I've a little rant for you today, my loves. Lately I've noticed a disturbing trend...maybe you've picked up on it as well. In the past few years there's been an upsurge in remakes. Now I will tell you that, in my opinion, there really is no GOOD remake.
I mean let's be honest, either the original was amazing, classic, and utter perfection...in which case, a remake will NEVER be as good...or the movie was crap the first time around and will only be double crap when put in a modern format (at least the original can be watched from a pop culture slant and be somewhat interesting.)
But more importantly what peeves me off most is that it seems once an uncalled for remake is made, the original is rarely if ever shown again. Which means there is a whole generation coming up who never know how amazing the original is...or that it even existed in the first place.
Today, I give you my top 10 movies that should never have been remade:
10. Arthur (1981)
For number ten on my list, I've chosen the latest travesty. Granted, I've not seen it...I don't need to. Don't get me wrong. I adore Russell, son of Camden's favourite loud drunk "The amaaaaazing Ronnie Brand" (Camdenites will understand!) He's insanely funny and times were when I looked forward to new episodes of Ponderland with bated breath. But he aint no Dudley Moore.....and Helen Mirren aint no John Gielgud...and heaven knows this Greta Gerwig person sure as all heckfire aint no Liza Minnelli. The original was perfect in every way. Moore plays the most adorable drunk in the world. The first minutes of the film are comic GENIUS and I almost pee my pants every time I see it: "You're a HOOKER??!!"
9. The Stepford Wives (1975)
When this classic was remade in 2004, I grimaced. How can you take a film that revolves around the new gender roles created out of the women's lib and bra burning era of the 1970's out of the 1970's? The depth of the plot becomes MIA. The reason the first version resonates is the fact that it was written and filmed in the era when many, if not the majority of the population, were still frightened of strong women with careers outside the home. It was relevant then, not so much now....although a lot of fervent libbers out there would no doubt challenge me on this. But even they can't deny that times have changed ENORMOUSLY in 36 years. So much so that the remake of this film is as soul-less as the Wives themselves.
8. The Parent Trap (1961)
One of THE best teeny bopper movies Disney ever made. Hayley Mills is absolutely perfect as the two sisters separated as babies! She's so darn cute! Not to mention the woman who, in your beloved narrator's opinion is the most beautiful woman ever to grace film, Maureen O'Hara, as the mother. Again, there is a reason that this film worked in the time it was originally made. It was the beginning of the sixties and the American family was quickly eroding...and as in The Stepford Wives, it terrified most people. In other words this is just another example of a "times they are a changin'" movie that doesn't resonate as loudly when it's set almost four decades on.
Plus, there's just something lovely and golden about this movie and that should never be messed with...especially not with the likes of someone I refuse to name in the twin roles.
7. Cape Fear (1962)
There should be a rule that once a role is played by Robert Mitchem, it should be a crime punishable by death to let anyone else play the same role...the same should go for Gregory Peck. The two actors play the cat and mouse emotions of the two main characters as if they were born to. The suspension of disbelief is so great in this film that within the first half hour, I detest Robert and am terrified for Gregory. The end scenes in which Cady (Mitchem) has finally trapped his prey are honestly the most breathless of any thriller I've ever watched. And it doesn't matter how many times I've seen it, I still fall into yelling at the screen as if Gregory Peck could actually hear me! My heart nearly jumps out of my chest every time! The remake didn't affect me at all.
6. Mildred Pierce (1945)
Not that Kate Winslet isn't lovely, but Joan Crawford is someone that NO ONE can ever hold a candle to...and this is without a doubt Joan's masterpiece. Not only that, but once again the driver behind this film is the newly strong, self made woman who came through WWII keeping herself as well as the homefront together at all costs. I don't even think I need to offer any more explanation on this one, other than to say that I think Faye Dunaway as Joan in 'Mommie Dearest' said it best: "Don't fuck with me, fellas."
5. The Little Princess (1939)
Shirley Temple's most beautiful role. She is so believable as Sarah Crew, just the right amount of precociousness and innocence. The rest of the cast is flawless as well and none of the remakes of this film have had the chemistry or the warmth of this version.
4. Alfie (1966)
Even if it was originally played by Terrance Stamp on the stage, you'd almost think that Alfie was written explicitly for Caine. Michael Caine IS Alfie. The role made his career and he made the role. Jude Law is a hottie, but compared with Michael Caine, he's mojo-less.
3. Freaky Friday (1976)
Another case of Disney messing with it's own perfection....and again with 'she who shall not be named' in the lead role. I don't know what the studio was trying to prove in the 90's but they really should have left well enough alone. The original is amazing and, well, it's Jodie Foster for cryin' out loud! Who could ask for more? And as usual, the time period only adds to the charm of this film.
2. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
While Johnny Depp is definitely in my top 10 for hottest men ever....and he is kind of creepy-hot in the remake...there is no Wonka like Gene Wilder. I found the remake a bit too surreal and unbelievable. The original has it's Dali-esque moments, but you have no trouble believing that Mr. Wonka's factory could indeed exist. And the characters are much more loveable.
1. Hairspray (1988)
This was my FAVOURITE movie growing up. Really. I can still recite the entire film from beginning to end including the soundtrack and do all of the dances. However, I never made it more than 30 minutes into the remake. And I'm a huge Travolta fan, so that's saying a lot! Not that it's his fault the movie's so bad. Honestly you can't expect a man like John, no matter how good an actor to simply put on a dress and some make up and take on a character made famous by a the lovely Divine...a man who made his name in drag...and eating dog poo, but I digress...
The original cast is spot on, as usual in John Waters' films. Divine, Ricky Lake, Debbie Harry, Sonny Bono, Waters himself, Ruth Brown, Jerry Stiller, and my favourite, Pia Zadora, make the film a star studded classic. Another Waters signature is the superb soundtrack. Not an annoying musical like the remake, but REAL music from the era. And above all, the lack of TRUE campness in the remake just left me looking for the remote.
But I guess the most important thing about the original for me is that it cemented my love of the 1960's as a kid and consequently, I guess you could say that it played a major role in my career path and who I am as an adult. Thank you, John Waters!