Friday, November 18, 2005
In Hollywood, remakes are certainly not uncommon. In fact, they have grown so exponentially in recent years, while I don't have the exact facts and figures, I could reasonably argue that they may now equal or even surpass the number of original films being produced in a given year. Now, I will admit, there are times when it is interesting to see the same story filtered through the vision of a different director. And, while there have been more misses than hits, when a remake does hit, it seems to justify the process of doing it. However, it's far more rare, and interesting, when the SAME filmmaker has taken a second pass at one of his earlier films. Only three examples come to mind. In 1923, one of the pioneers of film, Cecil B. DeMille filmed The Ten Commandments. Like D.W. Griffith's Intolerance -- which examined the affects of intolerance throughout the ages (including the murder of Jesus Christ) -- DeMille's first version of The Ten Commandments juxtaposed the ancient events involving Moses with a modern day love story that tested the relevance of the commandments. In 1956, DeMille revisited the story. This time, he concentrated exclusively on the ancient story, told on a grand scale, and cast Charlton Heston in the lead role -- a role that would define the rest of his career. DeMille's second version of The Ten Commandments, which was to be his final film, earned seven Oscar nominations, including one for Best Picture. Alfred Hitchcock first made The Man Who Knew Too Much in England, in 1934. It told the story of an innocent couple caught up in the intrigue of a sinister plot. It was a principle theme Hitchcock would come back to again and again throughout his career. In 1956, now a firmly established brand in Hollywood, he, in fact, came back to the same story, retelling it this time, in Technicolor with James Stewart and Doris Day as the innocent couple. The film won the Best Original Song Oscar for "Que Sera, Sera," setting up what has to be one of the most awkward musical moments ever filmed in a non-musical. In 1956, French filmmaker Roger Vadim made his directorial debut with ...And God Created Woman. The film, which shocked audiences at the time, introduced the actress Brigitte Bardot as she portrayed a sexually uninhibited woman -- married to one brother, but lusting after the other, and teasing many more along the way. The film became something of an international sensation, as it rode the early wave of interest in French films in this country. Vadim's 1988 remake, however, starring Rebecca De Morney, turned out to be a boxoffice dud, earning a Razzie Award nomination for De Morney as Worst Actress of the Year.