The Corner

Better Remakes

Here are e-mails I mostly agree with:

The Bogart “The Maltese Falcon” was the THIRD version of that story put on film and undoubtedly the best.


Also, the 1973 Richard Lester version of “The Three Musketeers” was not the first by a couple and in my opinion, clearly the best as well.


I think the best chance of a good remake is when it is based on a classic book or novel rather than an original screenplay.


My vote is for “The Thing”.  I saw the original 50’s version first and I was not much impressed.  Years later I watched the 1982 John Carpenter remake and really liked it.  A review I read at the time stated “The best thing about this film – no screaming women.  The worst thing – no women.” 


You probably already got this one, but the absolute best version of Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” is the “Scrooge” of 1951 starring Alistair Sim.  Of the many versions (Reginald Owen’s c. 1938 movie the best known earlier competition, and Albert Finney’s, George C. Scott’s, et al the best known later entries), the 1951 Sim film is undoubtedly the best.  Funny, poignant, strangely ageless for a B&W 1951 production, Sim’s Scrooge beats them all by miles.

I never saw the remake of Of Mice and Men, but this sounds plausible:

But the 1992 Gary Sinise directed version of “Of Mice and Men” starring Sinise and John Malkovich is way better than the 1939 Burgess Meredith/Lon Chaney Jr version.  The acting in the 1939 “original” is somewhat wooden and would only be adjudged better by the most hardened of “older is better” film stalwarts. Chaney’s is a cartoonish version of the mentally defective Lenny. 

Sinise and Malkovich play it way more convincingly.  Opening and closing scenes and score in the modern remake are heartbreaking.  Likewise the scene in which Candy’s (Ray Walston’s) dog is dispatched by Carlson (Richard Riehle) is a masterpiece of timing and understatement. 

While both versions are very faithful renditions and almost line by line copies, the newer version simply has more convincing acting going for it.  The theme that neither men can count on anyone else is tragically conveyed by Sinise and Malkovich in true homage to the Steinbeck novel.

Other suggestions: The Thomas Crown Affair; Father of the Bride.