10 Popular Films that are actually Remakes

A number of remakes (new film adaptations) is coming soon or has already hit the screens, including “Murder on the Orient Express” (2017) and “Suspiria” (2018) (still to premiere), and “It” (2017) andFlatliners(2017) (already here). Perhaps, it is time to revisit/draw attention to some other in existence. While such remakes asThe Departed(2006), “The Fly” (1986) or “The Italian Job” (2003) are relatively well-known, some others may just not be. So, without further ado and in no particular order:


1. Original: Ocean’s 11 (1960) = Remake: Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

Ocean’s Eleven” (2001) is a popular fast-paced heist film directed by Steven Soderbergh (“Side Effects” (2013)) and starring such major names as George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Julia Roberts. In the film, Danny Ocean (Clooney) assembles his team to steal millions from three casinos in Las Vegas: The Bellagio, The Mirage and the MGM Grand. Extremely entertaining and amusing, “Ocean’s Eleven” proved to be a great film overall, largely thanks to the clever script and the star-packed cast. However, “Ocean’s Eleven” is, in fact, a remake of the movie by Lewis Milestone (“All Quiet on the Western Front” (1930)) of the same name, i.e. Ocean’s 11” (1960). Here, Frank Sinatra plays Danny Ocean, and the story now echoes the remake, save for the fact that Las Vegas here is the old one, and all the technology employed in the 2001 version is, understandably, nowhere to be seen. That also means that both films differ in a way the teams do their job and rob the casinos. It looks now that few people will prefer the 1960 version to the 2001 one. “Ocean’s Eleven” (2001) not only has a more ironical and sharper script, its secondary characters received their full spotlight, something which could not be said for the 1960 version. 


2. Original: Scent of a Woman (1974) = Remake: Scent of a Woman (1992)

Scent of a Woman” (1992) is a drama directed by Martin Brest (incidentally, the man behind “Meet Joe Black” (1998), which I mention bellow). The film is about a student who is hired as an assistant to an abrasive blind retired army officer, who has spectacular plans on how to spend his weekend. The film is well-made and features an unparalleled in its quality performance by Al Pacino, for which he gained his Academy Award. The supporting cast is also good, and the movie features a very memorable tango scene. So far so good, but the film also happens to be a remake of the Italian film Scent of a Woman” (1974), directed by Dino Risi. And, if that was not enough, the 1974 film version is, in turn, based on the story “Il buio e il miele” by Giovanni Arpino. In “Scent of a Woman” (1974) or “Profumo di donna”, a blind Captain makes a journey to another city with his young aide, but unbeknown to him, the Captain intends to commit a suicide pact there. In that way, the remake follows the original, although there are very significant differences as the plots move forward. Which film is better? They are hard to compare. “Profumo di donna” has these admirable elements of authenticity and originality, and it does not rely on many Hollywood clichés. “Scent of a Woman” (1992) is, of course, a great, unforgettable movie piloted largely, if not solely, by Al Pacino.


3. Original: The Unfaithful Wife (1969) = Remake: Unfaithful (2002)

Unfaithful” (2002) is an erotic drama directed by Adrian Lyne (“Jacob’s Ladder” (1990), “Nine and a Half Weeks” (1986)). This film is quite underrated, considering its interesting premise, the mesmerising performance by Diane Lane, its pale-soft, interesting cinematography, its beautiful soundtrack, as well as the casting of Richard Gere and the French heart-throb Olivier Martinez. However, it seems that it is also a remake of a French film The Unfaithful Wife” (1969). This film (known as “La Femme Infidele“), directed by Claude Chabrol, tells of a husband and wife who live in the suburbs of Paris. At one point, the husband starts to suspect that his wife may be having an affair, and sends a private investigator to follow her. When the husband finally meets his wife’s lover, things get unexpectedly out of control. The 2002 remake has all the main plot elements of the original film, though it accentuates and deepens the sexual relationship between the wife and her lover. “The Unfaithful Wife” (1969) may be an unjustly forgotten film, but Lyne’s 2002 version still wins by portraying the story so sensually and alluringly. 


