Wednesday, May 25, 2011

MASTER LIST #20: The 50 Best Remakes

It was a little difficult, compiling this list. I had to decide what deserved to be a remake and what didn't. Did remaking TV series, or TV-produced teleplays count? (They do.) And did musical remakes, having been made for stage originally, count? (Yes, they do, too.) How about remakes of historical dramas and classic stories by Shakespeare and the like? (I decided against this; these stories belong to the ages, though I perhaps broke this rule with 1963's Cleopatra). But, then again, in including The End of the Affair, The Bounty, The Winslow Boy and 1973's musical remake of Tom Sawyer, did I further break this rule? (I decided not, since only two or three versions of each tale have ever been filmed, and no more are likely to ever be filmed again.)

In the end, I preferred to include largely only films that were remakes of other filmed products. At any rate, after all my haggling over this stuff, I'm supremely satisfied with this list. I think it's definitive. I've included the directors and years of production, along with the creators/originators of the original versions. If no other title is cited, then the title of the remake is the same as the original. The titles are ranked in order according to (1) overall quality, (2) allegiance to, divergence from, and improvement upon the original, and (3) overall influence. A final interesting note: six filmmakers have remade their own films--Hitchcock, McCarey, Lucas, Anderson, Haneke, and Wyler.

1) 12 Angry Men (Sidney Lumet, 57; remake of Reginald Rose's 1954 Studio One TV teleplay)
2) The Maltese Falcon (John Huston, 41; remake of Roy Del Ruth's 1931 film)
3) A Star is Born (George Cukor, 54; remake of William Wellman's 1937 film)
4) Pennies From Heaven (Herbert Ross, 81; remake of Dennis Potter and Piers Haggards' 78 British TV series)
5) The Thing (John Carpenter, 82; remake of Christian Nyby's (and Howard Hawks') 1951 film The Thing (From Another World))
6) The Thief of Bagdad (Michael Powell and Alexander Korda, et al., 40; remake of Raoul Walsh's 1924 film)
7) His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks, 40; remake of Lewis Milestone's 1931 film The Front Page)
8) Sorcerer (William Friedkin, 77; remake of Henri-Georges Clouzot's 1953 film The Wages of Fear)
9) Cape Fear (Martin Scorsese, 91; remake of J. Lee Thompson's 1962 film)
10) The Talented Mr. Ripley (Anthony Mingella, 99; remake of René Clément's 1960 film Purple Noon)
11) THX-1138 (George Lucas, 71; remake of Lucas' 1967 student-made short film Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB; retooled for the digital age in a landmark 2004 director's cut)
12) Quatermass and the Pit (AKA Five Million Years to Earth, Roy Ward Baker, 67; remake of 1959 British TV series)
13) The Fly (David Cronenberg, 86; remake of Kurt Neumann's 1958 film)
14) An Affair to Remember (Leo McCarey, 57; remake of McCarey's 1939 film Love Affair)
15) Victor Victoria (Blake Edwards, 82; remake of Reinhold Schünzel's 1933 film)
16) The Man Who Knew Too Much (Alfred Hitchcock, 56; remake of Hitchcock's 1934 film)
17) Let Me In (Matt Reeves, 2010; remake of Tomas Alfredson's 2008 film Let The Right One In)
18) Manon of the Spring (Claude Berri, 88; remake of Marcel Pagnol's 1952 film Manon de Sources)
19) A Fistful of Dollars (Sergio Leone, 64; remake of Akira Kurosawa's 1961 film Yojimbo)
20) Imitation of Life (Douglas Sirk, 59; remake of John M. Stahl's 1931 film)
21) Bottle Rocket (Wes Anderson, 96; remake of Anderson's 1994 short film)
22) Traffic (Steven Soderburgh, 2001; remake of Alistair Reed and Simon Moore's 1989 British TV series Traffik)
