Friday, April 10, 2020

Burn The Witches

As of 2020 I try to take a hands-off approach towards the idea of "remakes" because, as I've said many a time, something being remade doesn't erase the original movie. I can still go back and watch George Cukor's The Women without sparing a second to think about whatever the fuck that Meg Ryan mess was in 2008. You really can! And then on the other lemonade-outta-lemons end, the rarer but ecstatic when true truth is that sometimes the person doing the remaking actually has a reason for it. They are Luca Guadagino, with a new take and fresh things to say via the vehicle of a Suspiria. And what a delight that turns out to be for everybody! (Okay not everybody but I pretend I live in a world where everybody saw Luca's Suspiria as the masterpiece is clearly is; please don't shit on that while I'm in quarantine.)

But, well, there have been two announcements in the past couple of weeks that've been testing my 2020 era saintly patience. Firstly this past Tuesday it was announced that celebrated producer Amy Pascal has set her eyes on remaking (deep breath) Charles Laughton's 1955 masterpiece The Night of the Hunter. Hunter, which stars Robert Mitchum as a morality-spewing wife-murderer in preacher garb with tattooed knuckles, is the only film the famed, closeted Laughton ever directed, and is one of the greatest movies ever made, full stop. It holds up to this day as a portrait of religious hypocrisy and simultaneous surreal beauty. It's a perfect goddamned thing.

Pascal has hired Matthew Orton, who is, let me check my notes, the writer of Operation Finale, the 2018 WWII movie starring Oscar Isaac and Ben Kingsley, which was forgotten -- save the scene of Oscar Isaac rasslin' around with dudes in some tight shorts -- approximately a week after it was released, to write this remake. Of this movie, which has come to be widely recognized one of the greatest films ever made. This person. Okay. They're saying it will be a "contemporary reimagining of the storyline and not a period piece" so... different. That's nice. Whatever, I whisper between clenched teeth, I can go put on my copy of Laughton's film right now, tomorrow, and every day after if I like. All's good.

The other movie getting remade was announced on Wednesday and it's slightly less of an affront but somehow possibly dumber -- some production company I've never heard of is planning on remaking Alejandro Amenabar's 2001 already-a-classic ghost story The Others, which stars Nicole Kidman as the Gracy-Kelly-esque mother of two spooky kids in a middle-of-nowhere manor astride some foggy woods at the tail-end of WWII. This too is meant to be a contemporization, pulling the film up to the present day -- hey, they could set it during this pandemic, there's your self-isolation angle already. So what's so dumb about this one? I'll let our pal Nathaniel field that one:


Eugene said...

I thought it was earlier, but according to IMDB Night of the Hunter was remade as a tv movie in 1991 with Richard Chamberlain as Powell. Since Night of the Hunter was seared in my brain when I saw it as a child in my small town movie house in the South I remember approaching this remake with great skepticism. And while I have never seen it again, it is supposedly available on Amazon. I thought the movie was terrible at the time and sullied the value of the at the time also underappreciated Laughton film. If you are curious here is where you can find it on IMDB.

Aquinas1220 said...

NOOOOOO... why remake a wonderful film like The Others. Even knowing the big 'twist,' I can still watch that movie and be spooked by it.

Pierce said...

Why remake King Kong, A Star is Born (the Streisand version, the Lady Gaga isn't bad), The Day the Earth Stood Still, Leave Her to Heaven (TV movie with Loni Anderson), Anna and the King of Siam (I just can't bring myself to watch the Jodie Foster version), War of the Worlds, Charade, or as you mentioned, that Meg Ryan mess supposedly based on the brilliant 1939 comedy The Women.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Peter Bogdanovich some years ago and he said if you're going to remake something, you remake a good story that wasn't made very well, not King Kong or A Star is Born. Since then, I've looked to see what could be remade. There's a Jean Harlow-Clark Gable movie called Hold Your Man. Good story, but the movie isn't very good. The Norma Shearer Robert Montgomery Private Lives is horrible. They get the first act right, but after that the script goes out the window, and the second and third acts of the play are hilarious. Noel Coward's Design for Living was laundered beyond recognition. That could be remade in a manner worthy of Coward.

On the other hand, one remake that works is the Mel Brooks Anne Bancroft To Be or Not To Be, but the problem is that ad good as it is, it keeps people from seeing the original with Carole Lombard and Jack Benny giving his best performance on film!

We don't need a remake of a masterpiece like Night of the Hunter, though. How dare they?

ferretrick said...

Night of the Hunter was wonderful until Lillian Gish showed up. Couldn't stand her character and the totally forced happy ending. I'm all for remaking it if they will actually go with an ending that lives up to the first and second acts promise.