Some Movies Should Be Untouchable

So, I turn on my computer the other day and what do I see on my news page?  Hollywood is remaking “The Thin Man” with Johnny Depp in the role of William Powell.  My jaw dropped because the six Thin Man movies are some of my and my husband’s favorites.  (He has them all on laserdiscs.)

Now, I have nothing against Johnny Depp.  I like him very much, but he’s no William Powell.  This only goes to show what a barren wasteland Hollywood really is.  There are no new ideas, so Hollywood continues to pump out formulaic adventure movies and remake after remake after remake.

Now they’re trying to figure out who should play opposite Johnny Depp’s Nick Charles as Nora.  The “shortlist” of actresses includes: Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Isla Fisher, Eva Green, Emma Stone, Carey Mulligan, Rachel Weisz, and Kristen Wiig.  Sorry, girls, but with the exception of Rachel Weisz, I’ve never heard of any of you or seen any of your movies but I’ll be willing to bet that none of you will have the class and sophistication portrayed by Myrna Loy.  But I doubt that’s what Hollywood will be looking for.

I’m probably sounding like a real old fogie, but I’m fine with that.  Certain things should just be left alone and classic movies are one of them.

No matter who they cast, the couple will never be able to duplicate the dynamic chemistry between William Powell and Myrna Loy.  I don’t know if they’ll be setting the movie in the 20s but I have read that it will be based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett.  Although there was a lot of drinking and smoking by the main characters, I’ll be curious to see if political correctness will allow those characteristics to be incorporated into the remake.  I’m not sure if they’ll be able to capture the same charm and elegance of the original but I’d expect to see a lot of unnecessary violence and gratuitous sexual situations.

Earlier in the week, I read we can expect yet another remake of Stephen King’s “Carrie.”  It wasn’t enough that the 1976 movie starring Sissy Spacek was an excellent movie.  No, someone had to make a video in 1988 and then a television movie in 2002.

Another example is that of my husband’s favorite movie, King Kong, from 1933.  Hollywood couldn’t help itself when it decided to remake it in 1976 but couldn’t stop there.  No, it went on to make the laughable 2005 version.

So, what’s next?  Can we expect a remake of Casablanca? Citizen Cane?  Gone With the Wind?  West Side Story?

For many years now, I’ve thought Hollywood was pathetic in its rehashing of classic movies and the making of endless sophomoric comedies appealing to who knows who.  So, who exactly is the target audience for The Thin Man?  If it’s young people, why aren’t they encouraged to see the originals?  The lovely thing is, it’s my money and I don’t have to pay exorbitant ticket prices to see a lot of garbage.  I just wish that movie people would leave well enough alone.

I don’t get it, but if you do, God bless you.

Author Bio:

For over twenty years, Leona has tried to heed her husband’s advice, “you don’t have to say everything you think.” She’s failed miserably. Licensed to practice law in California and Washington, she works exclusively in the area of child abuse and neglect. She considers herself a news junkie and writes about people and events on her website, “I Don’t Get It,” which she describes as the “musings of an almost 60-year old conservative woman on political, social and cultural life in America.” It’s not her intention to offend anyone who “gets it.” She just doesn’t. Originally from Brooklyn, and later Los Angeles, she now lives with her husband, Michael, on a beautiful island in the Pacific Northwest, which she describes as a bastion of liberalism.
Author website: http://www.idontgetit.us
  • mplo

    Imho, Ben Affleck’s 4 year old movie, “The Town”, is a rip-off of “Heat”, “Friends of Eddie Coyle”, and “French Connection”, all of which are much better-made movies, with far better casts, cinematology, musical scores, and stories behind them than “The Town”.

    How the majority of the public, both movie critics and average moviegoers alike, could’ve fallen head-over-heels for such a piece of junk as “The Town” almost defies belief, at times.

  • Neil1981

    Seems as if Johnny Depp
    certainly has eluded being “Capt. Jack Sparrow” typecast.

    His new movie coming out (Dark Shadows) in which he plays vampire Barnabus
    Collins is a remake of the popular late 60′s daytime soap opera of the same
    name.

  • Ron F

    The remake of Father of the Bride, which to me is a classic, with Steve Martin was very good.  Most things are derivative.  The Thin Man movies are some of my favorites but they are based on the book.  The first of the series was not an original screenplay.

  • Drew Page

    From one old foggie to another, I happen to agree with your premise “Certain things should be left alone and classic movies are one of them.”   No disrespect intended, but this line is the best in your article.   In addition to classic movies I am sure that each of us old foggies have our own ideas of what those ‘certain things’ should include.

    Love your stuff Leona.  A fan.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1622651494 Debra Wasserman

    A friend of mine calls the unnecessary sex & violence in films “cheap shots” and its not just found in film anymore.  I have found that reading “young adult” fiction yields a better story than found in many “adult” books.  There is less rehashing of old storylines disguised with gore, sex & shock value garbage.  It’s one thing to add one of these when necessary to explain the real content of the story…quite another to throw it in for a good nude shot of an attractive actor.   Perhaps Hollywood is more like Government than previously thought….a lot of people getting paid big dollars for a whole lot of nothing.

