Is the remake ever as good as the original?
As A Star Is Born builds Oscar buzz for Lady Gaga, Vicki Notaro looks at the other movies that equalled success a second (or third, or fourth) time around.
Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut and Lady Gaga’s first big screen leading role was always going to cause chatter, especially considering the source material and the fact that it’s the fourth version of the same story to be told on film. The very first outing was all the way back in 1937, with a second, more successful version coming in 1954 and starring the infamous Judy Garland as the young woman with stars in her eyes, and James Mason as the older, alcoholic man who encourages her dreams. Then in the 70s Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson took on the roles of the couple to great critical and commercial acclaim (and an Oscar for Babs for Best Song). Now Gaga is getting Oscar buzz for her performance, and the film has been given the contemporary makeover it deserves.
The iconic late 80s film starring Tom Selleck (the ride), Ted Danson and Steve Guttenberg as hapless bachelors who get landed with an infant on their doorstep actually started out as a French film in 1985 called Tres Hommes Et Un Coiffon. The story transplanted seamlessly from Paris to New York, and then gave us the iconic Three Men And A Little Lady three years later in 1990 – one of my favourite films of all time. Rumour has it that Three Men and A Bride is in pre- production, and we really hope that’s true…
Did you know that the 2006 Martin Scorsese flick was a remake of a Hong Kong film from 2002? Well, now you do. The tale of deception, mafia moles and undercover agents first came about in Infernal Affairs. Apparently, Scorsese didn’t even know he was directing a remake for Warner Bros until after he’d signed on the dotted line. He also wanted Al Pacino for the role of Irish mobster Frank Costello, but got the legendary Jack Nicholson instead. The film won the Best Picture Oscar, and cemented Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon’s statuses as critical and commercial hits. The original is great too, if you don’t mind subtitles.
Another Scorsese flick, this time starring the inimitable Robert DeNiro in the role made famous by Robert Mitchum in 1962. In the 1991 remake, Nick Nolte replaces Gregory Peck as the lawyer tormented by a rapist he put away for more than a decade, and who’s hellbent on revenge. Scorsese’s version is much scarier than the original, largely due to DeNiro’s performance, but also Nolte’s. There are cameos from Peck and Mitchum, and Scorsese used the same theatrical score as appeared in the first movie – being the cinema nerd that he is.
This is an example of when a remake doesn’t come close to touching the original. The first film in the extensive Michael Myers slasher series in 1978 was globally adored, and has become a seasonal staple and a horror genre mainstay. Filmmakers have used the source material and scary, masked serial killer in countless adaptations since, but this one should’ve been given a miss. The good news is, Jamie Lee Curtis is back as Laurie Strode next month for yet another Halloween, (right) and what promises to be the final instalment in the franchise (and only the fourth she’s appeared in, the first since Halloween: H20 in 1998).
We all remember Lindsay Lohan’s version from 1998 (including the hilarious English accent that she hasn’t been able to rid herself of since) but our very own Maureen O’Hara and British actress Hayley Mills starred in the original from 1961, with Mills playing the roles of both twins just like Lindsay did. The 60s version is now incredibly dated and pretty implausible, but somehow the 90s remake still stands the test of time.
Another Lindsay Lohan x Disney remake of a classic, this time the body-swap comedy about a mother and daughter who end up switching brains… or bodies, depending on how you look at it. Jodie Foster starred in the original in 1976 before going on to become an Oscar winner. The same cannot be said of LiLo, who was once thought to have acres of potential until going massively off the rails.
A musical comedy remake of the 1940 plain old comedy The Philadelphia Story, High Society had a lot to live up to as the original had a stellar cast including Katherine Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant, and was beloved by American audiences. This remake sought to capitalise on the popularity of crooners Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, with Grace Kelly reprising Hepburn’s role as a spoilt heiress struggling to choose between three men. It was Kelly’s last film role before retiring from acting and becoming Princess of Monaco.
George A Romero is widely regarded as the father of the zombie movie sub-genre, so it’s no surprise his iconic films have been reimagined. 2004’s Dawn Of The Dead follows the same storyline as the 1978 movie of the same name, which itself was a sequel to Night Of The Living Dead. In both versions, all the action takes place in a shopping centre filled with the flesh- eating undead. Zack Snyder’s remake was more mainstream than the original, but still well received and came out the same year as Simon Pegg’s piss-take version, Shaun Of the Dead.
Another one of my all-time favourite films (like a balm for the soul, if you ask me), this 1991 flick starring Steve Martin and Diane Keaton is a remake of a 1950 black and white film starring Spencer Tracy as the father and a young Elizabeth Taylor as the bride. By the time we get to 1991 the culture surrounding weddings has changed, but the feelings of the dad preparing to give his little girl away are still the same.
This one is a tad confusing, as the original Casino Royale (1966) was not an official James Bond film, but it is based on Ian Fleming’s debut novel of the same name and its leading man is British super spy James Bond. See? It’s weird. However when the producers wanted to reboot the franchise in 2006, they decided to use Fleming’s first book as the source material and make it something of a prequel with Bond embarking on his first mission as 007. It’s been the most well-received of any of Daniel Craig’s outings as Bond, and breathed fresh life into the franchise, while the original was widely panned.
I can’t even think about this film without wanting to bawl, but it’s not an original. The Incredible Journey from 1963 was the first outing for this story of pets who get left behind when their family movies, and must cross the country to be reunited with them. Disney remade it 30 years later to take advantage of more sophisticated voice acting technology, and pulled at the heartstrings of anyone who’s ever owned a dog or a cat. BRB, going to cry my eyes out in the toilet.
Disney have been busy remaking all their best animated features into live action flicks with the help of copious amounts of CGI in recent years. We adored The Jungle Book and Cinderella, but Beauty and the Beast was superior (despite us still being somewhat dubious about Emma Watson’s casting as Belle). Next up are live action remakes of Dumbo, The Lion King and Aladdin, and we live in hope that they’ll be fab.
Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin starred in the original flick about a group of debonair con men pulling off a Las Vegas heist in 1960, but 41 years later it was George Clooney and Brad Pitt’s version that really took off – largely due to the ensemble cast’s chemistry and Steven Soderbergh’s razor-sharp script. Of course, there have been three sequels since with varying degrees of success and acclaim, but we love Sandra Bullock’s take earlier this year.