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Posted at 10:43 AM ET, 09/28/2007

Friday List: Go Ahead, Remake My Day

By Liz Kelly

Russell Crowe's on target performance in the '3:10 to Yuma' remake perfectly illustrates this blog post. Or I just like looking at Russell Crowe. (Lionsgate)

Back in April, we compiled a list of movies so sacred that even uttering the word "remake" in their general vicinity constituted a crime against all that is right and good. "Leave alone our 'Escape from New York,'" we said. "Unhand 'Wonder Woman' and 'Hairspray' and shame on you, nameless faceless movie execs for even thinking you could replace Divine.

A scant five months later, though, we live in a changed world. A world where the John Travolta-fronted "Hairspray" remake was not only lauded by critics, but a bona fide box office smash, taking over $117 million in domestic box office receipts. Divine who? And, thanks to a kick-butt cast led by Russell Crowe and Christian Bale, the September release of western classic "3:10 to Yuma" was also well-received by critics and, so far, has earned itself a tidy $37 million.

Have we learned our lesson? Based on the above examples -- and superhero stories like the "Batman" franchise, which seems to rise like a Phoenix every decade or so -- it sure looks like remakes aren't always abominations. Sure, I'd still cry foul if "The Wizard of Oz" or "Citizen Kane" wound up on a studio's production slate, but I'm now at least open to the possibility that a different director and cast may have something to add to a good story's interpretation (Steve Martin's "Pink Panther" not withstanding).

So, of course, when I saw this morning's news that "The Karate Kid" was the latest target of remake buzz, it got me thinking about two questions:

1. What movies would you like to see remade?
-- My answer: An updated "Thin Man." Nick and Nora's razor sharp back-and-forth could play to a whole new generation (in the hands of the right pair).
-- Field agent Jim Brady's answer: "Capricorn One." I still liked it, but someone could make it awesome with the right cast. Oh, and O.J. Simpson was in the original.
-- Field agent Jen Chaney's answer: They should remake "The Shop Around the Corner." They already did it once with "You've Got Mail." And that was terrible. But stick closer to the original concept and maybe get Wes Anderson on the case and you've got something there.

And, the harder question:

2. What remade movies were actually better than the original?
-- My answer: With apologies to Glenn Ford, Van Heflin and Stephen Hunter, I'd have to go with "3:10 to Yuma." Also, "Scarface." Although the 1932 original is campy fun, Al Pacino's 1983 remake is a classic.
-- Field agent Paul Williams's answer: "The Ring" is better/scarier than "Ringu." I know I'm in the minority on that. If I had seen "Ringu" first I might feel differently, but I thought that American version looked better, and by leaving the backstory more vague, it seemed more haunting.

Share your nominees for both categories below...

By Liz Kelly  | September 28, 2007; 10:43 AM ET
Categories:  Friday Lists  
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I wonder how George Clooney would be in something like "It Happened One Night" or "The Talk of the Town". The sexy humor, the taking off of shirts, the hiding of gorgeous man in could work.

Posted by: POS | September 28, 2007 11:14 AM | Report abuse


How did you manage to avoid 1978's "The Wiz", Liz? Wish I could say the same.

Posted by: spatry | September 28, 2007 11:15 AM | Report abuse


How did you find out about my plan to hide George Clooney in my attic? You must not be allowed to interfere in our pure & beautiful love. I am hunting you even now.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2007 11:20 AM | Report abuse

love the 'thin man' movies and i'm not sure i'd want to see some newfangled couple try to outdo william powell and myrna loy.

i think it would be great to have someone remake one of my favorite WWII movies, "A Bridge Too Far". I love the original, with it's ridiculously star-studded cast...Michael Caine, Robert Redford, Anthony Hopkins, Liv Ullman...but the original is so dated and campy, in a way. I'd like to see someone like Stephen Spielberg give it the "Saving Private Ryan" treatment.

having just watched it, i would like to go on record as saying that the remake of 'Sabrina' (w/Harrison Ford, Julia Ormond, and Greg Kinnear) was far, far beneath the original. Julia Ormond is no Audrey Hepburn.

