the same name. Law would also remake Caine’s movie Sleuth, which is good but not top ten. The new Alfie is a cockney womanizer learns the hard way about the dangers of his actions.
8. John Carpenter was one of the best storytellers of the 70s so it’s no wonder many of his films have been remade over the years. His 1976 classic Assault on Precinct 13 got one of the best remakes out of all of them. The original shows us the lone inhabitants of an abandoned police station are under attack by the overwhelming numbers of a seemingly unstoppable street gang.
The 2005 remake has an all star cast led by Ethan Hawke and Laurance Fishburne. In the movie a police sergeant must rally the cops and prisoners together to protect themselves on New Year’s Eve, just as corrupt policeman surround the station with the intent of killing all to keep their deception in the ranks.
7. In one of the few cases of the remake being better than the original we have Inside Man. Originally released in 1987 and starring Scott Glenn we see an ex-CIA agent is hired to protect the daughter of a rich American family.
In an interesting twist of fate Tony Scott wanted to direct the original but the powers that be didn’t think he was famous enough. He would direct the 2004 remake featuring Denzel Washington that saw him in Mexico City, as a former assassin swears vengeance on those who committed an unspeakable act against the family he was hired to protect.
6. Some of the best remakes are ones people don’t realize are remakes. The next movies have the longest time gap on the list with 51 years between releases. The original Scarface was an ultra-violent Howard Hughes vision that had an ambitious and near insanely violent gangster climbs the ladder of success in the mob, but his weaknesses prove to be his downfall.
The cult classic 1983 Scarface is one of the most beloved and quoted movies out there. Al Pacino stars in 1980 Miami, as a determined Cuban immigrant takes over a drug cartel while succumbing to greed.
5. Not all remakes are gritty westerns or action movies, sometimes comedies get a facelift. The 1978 French film La Cage Aux Folles was for years the number one foreign film in the United States. The story focuses on two gay men living in St. Tropez have their lives turned upside down when the son of one of the men announces he is getting married. They try concealing their lifestyle and their ownership of the transvestite club downstairs when the fiancée and her parents come for dinner.
In 1996 the film got an American treatment in The Birdcage starring Robin Williams and Gene Hackman. The premise is similar to the original in that a gay cabaret owner and his drag queen companion agree to put up a false straight front so that their son can introduce them to his fiancée’s right-wing moralistic parents.
4. One of the most recent imports, that wasn’t a horror film, was 2002’s Infernal Affairs. The movie is a story between a mole in the police department and an undercover cop. Their objectives are the same: to find out who is the mole, and who is the cop.
The remake was handled by master filmmaker Martin Scorsese with 2006’s The Departed. This was also the film that finally got Scorsese a best director Oscar. The American version shows an undercover state cop who infiltrated a Mafia clan and a mole in the police force working for the same mob race to track down and identify each other before being exposed to the enemy, after both sides realize their outfit has a rat.
3. Americans have been importing and remaking foreign movies for a long time. One of the first cases was when the 1954 Japanese masterpiece Seven Samurai was imported. The original was about a poor village under attack by bandits recruit seven unemployed samurai to help them defend themselves.
Six years later Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson would star in The Magnificent Seven. Changing the samurai film into a western by having an oppressed Mexican peasant village assembles seven gunfighters to help defend their homes.
2. Americans also remake their own westerns from time to time. In 1957 3:10 to Yuma released. After outlaw leader Ben Wade is captured in a small town, his gang continues to threaten. Small-time rancher Dan Evans is persuaded to take Wade in secret to the nearest town with a railway station to await the train to the court at Yuma. Once the two are holed up in the hotel to wait it becomes apparent the secret is out, and a battle of wills starts.
In what I think is one of the rare occasions where the remake may be better than the original 2007 saw a new 3:10 to Yuma with Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. Bale plays a small-time rancher agrees to hold a captured outlaw who’s awaiting a train to go to court in Yuma. A battle of wills ensues as the outlaw tries to psych out the rancher.
1. Some movies you don’t remake. People should stay away from Casablanca, Citizen Kane and Gone with the Wind. There are also some icons that have an almost godlike state in American culture and at the top of that list is the Rat Pack. Frank, Sammy and Dean were American royalty and were on top of their game when they made Ocean’s 11 in 1960. Frank is Danny Ocean gathers a group of his World War II compatriots to pull off the ultimate Las Vegas heist. Together the eleven friends plan to rob five Las Vegas casinos in one night.
Some of the greatest names in modern cinema got together in 2001 for a new Ocean’s 11. The star studded cast would do so well they made two sequels. George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon all play great roles where Danny Ocean and his eleven accomplices plan to rob three Las Vegas casinos simultaneously.