10 Films You Didn’t Realise Were Remakes

Warner Bros

We’re in the midst of a bit of a reboot/remake-apalooza at the moment, but don’t think it’s because Hollywood have run out of ideas – the more likely explanation is that enough time has passed between movies that a modern-day remake is often called for (or so the executives may like us to think). Remakes and reboots aren’t a new thing, and have long been developed to put a hot new take on a great script, or gauge a new audience.

With that being said, take a look at these 10 films that you may not have realised are remakes!

Cape Fear (1991)

“Cape Fear” is a Martin Scorsese classic, teaming him up with pal Robert DeNiro, and scoring Oscar and Golden Globes nominations for Best Actor (De Niro) and Best Supporting Actress (Juliette Lewis). The movie also starred Nick Nolte, Martin Balsam, Jessica Lange, Joe Don Baker, Robert Mitchum, and Gregory Peck. “Cape Fear” is a psychological thriller and tells the story of a convicted rapist, who, mostly by using his newfound knowledge of the law and its numerous loopholes, seeks vengeance against a former public defender, whom he blames for his 14-year imprisonment because of the purposefully faulty defence tactics used during his trial.

While it’s a classic that you should all see, did you know that the film is a remake of the 1962 film of the same name, directed by J. Lee Thompson? Interestingly, the original also starred Mitchum, Peck and Balsam.

The Birdcage (1996)

“The Birdcage” as we know and love it has an all-star cast, including Robin Williams, Gene Hackman, Nathan Lane, and Dianne Wiest. Dan Futterman, Calista Flockhart, Hank Azaria, and Christine Baranski.

Though you know the comedy, directed by Mike Nichols, as one of the most memorable Robin Williams performances, it was adapted from the 1978 Franco-Italian film “La Cage aux Folles” by Édouard Molinaro starring Michel Serrault and Ugo Tognazzi. Before that film even came out, it was a play by the same name. Madness!

The Thing (1982)

So you may be aware that 2011’s “The Thing” is a prequel of the 1982 John Carpenter movie of the same name, starring Kurt Russell. The 2011 film stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, and Eric Christian Olsen, and was directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.

Carpenter’s film, though well over 30 years old, still holds up quite well in the horror department, but here’s a fun fact: the film, adapted from the 1938 book “Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell Jr, is a remake of a 1951 black & white movie titled “The Thing from Another World”. It was directed by Christian Nyby.

Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

2001’s “Ocean’s Eleven” kicked off a (fairly-questionable) franchise, but before George Clooney and Brad Pitt graced our screens with a pretty cool heist film, five of the rat-pack brought “Ocean’s 11” to the movies. Peter Lawford, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Joey Bishop all starred in the 1960 film, which was directed by Lewis Milestone. The movie served as the inspiration for Steven Soderbergh’s 2001 “Ocean’s Eleven” – which was a big success at the box office.

Freaky Friday (2003)

Jamie Lee Curtis acting as 15-year old and Lindsay Lohan as a middle-aged woman was probably my favourite thing about 2003, and though Disney movies can be quite lame, they certainly had success with remaking “Freaky Friday” a number of times. The 2003 version of the film is probably the most well-known, but it’s the third time Disney had adapted the story – which was originally a book by Mary Rodgers, published in 1972.

The first film adaptation was in 1976 and starred Jodie Foster and Barbara Harris. A TV-movie was made in 1995 with Shelley Long and Gaby Hoffman as the mother and daughter, respectively.

Following the 2003 “Freaky Friday”, Disney made another film starring Cozi Zuehlsdorff and Heidi Blickenstaff, and a stage musical that began in 2016.

The Parent Trap (1998)

Another Disney classic starring Lindsay Lohan, where she plays the role of two girls, who were separated at a young age to live with their respective parents – only to get reunited at the age of 12 at a camp. Though the concept itself is full of plot holes, it worked and proved to be a hit!

The 1969 film that it was based off, also titled “The Parent Trap”, was directed by David Swift and starred Hayley Mills in the dual-role of the sisters. The movie spawned 3 sequels that went to Disney TV – “The Parent Trap II” (1986), “Parent Trap III” (1989) and “Parent Trap: Hawaiian Honeymoon” (1989). The 1998 remake with Lohan, Dennis Quaid and Natasha Richardson was based off the original.

Fun fact: “The Parent Trap” was originally based upon the 1949 book “Lottie and Lisa” (German: Das Doppelte Lottchen) by Erich Kästner.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)

This Steve Martin classic is very memorable film, with the comedian starring alongside Michael Caine as two con men competing to swindle an heiress out of $50k. Directed by Frank Oz, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” holds up 30+ years later, which speaks volumes about the quality of the film.

“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” is actually a remake of the 1964 Marlon Brando/David Niven film “Bedtime Story” (directed by Ralph Levy), which follows the same story. They could have just stopped with the 1988 film, but insisted upon making “The Hustle” in 2019, starring Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson – which was a little bit of a cinematic flop! Sometimes it’s better to leave good films alone.

The Departed (2006)

Another Martin Scorsese film, “The Departed” is another all-star cast (what else would you expect from Scorsese) including Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, and Mark Wahlberg, and Martin Sheen. Even the supporting cast kicks goals, with Ray Winstone, Vera Farmiga, Anthony Anderson, and Alec Baldwin rounding out the stars of this crime-drama. The 2006 film was a big hit at the Oscars, taking out four awards.

“The Departed” is actually a remake of the 2002 Hong Kong film “Infernal Affairs”, directed by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak. “Infernal Affairs” was also a big hit in the awards arena, and succeeding at the box office. The film also kicked off a trilogy, with “Infernal Affairs II” and “Infernal Affairs III” both following in 2003.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Let’s round out our list with a classic horror film – 1978’s “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”. The Philip Kaufman directed film has long been hailed as one of the best horror films of all time, and has a Rotten Tomatoes score well into the 90%’s. Starring Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Veronica Cartwright, Jeff Goldblum and Leonard Nimoy, “The Invasion of the Body Snatchers” is a remake of the 1956 film of the same name, which in turn was an adaptation of Jack Finney’s 1954 science fiction novel “The Body Snatchers”.

Don Siegel’s 1956 film is in black and white, and starred Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter. The movie sees aliens descend upon Earth and growing into large seed pods, before taking the form of an identical replica of a human being’s body. Hence the title!

Another interesting fact, a film in 2006 titled “The Invasion”, starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, was originally intended to be a remake of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”. Script writer David Kajganich took the story in a slightly different direction, making the film more of a ‘based on’ type of film. The same goes for 1993’s “Body Snatchers” directed by Abel Ferrara – it’s loosely based on Finney’s 1954 novel.

There is also another remake in the works – hopefully they do the original films justice!

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