Which, of course, got me to thinking: What about the cinema's other high-profile remakes? Usually when filmmakers get it in their heads to put a new "spin" on some beloved property, the results are never pretty. Either they miss the point of the earlier film completely, or they flat-out fail to bring any new ideas to the table, and who wants that? I like my originals exactly the way they are, thank you very much.
As the saying goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it - something Hollywood's apparently never heard before. How else can you explain so many remakes throughout the years? By way of example, here's a list of six titles movie producers saw fit to "improve" upon. Did they succeed? Fail? Die trying? I'll give a one- to two-sentence thought on each, for your reading pleasure (I'm limiting myself to keep from turning this into a month-long project). Why six? I dunno. Seemed like a good idea at the time:
Remade As: Nosferatu (Werner Herzog, 1979)
The Difference: The eerie silent film version of this vampire fable is the first (unauthorized) adaptation of the Dracula novel, forced to make changes to the character names because the late Bram Stoker's estate threatened to sue. Herzog's remake replicates the overall look of the silent picture, but it moves with the other-worldliness of a fever dream set to slow motion.
Remade As: Scarface (Brian De Palma, 1983)
The Difference: A crackling studio picture par excellence, 1932's Scarface charts the swift rise and fall of a gangster (Paul Muni) from thug to mob boss to victim of his own trade. De Palma's over-hyped, over-heated retelling of the same story wallows in drugs and sex and graphic violence for nearly three hours, as punishing a morality play on the corruption of power if there ever was one.
Remade As: You've Got Mail (Nora Ephron, 1998)
The Difference: The exquisite charms of Lubitsch's pen-pals-who-find-out-they're-actually-lovers romance go undisputed, as does the appeal of Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan. Updated for the electronic age, Mail isn't without charms of its own, and it coasts along nicely on the natural chemistry between mega-stars Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.
Remade As: Ocean's Eleven (Steven Soderbergh, 2001)
The Difference: The 1960 caper gave Rat-Packers Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. and their buddies an excuse to have fun in Vegas while a film crew recorded it all on camera. The remake is pretty much the same thing (with George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and others as a trade-off), only this time there's like, you know, an actual plot.
Remade As: The Departed (Martin Scorsese, 2006)
The Difference: Set among the crime-ridden streets of Hong Kong, Affairs is a suspense-filled thriller ripe with double- and triple-crosses in its final act. Scorsese's version follows the same twists and turns, but gets a shot of adrenaline from its performances (Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson are all at their career-best) and benefits from its vivid Boston setting.
Remade As: Halloween (Rob Zombie, 2007)
The Difference: Carpenter's light-on-the-gore slasher pic is a masterpiece of suspense and technique, which a lot of people tend to under-appreciate. Zombie's gruesome re-imagining of the Michael Myers legend spends too much time setting up a psychological backstory for its boogeyman, which severely dissipates what made Myers such a supernatural threat in the first place.__________
That's just seven off the top of my head. There has to be more, though, right? Are there any I forgot that particularly rubbed you the wrong/right way? Are there any you felt were improvements o the original? As always, feel free to complain/add to the discussion below!