84 thoughts on “A Brief List of Pointless Remakes

  1. Little Women, although my favourite sister is Amy and Florence Pugh did have some pretty clothes at the end. I’ve only seen snippets of these and they especially the black (wtf) Ballgown which should have been a pastel or white look lovely but seem sorta ok. But the rest idn.

  2. I think you have a different interpretation of remakes than most?
    I never consider an adaptation of a book a remake, just because someone else has already adapted it to screen, doesn’t mean another one is unwelcome.
    Like by that interpretation, P&P, the 1995 version is a “remake” as well, especially since (IMO) the 80s version is the most accurate in everything but costumes.

    If a movie was a movie first, then I totally agree about remakes being unnecessary, but as a book lover, I don’t think there will ever be enough adaptations for my sake.
    I love that we get a new Austen adaptation every 5 years, I can love both the 96, 09, and 20 versions of ‘Emma’ at the same time, for different reasons.
    Same with P&P, they fill different needs for me. And I love that they all choose different things from the book as the most important, feeling, plot, atmosphere, that way there’s an adaptation for everyone.

    But as for unnecessary remakes: Journey to the Christmas Star, the 2012 version failed at everything that made the 1976 original so magical.
    Though most of my ire stems from them changing the 16th century setting to a generic fantasy one, so instead of great costumes (they borrowed some from Anne of the Thousand Days and Mary Queen of Scots) we got sleeveless fantasy gowns in a Norwegian winter setting. They made no sense, and the costumes were ugly on top of being nonsensical.

    1. I enjoy watching all versions of a book adaptation…except for Jane Eyre & Little Women as dislike both books. Often I will watch two versions of a book on the same day as my life, such as it is, consists of period drama and 19th century fiction…

    2. Agreed: an adaptation of a book is not strictly a ‘remake’ (unless, as with 1952 ‘Prisoner of Zenda’, it uses the shooting script of previous one) – in that it may bring out different aspects of the original text. However, Austen is being overdone: tiresome, given flimsiness of her original plots.

      1. don’t forget Peter Sellers made a version of Prisoner of Zenda as well! it was pretty funny as I recall. I loved the TV miniseries of Little women with Susan Dey as it kept VERY close to the book, script wise. I’m tired of all the remakes of the original Star Wars.

    3. I feel the same. A new version of a classic novel isn’t really a “remake” so much s–a new version. But I am boring, and will watch any adaptation of an Austen or Bronte novel until the cows come home :) (I can usually find something I enjoy, too, except for the Billie Piper “Mansfield,” which was wrongety wrong wrong)

      1. “except for the Billie Piper “Mansfield,” which was wrongety wrong wrong)”

        Wronger than the 1999 version with Frances O’Connor??

  3. Only decent version of ‘Notre Dame de Paris’ so far is 1956 Jean Delannoy one, with Alain Cuny as Claude, Gina Lollobrigida as La Esméralda, Anthony Quinn as Quasimodo (a supporting character, as he is in the book) and Robert Hirsch channelling a comedic Tony Curtis as Pierre. No previous or subsequent version is as good. It has the right “19C Romantic version of the 15C”/Très Riches Heures colourfulness. There are 2 versions: French and dubbed English, with subtle differences because of the Hays Code (the Pope of Fools’ papal tiara is changed to a royal King of Fools’ crown, for example), and Hays Code concerns are why they weren’t able to give Claude the clerical tonsure he shoud have; his priesthood is nevertheless clear from his dress and conversation. Get the French original if you can. Alain Cuny is superb: all cheekbones and subtle smoulder, even if he is about a decade too old for the role.

  4. Someday somebody is going to do a remake of Gone With the WInd. While I know there were a lot of anachronistic things about Walter Plunkett’s work, I hope I am dead by then.

      1. So would I. TWDG was a fascinating idea, hampered by the Mitchell estate (so I think of it as a work-in-progress), as I assume a movie would be. The casting would be a dream job, along with the costuming.

  5. Not a frock flick, but the Bogart version of the Maltese Falcon is the third time that was made. But that’s the only point in favor of re-makes.