Posted by: methinks | September 28, 2007 11:22 AM | Report abuse

I found the Birdcage to be hilarious, no one can beat a team of Nathan Lane and Robin Williams.

Posted by: michael | September 28, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

I think Hollywood should stop remaking movies and stick with original ideas. Unfortunately, since there are only about 1 or 2 of those per year, it will not happen. Besides, as much as people complain about remakes, they still go to see them. As long as they go, Hollywood will continue to make them.

Posted by: fft5305 | September 28, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

I am curious, does Evil Dead II count since it was mostly a rehashing of Evil Dead I, and yet still listed as the sequel?

Posted by: michael | September 28, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

The remade Ocean's 11 was better than the original. Yeah, it was cool to see the Rat Pack all together on the screen, and the twist at the end was awesome, but there wasn't enough action - just a bunch of guys sitting around a piano drinking.

Posted by: Bluto | September 28, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I used to be skeptical about remakes, but I'm not anymore. I simply do not like acting as it was before 1970 or so. I would love it if all of Humphrey Bogart's movies could be remade. He was a crappy actor. THAT'S RIGHT. I said it. He was every bad cliche in acting rolled into one--like Groucho Marx doing serious roles. AND he was extremely short and not very attractive. Remake Casablanca with George Clooney, Brad Pitt or Christian Bale. If they remade every decent black and white movie and made them contemporary, the flack over colorization might die and a new generation of children might be more willing to view the classics--before and after.

Posted by: Bueller | September 28, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

His Girl Friday with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell was the best remake of the The Front Page.

Posted by: Lex Pk | September 28, 2007 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Best Remakes:

Although it's not a direct remake, Bill Murray's "The Man Who Knew Too Little" was better than Hitchcock's 1950s version of "The Man Who Knew Too Much," which was dull and wooden (although it gets points for Doris singing "Que Sera, Sera.")

For all it's campiness and over-the-top production, DeMille's 1950's version of "The Ten Commandments" was better than his original silent version.

Crying out to be remade:

"The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance." It is a good story, but Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne were too old for the roles they were playing. Maybe David Milch could give it the "Deadwood" treatment.

"Catch 22." Maybe it's impossible to film, but one of America's greatest (and funniest) novels deserves better treatment than Mike Nichols' mess. And please, leave Artie Garfunkel out this time.

Posted by: Major | September 28, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Another great remake was High Society. No offense to Hepburn, but I would rather watch Grace Kelly on the big screen, plus Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, not to mention Louis Armstrong making an appearance.

As for movies that I would like to see remade:
Most of the Bond movies

Posted by: michael | September 28, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Wasn't the version of CANNERY ROW with Nick Nolte and Debra Winger a remake? That's the best one I've yet seen.

And after the way they butchered BEDAZZLED a few years ago, I would love to see a remake of that with Rowan Atkinson and John Cleese filling the Dudley Moore-Peter Cook roles, respectively.

Every other remake I can think of gives me the mental equivalent of throw-up in my mouth, lol.

Posted by: Margo | September 28, 2007 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Bear with me I'm going thru an Alfred Hitchcock fest.

Rear Window
North by Northwest

Although I can't think of any actors or directors, I'd like to remake them.

Douglas and Paltrow did a remake of Dial M for Murder, can't remember the name of theirs at the moment. However,it was pretty good.

Oh and I agree with 3:10 to Yuma. I normally can't stand westerns with the exception of The Unforgiven and The Good the Bad and the Ugly but I went to see this one and it was good. I saw the original, not so pleased with it. Then again this one has Chris Bale, so .......

Posted by: petal | September 28, 2007 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Bueller must be on some illegal substance to think that ANYONE could outdo Bogart in Casablanca. Yeah, Clooney or Pitt might be easier on the eyes, but I can't see Ingrid Bergman being in love with either of them.

