Ten Classic Movies I Hope Never Get Remade by Hollywood

With the recent tidal wave of remakes and reboots that have been completely overwhelming and seriously dragging modern cinema into the dirt, I began to think about some of my favourite classic and/or foreign films, and how outraged I would be if they were remade by Hollywood. These are all perfect films; great films Hollywood couldn’t improve upon if they tried, and would only be insulting with their pointless efforts. I managed to come up with a long list of films I pray don’t get remade any time soon, but I’ve cut that list down to ten, and now I’ll share it with you. In no particular order:

The Seventh Seal (1957)

Forgive me if this sounds film-snobbish, but you cannot – and I mean you can not – improve on a Bergman movie. It simply can’t be done. By this I mean, no one can take Bergman’s ideas or screenplays and make better films out of them. No way. Impossible. The Seventh Seal, with its themes of religion, faith and death, isn’t exactly a film likely to be remade, but it is an esteemed classic, and Hollywood do love shitting all over those.

Changes That Would Be Made For The Remake: Sweeping outdoor backdrops, over-the-top score by John Williams, significantly more upbeat mood, affable characters with humorous dialogue, a farcically idiotic Death. Gunnar Björnstrand’s Jöns would probably be the main character, John, and Max von Sydow’s Antonius Block, renamed Tony, would be his down-in-the-dumps best friend who is desperately seeking his wife whom he left for war. The best scene of the film, the strawberries-and-milk scene, would be peppered with clichéd dialogue and sentimentality.

Cast: Ryan Gosling as Antonius, Russell Crowe as Jöns, Javier Bardem as Death, Emma Stone as Mia

8 ½ (1963)

Much like Bergman, Fellini has his own style and grace that really can’t be replicated. And the wonderful charm of Italian neo-realism would be thrown out the window, making this film considerably less interesting.

Changes: The wonderful air of happiness and dreamlike frivolity would get little attention or consideration, and the film would be much more plot-oriented. The womanizing director would have promiscuous young American girls at his side at all times, instead of cheery Italian prostitutes, and would cheat on his wife often, leading to a tearful and over-the-top confrontation, rather than the brilliantly subtle scene in Fellini’s film where the wife discovers his affair in a very silent and accidental manner. A painful divorce would affect the filmmaker, who would become an absolute tyrant on set. The wonderful sequence that closes Fellini’s film would be cut completely and replaced with some ridiculous formulaic ending.

Cast: Mel Gibson as Guido the director, Marisa Tomei as Guido’s wife, Bryce Dallas Howard as Guido’s mistress, Kate Hudson as Claudia, the ideal woman

The 400 Blows (1959)

God knows there have been a lot of youth-in-revolt movies directly inspired by this one, but I don’t know if there’s ever been a direct remake of Truffaut’s film. Let’s hope there isn’t, but if there is…

Changes: Lovable Antoine Doinel would be led into a world of drugs and alcohol, petty crime that becomes dangerous and illegal, and a vicious cycle of other horrid things. His parents would send him to a boarding school, where he would meet a counsellor who becomes the one person that really understands him. Reformed, he returns home and gets a good job at a supermarket, learning to enjoy his life. Note: This plot synopsis could also be used for the remake of A Clockwork Orange.

Cast: Andrew Garfield as Antoine Doinel, Ashley Judd and Tom Cruise as Antoine’s parents

Vertigo (1958)

This would just piss a lot of people off.

Changes: Jimmy Schtewart’s character would be a much cooler, more relaxed private detective; y’know, the kind of guy who looks like nothing could ever disturb him or make him lose his cool… until he meets one woman, the sensual Madeleine who is mentally disturbed but falls into Scottie’s arms. They have an affair. After she falls tragically to her death, completely by accident, Scottie attempts to recreate her with another woman; the great twists and turns of the film’s final act are mostly ignored.

Cast: Ewen MacGregor as Scottie, Amy Adams as Madeleine

Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974)

Wow, this would be an inaccurate remake.

Changes: Celine and Julie would be good pals and BFFs for life; they stumble upon a strange plot in a dark house, meet two hunky guys, and ‘go boating’ together. Rivette’s wonderfully drawn out sequences of playfulness will be brutally cut short and the dreamy humour absolutely shat on.

Cast: Chloe Moretz as Celine, Selena Gomez as Julie

L’Avventura (1960)

Antoinioh-no.

Changes: This film would be much the same, except that Anna would show up in the third act of the film and catch Claudia making love with Sandro. There would be a deep confrontation that would end absurdly on a boat, like the opening scene, with a desperate Claudia shooting Anna and watching her body float away in the water, toward the island she went missing on.