  6. I thought the costumes in Howard’s End were pretty, but I wondered about Helen’s ponytail. But I totally agree about the the production being dull and detached. I for one couldn’t understand what either Margaret or Helen saw in Mr. Wilcox or Leonard! I also thought Helen was an idiot, acting like cow in a glass shop, stomping all over social conventions and making nothing but trouble for everybody!

    1. Helen is my least favourite Schlagel sister and I thought HBC nailed it. You could see the stubbornness, the refusal to accept anyone else’s opinion when it deviated from hers, her innocence or maybe unworldlyness, her willingness to believe Leonard’s wife’s side when because she hated Mr. Wilcox. Pippa just was spoiled.

      Btw what about a Hamlet remake with HBC as Gertrude? Timothy as Hamlet?

  7. Hairpins aside, I actually don’t like the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice. I’m glad they were able to get most, if not all of the plot from the book, but it didn’t “wow” me. I’ve never understood the hype over the whole Darcy in the lake bit.

    The 2007 version of A Room With A View needs to die in a fire. It focussed more on the difference between the classes of the time, but egads that version was grating. Sophie Thompson could have been a great Charlotte Bartlett, but she was so simpering, something that seems to happen with a lot of the characters she plays that I have seen. It would be great to see her in a more dynamic role.

    1. I thought I was the only person who wasn’t enamored of the 1995 PP nor hyped on the Darcy in the lake bit. Nice to see I am not an outlier.

      1. It took me years to get past the first episode of it, not being a huge Austen fan. I tried, oh how I tried, but…

        1. I challenge you to not adore this miniseries just for a very late occurring scene when Mr. Bennet informs Lizzie that Darcy has asked for her hand, and then is chagrined to see that the offer is welcome and accepted. First he asked her if she loves him and when she she says she does, the way he tells her that he would never her go for anyone and anything less …. it just leaves me in a puddle on the floor EVERY TIME.

          Seriously, I get all weepy thinking about it.

    2. 1980 Pride and Prejudice for me every time. Elizabeth Garvie is my ideal Lizzie, and Moray Watson is a stitch as Mr. Bennett.

  8. I feel the same way about the most recent TV versions of Sense & Sensibility and Persuasion. The 1995 versions of both books can’t be beat. Especially Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon and Amanda Root as Anne Elliott in Persuasion. Neither of the newer miniseries knocked my socks off. However, I don’t mind the modern adaptations of Emma (Clueless) or Bride & Prejudice. I would love to see a contemporary adaptation of Northanger Abbey or Mansfield Park.

    1. Totally agree, though I did like some of the actors in that S&S version. And that round of remakes also included the horribly miscast Billie Piper as Fanny Price in Mansfield Park — SO WRONG. However I did like the Romola Garai version of Emma that came out a couple years later.

    2. I don’t know if you can properly do Northanger Abbey unless you do a nearly modernization and make Catherine a 1930s/1940s heroine enamored or horror movies (far more scandalous then than now)

  9. No, no, no. I don’t agree with many of these choices. I don’t have a problem with remakes as long as I like them.

    I’m a fan of the 2005 movie, “Pride and Prejudice”. It’s not perfect, but neither are the other versions, including the “celebrated” 1995 miniseries. I like both the 1993 and 2011 versions of “The Three Musketeers”.

    I don’t regard the 1995 version of “Persuasion” to be the best. In fact, I don’t regard any of the adaptations of “Persuasion” to be better than the others.

    I don’t like the 2007 version of “A Room With a View”, even if I would like to see a version that matches the quality of the 1985 movie.

    I LOVE the 2017 adaptation of “Howard’s End”. As far as I’m concerned, it’s just as good as the 1992 movie.

  10. I don’t mind remakes if there’s been enough time in between. Honestly, I am not crazy about the 1995 Pride and Prejudice. I like the attention to detail with the costumes and that they were able to keep most of the book, but I find it a little dull in how it was interpreted for the screen. Likewise, I’ve never made it through A Room With a View, because I fall asleep. The costumes are beautiful but the acting and pacing bores me. (I know these are unpopular opinions!) I suppose I like remakes because I’m always hoping that a remake will be able to combine accurate costumes/hairstyle and good writing in a way better than the previous ones.

    1. I thought the chemistry was so well done in P&P and Pigs, with Lizzie and Mr Darcy, with barely any touching and definitely no kissing! The hair sucked tho!