  • FloridaJim

    It takes less effort to copy someone else than to be original. If Hollywood depended on me for support they would fold. Since Driving Miss Daisy I have not been to a movie or paid for a movie on TV.

  • filmfanatic

    fabulous write up. if hollywood wants people to know the stories of classic films than they should watch the originals we do not need anymore remakes. when i read that there would be a Thin Make remake i was so upset. i was livid when i read that Johnny Depp was going to be playing Nick. i think i am most upset thinking about who will be playing Nora because Myrna Loy was Nora Charles if there was every anyone who made a character their own and so much more it was Myrna Loy as Nora. i said from the beginning that if they make the book they’ll be better off because the book and movie are so different. i would like to see Rachel Weisz as Nora since Nora was a sophisticated lady and Weisz is the only one who fits that out of the other actresses 
    it is such a shame current hollywood cannot leave old hollywood alone. those movies and actors are classic for a reason. current hollywood needs to create more original stories and ones that are actually good instead of cheap crude comedies. 

  • floridahank

    I agree that original writing of stories is a lost art. The stories of the 40s 50′s and 60′s had uniquiness and impressiveness to them.  Also, the actors had more substance — quality and charisma that is lacking today.

    Just for kicks, I’ve written 3 screenplays that have good stories to them,  very different than many of the  hackneyed films produced today where you can anticipate every scene and much of the dialogue is trite. 

     I’d rather write stories than watch most of what’s being produced. 

  • waterlylies84

    I have heard of most of these people. I can see Rachel Weisz playing this role. I strongly suggest you step out of your age-ism and try really hard to recognize that the world we live in is not the one you grew up in. On that note, when my mother was younger than you are, she said, “theatre, writers, and Hollywood don’t have an original thought in their collective heads. They merely take what has already been done and put new skin around it.” With that said, she usually love remakes of her favorite movies as long as they stayed true to the intent of the original. My mother never lost that attitude, till she passed away at the age of 83. None of my friends thought she was that old because she never had the attitude that her generation was the only one that got it right and subsequent generations were clueless. She stayed current and relevant.

    • Michael

      “I strongly suggest you step out of your age-ism and try really hard to recognize that the world we live in is not the one you grew up in.”

      Leona’s acknowledgement that “the world we live in is not the one you (she) grew up in” is inherent in her comparison of remakes – something from today’s world – to old movies – something from the world she “grew up in.”

      As for staying “current and relevant,” have you read Leona’s bio?  Have you noticed that she practices law, or that she has her own website, or that she writes and submits articles on current events (notice the word “current”) for a website belonging to a man who regularly appears on one of the nation’s top-rated cable shows?  How much more does one have to do to be current and relevant? 

      • waterlylies84

        Yes I have read her bio. Being on the Internet, with a blog, a website, or writing about current events does not make one relevant. Comparing current actor’s with those from the past and praising the past actors as if they were demi-gods is inconsistent with relevancy. I say it again, she needs to step away from her age-ism. I for one would never be “fine” with being called an old fogie. It isn’t a badge of honor it is a sign of being stuck.

        Thankfully Shakespeare isn’t left to past actors. True classics deserve to be enjoyed by every generation and played by every generation. In our eyes it may be that the new generation doesn’t play the part as well, but we don’t dare leave the classics to the past or the story dies.

        Leona needs to get unstuck, or she may miss something truly marvelous.

        • Drew Page

          Waterlylies84  –   I suspect the ’84′ in nom de plume refers to your year of birth.  You make a good point when you say that true classics deserve to be enjoyed by every generation and played by every generation, lest the story dies; but don’t dwell on that point of agreement for too long.  Implying that Leona is irrelevant is insulting.   It seems to me your the “age-ist”.

          I don’t believe that Leona is stuck in the past anymore than is a person who loves the original works of art rendered by the great masters.   I am certain that the great works of art could be commercially reproduced to look as good, if not better than the originals, but the originals are the ones considered priceless, even by young people.

  • Ted

    I’m at an age where I have learned why I like old movies.  It’s because they were made from terrific books or novels.  Today’s tripe is made from garbage made last week.  Try and leave your arm chair while watching a Robert Mitchum movie and you’ll find out you missed soemthing important to the story.  Today it’s usually better to fast forward past all the car chases and meaningless sex scenes.  The up side is that today we can watch a complete movie in twenty minutes.

  • http://twitter.com/profchuck22 Charles Ivie

    I wouldn’t worry about it.  It will probably  flop at the box office and the  investors will loose their money.  The original will survive but the remake will die a well deserved death.  Someday the tinsel town morons will learn but don’t hold your breath.  When no one can come up with a good new idea this is what  you  get.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GC36UFUX3FP57OIQ74YHHQUL3M wally

    I agree. Please do not remake Casablanca. Its my favorite.

    • http://twitter.com/profchuck22 Charles Ivie

       Casablanca is one of the great movies of all  time. Fortunately, there is no credible way to remake it. (But some idiot will  probably try)

      • mplo

        Ahhhhhh….I guess it’s to each their own, but I thought “Casablanca” was kind of overrated.

