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What Old Films Would You Remake? (The 2015 Edition)

What Old Films Would You Remake? (The 2015 Edition)

And following
up on the news below about that Magnificent Seven remake with perfect timing
we go yet again with a little creative mental exercise for fun that I love to
do at least once a year for our readers (and myself as well), to see what kind
of responses would we get.

So here’s
the deal. Let’s pretend you’re a film director, or maybe you are one, who has
just finally arranged the financing to make a film, along with final cut and
total control. However there’s one catch – you have to remake a previous film.
So the question is what film would you remake?

There are
simply too many films to answer that question, but assuming you’re like me, you
would want to try your hand at redoing some guilty pleasure that just missed
the mark.

Now when
I’ve asked this question before people jump in with some classic film such as
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf or The Conversation. What’s the point of that?
Those films are classics. Why would you think you could even remotely out
better it?

It’s like as if
I had a choice I would to redo Three the Hard Way with Jim Brown, Fred Williamson
and Jim Kelly. No way. What’s the point? To me It’s perfect as it is and with
a great premise. Three black men who join together to stop a white supremacist organization’s
plot to poison every black person in this country. You just can’t top that. And
besides that you can’t even come up with three black actors who could even
remotely replace Brown, Williamson and Kelly.

No, I’m
talking about some not-so-great movie or even a lousy one, but one with a great
premise that you enjoy and, in your heart, you just know you could have done a
better job.

My first
choice was the 1964 chintzy, not-quite-epic adventure movie The Long Ships with
Sidney Poitier and Richard Widmark (HERE); and my second choice was the 1973 detective thriller The Laughing Policeman, with Walter Matthau, Bruce
Dern and Lou Gossett. (HERE)

And now my
third choice this time around is Henry Hathaway’s 1965 western The Sons of
Katie Elder with John Wayne and Dean Martin.

Why that
film you’re asking? First of all, I love westerns. As I have said before, there
are perhaps my all-time favorite genre. They may be old fashioned and out of
touch for younger people, but so be it. They resonate with me and the best ones
deal with ideas and concepts that are even still relevant to us today. (Which means I just cannot wait to that Magnificent Seven film with Denzel Washington directed by Fuqua)

And seeing some strong, determined,  heroic black men on the big screen bonding and righting wrongs is something you don’t get to see these days anymore. You would have to go back…well back to Three The Hard Way

However Katie
Elder definitely doesn’t fall into the category as one of the best westerns ever made, but I’ve
don’t know how many I’ve seen it. There’s something about it that just appeals
to me even though it’s very problematic, particularly its loosely structured
script, sluggish pace and too many scenes that don’t add anything to the film
except to pad the running time.

The premise
is simple. It’s about four brothers, scattered across the county, who come
together when their mother dies only to eventually discover that some bad guys has
swindled their mother out her property and money and who also killed their
father years earlier. Putting aside their differences they and together to
right wrongs and punish the villains.

Now I can hear
you saying: “Wait that sounds familiar? Isn’t that sort of like the same
plotline for that John Singleton film a couple of years ago?” And you would be
right. You’re talking about his 2005 film Four Brothers, which was basically a
sort of urban remake of Katie Elder. Though Singleton kept denying that it was
a remake, take my word for it, it was a remake.

So where
would my remake differ? Well, first of all, no contemporary version of the plot.
I would remain true to the genre and do it again as a straight western set in the
late 19th century. No trying to appeal to a younger audience to do an
urban hip-hop remake. If you have a problem with any movie set before 2000 then
this film isn’t for you

unlike the “compromise” casting of Four Brothers with two black guys and two white
guys as the brothers, in a desperate attempt appeal to a crossover audience, I
would have four black men as the brothers. And, blessedly, no Kevin Hart as
comic relief, but four serous black actors in the role. And, yes, if that means
that I would have to cast some British black actors in some roles then so be

And having
black actors as brothers also means as well that I wouldn’t have that frustrating,
cop out ending in Four Brothers where one of the white brothers defeats the
black villain in order to appease the white people in the audience. (“Stand
back and let a white guy take care of this”)

Out would go
the unfunny comic lame, knockabout fight scenes that seemingly John Wayne had in
all of his latter films like in Katie Elder (which is can see in the trailer below)
and do nothing but waste time.

Also the original
film takes way too long to set up the premise and get started. The first real
action scene literally happens almost 90 minutes into the film which is two
hours long. I would speed up the story, add in some really nasty vicious
villains and henchmen, more evil than in the original film.

In addition
I would put in a lot more action including a wild shootout at the end with the
villains and the whole town after the brothers taking place outside in the
streets and inside as well, in saloons, brothels, general stores and hotel
rooms. Make it one of most extended, wildest, nerve racking western shootouts

Further I
would go against the grain and would shoot in 65MM. Quentin Tarantino is using
it for his latest film now shooting, as is Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, for certain sequences,  for his
new film in production and both their new projects are westerns,
so why not mine? It’s an incredible film format with extraordinary detail that
was used a lot during the 60’s and 70’s and should be bought back.

So what film would you remake and how would you make it better?

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