  11. They’re remaking West Side Story(The fuck?) Looking forward to the 50s costumes tho! It doesn’t matter, West Side Story(1961) is near perfection!

    1. There’s a very good reason to be remaking West Side Story – Actual Latinx people as the Sharks. No white washing, no brownfacing, just people who are actually Latinx.

  12. Hm it’s kind of a tricky topic. When it comes down to it, I think it relies on a mixture of how much one is attached to any previous version and how good the new version is. Also, if it’s from a book, how attached one is to the story. I’d be ready to give most versions of Little Women a chance, and so far only the PBS/BBC series didn’t really grab me. On the other hand, I didn’t much care for Jane Eyre when I read it, and I watched the movie with Mia Wasikowska on netflix and that was fine, I don’t see the need to watch any version again.

    When a writer, director, or actor brings something excellent to a remake, it’s worth it. I was feeling a bit down a few summers ago and decided I needed a fairytale, so I rented the live action Cinderella. I was utterly charmed by it; it did a nice job of nodding to the animated film that I adored in childhood without being so beholden to it that it was afraid to be its own story. On the strength of that, I went to Beauty and the Beast in theatres and… well, it was disappointing. With a lot of remakes it just seems like the idea is nostalgia + proven financial benefit. A deft hand can transform that into a work that stands on its own, and when it does so, the complaints tend to be few.

    Theatre has a long tradition of restaging and reinterpreting, and I think it’s wonderful. But they’re usually not changing the words (I’m not including things like responsive rewrites in this–those I think derive but are basically original), so it’s a strong story and language (usually) throughout. I wonder if that isn’t why there’s no Shakespeare on this list, even mediocre ones, because we just understand that as part of the world of the stage (even on film). Or maybe it’s more particular to Shakespeare.

    1. Nzie, THIS. You’re spot on in your assessment. One’s dislikes of remakes has more to do with emotional attachment than anything else. Whatever film adaptation is your favorite imprints on you and becomes the “definitive” version that leaves no room for other interpretations (for you). That said, some films are SO well done and SO beloved, that they become (almost) culturally sacrosanct. (I think someone in this thread mentioned Casablanca and Gone with the Wind, as sacrosanct examples.)

      Like many people when I hear about the umpteenth adaption of “X,” I roll my eyes and and ask “Why mess with perfection?” (I’m looking at you–Point Break!) But I realize that’s my emotions talking.

  13. Every time I see a remake of something come out, I shake my head and say, ” It’s official; they’ve run out of ideas.” And it’s not just costume flicks. I absolutely love the original “Robocop.” Just got around to seeing the remake and I hardly remember anything about it, except that it was so boring.

    1. I tried introducing my kids to the shows of my childhood and had to draw the line with Robocop. I remember watching it as a kid. How my mother let me is beyond me. I’m not a prude, but I just can’t get behind all the f-bombs in every sentence with my 10 year old. I has a sad. :(

      1. LOL, I totally get that! I was in college when it first came out. But that reminds me of when my nephew wanted to see “The South Park Movie.” I decided to go see it first, and then maybe take him. Well, I thought it was hilarious but I told him he couldn’t see it until he was 30. :)

  14. Remakes are tolerable if there’s been at least a generation between them. It’s getting to be less and less time, though. If they ever try to remake LotR, there’s gonna be blood. Just sayin’.

      1. They’re going to tell other stories in Middle-earth. Amazon announced the first season will be set in the Second Age, long before LotR (late 3rd Age, beginning of the Fourth Age).

    1. I mostly agree, but I do long to see Faramir and Denethor done justice someday. By the script, not the actors; David Wenham and John Noble did the best they could with what they had to work with.

  15. As much as I love them, Glen Close and Patrick Stewart deserve a few weeks in purgatory for remaking Lion in Winter. WHY???

    1. My thought exactly. Some movies are perfect and need no remake. Casablanca is another example.

    2. You beat me to it. Anybody could have seen what a totally pointless endeavour that was. No amount of talent could have added to the original.

