These days it seems like remakes are all the rage, and over the past few years, I’ve listened to a lot of people complaining about remakes on principle alone. While a lot of them are horrible abominations unto the God of Movies, there are a few out there that are pretty good. In fact, there are some that are legitimately superior. I’m not saying that I’m an advocate for remakes, but even I feel like there are some movies that should be remade.
If you’re one of those people shaking their heads or sticking their fingers in their ears and shouting “I can’t hear you,” I’ve come up with 10 of my favorite remakes. By the end of it, I hope that you can bring yourself to agree that remakes don’t deserve immediate condemnation, or that you’ll at least mumble quietly about how stupid I am for making a good point.
10. Scarface (1983)
Few people realize that this crime classic starring Al Pacino is actually a remake of a 1932 film of the same name. It’s amassed a huge cult following and these days it’s hard not to see a teenager showing off his gangster side with a Scarface shirt. Brian De Palma managed to completely modernize the film by setting it in the drug-fueled underworld of Miami. Of course, the original can’t really stack up to the extravagant violence of this remake, but that’s because it was from a different time when people weren’t skinned alive for double crossing mafia kingpins.
9. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
That’s right, non-believers, the Michael Caine and Steve Martin classic is actually a remake of the 1964 film Bedtime Stories starring Marlon Brando and David Niven. I’m only two movies into this list and I think it’s already pretty clear that not all remakes are awful. True, for many of these the names have been changed; it lets us pretend that a movie isn’t a remake, just an homage. Just remember that in Hollywood there’s a thin line between homage and blatant rip-off. Luckily, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is neither. Let’s just hope the upcoming remake is halfway decent.
8. The Magnificent Seven (1960)
Sounds familiar, right? There isn’t a guy in his mid-forties or older that won't argue that this western is anything less than an amazing movie. It’s no secret that it’s a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s classic Seven Samurai. While I might never admit that this movie is better than the original, I will say that it’s a damn fine movie. With the likes of Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson starring, the movie has immortalized itself as a classic man’s movie. Even though I preferred the first one, I’ll never pass up a lazy Sunday with a few beers and this flick. Let’s hope Chris Pratt and Denzel Washington can do it justice.
7. A Fistful Of Dollars (1964)
Another Akira Kurosawa remake? Jeez, it’s like this guy revolutionized film or something. That’s right: Clint Eastwood tackled the role made famous by the late Toshirô Mifune. Once again, we love the original, but Eastwood turned the character into one of cinema’s most iconic heroes when he followed up with For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. So, despite the fact that the film is a complete ripoff of Yojimbo, I love it anyway. In fact, I love it so much it’s almost impossible to decide which one is my favorite.
6. The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
When the same director decides to helm the remake of his original, it’s going to be hard to poke holes in it. And when that same director claims that the remake is the superior version, well, no one really has the right to argue, especially when Alfred Hitchcock is said director. The most interesting entry in this list has 22 years separating the original from the remake, and the latter happened toward the end of Hitchcock’s monumental career, right in the middle of his heyday. Starring real-life sweethearts Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day, this movie is one of the greatest remakes of all time.
5. The Departed (2006)
This entry is probably going to land me in hot water with Hong Kong cinema fans out there, but I think that The Departed is a film that deserves a solid nod. True, every night there are fights in underground cinema clubs over this very topic, but I’m going to take my chances, especially because I’m undefeated so far. For those more mainstream movie fans, The Departed is a remake of Internal Affairs (also known as Mou Gaan Dou). While fans of the original are outraged over the remake, I can’t really be that surprised. After all, any good foreign film will be remade by Hollywood, and this one just so happens to be one of the best.
4. Casino Royale (2006)
Look, if you really need a definitive example of why Hollywood continues to come out with remakes, it’s because some of them turn out amazing. Few people remember that the first James Bond film was Casino Royale, starring the likes of Peter Sellers and David Niven. The original never really makes it clear exactly who 007 really is. The remake, though, makes it abundantly clear that the new 007 is Daniel Craig. Filled to the brim with awesome chase scenes, brutal fights and a torture scene that makes grown men weep long after their girlfriends have gone to sleep, this is a new Bond for a new generation.
3. Ocean's 11 (2001)
Since the remake came out in 2001, it’s become fairly common knowledge that the film is based off the 1960s film (there’s just something about remaking movies from the '60s) starring the Rat Pack. If you don’t know what that is, just know that you’ve made me feel very old. Anyway, this flick is filled with style, charisma, intelligence and some of the hottest male leads in Hollywood. The remake manages to capture the essence of the original with leads that are too cool for school and a sense of humor that manages to make it one of the better movies of the new millennium. Of course, the same can’t really be said for sequels, but this is a remake list, so let’s not talk about them.
2. True Grit (2010)
I remember when I was little and grandpa used to shout about how John Wayne was the greatest thing in the world. He would tell me about how he was a man’s man (whatever that means) and the best actor who ever lived. Well, in my humble opinion, walking funny and saying “Pilgrim” don’t make you the epitome of machismo, and wearing an eye patch shouldn’t win you an Oscar! I’ve tried to re-watch the original after the remake came out and it’s hard to get through the entire thing. Luckily, these days the original comes with plenty of commercial breaks. When in doubt though, just go with the Jeff Bridges version.
1. The Thing (1982)
Of course, I’m talking about the 1982 version and not the 2011 one. This film is pretty much regarded by experts and internet trolls alike as the greatest remake of all time. Of course, the original (The Thing From Another World) didn’t really set the bar too terribly high. Still, The Thing is a hell of a movie. It's the type of film that will do wonders for your insomnia in that it will leave you suspicious of your cat. Has he left your sight? Is he acting weird? Are those crab legs growing out of his back?! All valid questions you’ll be forced to face after sitting through the John Carpenter horror classic. If you haven’t had a chance to see it, then you’re definitely missing out. It is, after all, one of the best remakes of all time.
Want more movie action? Go behind the scenes of a few classic horror movies in the video below:
Honorable Mentions: Little Shop Of Horrors, The Birdcage And Some Like It Hot.
So there you have it, 10 movies that hopefully prove that maybe audiences shouldn’t find remakes so off putting. Of course, there are plenty of terrible ones out there, but there are also some great ones. Let me know if the comments below what your favorite remake of all time is!