5 Remakes That Are Better Than The Originals
As a classic film fanatic, or as PCF likes to call us, “Cinemaniacs,” we tend to be purists, and somewhat of a traditionalist bunch. So it’s rare that we ever take a risk and determine a remake as superior to its predecessor. But I’m nothing if not controversial (yeah – right) so I’m going out on a limb and listing my top 5 remakes that not only outshine, but sometimes obliterate the original.
Top 5 Remakes that Are Better Than the Originals
(The Maltese Falcon, 1931)
(Satan Met a Lady, 1936)
1. The Maltese Falcon
Film purists know that before Director John Huston’s freshman outing that changed detective mysteries forever, there were two previous versions. The original – 1931 – is a fun curio, specifically because of its pre-code sexuality and inclusion of Thelma Todd (past life regression hypnosis has proven that she was my wife). Richard Cortez has got nothing on Bogart’s Sam Spade, but even further off the mark is 1936’s Satan Met a Lady, where only a thin framework of the Dashiell Hammett plot remains., and it’s pretty weak.
(The Man Who Knew Too Much, 1934)
(The Man who Knew Too Much, 1956)
2. The Man Who Knew Too Much
Hitchcock remade his 1934 classic, which set the tone for ordinary people being thrown into extraordinary circumstances, culminating in larger than life set pieces. Considered one of the best from his acclaimed pre-Hollywood British films, its familiar themes appeared again in The 39 Steps and The Lady Vanishes. But the 1956 updating excels for its dynamic performances by every man James Stewart, and uncharacteristic deep dive by Doris Day, who believably takes us from carefree ex-nightclub singer to hysterical mother of a kidnapped boy. As well, it’s only Doris who could save the day by singing her son to freedom and screaming just in the nick of time, averting an attempted assassination. Que Sera Sera indeed!
(The Thing, 1951)
(The Thing, 1982)
3. The Thing
I’m sure I’ll get hit for this – the original (The Thing from Another Planet) has got great Cold War paranoia going for it, and plays the claustrophobia well of a lone Antarctic outpost slowly annihilated by a vegetable-like alien who lives off of blood. The iconic scene of James Arness’s carrot man set on fire and running into the snow is still breathtaking., but for sheer thrills, Kurt Russell coolness and a stepped up concept that involves said alien’s MO as ingesting and becoming its victims, John Carpenter’s The Thing plays and delivers on whole other level. It’s disgusting, funny, creepy and always a great crowd pleaser.
(Ocean’s Eleven, 1960)
(Ocean’s Eleven, 2001)
4. Ocean’s Eleven
When Soderbergh’s homage to the Rat Pack first came out, purists were incensed that anyone would even think of reinventing Frank, Dino and Sammy Davis cavorting around sin city, until people took the time to actually sit down and watch the 1960 original and realize, “wow, this actually sucks.” Again, it was Soderbergh’s ability to take the few elements that made EO11 an icon, and spin a wholly original heist movie that outcooled the cool. C’mon, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Don Cheadle and Julia Roberts? It’ll easily be another 40 years til we’ll see that trendy a crew together again.
(3:10 to Yuma, 1957)
(3:10 to Yuma, 2007)
5. 3:10 to Yuma
This solid western, one of the biggest moneymakers of 1957 with strong performances by Glenn Ford and Van Heflin is a fine film, but the remake (made exactly 50 years later) not only also boasts a first rate cast and crew, (Actors Christian Bale, Russell Crowe, director James Mangold – and scenery chewing Ben Foster), but delves further into the idea of accountability, masculinity and the price of a man’s soul, as well as deftly blurring the lines between good and bad. I would say both are worth the price of admission, but I tip my hat a little further to the remake.