      1. Nobody will EVER be a better Eleanor and Henry that Katherine Hepburn and Peter O’Toole!

  16. I hated Mila’s Three Musketeers when I first saw it but now I really appreciate the steampunk but earlier feel to it. The story isn’t terribly great. The ending is a let down and D’Artagnan is charmless and yet, I love it somehow.

    And Disney T3M is just a sentimental love for me because of how often I watched it as a teen and how much my mom loved the ‘come, D’Artagnan, we’re saving the king’ line.

  17. Jane Eyre, with Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikovska. I love Michael, but this remake was a nightmare. If I have to choose a favorite, it was the BBC production from 1996.

  18. I cannot believe how boring the longer Howard’s End is. I watched it once, and then tried to watch it again, and … eh, I have quit halfway into the second episode. I don’t know what’s wrong with it, other than it feels like drudgery. Bland. Milk-sauce. And I’m not even a huge fan of the original, having only seen it once.

    One thing the new P&P does right is actually having a Jane that is “far and away prettier” than Lizzie. I always crack the hell up in the 95 version when Lizzie is gushing about how much more beautiful her plain sister is than she is (when Jennifer Ehle has a charming face, big mesmerizing eyes, and a smile that melts everyone’s heart). I like Keira Knightley fine (I know you all don’t) but Rosamund Pike is a total knockout.

    Once they did Jane Eyre to my taste (the miniseries with Ruth Wilson and Tobey Stephens) I haven’t wanted another one. That one was perf. in my mind (and a bit sexy).

    I like The Musketeers BBC series with Capaldi as the Cardinal… but it kind of lost its zing when they cast him as The Doctor and had to write out his character.

    They’re making a remake of Rebecca. I like the Charles Dance version the best, so we’ll see. (With Armie Hammer as Max? I’m sorry to his fans, but he looks ‘plastic’ to me! But I will watch anything Lily James is in, so… bring it on.)

    Little Women… I didn’t think needed a remake, since the 90s version is Epic, but I surprisingly loved the new one too, and will happily own them both.

    I do wish they’d stop remaking Jane Austen films; there are enough of them, and turn their attention to some other classics once in awhile.

    1. Absolutely agree about the casting of Jane and Lizzie, Rosamund Pike is just luminously beautiful, she is perfectly cast as Jane. That remake has mostly great casting although Jena Malone is a real needle scratch as Lydia. And as much as I love Judi Dench, she’s about 20 years too old to be Lady Catherine.

      1. I feel like they always make the “adults” (i.e., the older generation) too old in Pride and Prejudice. Mrs. Bennet is in likely in her early 40s, and Lady Catherine is probably no older than 50. Yet the actresses playing Mrs. Bennet in the 1995 and 2005 versions were 49 and 59, respectively, and the actresses playing Lady Catherine were 70 and 71. I suppose they need greater contrast with the actresses playing women in their teens/early 20s, who are actually older (I.e., Julia Sawalha, the 27-year-old woman playing 15-year-old Lydia).

        1. In the commentary for the 95 Sense and Sensibility Emma Thompson says that she made the Dashwoods wealthier than they probably were because she didn’t think their fall from grace would translate well to a modern audience – that they would see them in a pretty average-sized cottage with a couple of servants and think they couldn’t be that badly off. I think sometimes it’s the same thing with age. Lady Catherine at 50 would be considered old, whereas Jennifer Aniston is 50 and she’s out there rocking her best life. Our standards for what constitutes an adult ready for marriage and an elderly person have changed, and they’re trying to frame it in ways that a modern audience would understand at a glance.

          Or I’m giving them too much credit and they just wanted to cast Judi Dench (understandable). But I like to give the benefit of the doubt.

    2. And I forgot to add I completely agree about all the JA remakes — I adore her, but there are SO MANY other books that have never been adapted! And Armie Hammer as Max. . . hard NO. And they’re far too close in age, THAT IS THE POINT. Max is about 40 and Mrs. DeWinter is probably early 20s, at the oldest. Lily James is only three years younger than Hammer!

      1. I don’t mind Jane Austen remakes (at least I know I’m going to get a happy ending, whereas so many period pieces seem to love to focus on how brutally can we treat women while putting them in a pretty dress so it’s ok!). But I wish they would do different Jane Austen. There’s only been what, two? Northanger Abbey adaptations. And I don’t like any of the Mansfield Park or Persuasion adaptations.