4. Original: Anthony Zimmer (2005) = Remake: The Tourist (2010)

The Tourist” (2010), starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, may have been slaughtered by critics, but it would be wrong to say that no one has heard of it, and, at least the title of the film and the cast people do now. Directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (“The Lives of Others” (2006)), the 2010 film is about two people meeting, Frank and Elise, while the police and the mob chase Elise. So, Elise let the pursuers believe that Frank is in fact her thieving husband, and the real game of cat and mouse begins. The plot of the 2010 film has been fiercely criticised, but it is actually based on the screenplay of Anthony Zimmer” (2005). “Anthony Zimmer” (2005) is a French film directed by Jerome Salle (“The Odyssey” (2016)) and starring Sophie Marceau. Although the 2010 version reverses the roles of the main leads, it is safe to say that the plots of both are essentially the same, or, at the very least, substantially similar. The only one major difference here is that “Anthony Zimmer” is a better film.


5. Original: The Shop Around the Corner (1940) = Remake: You’ve Got Mail (1998)

You’ve Got Mail” (1998) is a delightful romantic comedy directed by the late Nora Ephron (“Sleepless in Seattle“(1993)), and starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. There, two strangers (a small bookshop keeper and a bookshop magnate) fall in love via internet/e-mail, not even aware that they are, in fact, enemies, because of business competition, in real life. The Shop Around the Corner“(1940) is a classical comedy-romance directed by Ernst Lubitsch (“Ninotchka” (1939)), which tells of two employees of a gift shop (played by Margaret Sullavan and James Stewart), who, although could not stand each other face-to-face, are falling in love via the pen-pal correspondence, not being aware of each other’s true identities. Both movies cite their original source material being the 1937 Hungarian play “Parfumerie” by Miklós László. However, some of the similarities between the 1940 and the 1998 versions still go way beyond the borrowing of major plot elements. For example, in both films, the first meeting of the lovers falls through, and it is the male lead which first discovers the duo’s true identities and tries to win over the female lead. Which film is better? “The Shop Around the Corner” is a unforgettable classic film, with the great chemistry between the actors. “You’ve Got Mail” is a lighter, even if more complex, spin on the story, but it still holds up thanks to its witty, sharp script and the appeal of its stars.


6. Original: Scarface (1932) = Remake: Scarface (1983)

Scarface” (1983) is a celebrated, although perhaps “over-the-top”, gangster thriller directed by Brian de Palma and starring Al Pacino. Here, Tony Montana (Al Pacino) rises to fame in Miami as a drug lord, only to fall from grace, when the pressures and the implications of his notorious position become too much. “Scarface” (1983) has become so popular as a film that perhaps some people still need to be reminded that it is a remake of Howard Hughes/Howard Hawks-produced film Scarface” (1932). Moreover, the 1932 film is, in turn, based on a 1930 novel written by Armitage Trail, who tragically died of a heart attack at just 28 years of age. There is no question that the 1983 film is a remake, with some scenes, and the relationships between the characters, being almost identical in both films (even though the endings differ somewhat). Which film you prefer may largely depend on whether you are into a bit of history or like to dwell only in the present, because the major difference between the two films is just that – different historical times shown.


7. Original: Death Takes a Holiday (1934)Remake: Meet Joe Black (1998)

Meet Joe Black” (1998) is a romantic fantasy film, starring Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins, and directed by Martin Brest. Here, Pitt plays Death, which took the body of a recently deceased young man, and now follows a media mogul, Bill. What Death does not realise is that, before it took the body of the young man, that man had a first romantic encounter with the daughter of Bill. Thus, complications follow, as Death falls under the charms of Bill’s daughter. The concept here would have been astounding for fantasy fans, only the 1998 film takes its premise from the Italian film Death Takes a Holiday (1934), which is, in turn, based on the 1924 Italian play “La Morte in Vacanza” by Alberto Casella. In the 1934 film, Death takes human form, and makes its residence at a Duke’s home, revealing its true motives to the Duke. However, when Death falls under the charms of a beautiful young woman, things get complicated. Now, there are many plot variations between the two films, but it is undeniable that major plot elements remain the same, including Death taking human form, pestering a rich magnate, falling in love with a beautiful woman, and, finally, making its own sacrifice. 