Cast: Natalie Portman as Claudia, Michael Fassbender as Sandro, Amber Heard as Anna

Aguirre, The Wrath of God (1972)

Impossible to remake simply because there is no replacement for Klaus Kinski.

Changes: Aguirre would take charge much earlier on in the film, and would have a love interest, possibly a native woman, his pursuit of whom sparks a war between his people and the land natives. The boat journey is not for El Dorado, but the lost city of Atlantis. The film would end with Aguirre being shot through the heart with an arrow by his native wife, sick of the constant abuse. There would be no rabid monkeys in the third act at all.

Cast: Russell Crowe as Aguirre

Vivre sa Vie (1963)

This was the idea that originally inspired this post. And please God, may it never happen.

Changes: Instead of dying, Karina’s character would contract an STD and the film would end with her reflecting on her life choices in the waiting room of a clinic. The famous dancing scene would be stretched out to five minutes and would be ridiculously over-the-top. There’s no way in hell the Passion of Joan of Arc scene would be included. If it were, Nana would be watching something dumb like Titanic.

Cast: Amanda Seyfried as Nana

Stalker (1979)

This one came to me the other day at work when I was thinking about the Soderbergh remake of Solaris, which I’ve still yet to see.

Changes: It would be about 90 minutes shorter, and inside The Room there would be a magic genie, possibly played by Dwayne Johnson, granting the wishes of the people lucky enough to arrive there. Some shit like that. There would also be dragons and fantastical creatures that obstruct people from reaching The Room, instead of the existential and philosophical crises from Tarkovsky’s classic.

Cast: Michael Caine as The Stalker, Ryan Gosling as the Writer and George Clooney as the Professor

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

HAL, can you make this remake just as thought-provoking, wonderful, enigmatic and perfect as the original? I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.

Changes: The plot would actually continue into the third act, and it would suck so bad. The Dawn of Man sequence would be completely omitted, and it would be Christoper Nolan-ised to a frustrating degree.

Cast: Michael Fassbender as Dave Bowman, Kevin Spacey as the voice of HAL

So those are some of my ideas of pitiful Hollywood remakes. What do you think of my choices? Name some classics of your own, and how they might be remade/shat on? And if you’re really in a thinking mood, name some films that could actually be made better with a remake?

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Posted on June 24, 2012, in Humor, Lists, Movies and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 40 Comments.

  1. I do believe 8½ actually *has* been remade, kind of, as a musical called 9.

    • A friend once said that Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories is an 8 1/2 tribute. Vertigo is an adaptation. And in my warped mind 12 Monkeys is a remake of Vertigo and that the Solarises are remakes of 2001, which has a sequel.

      Because I want to destroy the universe, here are my cast suggestions for some of those movies:

      Lester Makedonsky, Vincent Cassel, Ludivigne Saignier as the family in 400 Blows
      Melanie Laurent playing the lead in Vivre Sa Vie
      Milla Jovovich, Irene Jacob, Meryl Streep as an all-female cast for Stalker.

      And Titanic is not dumb. It`s just half-dumb lol.

    • Yeah it’s basically the same story with tacky song and dance.

    • Haven’t seen it, don’t want to. My girlfriend saw it and she says from her memory it’s nothing like 8 1/2.

      • I wouldn’t say that’s NINE is a remake of 8 ½ since it’s a big adaptation of the eighties Broadway musical of the same name (which was admittedly based on Fellini;s film). Although, I did have an argument on twitter whether about whether it being an adaptation of the Broadway musical (thus once removed from the original film) makes a remake or not. I think no.

        • I just don’t like the fact that it’s being associated with 8 1/2. They’re two separate films. Let’s leave it at that.

  2. I think you’re pretty safe from remakes of most of these. Luckily that Psycho remake didn’t open the flood gates for every Hitchcock getting an ‘update’. Hopefully it will be a long time till they decide to tackle any of his films again. I could see them trying to mess with 2001. God knows what they will do with the ending!

    What scares me is when they start f**king with my childhood favourites. With Robocop and Total Recall remakes on the way, I can see a not-too-distant future where The Goonies or Back to the Future get remade. The thought leaves me shivering. I WILL NOT go and see them, no matter who they get to direct or star.

