The 25 Movies They’d Better Never Remake.
These films are not just near and dear to our hearts, they should be considered OFF-LIMITS to those jerks at the studios. The films on this list were special when they premiered and continue to be so today, and we’re going to explain why they shouldn’t be remade – as well as why they can’t be. So enough jabbering, on with the list!
IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934)
DIRECTED BY: Frank Capra
WRITTEN BY: Robert Riskin (based on Samuel Hopkins Adams’ short story)
STARRING: Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Walter Connolly.
Tired of being controlled by her overbearing father (Connolly), spoiled heiress Ellie Andrews (Colbert) runs away to be with the man with whom she‘s already eloped, much to the chagrin of said father. Knowing that her father‘s people will be searching for her on all the more luxurious travel options, she opts for the bus. Once on board she meets fast-talking everyman Peter Warne (Gable). They trade barbs and jabs, he does his best to convince her that he despises her, but still goes out of his way to help her. When she drops her ticket he saves it for her, when she misses her layover (do they call them layovers with busses?) he gets off so he can make sure she reaches her destination safely. As it turns out, Warne is a recently-fired newspaper man who’s determined to get an exclusive with Miss Andrews, who’s escape is the biggest news of the day. Along the way they bicker and laugh and get to know one another. Well, hell, they fall in love. Obviously.
It Happened One Night is kind of like a Norman Rockwell painting. In terms of technique? Not that difficult or revolutionary. In terms of thematic weight and substance? Not too heavy. Breezy, even. But in terms of passion? It’s bursting at the seams. This movie is full of magic, like all Rockwell paintings are. Like all of Capra’s movies of the era (pre-WWII) were. The movie is a romantic comedy, sure. It’s a cute little screwball affair with little subtext. It’s not a full course, gourmet meal, but it’s like your absolute most favorite piece of candy – a piece of confectionary perfection that’s just sweet enough and with enough of its own unique flavor that you can savor it for hours.
This, of course, is due not just to the pre-war lack of cynicism and destruction and despair our country went through, but to the people we spend our time with. Clark Gable, well, he’s Clark fucking Gable. The amazing thing about casting such a great actor in such a softball role is that the actual performance he can do with no effort. He’s not asked to carry a lot of weight here and, hell, I could play this part to acceptable measures. But because it’s such an easy role, and because he is, in fact, Clark fucking Gable, he is able to fill in the gaps on his own. Flesh out the character in his own way, and with his own charm. A lot of actors would just really ham up Warne’s dickish qualities but Gable adds just a touch of vulnerability to them, a humanity all his own. It’s not a twist when he falls in love with Ellie, he’s been telling us this the entire time – but he does it with subtleties like tone and inflection and teency little pauses in delivery. It’s a masterful performance in a role that requires a fraction of that. Claudette Colbert matches him every step of the way. She doesn’t just come off as a stereotypical spoiled brat rich girl. She’s an underdeveloped person and it’s not entirely her fault. The movie is as much her story as it is theirs because it’s this road trip that gives her a sense of self and a sense of confidence and lets her stand on her own on her own terms as opposed to standing for no other reason than to cross her arms and stomp her feet when her Daddy says “no.”
It’s a cute little screwball romantic comedy. But it’s a magical one.
- Warne’s “OH YEEEEAH!?” conversation with the bus driver.
- Ellie’s hitchhiking
- Warne scaring Shapely to death with talks of kidnapping and shootouts.
- Warne giving Ellie’s dad a verbal itemized receipt for the trip
- That shot of the two of them in their separate beds, the Walls of Jericho between them, the only light in the room coming from the two open windows on either side.
To steal a page out of the Nick Nunziata playbook – it’d be too easy. On paper this is really, really simple stuff. If you want to get right down to it, it HAS been remade in spirit dozens of times over. The people making it, however, had either the good sense or the lack of exposure to this film to remake it explicitly in name and plot. The romantic comedy has been diluted and whitewashed and wrung out and hung back up way too many times to really ever feel fresh without somebody doing something majorly revolutionary, and going back to this little movie, that really set the stage for the RomCom as we now know it, is the very opposite of revolutionary. Even if you match the color palette and the technique brush-stroke for brush-stroke, you can’t recreate a Rockwell painting. Because you’ll never have the magic. Capra made movies full of magic. Pure, free of pretense, just plain magic. You just can’t make a film like that anymore without being twee or overly sentimental. We’ve been through too much as a nation and a culture – we can’t go back there again. Nor should we want to.
Michael Bay’s been producing remakes all over town, using his Platinum Dunes company as a front. So naturally he’d be the logical choice to spearhead any attempt at remaking this classic. How would it pan out, you ask?
- Michael Bay calls up Matthew McConaughey, Josh Hartnett, Dane Cook and Ashton Kutcher and tells them they’re all up for the role but have to Thunderdome for it.
- He films the resulting carnage.
- He releases that as IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT ONLY!, a la Hearts of Darkness.
- It makes a billion dollars.
- Yeah, so…I’d pay to see that, because otherwise we’d get My Best Friend’s Girl and fuuuuck THAT.
It swept the Oscars that year, winning Best Actor, Actress, Screenplay, Director and Picture. It was also one of the last romantic comedies to be made before the industry started enforcing the Hays Code. Neither Colbert nor Capra had any faith in the film and in ‘35, when Colbert was nominated, she didn’t attend the ceremony because she thought she wouldn’t win and instead planned to take a train ride. When she DID win she had to be snatched off the train and dragged back to the ceremony to accept.