I thought that the remake of the Thomas Crown Affair (Brosnan/Russo) was better than the original (McQueen/Dunaway) -- and the original was very VERY VERY good!

I would like to see some more of the old westerns remade -- Stagecoach, Red River, Shenandoah, Fort Apache, The Big Country (but NOT the G, the B, and the U) -- simply to reintroduce that genre to a generation that has forgotten about them. The Westerns have the shoot-em-up factor we all love but it doesn't get lost in the special-effects haze.

Posted by: vosora | September 28, 2007 12:17 PM | Report abuse

1941's "Maltese Falcon" with Bogart as Philip Marlowe is better than 1931's with Ricardo Cortez as Marlowe.

Posted by: byoolin | September 28, 2007 12:17 PM | Report abuse

I know this blasphemy but I would like to see The Searchers remade.

Posted by: Lisa1 | September 28, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse

i've often wondered about an updated version of the breakfast club. as a teen when the film came out, i loved it.

now, being all grown up with my own teenage daughter i'd be curious to see how it would be handled using today's more complex teenage social structure.

but then again, i can't even handle it when 80's music gets covered so i might not like seeing any of my 80's movies redone.

Posted by: jcm | September 28, 2007 12:35 PM | Report abuse

1. A remake of "His Girl Friday," maybe with George Clooney and, oh, Reese Witherspoon (yeah, I'm kidding on Reese since she's way too young, but we need someone who can play whipsmart). A nice coincidence, since:

2. "His Girl Friday," easily the best of the four film adaptations of "The Front Page." (Though for some reason, I still laugh hysterically at Christopher Reeves in the elevator in "Switching Channel.")

Posted by: Joseph J. Finn | September 28, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Clueless, the movie, was better than Clueless, the sitcom.

Posted by: Anonimis | September 28, 2007 12:39 PM | Report abuse

The book was better than the movie.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2007 12:40 PM | Report abuse

The only film I've heard of or seen out of this whole bunch is the breakfast club, which i saw in the 90s and thought was completely boring. although, pretty in pink was okay.

Posted by: Mina | September 28, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse

ugh, the thought of remaking casablanca... please, no. the only thing that could be added to that movie would be to show the colors of morocco and the decor. however, i'm afraid that would have taken away from the story, which is impeccable.

as for current remakes, i always looked at sex and the city as a remake of breakfast at tiffany's and felt they did a great job modernizing that story.

Posted by: cee_jay | September 28, 2007 12:47 PM | Report abuse

I thought the Manchurian Candidate was slightly better than the original, but I am probably in the minority.

Posted by: Irish_Ed | September 28, 2007 12:49 PM | Report abuse

The original Charlie Chan books were quite charming. Although the character would be seen today as an offensive stereotype, he was also presented as smart, noble, kind, and respected, despite being a cultural outsider. There's room for an update that helps address the lack of Asian characters (particularly culturally-Asian characters) in popular media, with a perhaps more deft, modern characterization.

Posted by: Trout Almondine | September 28, 2007 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Leave the Thin Man alone, please!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2007 12:52 PM | Report abuse

The main reason I don't want Hollywood getting its grubby little paws near the classics is they try to "modernize" them. This usually means "dumb them down." If they didn't do that, I might be more open to them remaking beloved movies, turning tv shows into movies, etc.

Posted by: ep | September 28, 2007 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Someone needs to remake Jurassic Park 2 and make it, you know, watchable.

I also like the idea of Will Ferrell playing the lead in a remade and allegedly comic version of First Blood.

Posted by: byoolin | September 28, 2007 1:12 PM | Report abuse

I had high hopes that the remake of the Ladykillers would be a winner, considering you had the Coens and Tom Hanks REALLY camping up his character, but after watching the original Ladykillers, with Sir Alec Guinness as the Professor and Peter Sellers in a secondary roles....well, there's really no hope, is there?