  3. I don’t think Hollywood considers anything to be sacred. There are a lot of Hollywood classics that’ve been remade, I’m sure, and I’m sure at least some of those classics were, themselves, remakes. That said, even if they don’t outright remake these films, Hollywood will find ways to steal the basic premises or filmmaking techniques and rip these films off, and they’ll be sneaky about it. I think every classic film has in some way “influenced” another; that’s not outright remaking, but tomato, toe-mah-to. I used to not have a problem with that. But I have since Hollywood can’t even steal things properly from previous films anymore, and make decent films out of them. It’s not the actual “being inspired by” that I have a problem with, it’s the actual execution of their films, which most of the time is downright horrible.

    Apologies for inane ramble. It’s been a long day.

  4. Andrew Garfield as Antoine Doinel? Now that’s a thought, although he’s far too good-looking to play someone like Doinel.

    Yeah I really wouldn’t want any of these remade. For me personally, they should never ever ever even think about touching Casablanca.

    Stardust Memories is based on 8 and 1/2 and Woody Allen did a pretty neat job with it. Couldn’t sit through Nine though.

    • I wasn’t sure who to pick for the part of Doinel. For my money, no one could ever play him as well as Jean-Pierre Leaud did.

      Casablanca? Please. God. No.

      Haven’t seen Stardust Memories or Nine. I’m sure Woody Allen would’ve done a lovely sendup however.

  5. Remakes and sequels are all about the built in audience and the opening weekend cash they bring in. Nothing more.

    Personally I wouldn’t have liked to see some of my favorite films like Cape Fear or The Manchurian Canidate even though the remakes were pretty decent.

    I liked Solaris but it was VERY different from the original. It’s almost a different film so I think it stands on its own. Plus it has the lovely Natasha McElhone in it.

    I’d like to see Nick Cage update Kinski’s part in Aguirre. He has just the right amount of crazy to pull it off. No? Now if he could only turn out another performance like the one in Leaving Las Vegas.

    Tyler I actually like you idea for 2001 with Fassbender and Spacey. Have Duncan Jones (Moon) direct it as long as he doesn’t explain a damn thing.

    In defense of the Psycho remake. Van Sant said for it was nothing more than an experiment for him. The opportunity to update a classic, shot for shot, on the studios dime was too good to pass up. Personally I haven’t seen it because I loathe Anne Hache but I don’t think it detracts from the original. Now about those god awful sequels… If Hollywood is going to do remakes I’d rather see Van Sant, Soderbergh and Scorsese try their hand at it than some hack. I think they’ve earned the right to give it a shot even if I don’t care to see some of them. Although former indie maverick Richard Linklater should have his Directors Guild membership revoked for The Bad News Bears. Maybe he can get it back if he delivers on the third installment of the Before Sunrise/Before Sunset series. lol.

    Here’s my idea for a bad remake. Baz Luhrman’s “Citizen Kane”. He updates it to take on media mogul Rupert Murdoch. It’s set in Australia. It’s a musical in 3D with original songs by Kylie Minogue! Heath Ledger, reanimated digitally, as the young, up and coming internet news entrepeneur as Charles Foster (beer sponser tie in) Kane. Mia Wasikowska plays Kane’s mistress Susan Alexander Kane. Her failed opera scene’s will be staged at the iconic Sydney Opera House in IMAX. Kane loses his bid for Prime Minister when his political rival, Russell Crowe as Jim W. Gettys, uncovers a phone hacking scandal by one his underlings played by Nicole Kidman, circa her Dead Calm hairstyle. Hugo Weaving plays Jedediah Leland, Kane’s best friend and confidant who writes a bad review for Susan Alexander Kane’s hip hop, operatic debut in Rolling Stone thus ending their long term friendship. Sam Worthington plays Jerry Thompson the burgeoning internet reporter for TMZ trying to uncover the meaning of “Rosebud”, which of course turns out to be a boomerang he loved as a kid. The boomerang is played by Andy Serkis. The final shot is of Rosebud being warehoused. If you stay through the end credits, a worker (Cate Blanchett, in full beard playing a man, in a cameo) can be seen shelving the boomerang next to the Ark of the Covenant, a little easter egg and nod to the genius of Spielberg. Unfortunately the worker knocks the Arc over, opening it up thus melting himself and incinerating “Rosebud” keeping Kane’s last words a mystery for all time. The End.

    • Remakes and sequels are indeed all about the cash. The harsh but accurate truth.

      Nice long comment… ahh, I love these! I’m also a defender of the Psycho remake, simply for Gus van Sant’s reasoning on why he did it: “So nobody else would have to.” A noble and sensible reason.

      Duncan Jones might do a good 2001 remake, I’ll concede.

      I love Linklater, though I haven’t seen Bad News Bears. For my money he’s one of the best working filmmakers today.

