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20 Films Remade by the Original Directors Pt.3

26 May

Day 3 of this multipart blog is upon us, and already you have 12 films to seek out and enjoy for your own!  If there is one thing that I’ve thought of throughout this experience, it’s that there is many a time that a director can improve upon a film by simply directing a newer version.  In fact, on this 30th anniversary of a wonderful little film, my thoughts drift to a dream that I have.  My dream is thus, I would rather have George Lucas direct three entirely new versions of “Star Wars (or A New Hope)”, “Empire Strikes Back”, and “Return of the Jedi”, and restore the current versions back to their original theatrical cuts.  This would ensure that the effects of all 6 films more closely resemble one another, the actors could all be the same throughout, and there would be no more attempting to do the preceding by inserting new scenes, reediting others, and completely changing music and actors performances all with modern computer effects for what eventually will likely be the only versions available on Blu-ray Hi-Definition video.

But I digress.  For now, let’s return to the article I like to call:

“Remaking the Tinsel in Tinseltown”

Or

“20 Films Remade by the Original Directors”

Part III

Remake #5

~Director: Francis Veber~

Original Film: Les Fugitifs
Year: 1986
Cast: Gerard Depardieu, Pierre Richard, Anaïs Bret
Language: French
Country: France
Specs: 95 mins / Color / OAR 1.66:1

It can be very hard to get me to laugh at a comedy.  Many times, the jokes are either rehashed from film to film, or are laughs aimed at the lowest common denominator.  It was a pleasant surprise, then, with this French comedy, in how funny it actually was.  The film starts off with a very good opening and set-up, when suddenly the humor kicks in.  Mind you, this isn’t the every moment there needs to be a laugh comedy, but the drama/action/comedy type of film.  Veber did a wonderful job of personalizing the characters right from the start, and peppering loads of dry humor throughout this tale of a man in the right place at the wrong time.  The little girl that Veber cast is just adorable, and worth the price of admission alone to see those doe eyes staring back at you.
An aspect of the film that I’ll never understand, and for most films that are guilty of the following as well, is the addition of a few instances of vulgar language when not needed.  I’m no prude, however, a film that is so obviously aimed at the family audience needn’t contain such impertinent remarks.  Otherwise, there isn’t much objectionable regarding this film.  It was a film that I would heartily recommend to any.

My Rating: **** / B

Remake Film: Three Fugitives
Year: 1989
Cast: Nick Nolte, Martin Short, Sarah Rowland Doroff, James Earl Jones
Language: English
Country: United States
Specs: 96 mins / Color / OAR 1.85:1

This comedy is basically a shot for shot remake of the original French language version, “Les Fugitifs”.  The difference is that Veber has done a rewrite, making minor changes here and there to fill in some gaps from the original version, and, unfortunately, ramping up the foul language tenfold.  Were this a film about a prison break, or a heist film, I’d pay none the wiser.  However, as I mentioned in the originals review, it is rather obnoxious to have it here in an otherwise very family oriented film.

No doubt due to pressure from the studio behind the remake, Veber has also tweaked the ending to have a twist.  The problem with the twist is that it is seen from a mile away, taking the film down a notch from its predecessor.
All in all, to be quite honest, I’m not quite sure how this didn’t get an R rating (its rated PG-13 by the MPAA)?  In spite of the aforementioned additions, the film overall is equally as funny as the original, just not for the family to enjoy.

My Rating: **** / B-

Remake #6

~Director: Frank Capra~

Original Film: Lady for a Day
Year: 1933
Cast: May Robson, Warren William, Guy Kibbee
Language: English
Country: United States
Specs: 96 mins / Black and White / OAR 1.37:1

This nice little story, while quite improbable and far-fetched, has very memorable performances by both May Robson and the gangsters around her.  While the film itself has many “moments”, it was sad to see that the “gig” is never up, and the moral lesson (it doesn’t matter what you have, but who you are) that is so prevalent in many of Capra’s other films is absent here.  The finale sees Annie’s daughter board the ship, unawares, and leave as the End Title card appears.  The fact that there isn’t much tension in the film keeps it from being a true classic to revisit, in my humble opinion.
Not one of Capra’s greatest, but still a pleasant treat.

My Rating: *** / C

Remake Film: Pocketful of Miracles
Year: 1961
Cast: Bette Davis, Glenn Ford, Hope Lange, Arthur O’Connell, Peter Falk, Ann-Margret
Language: English
Country: United States
Specs: 136 mins / Color / OAR 2.35:1

This remake of “Lady for a Day” is a wonderful film that takes everything that worked about the original, and expands on it in a way that flushes out the characters, adds some very funny dialogue (having such a wonderful cast of character actors doesn’t hurt!), and films it in glorious widescreen color.  The casting of Peter Falk, Glenn Ford, and Bette Davis was a brilliant move.  Falk steals the show a number of times, much to my surprise.  The story is much more plausible this time around, with a number of the problems with the original having been addressed.  A few different lines here and there help to make this the superior version by far.

In addition, having such wonderful music accompany many scenes is pleasantly welcome, and made this reviewer miss the days when classy jazz was in vogue.

A great film from a great director.

My Rating: ***** / A

Back tomorrow for part 4

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Posted by on May 26, 2010 in Movies

 

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