Posted by: 23112 | September 28, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Field agent Jen Chaney said she'd like to see a remake of "The Shop Around the Corner" because "You've Got Mail" didn't cut it for her. She must have missed the excellent 1949 remake with Van Johnson and Judy Garland, "In the Good Old Summertime." It's cheeky, sweet, and full of great songs. Catch this flick and then reevaluate.

Posted by: Amanda | September 28, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

I am a huge huge huge fan of The Long Hot Summer with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodard, the 1985 remake with Don Johnson and Judith Ivey was retched, I haven't seen the 1965 remake. The chemistry in the original can not be duplicated

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2007 1:27 PM | Report abuse

SOmeone mentioned THE BREAKFAST CLUB and you know what'd be cool? Not a remake, but a sequel putting those original characters together as ADULTS.

OK, OK, I went off topic... sorry!

Posted by: Margo | September 28, 2007 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Wasn't "The Breakfast Club" remade with adults and called "The Big Chill"?

(Yes, yes, indie film purists, "The Return Of The Secaucus Seven.")

Posted by: byoolin | September 28, 2007 1:31 PM | Report abuse

I'm with vosora on Thomas Crown Affair. The original was amazing and the remake better.

I have enjoyed some of the Shakespeare remakes - 10 Things I Hate About You = The Taming of the Shrew, and the like, but I'm a classical girl myself.

My problem with remakes and "modernizing" them is that dumbing down requires more sex and more explosives. If it was worth remaking then it's probably a good enough story that it doesn't need to be bolstered by bombs and boobs.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2007 1:39 PM | Report abuse

byoolin, I believe The Big Chill preceded The Breakfast Club by two years: wasn't the Chill 1983 and B'fast Club 1985?

And I preferred The Big Chill to The Secaucus Seven -- great music and Tom Berenger was hot.

Posted by: Snarky Squirrel | September 28, 2007 1:41 PM | Report abuse

"Thin Man" fans, don't worry! Today's Hollywood would never produce a movie that romanticizes and glorifies hardcore alcoholism like the "Thin Man" franchise did.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2007 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Usually when I feel something needs to be remade its because it was a bad movie of a good book.

Just of the top of my head (which means I've read it or seen it recently)

Cidar House Rules
The Stand
Mansfield Park

My favorite remake is the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice.

Posted by: MGC | September 28, 2007 1:46 PM | Report abuse

"Thin Man" fans, don't worry! Today's Hollywood would never produce a movie that romanticizes and glorifies hardcore alcoholism like the "Thin Man" franchise did.

Yeah, really -- it's REAL life in Hollywood.

Posted by: WDC 21113 | September 28, 2007 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Um...The Stand was an awesome movie. I still have nightmares about that.

Posted by: Anonimis | September 28, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

again, not being a fan of any remake..but wanting to throw things out there that would at least intrigue me... what about To Kill a Mockingbird? Yes, the orginal is great - but can you just imagine how a 21st century version of this story could be handled?

Posted by: jcm | September 28, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. I know that Bladerunner is a classic, but it hews so far the classic novel, it always seemed more a variation on Frankenstein than an adaptation of DADoES. Or maybe they already remade it with all of the versions that Ridley Scott keeps putting out.

Posted by: David | September 28, 2007 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Please, all you Hollywood producers trolling this site for remake ideas, if you do it make it your own.

As noted above Ocean's 11 (2001) vs. (1960) was a success because it was creative. The same can be said of Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) vs. Wonka (1976).

I was supremely disappointed by the Omen (2005) vs. (1971), which was basically scene for scene the same, and not nearly as effective, not even spooky Gregorian chanting

Posted by: idea man | September 28, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Bueller, I don't think you can criticize Bogart for being "every bad cliche in acting rolled into one" when those cliches didn't exist until he made them. They became cliches because other, poorer actors tried to copy his mannerisms and his style. When he did them, they were original.

