Remakes. The studios loved them. Easy to see why. They already owned the property, and the first film had been a success.
The studios often remade a film when the original picture was five or six years old. Stars like Clark Gable and Betty Grable, sometimes remade their own films.
But even after the studio system was long gone the industry loved remakes. Producers reasoned, “we know it works” — and actors longed to play those classic parts.
Years ago when we both worked for Variety some producer announced the thought of remaking The Quiet Man with Stephen Boyd (hot at the time). Joe shivered and wrote a wonderful article asking why remake a film that couldn’t be improved. There were so many good scripts which had been made into Bad movies, why not tackle one of those. And perfect it.
As an example he used The Maltese Falcon, first a boring film in 1931 starring Ricardo Cortez, then a silly version in 1936 (Satan Met a Lady) starring Bette Davis, and then they finally got it right in 1941 with the definitive version we know today. The Bogart classic.
There are dozens of films that have been made more than twice. Some even five times. But this week we’re going to stick to films which have been made at least THREE times. Three times is the charm. We’ll analyze whether the first, second, or third version is best.
Now of course we should distinguish between straight remakes and “reworkings,” that is keeping the script but with major alterations — changing the locale, the time period, the genders, adding music.
As the week goes on we’ll highlight some of these films which have been classics in their own way. But first a brief quiz.
The picture up top is from what film? Name the actors, name the remake and the actors who played their roles.
What films DID Gable and Grable remake?
What Damon Runyon story inspired these movies?