My Top 10 Movies That Should Never be Remade

When I read last week about how the long-delayed Logan’s Run remake might move forward yet again, I didn’t really care one way or the other. It was a marginal ’70s movie that I only have dim memories of so I have nothing against someone wanting to try and improve on it (because remakes are ALWAYS improvements on the original, right?).

But then I started thinking about the movies for which I’d march on Washington against their being remade (OK, maybe I’d just boo loudly from my couch) because it’d be all kinds of wrongness. Here are my top 10, in no particular order:

  1. The Godfather. Marlon Brando made talking with cotton balls in his mouth seem intimidating; anyone else would come off ridiculous.
  2. Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I’d put anything with Audrey Hepburn on this list since no one can ever step into her shoes (or black sheath dress, in this case), but since it’s too late for Roman Holiday—the 1987 TV remake with Catherine Oxenberg was atrocious—I’ll go with Tiffany’s. Also, though there are many different versions of “Moon River,” none is more heart-tugging than Hepburn’s in the movie.
  3. The Crying Game. If you already know the bulk, er, twist in the story, what’s the point of doing another version? It’d also be really difficult to find someone else like Jaye Davidson to play Dil so convincingly.
  4. The Matrix. It was mind-blowing when we first saw it. After all the copycats since, bullet time won’t look that impressive again.
  5. His Girl Friday. I can’t think of any actress today who can talk as fast as Rosalind Russell, or tackle a man as effectively while wearing a pencil skirt and high heels.
  6. Love Actually. Many storylines, characters, and actors converged serendipitously to make this perfect movie. Trying to juggle that many balls again with a different cast would be pushing their luck.
  7. Waiting for Guffman. Everyone in that cast is a master at improv. It’s hard to imagine another group of actors who can match that level of comic brilliance.
  8. Raiders of the Lost Ark. There ain’t nuthin’ wrong with it so hands off!
  9. Love Story. You’re probably thinking “whaaaat?” but I have a soft spot for this. It’s one of the first movies I ever saw in a theater (I was 4 or 5) and I cried my little buns off. The leads are so pretty, the story so romantic and tragic. But Ollie or Jen wouldn’t get away with “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” today without audiences laughing at them.
  10. Star Wars. Do I have to explain this one?

What would you hate to see remade?

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27 Comments

  • Reply
    Eddy
    June 3, 2010 at 5:27 am

    The Big Lebowski. There can never be another “Dude”. (Although I know that The Big Lebowski is actually a reimagining of The Big Sleep…. still.)

  • Reply
    Naomi Johnson
    June 3, 2010 at 6:55 am

    Audrey Hepburn was the personification of class.

    Most of the classic movies should be left alone. The remake of REAR WINDOW was meh, as I expected, and much worse was the remake of BORN YESTERDAY. On her funniest day Melanie Griffith can’t touch Judy Holliday, while Don Johnson’s fake nerd is limp next to Bill Holden’s earnest intelligence.

    HIS GIRL FRIDAY was a remake itself of THE FRONT PAGE, and was later redone again as THE FRONT PAGE, but Roz Russell and Cary Grant are untouchable in the roles of reporter and editor. It’s one of my all-time favorites.

    Number one film that I never, ever want to see a remake of: BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID. That screenplay was so brilliant that any other can only suffer in comparison.

    • Reply
      le0pard13
      June 3, 2010 at 8:34 am

      You’re so right about Butch and Sundance, Naomi. Whoever suggests this should receive the same swift kick Harvey Logan got in the film. Thanks.

    • Reply
      Jen Forbus
      June 6, 2010 at 10:18 am

      Amen to BUTCH CASSIDY. I’m going to add a few more in my comment!

  • Reply
    Brett Battles
    June 3, 2010 at 7:05 am

    THE GREAT ESCAPE. Come on, Steve McQueen jumping barbed wire fences on a motorcycle? James Garner at the top of his game? Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson, Donald Pleasence, James COburn, David McCallum and on and on. Could never repeat it.

    • Reply
      le0pard13
      June 3, 2010 at 8:39 am

      Brett, you’re also so right about The Great Escape! BTW, AMERICAN CINEMATHEQUE LOS ANGELES is showing this classic on Father’s Day at the Egyptian Theatre. I’m thinking about taking my son with me to see it as it was meant to be seen. Thanks.

  • Reply
    Elizabeth Duncan
    June 3, 2010 at 7:17 am

    Casablanca. The most perfect movie ever made.

    • Reply
      Brett Battles
      June 3, 2010 at 7:29 am

      Elizabeth wins. How could I not have thought of Casablanca??

  • Reply
    le0pard13
    June 3, 2010 at 8:32 am

    A fine list, PCN. Hollywood already has had some poor attempts with our favorite Audrey Hepburn, unfortunately. The absolute dead-head remake of her (and Cary Grant’s) Charade as THE TRUTH ABOUT CHARLIE (what was Jonathan Demme thinking?!?) And Sabrina‘s 1995 remake with Harrison Ford and Julia Ormond? PLEEEEEEZE!

    BTW, regarding #9, did you ever see 1972’s great What’s Up Doc? and its allusion to that quoted line from Love Story? Classic. This was fun, Elyse. Thanks for this.

  • Reply
    jenn
    June 3, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Any classic with Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Myrna Loy.

    Specifically, Bringing Up Baby, Adam’s Rib (I can see them trying), The Thin Man Movies, Cool Hand Luke, The Sting, anything Alfred Hitchcock.

    Ok… maybe I don’t like change.

