As long as classic films are cherished, there will inevitably be a Hollywood remake. But what makes those stories worth retelling time and time again? Perhaps it's the competitive urge shared by every Hollywood producer to upstage the old classics, or the accolades they seek for discovering the modern Clark Gable or Joan Crawford.
Whatever the drive, many classic film enthusiasts cringe at the idea of Hollywood producers defiling their favorites. This may be why no one has dared remake "Gone with the Wind." But it's probably lurking around a dark studio corner, awaiting its debut.
Here are some Hollywood remakes that have exceeded expectations and some that have bombed at the box office.
First up, in honor of English filmmaker Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock, who would have turned 113 yesterday:
1. "PSYCHO" VS. "PSYCHO"
The Classic: 1960, starring Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh, directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
The Remake: 1998, starring Vince Vaughan and Anne Heche, directed by Gus Van Sant.
Synopsis: The classic "Psycho" was a spine-chilling, black and white tale which narrated the fatal encounter between Leigh, a secretary who fled her humdrum life after swiping money from her former employer, and the maniacal owner of a secluded motel portrayed by Perkins.
Verdict: Do I even need to say it? Alfred Hitchcock won this battle by a landslide, no question. His version emitted an unnerving atmosphere throughout every scene, while, Van Sant's remake was merely an uninspiring imitation of the original horror masterpiece. Vaughan simply did not have enough of a sinister persona to carry the film, and Heche's performance was one-dimensional at best -- which consequently inspired very little sympathy for her character's brutal demise.
That infamous shower slashing has gone down in history as cinema's most terrifying. It has often been emulated but never duplicated.
2. "THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER" VS. "YOU'VE GOT MAIL"
The Classic: 1940, starring James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan, directed by Ernst Lubitsch.
The Remake: 1998, starring Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, directed by Nora Ephron.
Synopsis: In Lubitsch's "The Shop around the Corner," Sullavan's character got a sales position at the shop in which Stewart's character had been happily employed for nearly a decade. The two co-workers soon found themselves at odds with one another, completely unaware they were each other's anonymous pen-pals.
It was the couple's sweet, almost tangible romance that propelled this film into classic movie history.
The Verdict: "You've Got Mail" was just as charming as the original film, which is why it opened in theaters as box office gold. Ephron added a modern twist to her version of the tale by creating a cyberspace love affair between Hank and Ryan. Swapping the love letters from the original film with emails was an absolutely brilliant move. The duo's on-screen chemistry was just flawless, the build-up to their romance irresistible -- especially because they were like two passing trains in the night -- always in the same location throughout their entire lives but never having that chance meeting. When they finally united, their chemistry was palpable -- truly the stuff true romance is made of.
3. "ARTHUR" VS. "ARTHUR"
The Classic: 1981, starring Dudley Moore, Liza Minnelli, John Gielgud, directed by Steve Gordon.
The Remake: 2010, starring Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Jennifer Gardner, Greta Gerwig, directed by Jason Winer.
Synopsis: Arthur was a spoiled rotten billionaire man-child with no goals of putting his immense wealth to good use. He was merely content to drink himself to a stupor in order to drown his profound loneliness. After one too many self-indulgences and embarrassments to the family's name, his mother decided he should settle down with a woman of his station or she would take away his inheritance. After the ultimatum, he fell in love with a charming girl with very little money.
Verdict: Winer's remake of Arthur was no slave to the original script. For instance, in the original film Moore relied on his personal male butler (Gielgud) for guidance while in the remake Brand depended solely on his female nanny (Mirren).
The late Moore was not only a more humorous Arthur than Brand but his capricious eccentricities were far more convincing.
The recurring issue with most Hollywood remakes is that they tend to be too extravagant, whether in the humor or plot -- which often leads to a false sense of reality.
4. "SCARFACE" VS. "SCARFACE"
The Classic: 1932, starring Paul Muni, directed by Howard Hawks.
The Remake: 1983, starring Al Pacino, directed by Brian De Palma.
Synopsis: In the original "Scarface," Muni portrayed a merciless and reckless criminal who would part with his soul if it meant reaching the top of the criminal ladder. The scar-faced, egotistical maniac not only manipulated those who stood in his way but left a trail of bodies during his ascent to becoming the ultimate crime lord.
The Verdict: The remake was just as electrifying as the original film. Pacino delivered such a mind-blowing performance as Cuban gangster Tony Montana that most people would argue that the film surpassed the classic. With iconic phrases like "Say hello to my little friend," De Palma's version became a classic in its own right. Not to mention, one of the most influential crime movies of all time.
5. "CARRIE" VS. "THE RAGE: CARRIE 2"
The Classic: 1976, starring Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, directed by Brian De Palma
The Remake: 1999, starring Emily Bergl, Jason London, Amy Irving, directed by Catt Shea.
Synopsis: Awkward high school outcast Carrie White (Spacek), who was constantly humiliated by her classmates and her overly religious mother, soon discovered she had supernatural powers which were linked to her emotions. Tragedy struck on prom night when White's tormentors elected her as prom queen and dumped a bucket of pig's blood over her head during her coronation. Blinded by rage, she used her powers to start a fire, ultimately killing everyone at the prom.
The Verdict: Shea's version of Carrie didn't come close to the original film. Bergl, who played Rachel, lacked that child-like nature which made the original Carrie White so mesmerizing on the big screen. Although the audience sympathized with Rachel's struggles as a foster child, she failed to recapture the magic Spacek brought to the original role.
6. "THE FLY" VS. "THE FLY"
The Classic: 1958, starring David Hedison, Patricia Owens, Vincent Price, directed by Kurt Neumann.
The Remake: 1982, starring Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, directed by David Cronenberg.
Synopsis: In the original version of the "Fly," Hedison's character performed a scientific experiment that went horribly awry when he accidently swapped his genes with those of a fly -- transforming him into a human/fly hybrid. But that is where the comparison between the two films end.
The Verdict: The fly in Cronenberg's remake possessed a much more human quality than the original. Goldblum and Davis's performances were heart-wrenchingly devastating. The audience was immersed in each scene as Goldblum's character deteriorated and gradually lost his grip on humanity. Davis's inner battle was palpable as she struggled to pull the trigger and end the life of the man she once loved.