      Wow, your Citizen Kane idea really knocks them all out of the park. I’m stunned. Will definitely read it again and again. Heath Ledger might’ve been a good Kane, but there’s no replacement for Welles. I have a chilling feeling there may be a Citizen Kane remake in our midst however. *shudders*

  6. I don’t think you need to worry because those are great movies, not popular movies. (the exception being when an independent director like Soderberg or Van Sant does a personal project) But why would it matter if they did? The originals would still be there. Does a film ruin a novel that it was based on? For me, even the Star Wars prequels don’t affect the originals.

    • I think remakes ruin the memory of the original. They’re, more often than not, pathetic attempts to cash in on the success of a prior film and little thought is put into them. I have no respect for remakes in general, or any of that sort.

  7. thefilmfreak

    Hollywood is all about money. The studios will only bankroll a remake if it will make 100 million or more, and the movies mentioned above, with the exception of the last two because they are genre films, would not be films likely to draw that kind of money. And if they did pluck Stalker or 2001 as source material, I’m betting they would look drastically different. American audiences don’t have the attention span to sit through either film, so those lovely long takes would be reduced to rapid cuts and the themes would be rendered in concrete terms for easier consumption. And in the unlikely event any of these films were remade, it would be with the hope of garnering Oscar attention, probably something sold to us by the Weinsteins. Think Todd Haynes’ Far From Heaven, although the better remake would be Fassbinder’s Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (non-Hollywood).

    Personally, I don’t think any classic should be remade; the whole point of using the term classic implies they are excellent films and have stood the test of time, so why would they need remaking if they are still relevant and considered brilliant? Of course, it then comes down to canonized classics versus what an individual person might consider classic. I think the term has been used too loosely in many cases, much like the term genius, both thrown around a little too easily and misused far too egregiously. And auteur-directed classic films should always be off limits because part of their greatness is the director’s individual stamp on that film.

    For me, I think the better aim for Hollywood would be to target films that either missed their mark or have slipped into obscurity and deserve to be discovered again. In the right hands they could be remade as great films. Of course, we’re talking Hollywood remakes, so most likely the remake is not going to improve upon the original, but for the sake of argument, let’s pretend that’s possible.

    In that case, I would love to see Westworld remade, mostly because I think the original had promise but fell short of its potential. Supposedly, it’s being remade, but sounds like it is in the wrong hands and will undoubtedly fall short again. But if it fell into the right hands, with a solid rewrite, a visionary director, and a solid cast…it could be a great scifi film and a remake that improves upon the original.

    As for a scenario for a classic remake, let’s go with The Last Tango in Paris, starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, with carefully staged scenes to avoid nudity because we need the PG-13 rating to maximize sales. And of course a happier version, sans butter.

    • Then maybe some sort of healthier margarine substitute?

    • Another nice long comment. Wonderful!

      I’m very glad many of my favourite films aren’t exactly remake material. It is kind of reassuring. A Stalker remake would be an absolute butchering, and a completely different film really. The contemplative middle sequences of the film – in my mind, the film’s strongest points – would be cut and the film would be reduced to a formulaic mess.

      You’re right. Classics should not be remade. It’s something I’d really love to stop.

      Tom Hanks as Marlon Brando’s part in Last Tango? Not. Gonna. Happen.

  8. I don’t want any of these films to be remade. Even if they’re cast with such awful people like Kate Hudson. I can’t see Russell Crowe as Aguirre. It won’t work. It would force me to conjure Klaus Kinski back from the dead and shot numerous insults at Russell Crowe who’ll end up crying like a little bitch!

  9. I think some of these movies like the Seventh Seal would have too small of an audience to get a remake …but then again sometimes you just don’t know with hollywood. For me, something that i could see getting a remake that i would be against is Citizen Kane. And i will start flipping tables if they ever think about touching Eyes Wide Shut.

    With that said,sometimes with a good team behind it a remake can end up worth watching,with the Departed being a good example. And i will admit one of my movie ideas is inspired by Strangers on a Train, mainly because the way bruno seemed to worship Guy seems even more relevant in the current celebrity-worshiping culture. It would be more focused on that theme(Celebrity-worship) then being a straight remake.

    • You mean you’ve got a better Strangers on a Train remake idea than Throw Momma from the Train?

      Owen: “This is Cousin Paddy. He’s coming to stay with us a while. Isn’t that nice?”
      Momma: [suspiciously] “You don’t *have* a “Cousin Paddy”.”
      Owen: [to Larry] “You lied to me!”
      [Owen knocks Larry out with a frying pan to the head]

      Brilliant!