8. Original: Insomnia (1997) = Remake: Insomnia (2002)

Insomnia” (2002) is, of course, the Christoper Nolan psychological thriller about the two detectives on the mission to find a culprit behind a gruesome murder in Nightmute, Alaska. Starring Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank, the film is clever and memorable, only it is also a remake of the Norwegian thriller of the same name directed by Erik Skjoldbjærg. The 2002 film uses the plot to Insomnia” (1997) thoroughly, and the only differences in plot between the two films are slight variations in the character’s perspectives. As there are two different directors here, the films have different “feels” to them as well, with Skjoldbjærg striving to present an atmospheric film noir which alarms, while Nolan is going more for suspense, and only lets the audience on the secret at the end. I would say that both films are great in their own right: Nolan has crafted something both narratively entertaining and haunting, while Skjoldbjærg has made a film which is more thought-provoking and peculiarly influential. 


9. Original: The Parent Trap (1961) = Remake: The Parent Trap (1998)

“The Parent Trap” (1998) is a family comedy film featuring young Lindsay Lohan in a dual role of twins (Hallie and Annie) who meet for the first time at a summer camp, and swamp places so each could experience a life with the other parent, in a different family. Apart from Lohan, the 1998 film also features the late Natasha Richardson (“Asylum” (2005)) and Dennis Quaid (“Far from Heaven” (2002)). “The Parent Trap” (1998) is a real fun and a good entertainment, and this is largely thanks to the interesting concept (twins swapping places) and Lohan’s charm. However, the concept here is nothing new, since this film is a remake of the Walt Disney film, The Parent Trap” (1961), based on the 1949 German novel “Lottie and Lisa” by Erich Kästner. Both films follow the same plot, and seeing the versions back to back, maybe it is one of those films which needed a remake. The 1998 version brings its own sparkle to the story, even if it maybe only some memorable scenes such as the twins’ first meeting at the summer camp when they are engaged in fencing, not being aware of each other’s true identities. Having said that, the 1961 film is sweeter and more charming of the two, and is quite sophisticated by its time.


10. Original: Da Grande (1987) = Remake: Big (1988)

 Big” (1988) is Penny Marshall’s fantasy comedy about a boy whose wish to become “big” came true. Sweet, fun and entertaining, the film is great, and Hanks shines in the role, which feels as though it was made just for him. However, the whole premise looks painfully similar to the Italian comedy made just a year ago called Da Grande” (1987). Directed by Franco Amurri, “Da Grande” is an interesting film, largely because of its thought-provoking concept and so much opportunity present to provoke laughs. Perhaps, strictly speaking, “Big” is not really a remake of “Da Grande“, and the official sources say that “Da Grande” was only an inspiration for “Big“. However, the concept shared here is too similar to be ignored; and, if all the elements are combined, the case for a remake could be made. In “Da Grande“, as in “Big“, a boy is magically transformed into a grown-up man, but he remains a child mentally, and that causes problems, including with the grown-up opposite sex. If in “Big“, the grown-up boy turns up to be good at designing toys after his transformation, in “Da Grande“, the grown- up boy becomes an expert in babysitting. “Big” is an acclaimed film, and one of the best comedies of the 1980s, but, there is a thought there that it is likely that nothing could have happened without a lot of “Da Grande” inspiration (and yes, if you are wondering the script-writer of “Big” did get nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Original Screenplay). 

37 thoughts on “10 Popular Films that are actually Remakes

  1. Interesting stuff. In particular, I hadn’t realized that Big (#10) was a remake. On the other hand, I’m not sure I’ve ever sat the whole way through Big. I personally prefer the earlier version of #8 quite a lot to the remake, and I’d say Chabrol’s original of #3 was every bit as good as the remake — both versions are movies I very much admire.