Posted by: Kate | September 28, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

If they remade To Kill a Mockingbird, they would have to call it The Jena 6.

Sorry for the downer, there. But not to sorry.

Posted by: ep | September 28, 2007 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Alone The Stand might have been a good movie, but not when you take the book into context.

Ironically I love the originial The Shining and don't care all that much for the remake even though the latter was much closer to the book.

Posted by: MGC | September 28, 2007 2:25 PM | Report abuse

How about Back to the Future? It'd be funny to see Michael J. Fox's character go back to the 1980s this time or up to 2026.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2007 2:27 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to see a remake of "Rambo"

But only with Rowan Atkinson as John Rambo.

Posted by: b | September 28, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

again, not being a fan of any remake..but wanting to throw things out there that would at least intrigue me... what about To Kill a Mockingbird? Yes, the orginal is great - but can you just imagine how a 21st century version of this story could be handled?

I actually can't imagine how a 21st century version of the story could be handled, although if I had to I'd say badly.

There is no way a director now would not try to 'improve' on the original either by trying to use political correctness or by adding 'action' somewhere.

The book & movie were so wonderful partly because of the era in which they were written/made. You can not in any way recreate the magic here & I definitely can not see any way it could be improved. It tells a thought provoking story about an ugly time & subject.

Posted by: JES | September 28, 2007 2:39 PM | Report abuse

They remade The Shining? Glad I missed that.

The musical remake of Little Shop of Horrors was pretty good.

Then, of course, there are always these remakes:

Posted by: b | September 28, 2007 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Woman of the Year..only today make Secretary of State. Only nothing like Condi. And no Cate Blanchett doing Hepburn, that was just embarassing.

for the Thin Man remake, howbout Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, hmmm? Why not?

Posted by: erm | September 28, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Kate! I was going to say the samething about Bogart. And how could you possible remake Casablanca. There is just no way Batman could say "Here's looking at you kid," with the same pizaz and feeling as Bogart.

Posted by: Melissa | September 28, 2007 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Snarky Squirrel, I think you're right. But my little joke doesn't work if the movies are in that order, so I just altered the fabric of spacetime a little bit.

(Authentic byoolin fact: I've seen The Big Chill at least 60, and probably closer to 80, times.)

Posted by: byoolin | September 28, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

fake byoolin(s) should have some fun with *that*, no?

Posted by: byoolin | September 28, 2007 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Just the mere thought of a remake of To Kill a Mockingbird and/or Casablanca gives me schpilkes.

And when the time comes for some stupid movie exec to attempt a Citizen Kane remake, & you know the time WILL come, I will turn in my movie viewing card & become the biggest illegal downloader ever because Hollywood will never get another penny from me.

Unless, of course, they make my "reimagining" of 9 1/2 Weeks starring Jon Bon Jovi in the Mickey Rourke role & Jason Lee in the Kim Basinger role. Oh, it wouldn't make any big money, but us Jon Bon Jovi/Jason Lee fans would be in our GLORY!!GLORY I SAY!!

Posted by: Bored @ home | September 28, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

methinks fact: i've never seen 'the big chill'. i have, however, seen 'the big sleep'.

Posted by: methinks | September 28, 2007 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Bored, are you implying that Jason Lee has a heart-shaped derriere?

I've never considered it. Must ask Mrs. byoolin her opinion.

Posted by: byoolin | September 28, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Ewww. Let's think of a really cheesy remake for Tom Cruise, he is so yucky.
Like "Deliverance". He could play the Ned Beatty part.

Posted by: POS | September 28, 2007 3:18 PM | Report abuse

or dracula and he could be renfield.

Posted by: b | September 28, 2007 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Just thought of another one.

The Sound of Music. Once again I have no idea who could play the parts and I'm pretty sure it would suck to high heaven.

And two more remakes I liked.
Freaky Friday and The Parent Trap.