23) Men Don’t Leave (Paul Brickman, 90; remake of Moshé Mizrahi's 1981 film La Vie Coninue)
24) Intermezzo: A Love Story (Gregory Ratoff, 39; remake of Gustaf Molander's 1936 film Intermezzo)
25) The Bounty (Roger Donaldson, 84; remake of Frank Lloyd's 1935 film, and of Lewis Milestone's 1962 film, both called Mutiny on the Bounty)
26) Marty (Delbert Mann, 55; remake of Fred Coe and Paddy Chayefsky's 1953 TV production for The Goodyear Television Playhouse)
27) Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Philip Kaufman, 78; remake of Don Siegel's 1956 film)
28) The Departed (Martin Scorsese, 2006; remake of Andrew Lau's 2002 film Infernal Affairs)
29) The Fugitive (Andrew Davis, 93; remake of Roy Huggin's 63-67 TV series)
30) Heaven Can Wait (Warren Beatty and Buck Henry, 78; remake of Alexander Hall's 1941 film Here Comes Mr. Jordan)
31) Assault on Precinct 13 (John Carpenter, 76; remake of Howard Hawks' 1959 film Rio Bravo)
32) The End of the Affair (Neil Jordan, 99; remake of Edward Dmytryk's 1955 film)
33) Cleopatra (Joseph L. Mackiewicz, 63; remake of Cecil B. DeMille's 1934 film)
34) Nosferatu The Vampyre (Werner Herzog, 79; remake of F.W. Murnau's 1922 film Nosferatu)
35) M (Joseph Losey, 51; remake of Fritz Lang's 1931 film)
36) The Winslow Boy (David Mamet, 99; remake of Anthony Asquith's 1948 film)
37) The Magnificent Seven (John Sturges, 60; remake of Akira Kurosawa's 1954 film The Seven Samarai)
38) The Untouchables (Brian De Palma, 87; remake of the 1959-63 TV series)
39) Chicago (Rob Marshall, 2002; musical remake of Frank Urson's 1927 film and of William Wellman's 1942 film Roxie Hart)
40) Solaris (Steven Soderburgh, 2002; remake of Andrei Tarkovsky's 1972 film)
41) Brimstone and Treacle (Richard Loncraine, 82; remake of Dennis Potter's 1976 British TV play)
42) The Postman Always Rings Twice (Bob Rafelson, 81; remake of Tay Garnett's 1946 film)
43) Tom Sawyer (Don Taylor, 73; musical remake of Norman Taurog's 1938 film The Adventures of Tom Sawyer)
44) The Birdcage (Mike Nichols, 96; remake of Edouard Molinaro's 1978 film La Cage Aux Folles)
45) Funny Games (Michael Haneke, 2007; shot-for-shot American remake of Haneke's French-language 1997 film)
46) The Children’s Hour (William Wyler, 61; remake of Wyler's 1936 film These Three)
47) Little Shop of Horrors (Frank Oz, 86; musical remake of Roger Corman and Charles B. Grffith's 1960 film)
48) The Unholy Three (Jack Conway, 30; remake of Tod Browning's 1925 silent version, also starring Lon Chaney)
49) Ben-Hur (William Wyler et al, 59; remake of Fred Niblo's 1925 film Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ)
50) Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Frank Oz, 88; remake of Ralph Levy's 1964 film Bedtime Story)


Mark Johnson said...

Great list! But Ben-Hur is way too low... personal favorite of mine. Have to defend it.

Dean Treadway said...

I appreciate that. Even placing as low as it did on my list, it's still a great movie. I just think most of its greatness is loaded in its stupendous final third. And most of that wasn't directed by Wyler; it was the product of 2nd Unit action director Andrew Marton and stunt director Yakima Canutt. In that way, it becomes like two movies stuck awkwardly together: one, a top-heavy, rarely convincing moral drama, and the other a back-heavy skronky race movie with the most incredible everything you've ever seen on screen. It's cool, but it don't make it the best of the bunch. Still, I'm really glad a lot of people like it. I only hope they'll put up with my own opinions on this matter.

Pat Walsh said...

Interesting list. However, The End of the Affair was directed by Neil Jordan

Dean Treadway said...

You're so right. Thank you for the correction.