Thursday, August 16, 2007

Remakes Redux

Judging by the early buzz on the final two remakes of the summer it looks as if 3:10 to Yuma may be a reasonably good picture while Invasion may be a bit thin compared to the first two versions of Body Snatchers.

I was talking about remakes to a very bright young woman at Half Price Books today and I decided, about halfway through the conversation, that there's likely a tendency on the part of older people to defend originals and be leery of remakes on general principles. We have a vested interest in the popular culture of our own era.

The real point, though, is that it would be easier to accept remakes in general if most of them were any damned good. At the moment the only great remake I can think of was Body Snatchers number two which had its own vision and integrity. What an amazing use of the original material--to reconfigure it as a comment on the feel good philosphy of the 70s, a form of spiritual death every bit as sinister as the conformity of the 50s.

I mention this because the last time I wrote about remakes I got a few off-line letters wondering if I wasn't just being curmudgenly. I don't think so. It's comparable to too much of neo-noir, the remake business. Just because the cast wears fedoras and all the femmes are of the fatale persuasion doesn't mean that you're doing anything authentic. It just means you're playing dress up. I mean Hwood couldn't even make The Flinstonesor Bewitched any fun. How can we expect them to do better with more serious fare?

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I share your curmudgeondry, Ed...
Hairy

Long time listener, first time caller said...

I'm jealous of the woman at HPB: to chew the fat with Ed Gorman. That is a dream come true. Did she realize you were the great Ed Gorman? I wonder if Ed drops his own name when talking to people.

Michael Berry said...

If Hollywood didn't do remakes, there would have been no Bogart version of "The Maltese Falcon."

But I do get your point...

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

I saw DISTURBIA the other night, a remake of REAR WINDOW for the Mall Rat Generation. Suspense, nil; thrills, nil; verisimilitude, nil; foxy nymphet, yowza!

I. Michael Koontz said...

Ed:

This is, if my math is correct (which is scary in itself--that math skills HAVE to be used here) the FOURTH version of IOTBS.

Yes, FOUR films have been made from the original Siegel classic.

The first one was good. Loved Kevin McCarthy. The second was good. Loved Brooke Adams, Donald Sutherland, and the dog with the human head on it.

The third one I saw but the memory was removed so I could remember my Google sign-in information. I think it starred the girl from Scent of a Woman.

Now we have number four. With a German director. For a while. With lots of rewrites. And reshoots. From The Matrix boys. And its release was delayed for over a year.

Let's just say that I'm not exactly salivating over the prospect of yet another one....

Todd Mason said...

The original Jack Finney classic...four "legit" adaptations, and not a few ripoffs.

Clare said...

It's me, bright young Half Price Books girl here.

I thought about it and decided that as far as generational remakes are concerned, if someone thirty years from now was so desperate for a hit that they decided to remake let's say, Good Will Hunting or The Silence of the Lambs that I would laugh and scoff in a most curmudgenly manner myself. Oh the horror, the horror of most remakes.

I prefer the independent movies with great dialogue that barely get made let alone remade.

But maybe this will wet your whistle (or it's just another fedora and femme fatale flick). I read yesterday that Frank Miller (graphic novelist that came up with Sin City and 300) who is a HUGE noir fan (can quote Chandler backwards and forwards) will be directing "Danger is my Business" with Clive Owen as Marlowe. We'll see if he fills the suit as well as Humphrey Bogart or even Elliot Gould's Long GoodBye take on the character.

Todd Mason said...

Well, indies get remade, often poorly, too...see D.O.A. And, of course, RED DRAGON was remade, to get some more Hambone Lecter in...