Undefended: When Do We Actually Need A Remake?

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Undefended: When Do We Actually Need A Remake?

This week, FilmFisher writers were given the following prompt: “There’s way, way too many remakes going on, and nine times out of ten, films are being remade that ought to be left alone. This week, come up with five films made during the Hays Code era (let us agree on a sharp enforcement of this rule; all films on the list must have been distributed between 1930 and 1968) which deserve a remake. Feel free to provide as much additional information on the nature of the remake as you like. Director, soundtrack, actors, cinematographer… adapted script or shot-for-shot?”


Remy Wilkins:

  1. Jerry Lewis’ The Ladies Man: starring Andy Samberg (marketable version) or Donald Glover (unmarketable version). Say yes to more screwball comedies (and no to Adam Sandler/Judd Apatow).
  2. Charade by Nicholas Winding Refn, hoping a lighter genre will subdue his darker impulses.
  3. Philadelphia Story: gender switching the roles, Kristen Wiig, Emma Stone and Rose Byrne in the male roles? Chris Evans in the Hepburn role? I’d take Edgar Wright over Paul Feig.
  4. I Confess: I would love to see J.C. Chandor’s visually taut, sizzling dramatic take on this early Hitchcock classic.
  5. North By Northwest: Perhaps it doesn’t need remaking, but I would love to see Alfonso Cuaron’s take on Hitchcock’s visually thrilling but ultimately empty film. Hitchcock was more interested in sexual perversion than the spiritual, so any remakes conscious of this could outweigh the originals.


Rikki Elizabeth Stinnette:

  1. Ronald Colman’s “A Tale of Two Cities”: Directed by Tom Hooper, composed by James Horner, starring Eddie Redmayne or Tom Hiddleston as Darnay/Carton; Emma Watson as Lucie Manette. This book is a perennial classic and is asking for an earthy, smartly scripted film version.
  2. “Arsenic and Old Lace”: Directed by Wes Anderson, starring Owen Wilson. While I’m a huge fan of the classic, I’d like to see what a quirky modern director would do with the script.
  3. “Sullivan’s Travels”: Directed by Gary Ross. I would say the Coen Brothers, but then the result would look too much like “O Brother, Where art thou?” A toss-up as to the actors. I’d be curious to see how a modern version would update the social commentary and comedy while maintaining the original’s charm.
  4. “To Catch a Thief”: Directed by Sofia Coppola, starring Marion Cotillard and Leonardo DiCaprio. I think the Hitchcock version runs a little slow, focusing too much on the sights rather than the chase and character development.
  5. “Witness for the Prosecution”: Directed by the Coen Brothers, starring Anne Hathaway. I think the Coen Brothers’ sensibilities would bring a silky modern feel to this taut crime drama.

5b. “The Birds” by Michael Bay. Just kidding. Though I would see it for a laugh.


Timothy Lawrence:

  1. “12 Angry Men” directed by J.C. Chandor, with:

Hugh Jackman as #8

Bryan Cranston as #3

Kevin Spacey as #4

Tom Wilkinson as #10

Max von Sydow as #9

Paul Dano as #2

Mark Ruffalo as #1

Will Ferrell as #7

Jean Dujardin as #11

Andy Serkis as #5

Jeremy Renner as #6

Matthew McConaughey as #12

Score by Alex Ebert

  1. “The Ox-Bow Incident” directed by Steve McQueen, with Michael Fassbender taking Fonda’s part
  2. “Make Way for Tomorrow” directed by Sam Mendes
  3. “Black Narcissus” directed by Martin Scorsese, with cinematography by Claudio Miranda
  4. “The Killing” directed by the Coen Brothers (after all, there’s a precedent for them remaking a little-known 50s heist film with the word “kill” in the title)

Bonus choice: “Black Orpheus” directed by Guillermo Del Toro


Joshua Gibbs

  1. The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947), directed by Sofia Coppola. In the original, a teenage Shirley Temple has a crush on Cary Grant. I’d take Elle Fanning for Shirley Temple, Clooney for Grant (too obvious?). Original score by Brian Reitzell.
  2. All Quiet On The Western Front (1929), directed by PT Anderson. Get to see Anderson deal with a European backdrop, not to mention an anti-war script.
  3. Bonnie and Clyde (1967), and I’d have to take PT Anderson again. Ryan Gosling for Beatty, Chloe Sevigny for Dunaway.
  4. Room at the Top (1959), which is not to be confused with Time at the Top. Directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. Kate Winslet to replace Simone Signoret in the lead female role.
  5. Shadow of a Doubt (1943) is not a film that needs to be remade, though I’d love to see Jonathon Glazer take a crack at it. Set it in a foreign local and let Alexander Desplat score it.
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