Friday, February 17, 2017

No Hablo

On The Crime Fix podcast this week Peter Dragovich and I talked about english-language remakes of foreign films inspired by the January release of Sleepless directed by Baran bo Odar (The Silence) and starring Jamie Foxx. It's a remake of the french language original Sleepless Night directed by Frederic Jardin (who's been directing some episodes of the french TV show Braquo - which I've heard Kent Gowran favorably compare to The Shield, so sign me up).

Neither of us have seen Sleepless (though I'm definitely going to check it out soon), but we're both big fans of Sleepless Night and hope that the remake at the very least shines some light on that fantastic original. 

Our discussion included english remakes that were better, worse, shot-for-shot identical to their origin material or significant to us for other reasons good or bad. In the order discussed, here's the ground we covered.

Le Dernier Tournant (1939) directed by Pierre Chenal and The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981) directed by Bob Rafelson were both based on the novel by James M. Cain and actually neither are as well known as the 1946 Tay Garnett-directed version starring Lana Turner and John Garfield.

Contraband (2012) directed by Baltasar Kormakur who also produced the original Reykjavik-Rotterdam (2008) which was directed by Oskar Jonasson's original. I apologize for my terrible pronunciations and for mis-crediting (switching) Kormakur and Jonasson on the podcast.

Sorcerer (1977) directed by William Friedkin and Wages of Fear (1953) directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot were both based on the novel by Geroges Arnaud. 

The Departed (2006) directed by Martin Scorsese was a remake of Infernal Affairs (2002) directed by Andy Lau and Alan Mak.

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) directed by Anthony Minghella and Renet Clement's Purple Noon (1960) were both based on Patricia Highsmith's novel The Talented Mr. Ripley.

Neil Jordan's The Good Thief (2002) is a remake of Jean-Pierre Melville's 1956 original Bob le Flambeur.

Tom Ripley made another appearance in the discussion this time as portrayed by John Malkovich in Liliana Cavani's Ripley's Game (2002) based on the novel of the same name by Patricia Highsmith as was Wim Wenders' The American Friend (1977) featuring a very different performance by Dennis Hopper opposite Bruno Ganz. Anybody out there seen Barry Pepper as Ripley in the 2005 Roger Spottiswoode adaptation of Ripley Under Ground?

Walter Hill's Last Man Standing was a remake of Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo (1961) as was Sergio Leone's Fistful of Dollars, but I think Dashiell Hammett's novel Red Harvest is probably the real basis for all three.

Michael Haneke's Funny Games (2007) is an english language remake of his own Funny Games (1997).

And Gela Babluani also remade his own feature. 13 (2010) was originally 13 Tzameti (2005). 

I'll leave the content of the discussion for the podcast, but here are a few we didn't discuss that I wasn't aware until recently even were remakes...

Before the Russo Brothers were taking over the Marvel Cinematic Universe they made the comic caper film Welcome to Collinwood with a knockout cast that included Sam Rockwell, William H. Macy, Luis Guzman, Isaiah Washington, Michael Jeter, Patricia Clarkson and George Clooney. It's one I just revisited for the first time since catching its theatrical run in 2002 and the first two-thirds really hold up. It kinda falls apart in the final act, but it's well worth killing time with if you want some light-hearted criminal fare.

I had not realized it was a remake of Mario Monicelli's 1958 film Big Deal on Madonna Street. I'll have to seek that one out.

Sean Penn's third directorial effort, 2001's The Pledge starring Jack Nicholson is a pretty terrific tale about a detective disappearing beneath an obsession with an unsolved case.

It's based on the novel by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, which in turn was based on his own screenplay for the 1958 film It Happened in Broad Daylight directed by Ladislao Vajda.

On the Christmas episode Pete and I discussed Daryl Duke's 1978 heist flick The Silent Partner, but it wasn't until this week that I knew it was a remake of the 1969 Danish film Think of a Number directed by Palle Kjærulff-Schmidt.

Both versions are based on the novel Tænk på et tal by Anders Bodelsen. 

Plenty of others we didn't get into including Point of No Return/La Femme Nikita, Criminal/9 Queens The Next Three Days/Anything For Her, as well as both versions of Breathless, Nightwatch, Bangkok Dangerous, Oldboy, Pusher, Insomnia, We Are What We Are and The Vanishing. Maybe we'll do something like this again sometime.

Over at Letterboxd I've put together as complete a list as I could think of: English Language Remakes of Foreign Crime Flicks. Lemme know what I missed.

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