        I wish they would do a Georgette Heyer novels. They’re such fun, I think they would be fun to see on screen, and it would have a similar vibe but be different than another Pride and Prejudice.

      2. Lily James is 31 and looks younger. And I can’t believe Arnie Hammer in this. He’s not suave or handsome enough. Lord Larry was the benchmark for Mr DeWinter.

        If they’re going to remake an Austen novel, why not Persuasion? The Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds was excellent but not long enough.

        And what as about movies or miniseries based on Toni Morrison’s novels Sula and Bluest Eye?

    3. Oh, gosh yes on the new Howard’s End! The pacing was sooooo slow, until the end, when it finally got interesting, and then it sped up to lightening speed and was over. I did like the Arts and Crafts=y costumes

    4. The 1980s P&P did a good job of making Jane prettier than Elizabeth, I think; Elizabeth Garvie is attractive in a slightly quirky way, and does have very fine eyes. Their Jane also is the only one I know who is dark-haired. A lot of people assume that historical “beauty” = blonde, but dark hair with pale skin was very admired in Regency times.

      On a similar note, I can only think of one version of Emma that cast a Harriet who was actually prettier than Emma, and that is the 1970s TV version with Doran Godwin as Emma.

  19. One other thing about the 1993 Brat Pack 3 Musketeers… Tim Curry as Richelieu. Delicious!

  20. I think the “original” Room with a View (HBC), Persuasion (Amanda), and Howard’s End (HBC) were so perfect that I didn’t even give the later versions a try. Why bother when you’ve seen perfection?

  21. I will watch almost all costume drama, except for Emma, Jane Eyre, Little Women, all of which I dislike greatly (also Northanger Abbey) and any time travel or magic/sci fi. I enjoy some so-called remakes and hate, i.e 1940 P&P. But will watch any and all versions of many to compare them.

  22. The 1950s Cyrano de Bergerac with José Ferrar is the only Cyrano. Not Roxanne, not the exceedingly dull remake with Gerard Depardieu, nope nope nope. José Ferrar or nothing.

    1. I agree with you. I watch any other Cyrano and I hear Jose Ferrar in my head sounding so much better!

  23. I do wonder. When a community theatre group is struggling, its not uncommon to do a Shakespeare, or possibly an Oscar Wilde. Because, they are FREE. No rights, out of copyright. Shakespeare has big casts and with everyone paying subs, and inviting their friends and fam, it can really get things off the ground again.
    Why I mention this is, perhaps the combo of the collective squee factor and the saving on royalties, and more lately even the saving on bobby pins, makes these books-to-movie projects so appealling?

  24. The Richard Lester movies are the Platonic Ideal Versions of the Three/Four Mustketeers. No further versions are necessary.

  25. As execrable as the 1993 Three Musketeers was, I howled with mirth at Tim Curry– he was hilarious and the best thing in the film. I saw it in a cinema in a non-English speaking country, and I think the other theatre-goers thought I was a lunatic. I am, though not the way they suspected.

  26. Unpopular opinion and full disclosure: I dislike Jane Eyre. I also dislike Wuthering Heights. Anne with her Tenant of Wildfell Hall is the only Brönte I can stand.

    My dislike of Jane Eyre aside, I feel like that book has an ABSURD number of film adaptions. How many different times do we need to see this story? Even if it were adaptations of a story I really loved i would still question why we need another version when we just had one last year.

  27. I had a whole bunch of nuanced reasons thought out for when and why remakes can be good, but at the end of the day I’m also very protective of my favorites and don’t really need them to be made again, even if they aren’t perfect, haha. I do think it’s okay that sometimes a filmmaker comes along with a new vision, and when that vision finds it’s target audience I’d say the more versions of a beloved story the better! For example, I didn’t super love the new Emma in terms of the story, but many people do and I can appreciate the fun Regency fashion they did there. I’m personally a huge 2005 P&P fan because of its distinct vibes and aesthetic and I like that there’s a more ‘artistic’ version of the story as well as the allround solid adaptation from 1995. Other stories unfortunately have neither; sometimes the qualitatively good adaptation has poor costumes or aged badly while the more ‘artistically inspired’ version can lack a specific feel or goes with vibes that don’t match the original story at all, or you have stories where none of the adaptations have really hit home and you’re just waiting for one to finally do the book justice, and as long as someone feels the call to fix that and watch that… go ahead! (although really, we have enough P&P right?)

