The remake has become an integral part of the cinematic slate, whether rebooting a major franchise with fresh faces or attempting to update a classic from days gone by. Most remakes attempt to cash in, at least to some extent, on the cachet of its franchise or precursor. This makes it all the more surprising when you find out a movie you enjoy was actually a second take. These four films all stand on their own as great works of cinema, but each owes part of its legacy to another preceding film.
Brian De Palma’s 1983 crime film has enjoyed a loyal cult following for over 35 years, thanks to its indominable influence on pop culture. What fans of sneering villain Tony Montana may not know, is this film would not have been possible without the 1932 film of the same name, directed by Howard Hawks and starring Paul Muni as Antonio “Tony” Camonte. While the original film — itself loosely based on a novel inspired by real-life gangster Al Capone — lacks its descendant’s over-the-top ultraviolence, it’s nonetheless a solid gangster film whose story beats should ring familiar.
“The Departed” (R)
Martin Scorsese’s 2006 film is perhaps best known for earning the legendary director his first Academy Award for Best Director, and its taut story of deception and subterfuge derives from 2002 Hong Kong crime drama “Infernal Affairs.” Starring heavy hitters including Andy Lau, Tony Leung and Anthony Wong, “Infernal Affairs” was also a critical favorite, winning seven awards in the 22nd Hong Kong Film Awards — including Best Director for Andrew Lau and Alan Mak. While “The Departed” has since gone without a follow-up, “Infernal Affairs” spawned two sequels.
“The Thing” (R)
In addition to inspiring one of cinema’s most memorable gangster films, Howard Hawks helped pave the way for what is widely considered one of the best science-fiction films ever lensed. Hawks’ 1951 alien invasion film, “The Thing from Another World,” spawned John Carpenter’s 1982 “The Thing,” an atmospheric masterpiece about an alien lifeform replicating the team at a remote outpost in Antarctica. Hawks’ influence on Carpenter could also be felt in his breakout hit, 1978’s “Halloween,” as “The Thing from Another World” can be seen playing on television throughout the film.
“A Fistful of Dollars” (R)
The first film in Sergio Leone’s “Dollars Trilogy,” 1964’s “A Fistful of Dollars,” is not only one of the most influential spaghetti Westerns ever made, it was also the launching pad for Clint Eastwood’s long career as a leading man. Leone’s film was itself inspired by the work of another incomparable director: Akira Kurosawa. 1961’s “Yojimbo” ostensibly tells the exact same story as “A Fistful of Dollars,” replacing Eastwood with legendary actor Toshiro Mifune and swapping pistols for swords. Kurosawa was not sincerely flattered by Leone’s imitation, however, leading production company Toho to sue the director for damages.
So long as there are movies, there will be remakes of films from different eras and countries. Before you know it, you might even find yourself having to explain to someone much younger than you that their new favorite film was influenced by one that you enjoyed in your youth. Just be sure to avoid spoiling the story for them.
This article is presented by Gossett Audi.