Monday, June 12, 2006

Remakes Galore

As expected, the new special edition of The Maltese Falcon (which has been announced for this fall along with some other Bogart movies) will include the two earlier versions of the novel, The Maltese Falcon (1931), and Satan Met a Lady. The 1941 version is of course the best, though the first version is worth seeing, and has the benefit of being free from Hayes Code censorship.

Packaging a well-known film with its remake, or with an earlier version, is something that's always welcome on a "classic" DVD. Sometimes the earlier or later version outclasses the better-known version, like the silent version of Ben-Hur (though I perversely like DeMille's remake of The Ten Commandments better than the silent original) or the original British version of Gaslight, which MGM suppressed when they did the Hollywood remake. And sometimes the remake isn't very good but makes for an interesting comparison: I Wake Up Screaming was remade a decade later as the less stylized but more serious Vicki, with Jeanne Crain and Jean Peters taking over for Betty Grable and Carole Landis. Fox is planning to release that movie separately, which is kind of a shame; it's not really interesting enough on its own, but it would be interesting as a way of comparing how a studio approached the same material in two different decades.

1 comment:

VP19 said...

I can think of several '30s comedies that were later remade, none as memorably as the originals. "Libeled Lady" was redone a decade later as "Easy To Wed," "True Confession" as a postwar Betty Hutton vehicle whose title escapes me (Betty is vivacious, but she's no Carole Lombard), and "My Man Godfrey" was pointlessly remade in 1957 with David Niven and June Allyson. (Ironically, Niven had a supporting role in the 1938 Lux Radio Theater adaptation of the original, in which Lombard and William Powell reprised their film roles.)