  28. here’s one for you!

    The 1939 The Women with Joan Crawford Norma Shearer and Rosalind Fucking Russell was a George Kukor directed masterpiece, replete with fabulous starkly chic 1930’s style…. and a showstopping fashion show with actual models wearing over-the-top designs by none other than Adrian! Vicious, snide characters lobbing lethal bon mots like hand grenades. Yes, please.

    One of my favorite movies…..

    Which was pointlessly remade in the late 2008’s into slop with Meg Ryan and Annette benning and a whole slew of other respectable actresses (Diane Keaton, Candace Bergen)…. but why? WHY? This is the epitome of a pointless remake.

    1. SarahV, I LOVE the 1939 version of The Women. Rosalind Russell nailed it–as always. My cousins (who’ve never seen the ’39 version nor the play) have touted the ’08 movie for years, but I just cannot bring myself to watch it. The clips I’ve seen look terrible and everyone looks miscast. Way back in the early 2000’s, Cynthia Nixon was in a stage production of The Women that aired on PBS, and it was fabulous! Firstly, everyone was well cast and secondly, the material began as a play and then was adapted to film–so it was great to see this material performed in its original medium.

      1. I remember that! The aired play had the original 30’s setting (IIRC), and had a pretty wacky cast – Rue McClanahan, Kristen Johnson, but it also had the arch rat-a-tat-tat dialogue of the 1939 movie and Cynthia Nixon had just the right aristocratic crispness. I’d love to watch that again!

  29. I loved the 1975s version of Poldark, Angharad Rees, was perfection as Demelza. The latest version of Poldark seemed to skim over the surface of the story.

  30. Sarah Lorraine, I agree with your assessments of the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice. Fingers crossed that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies satiated that craving for a while. I LOVE the 93 version of The Three Musketeers (as a teen, this movie helped to introduce me to costume dramas!), and I really liked the recent TV series version on BBC. The 2011 version was a travesty that could not be saved even by a kick-ass Mila Jovovovich. Also, I’m totally on board with you about Howards End and A Room with a View. Why, oh why didn’t they just leave them alone?

    Personally, I could stand fewer adaptations of Wuthering Heights. I liked both versions of Brideshead Revisitsed–the original TV show and the 2008 film.

  31. I think that Swashbucklers are very difficult films, as they need a lot of factors. Therefor all modern “Musketeer”-Remakes (or call it, how you want) are unsuccessful (although maybe not financially).
    1st You need a good skript with enough of the original story (almost all good swashbucklers movies very much rely on literature).
    2nd You need actors, which are believable. A old men as the young D’Artagnan is pointless. They should have some experience in riding and fencing or at least learn these sports before filming.
    3rd The villains should be believable too. The modern interpretations of Richelieu, who want to even kill the king, are obviously not persons out of the 17th century or Dumas’ world either.
    4th The fencing scenes are important. The style of fencing should be exciting and agile. However if the hero is flying around and can ignore the physical properties, that isn’t exciting as it seems, that he is not a human creature but something artificial.
    5th Every good swashbuckler film I know is a good comedy too. You need a director and even actors with a good sort of humour. Bertrand Tavernier and Richard Lester are such rare examples.

    My favourite swashbucklers:
    Three Musketeers-films by Lester.
    Que la fête commence And La fille de D’Artagnan by Tavernier.
    The Scarlett Pimpernel – by Harold Young and Clive Donner.

  32. I love the crappy Disney Three Musketeers, Oliver Platt kills it as Porthos for me and Tim Curry is the best.

  33. Y’all are killing me. I love Absolutely Fabulous and 2005 P&P and yet had no idea Saffy played Lydia. No. Idea.

  34. Yes! There are so many period novels and plays that haven’t been adapted (or haven’t been adapted well) yet! Why remake the same dozen films over and over again?! Yes, i know Hollywood likes to bank on a sure thing… same thing with superhero movies: if i have to see Spiderman’s origin story ONE MORE TIME, i will flip. my. shit.

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