    1. Yes, regarding Chabrol’s original, I have to admit I am a massive fan of Adrian Lyne (largely because of Jacob’s Ladder), so, maybe, I was a bit biased in my assessment 🙂 I think his work, including Unfaithful, is underrated.


  2. I like the original version myself. They always remake some movie from a foreign country. I love Anthony Zimmer the best but not the tourist. Nice post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting! I vaguely heard of some remake associated with the Maltese Falcon, but never explored it in full. I will now. It seems that sources do not like to report that the Bogart version was a remake 🙂 You are right, that is definitely an eye-opener. I am sure many people have no to little idea.
      However, related to this point is the fact that some people do not consider films to be “remakes” when both films follow the same book – such as “Murder on the Orient Express” (2017) and “Murder on the Orient Express” (1974). They just prefer to say it is simply different cinematic adaptations of the same novel. Well…


      1. There’s the Spencer Tracy remake of the (much better) Fredric March Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde and the 1944 US remake of the (again much better) 1940 UK Gaslight. In both instances, if memory serves, the studio behind the remake attempted to “disappear” the original from history by buying up and destroying prints.

        There are also various versions of The Spiral Staircase . . .


          1. They most certainly did it with one of them; I don’t have time to check right now if it was the case with both of these. The practice wasn’t as unusual as one might think . . . and in some cases the philistines were successful and the movies concerned are now lost to us.


  3. Very interesting! I’l add my two cents. There’s a cool Belgian thriller, Loft (2008). 6 ears ater the SAME director did a remake of his own movie, adapting it for American audience. That’s the only case that comes to my mind now of a director making a remake of his own movie…


          1. Of course. Sorry, I was just sarcastic as both remakes failed as it was supposed to happen 🙂 George Sluizer was already quite a renowned 60-year-old director who started in the late 60-s… Erik van Looy, Loft’s director no, but the film was one the most commercially successful Belgian movies ever when released. So I just find it pretty ashaming to reshoot your own film when you had such a success, although that is totally understandable.

            2014 Loft world box office $10 mln ($14 mln budget)
            2008 Loft Belgian box office $9 mln ($3 mln budget aprx)

            Hollywood’s relationship with remakes and reboots can be pretty dumb at times… And I totally don’t get what is the problem of showing a foreign movie to the American audience? Why all other countries in the world watch movies from everywhere, but Americans are having a problem with it? That was said of course not to blame the people, but the industry, who shaped and organized itself in this way.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I completely agree with you on showing foreign movies to the American audience. I think the industry should revise their ways here. But, you know, the say that, allegedly, “(the majority of) American people do not like watching films with subtitles” and “if a film has subtitles, people are less likely to watch it”. I think it is crazy to remake a film just because it has subtitles, and I am sure there are other reasons why a foreign film will be re-made to attract American audience, but it this reason is among it, well, then this is just sad.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. I get your point and it is ridiculous if they dare to say so. Most audiences won’t watch subtitled movies, you know for sure that almost all European countries dub them. I guess another real reason could be the competition coming from other countries – I know, it may sound ridiculous. But it could still be a nice niche market. Of course, one could say that finally it’s up to people what the want to see and it’s true, but certain decision hugely influence the public conscience whether watchibg foreign movies.

                Liked by 1 person

            2. Why all other countries in the world watch movies from everywhere, but Americans are having a problem with it?

              That’s a complete mystery to me, too, and I’ve been living here the best part of two decades. At least half the people we know point-blank refuse to watch anything with subtitles.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Well, it means they’re not so interested in cinema. I often spent hours to adjust everything and watch the film in its original language. So most foreign movies aren’t dubbed?! Where are you from originally?


    1. That’s interesting. Thanks, I will check it out. Huh, this practice of directors re-shooting/re-making their films is not as rare as you may think. Two immediately come to mind here: Alfred Hitchcock (The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) and The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)), and Michael Haneke (Funny Games (1997) and Funny Games(2007)). After all, why trust anyone else to remake your own film? lol
      I probably should not be putting my “crazy” ideas into this post as well, but, if you ask me, Darren Aronofsky put so many elements from his previous films in his recent Mother!, I think Mother! is the “umbrella” remake of all his previous films.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ok! Now you convinced me somebody must do a post about the directors reshooting their own movies.