  • Reply
    Sharon
    June 3, 2010 at 9:25 am

    The list should be expanded to 20. “The Sound of Music” is another that shouldn’t be remade. No one can sing like Julie Andrews!

  • Reply
    Pop Culture Nerd
    June 3, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Eddy—I thought of LEBOWSKI since I agree there can never be another Dude, but I didn’t love the movie. Don’t hate me!

    Naomi—I forgot GIRL was a remake of FRONT PAGE (which wasn’t nearly as memorable). They got it right with Russell & Grant and should just leave it alone.

    Brett—If they tried to remake ESCAPE, it’d be THE GREAT BOMB.

    Elizabeth—I considered this but only liked, didn’t love the movie. (Ack! Stop throwing rocks, y’all!) Ingrid Bergman ties with Audrey Hepburn for my favorite actress of all time but I think I saw CASABLANCA when I was too young to fully appreciate it. Mama exposed me to classics at a very young age so I probably need to see it again.

    le0pard13—SABRINA has been erased from my memory so I can retain my sanity. I didn’t even bother seeing TRUTH ABOUT CHARLIE. And I love WHAT’S UP, DOC?! It made me laugh so hard I almost leaked from the wrong places.

    jenn—Oh, love BRINGING UP, BABY & ADAM’S RIB. Ever seen THE AWFUL TRUTH? Awesome. Hitchcock repertoire should be left alone, too (I studied his films in college), as painfully evidenced by PSYCHO remake.

    Sharon—Welcome! And feel free to expand to 20. What are some other titles on your list?

    • Reply
      Brett Battles
      June 3, 2010 at 10:45 am

      Holding rock in hand, but refraining from throwing. CASABLANCA. In your DVD player. NOW!

      • Reply
        Pop Culture Nerd
        June 3, 2010 at 7:32 pm

        Just not in the face, please! OK, will play it again, soon (see what I did there?).

  • Reply
    jenn
    June 3, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Please watch Casablanca again. It’s not my favorite, but the camera angles and shots are freaking brilliant.

    Gilda sort of reminds me of it and is a great movie.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      June 3, 2010 at 7:37 pm

      I remember thinking Bergman looked frakkin’ gorgeous in the lighting. And how good Claude Rains was. He was amazing in NOTORIOUS, too.

      • Reply
        jenn
        June 3, 2010 at 9:09 pm

        Casablanca was the first movie I ever saw where I realized that film is truly an art form. Each shot is crafted. It’s truly incredible.

  • Reply
    Donna
    June 3, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    Off the top of my head: The Magnificent Seven; Brigadoon; Singing in the Rain; Casablanca; Camelot; The Apartment; Some Like It Hot; Airplane; Dirty Harry; Bullet. There are plenty others but too long to list. It’s not a movie but has anyone noticed CBS is doing the series “Hawaii 5-0” this Fall? I mean…COME ON! Jack Lord is turning in his grave!

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      June 4, 2010 at 10:28 am

      Some great titles on your list, Donna. And I hear you about Hawaii 5-0! Gah! Jack Lord is iconic in that role; Alex O’Loughlin just doesn’t do it for me. Have you seen the full trailer? What did you think?

  • Reply
    Shell Sherree
    June 4, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    Gone With the Wind. Along with all the great classics already listed here, some things should never be messed with. Like Jenn, maybe I just don’t like change! And funny how the theme music from many of these is so memorable as well. Ack, now I can’t get The Great Escape out of my head. I’ll just whistle along for the rest of the day…

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      June 5, 2010 at 11:03 am

      Whether or not I like change depends on the situation. If my pants are too tight, I’d want to change out of them pronto. But if I make a wonderful friend, I’d hang on for dear life and hope that person never changes his/her mind about our friendship.

  • Reply
    Jen Forbus
    June 6, 2010 at 10:32 am

    O.k., someone mentioned THE STING above, I’d agree whole-heartedly with that one. I’m also going to add another Redford great THE GREAT GATSBY. A&E tried to do a remake. *groan* Big Mistake!

    Leave TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD alone. One of the few movie adaptations of books I truly appreciate. Gregory Peck was brilliant.

    A BEAUTIFUL MIND. This is my favorite movie of all time. I’ve not ever seen such a profound approach to film from all parties involved: directors, producers, actors, EVERY. LAST. PERSON. They pulled off an amazing subject matter with utter beauty. And they didn’t try to do it with bells and whistles. It was just plain masterful.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      June 6, 2010 at 2:50 pm

      I never saw that Gatsby remake but it doesn’t surprise me that it’s bad. And I knew you would mention Mockingbird! Regarding Beautiful Mind, I don’t think anyone else would be able to play Nash so well. Crowe was robbed!

  • Reply
    Bailey
    June 7, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    Gosh, PCN: pretty much your entire list would go on my list….so, if I were to ADD another ten, here’s mine:
    my votes:
    10) THE WAY WE WERE
    09) ALL ABOUT EVE
    08) SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION
    07) WHEN HARRY MET SALLY
    06) PRETTY WOMAN
    05) THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY
    04) FOREST GUMP
    03) PULP FICTION
    02) HAIRSPRAY (2007)
    01) SCHINDLER’S LIST

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      June 8, 2010 at 12:15 am

      Great list, Bailey! The Talented Mr. Ripley is sort of a remake of a French film called Purple Noon (both movies were adapted from the same book), which isn’t bad. Alain Delon is quite dashing in it. And though I loved the recent Hairspray, isn’t it kind of a remake of the non-musical Hairspray?

      • Reply
        Bailey
        June 8, 2010 at 3:59 pm

        good points, PCN!

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