    • Drew Page

      MIne too.

    • mplo

      Please do NOT even try to remake “West Side Story”! It’s my all time favorite film!

  • Keysmann

    The problem is this, Hollywood has lost the last generation of writers that had to use imiagination to entertain themselves as children. They didn’t have TV to create imaginary worlds. Even those writers that did see the begining of the TV are retiring.

    Now all that is left are writers who not only grew up watching TV, they have also had video games, etc….to create the fantasy worlds they would have been forced to create on their own without them.

    So here we are, a Hollywood full of writers without vivid imagination churning out remake after remake.

  • Rick Johnson

    Just like the True Grit remake. Good movie, but Brolin couldn’t come close to John Wayne. Also, some of the campiness of the original was lost in the remake. Still a better remake than most.

    • mplo

      I saw the original version of the film “True Grit”, with John Wayne and Glen Campbell, but I decided not to see the remake of this film. I knew it wouldn’t hold up to the original version of this particular film. Re-makes and/or sequels often don’t.

  • Ron F

    There are a lot of original small low budget movies being made.  Just go to see independent movies.  My wife just saw Salmon Fishing in Yemen and she said it was excellent.

  • DanielJamesCowan

    If a new production brings new fans to Hammett’s classic characters, how can that be a bad thing?  Even an inferior remake (The Avengers, anyone?) serves to highlight the strengths of a great original.  No one will top Bill & Myrna, but it could be fun to watch Johnny try (personally, I think Armie Hammer would make a great Nora!).

  • Michael

    So many of the actors and movie makers in Hollywood like to portray themselves as fearless, snarky, avant garde, and cutting edge.  I dare them to remake the Mel Brooks classic “Blazing Saddles.” :)  

  • Ron F

    Doing a remake of a movie does not diminish the original and we do not have to see it.  Maybe they are making the remakes for a new audience that might not see the originals.  Maybe after seeing the remake, maybe the new audience will take the time to see the original.  And given the cost to make movies, maybe the studios want to use a proven formula instead of taking a chance on something new.  Since I do not go to movies, the remakes do not bother me.  It is the studios money and they can spend it anyway they like.  We do not have to see the remakes.

  • Roger Ward

    I’d say that remaking the classics is just a further example of the dumbing down of modern culture.  It’s a race to the bottom.  The old Hollywood was no paragon but a few of the movies — the classics — were wonders of film making;  their reproduction should never be attempted.

    If Hollywood wants to remake “The Blob” or “The Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow” or “Plan 9 From Outer Space” or “Mars Needs Women”, they should go ahead and have at it.  (They can’t do worse than the originals.)

    The classics should be left alone — even the new ones like “The Godfather” or “Star Wars” or “Indiana Jones” or “Taxi Driver” or ….

  • NANCYE

    Leona said:

    So, what’s next?  Can we expect a remake of Casablanca? Citizen Cane?  Gone With the Wind?  West Side Story?

    *******************

    Oh please “NO”!!!  No remakes of those movies!!!  Who in the world could possibly play those roles, especially “Casablanca” and “Gone with the Wind”???

    • Mike

      I agree Nancye NO REMAKE OF CASABLANCA!  Although, to be honest, I have often wondered what happened to Rick and Louis after they fled to the Free French Garrison at Brouseville?  What happened to Sam and did all three return to France and join the Resistance?  I like to think so… it’s the romantic in me.

      • Tsav672000

         That was the beauty of Casablanca, it didn’t wrap everything up into a neat little ball for us. We got to use our imaginations and wonder what happened or fill in the blanks. They may have gone on to great glory or been captured and killed the next day. It is my favorite movie ever though and I think the ending was perfect.

        • NANCYE

          I agree to using one’s imagination.  I prefer to think that the characters went on to great glory, as you said.  But then, I’m one of those cock-eyed optimists.

          Don’t anybody DARE change a line from that movie!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Borden/1075346246 Paul Borden

    I love the old movies, though it drive my wife crazy when I get one of them from Netflix. The thing that always struck me about The Thin Man series was how he was always asking for, and drinking, a martini. In many of  the older movies, too, it seems the most polite thing a person can do is offer someone they just met a cigarette! There is no way you can duplicate the charm, the appeal, the relationship of the characters of the original versions. The one exception may be Mel Brooks’ version of “To Be Or Not To Be” over the Jack Benny original, but that may be because I saw Brooks’ version first.
    BTW, it’s Citizen Kane. I have a feeling you knew that, but your fingers got crossed up, right? 

  • Michael

    The soft-headed, out-of-touch actors, actresses, writers, and producers of today are trying to ride on the coattails of the true legends who came before them.  They remind me of the political candidates I hear talking about what their dad or grandfather did during “the war,” as if that should make me think the candidate, who somehow missed the “opportunity to serve” in one of the wars we’ve been in for the past ten years, has absorbed dad or granddad’s commitment, patriotism, and sacrifice through osmosis.