Posted by: petal | September 28, 2007 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Remake Titanic, and this time Scarlet Johanssen is Rose and Orlando Bloom is Jack. And...Go...

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2007 3:52 PM | Report abuse

ok, one i would love to see remade because i think the graphics and fight scenes would be incredible and add to the entire movie: North by Northwest with Cary Grant

or In a Lonely Place with Humphrey Bogart... dont know who would do him justice though... as far as which was better than the original... I have to say an affair to remember was good but i thought the remake with Warren Beatty was pretty good. I really liked it.

Posted by: dolly72 | September 28, 2007 4:03 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry, this list is violating the H3 Rule of Friday Lists: that it devolve into a discussion of hot British actors.

I think someone should remake Philadelphia Story with Colin Firth, Ewan McGregor, and...uh...some chick. C.K. Dexter Haaaaaaveeeeen!!!!!!

Posted by: h3 | September 28, 2007 4:07 PM | Report abuse

true - you really couldn't re-do To Kill a Mockingbird in modern times - wouldn't be the same.

Part of my thought process on this is about who could recreate some of the great characters (such as Atticus Finch)..and no one comes to mind.

Posted by: jcm | September 28, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

I don't typically like remakes, although I agree that the Thomas Crown Affair was fabulous and that Freaky Friday was surprisingly good, but I can tell you that the *worst* remake of all time had to be Alfie.

Movies I'd like to see remade: Barefoot in the Park, the Avengers (that 1998 attempt does not count - such a great opportunity wasted), How to Steal a Million (not that anyone on earth could replace Audrey Hepburn or Peter O'Toole, but I bet the effects and technology would be incredible).

Posted by: musicgeek | September 28, 2007 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Waaaaay better than the original:

The Thomas Crowne Affair, with Brosnan and Russo. Love that movie.

On par with the original:

Down With Love, with McGregor and Zellweiger, a 'remake' of Pillow Talk (Day/Hudson) I believe.

Posted by: raynecld | September 28, 2007 5:00 PM | Report abuse

to raynecld:

Down With Love is more of an homage to the Doris Day/Rock Hudson overly stylized romances of the 1950's. Superbly done, too :D

As for movies to be remade or updated - could someone PLEASE remake a movie out of James Clavell's Tai-Pan? Great story, but badly botched.

Since pirate movies are hot and Chinese movies are hot, now is the time...

Posted by: Chasmosaur | September 28, 2007 8:14 PM | Report abuse

I know I am in the minority but I feel I have to go on record to say I HATED the remake of Thomas Crown Affair. Rene Russo was awful in that movie and it just grated on me.

At least I can bounce back to affirm that the Firth version of Pride and Pred. is the best!

Posted by: sjcpeach | September 28, 2007 8:42 PM | Report abuse

Metropolis would be wonderful, directed by tim burton with johnny depp and martin landau (is he still alive?); the original book has a lot of great subplots that weren't explored in the classic movie.

Posted by: ed | September 29, 2007 12:15 AM | Report abuse

Whoever said Sex and the City is a remake of Breakfast at Tiffany's is seriously clueless.

Anything with Audrey Hepburn should never be remade. The new Sabrina was abhorrent.

Posted by: oldies | September 29, 2007 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Potential remake: "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" This one would be difficult, but if you have someone with Amy Heckerling's eye for talent coupled with Cameron Crowe's writing talent, you could make this one work, because it would be interesting to see an update on that movie. I usually don't go for remakes, but if you must, this would be an interesting pick.

Better than the original: "The Quiet American" The Audie Murphy version was horrible because of the way that they turned a cautionary tale into a Cold War rallying cry. The remake with Michael Caine and Brendan Fraser was a thousand times better. Graham Greene should have sued the people who made the 1958 version for the way that they butchered his story, if for no other reason than to keep them for using the name.

Posted by: Steve | October 1, 2007 1:33 PM | Report abuse

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