Sunday, November 23, 2008

Remakes - Better The Second Time?

I am not a classic movie expert, but a lot of my friends think I am, so I guess I play one in real life. It isn't my fault I pretend to be an expert. I am in my early 30s and it seems that most of my peer set have only watched b&w films under duress. By comparison, I am an expert even though I feel guilty for even using that term when compared to true experts like my dear friend Jenny.

So many times in day-to-day conversations with the classic movie clueless, I end up in the role of expert trying to get someone interested in watching one of those icky old movies. The easiest way, I think, is when someone raves about having seen some recent movie and I interject "Well, if you loved that, you really should see the original." Of course, they almost always have no idea the movie they had been raving about was a remake and we all know, the original is always better than the remake. Or is it?

With such wonderful actors - how could it all go so horribly wrong?

I bring this up because I watched the original, 1968, "Thomas Crowne Affair" on TCM today. Oy!! I had to force myself to stay with it. There were a few good scenes with Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway, but overall, the movie was hard to watch. It rambles on with the gimmicky multi-image screen that didn't work and was very distracting. The 1999 version is clever, focused and sexy as hell. Did I mention sexy as hell? I mean it. Yowser, and in a good way. Much better than the original.

So after the movie ended I started pondering, what movies were actually better the second time around? I decided to make a short list, in no particular order, and see if anyone wanted to add to it or disagree with me.

1) His Girl Friday (Oh yeah, I had to start with a Cary Grant one. Yippee!)

2) Ben-Hur

3) The Maltese Falcon

4) Scarface

5) The Thomas Crowne Affair

I can list a few more - mostly sci-fi or horror genre, but want to see what others anyone might want to toss out there. Anyone disagree about anything I listed? Chime in.


Jennythenipper said...

Thanks for thinking of me as an expert. I fear having such a title, since it seems to invite me to expose myself as a doofus (like misspelling Bette Davis' name in my blog...)

I completely agree about Thomas Crowne. I found the original barely watchable. A lot of gimmicky 609s film-making techniques and slickness and a very thin script. The Pierce Brosnan remake is far more comprehensible and as you sexy as hell.

Absolutely His Girl Friday is an improvement on The Front Page. While a great play and fun movie, by making it a war of the sexes screwball comedy Howard Hawks actually improved on the original in a significant way.

I've never seen the 1931 version of Maltese Falcon. I definitely should add it to the list.

I'm really not a fan of either version of Ben Hur, so that's kind of a wash. I actually agree about Scarface though.

kda0121 said...

Abby, I'm so glad to see you with new stuff. I thought you'd given up and it's good to read your blog again. I agree with your movies the second time around, with one exception. The Maltese Falcon, with Humphrey Bogart was actually the third version. Warren William and Bette Davis starred in a the second go-around in 1936, titled, "Satan Met a Lady". The third, Bogie version is by far the best, although it follows the 1931 version very closely. A much better cast makes all the difference. Satan Met a Lady has gotten a bad rap over the years, but I like it, mostly for Warren Williams devil may care performance.

AbbyNormal said...

Jenny - You misspell Bette, I misspell Crowne, we all know what we are talking about at least.

Also, I can't believe you don't like Ben-Hur? Since I have seen it several times, I fast-forward through a lot of scenes, but some of the scenes are pretty amazing.

kda0121 - First of all, thank you so much for finding my new post. I hadn't watched a lot of movies lately - lots of travel and such so it is so good of you to greet me warmly.

Ahhhh, you are so correct about "Satan Met A Lady". I even have that one on DVD, but of course, I have yet to watch it. I wonder if this would be the only movie where the third time is the charm?

kda0121 said...

Ooops, I let one slide by that I have to disagree with you. I much prefer the Paul Muni version of Scarface. I know, the Pacino version has become something of a cult classic, but I really found it over indulgent. Now, I like Al Pacino a lot and have several of his movies; my favorite being Dog Day Afternoon. But, his performance in Scarface just seemed so pretentious and over-blown.

As to the Thomas Crown Affair, I too prefer the new version, but I don't mind the original. I look at them as two different movies with the same title. Besides the caper being completely different, there is no similarity between the characterizations of Steve McQueen's Thomas Crown and Pierce Brosnan's. The same with the female leads. Rene Russo's character is much more interesting than Faye Dunaway's. And for some reason, I really never went ga ga over Faye, but Rene is hotter than hot. The direction was also from a different state of mind. Norman Jewison and John McTiernan have two completely different styles. The split screen stuff in the original is very gimmicky and quite common for 60s films. I never was too fond of it

AbbyNormal said...

kda0120 - I will have to respectfully disagree on the Scarface debate, but I love the differing opinions. I thought the original was interesting, but what you don't like about the remake is what I think makes it good. I liked that Pacino went way over-the-top and crazy, showing how off the mark he drifted from the man he was in the first part of the movie.

Great discussion - thanks guys!

Juanita's Journal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Juanita's Journal said...

Another remake that is better than the original is the 1988 film, "DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS". I believe that it is funnier than the 1964 film, "BEDTIME STORY".

And although "MY FAVORITE WIFE" (1940) is considered a classic, I still believe that the 1963 remake, "MOVE OVER DARLING" is funnier and slightly better written.

AbbyNormal said...

Juanita - I apologize for my late response. Holiday, illness, blab, blah, blah.

I have never seen "Bedtime Story" so I can't comment. In fact, I must be honest and say I had no idea "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" was a remake, but I did enjoy the film. So thanks for the info.

As for "Move Over, Darling" being better than "My Favorite Wife"? I am so sorry, but I definitely disagree. While I respect your opinion, I think the Grant/Dunne combo really ran circles around the Garner/Day combo. Could be just a matter of personal preference though.

I took a peek at your blog and it looks like you have some really interesting stuff out there. I will have to spend some time poking around your reviews. Thanks for stopping by here! I am honored you commented!