        I didn’t know about Hitchcock, thank you. After examining the case, it seems different. The first one was made by a young Hitchcock just in the beginning of his career, and just 22 later, which is a lot, he did a different version… It would seem absolutely justified.

        I won’t comment about Haneke as unfortunately I don’t know him really well, except for White Ribbon and Amour.

        Any others?

        You comment about Aronofsky is curious, I guess this way of seeing things can be applied to a loooot of movies and directors… 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Haneke’s Funny Games films are pretty well-known. Very disturbing and hard-to-watch films, too. Well, I hope to make my point on Aronofsky clearer when I do a post on his Mother! and how it is a rip-off of 6 or 7 different specific films, a post which I will be doing sometime in near future. Something like this is already planned by me! lol 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Yes, I just realized over time that Haneke is probably not my type of director. I needed to dig deeper or just leave it there, so for now I left it there 🤣 that is great. Looking forward to your post.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. What a great idea of a post. Like a few, Big was shall we say ‘big’ news to me as being a remake but none the less Tom Hanks did a marvellous job as always and the movie retained it’s charm. I think with me, watching a remake depends on it’s execution and how well it presents it’s cast members. Though when movies are remaked within only a few years apart (especially recently) it can lose its charm. I’m indecisive on whether I want to watch the latest Murder on the Orient Express as I adore the novel and the 1974 adaptation was really entertaining but sometimes I feel curiousity gets the better of me. A wonderful post which was just as entertaining. 🙂


    1. Thank you! Even though I am an advocate of everything original, most of the time I, too, do not have problems with remakes, and as with “The Parent Trap” above, feel that sometimes they are even much needed.
      As for “Murder on the Orient Express” (2017), a part of me thinks that another film adaptation is needless here, but it definitely looks very interesting, and probably will be good. My only massive concern here is director Branagh taking a role to play Hercule Poirot. In appearance, he is the exact opposite of Poirot. I feel strongly about it and actually think his cast kind of “insults” the book character so lovingly and thoughtfully devised by Agatha Christie.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree. When I first saw the latest trailer for the movie I was a little taken back by the casting and it made me feel a little disappointed. He looks more ‘mean’ spirited i feel if that makes sense..none the less who knows how such a murder may play out in this movie though I will always hold the 1974 adaptation as a great classic with such wonderfully put together cast members. I usually listen to her novels on audio book and have recently found BBC radio drama plays which really take you to a world of live theatre as it was intended to sound like. Hercule Poirot is played by John Moffat and he sounds how I imagined he would in the novel itself. There are a few on YouTube if you were ever interested. 🙂


  5. Interesting post! I’ve not actually heard of Da Grande (1987), although I love Big. The Unfaithful Wife (1969) is really good, Claude Chabrol is an underappreciated director. I’m curious to see the 1960 Ocean’s 11, especially as I’ve never watched a proper “Rat Pack” movie. Time I did! I love the 2002 remake of Insomnia, it’s one of my favorite Pacino performances. Scent of a Woman is in my top 10 of all-tme, but for some reason I’ve never watched the original!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The performance of Al Pacino in the 1992 movie is so mind-blowing that I guess it does somewhat overshadows the 1974 version. That said, the 1974 has its quirky moments and is unlike any other Hollywood movie. It will be interesting to know what you think of Ocean’s 11 when you see it. I think the 1960 version has its evident defects, and the 2001 film capitalised on all its marvellous concepts and ideas. Thank you for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Great list. I knew only half of them were remakes. I remember you saying that Big was a remake which shocked me because I thought that was an original screenplay at first when I saw it as a kid. One movie I like that I didn’t know was a remake is Tokyo Godfathers. I didn’t know it was an official anime remake until earlier this year when I did a collab review of that movie.

    Liked by 1 person

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