    • I don’t know if they’ll touch Eyes Wide Shut, but yeah I’d go mad if they did. For shame.

  10. Joe Conneely

    The fascinating thing is that most of these films are by directors who largely avoided Hollywood like the plague (remember the old story that “Bonnie and Clyde” was first offered to Truffaut who turned it down as he did not think his English was good enough to direct!).

    Sadly even within Hollywood the use of remakes has been deathly versus the original – my personal choice being the great “Point Blank” directed by John Boorman and staring Lee Marvin in stunning form. The later remakes especially the dreadful Mel Gibson “Payback” showed it could not be replicated!

    • Truffaut would’ve made a badass Bonnie & Clyde. Man I wish he’d directed. Can you imagine Jean-Pierre Leaud and Jeanne Moreau in the leading roles? That I’d pay to see.

  11. Christian Hallbeck

    I just read your experience of “All These Women”. And while I share your total and wholehearted dismissal and repugnance, I can’t understand how you’re still able to find three stars out of ten in what must be the worst film ever made! What motivates the three stars, Tyler? 😉 Seeing this film you lose hope in humanity! This might just be the film by Bergman that Hollywood can make a better version of! On the other hand: no director on Earth could make a version that is worse…

    • Well, Christian, I gave it 3/10 because I did like Sven Nykvist’s colour cinematography and the use of colour was something new and different for Bergman. Even though the actors and their dialogue were terrible, it was nice to see Bibi Andersson and particularly Eva Dahlbeck and Harriet Andersson, since for those two it was the last time they’d work with Bergman for a while. I don’t think it’s the worst Bergman film I’ve seen either – The Serpent’s Egg is much more repugnant and Crisis is almost as bad.

      You may be interested to learn, on the subject, that I have just acquired perhaps the rarest Bergman film of them all: This Can’t Happen Here. Bergman officially disowned this 1950 film, and since then it has become a rare gem. Even if it is absolutely horrid and void of all things Bergman, I still can’t wait to see it just to be able to say I’ve seen it. What do you think? Have you seen it? I suppose it’s relatively easy to find in Sweden.

      • Christian Hallbeck

        It’s not actually! It might just be the only Bergman film not yet released on dvd in Sweden. And no, I haven’t seen it. I don’t know if I want to either.

        Well, your motivation for giving “All These Woman” three stars was acceptable I guess. Personally I find “The Serpent’s Egg” better. Even though it’s a very bad film.

        It would be interesting to know the psychology behind making all these bad films in the prime of his career. I mean, the bad films made early in his career are forgivable, in the light of him learning the crafsmanship and so on, but “The Devils Eye” was made after “The Seventh Seal” and “Wild Strawberries”, and just before The Faith Trilogy. “All These Woman” was made between “The Silence” and “Persona”, two of his best films. And “The Touch” was made just before “Cries and Whispers”…

        I mean, he did sit down and write these films. He must have known that what he wrote was bad. Very bad.

        Tarkovsky and Kurosawa never made a bad film!

        • Just saw it. This Can’t Happen Here is nowhere near as bad as Crisis, All These Women or The Serpent’s Egg. I gave it 5/10. I can see why Bergman didn’t like it, but it’s not as bad as it’s made out to be.

          Bergman had his bad eggs, and I’m not sure why either. He seems to regret them so much.

  12. Actually, Andrew Garfield as Antoine could work. If he were a lot younger. There is no end to that guy’s talent, and I’m not being a crazy little fangirl.

    As for the rest, no. And a definite NO to Vivre Sa Vie.

    • Yeah, he could make it work. But Leaud was so perfect; so beautifully innocent. I recommend you watch the sequel to The 400 Blows. It’s a very short movie (30 minutes) called Antoine and Colette, and Leaud was not much older when he made this one with Truffaut. Delightful movie. It’s on YouTube. If you’re interested I’ll link you up.

  13. Can’t agree more with this post, Tyler. Way too many remakes as it is in Hollywood! Unfortunately, most honchos there are all about the bottom line. Hopefully they won’t touch most art house films though, as they probably think there’s no money to be made there.

    • My main concern is that classic Hollywood remakes will become tiresome and old, and then they might turn to foreign classics. God forbid. There was already a remake of Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless in 1983. I haven’t seen it, but I hear it’s awful!

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  1. Pingback: Everybody’s Talkin’ 6 – 29 (Chatter from Other Bloggers) | The Matinee | Cinematic Passion & Perspective

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