The Top Ten Remakes

BT-Top-10-May-2012Remakes tend to get kicked around a lot, because Hollywood has a propensity for churning them out without concern for their quality. With the built-in awareness that comes along with remaking a previous film, studios often can’t help themselves but to crank out cheap, unworthy movies that capitalize on the fact that there’s a pre-existing fanbase ready to buy tickets.

RemakesThere are exceptions, however. Remakes that turn out to be great movies. In many cases, better than the original! Every time we want to curse out and swear off remakes forever, these are the movies that makes us say, “Yeah, but…”

Click through to check out the Top Ten!


10) “3:10 to Yuma” (2007)

three_ten_to_yumaOriginal: “3:10 to Yuma” (1957)

“3:10 to Yuma” takes the 1957 classic and makes a “modern western” out of it, with improved cinematography, big name stars, and a heavier emphasis on action. The stakes are high from the outset as a rancher gets caught up in delivering an outlaw to a train so he can be taken to trial. Christian Bale and Russell Crowe both turn in excellent performances in what turned out to be a critically and commercially successful movie.  


9) “A Fistful of Dollars” (1964)

Fistful of DollarsOriginal: Yojimbo (1961)

Based on Akira Kurosawa’s “Yojimbo”, a tale of a lone Samurai who rids a town of corruption and evil by pitting two rival gangs against each other, “A Fist Full of Dollars” Americanized it by turning the hero to a gunslinger and setting it in the old west. Its success would launch a Spaghetti Western craze in the 1960s, and would begin Clint Eastwood’s career as a movie star (he was previously best known for his work on the tv show “Rawhide”).  


8) The Magnificent Seven (1960)

magnificent_sevenOriginal: “Seven Samurai” (1954)

Another Kurosawa remake, “The Magnificent Seven” takes “Seven Samurai”‘s tale of a group of Samurai who defend a village and turns it into a western where a group of gunslingers defend a small Mexican border town. With a loaded cast featuring Yul Brenner, Steve McQueen, Eli Wallach, James Coburn, and Charles Bronson (amongst others), “The Magnificent Seven” successfully Americanized the Kurosawa classic and went on to create a legend of its own.


7) “The Fly” (1986)

flyOriginal: The Fly (1958)

1958’s “The Fly”, starring Vincent Price, was a critical and financial success that spawned two sequels: “Return of the Fly” (1959) and “Curse of the Fly” (1965). David Cronenberg’s version took the instant transformation of the original film’s hero and turned it into a gradual, disgusting metamorphosis, deriving horror from the stomach turning transition. With a vision of its own, horrifying special effects, and excellent direction, 1986’s version of “The Fly” carved out a reputation for itself as a horror classic in its own right.


6) “True Grit” (2010)

true_grit_ver7Original: “True Grit” (1969)

The Coen Brothers tackle one of John Wayne’s most iconic films, by pulling the tried and true remake end-around of going back to the source material and making a more faithful adaptation. The resulting film is a grittier, grimmer western with damaged heroes and a determined, irrepressible heroine. With legends like the Coens at the helm, you knew it wouldn’t be a cheap knockoff remake, and indeed, “True Grit” surpasses its predecessor.


5) “The Departed” (2006)

departedOriginal: Infernal Affairs (2002) 

Scorsese’s “The Departed” takes the 2002 Chinese thriller and crafts it anew for American audiences, with a star-studded cast. Twists, turns, double crosses and shocking deaths abound in this tale of the Boston mob and the cops out to take them down. DiCaprio and Damon parallel each other as two moles on opposite sides of the coin from each other. “The Departed” is a Best Picture winner, but probably better known for earning Scorsese his first (and only, to date) Oscar for Best Director.  


4) “Scarface” (1983)

scarface_ver3Original: “Scarface” (1932)

Fourth? Ju gonna put me %#&$ing fourth?

Few characters ever have lodged into pop culture as deeply as Al Pacino’s Cuban immigrant drug lord, Tony Montana. With his thick accent, taste for the high life, unmitigated ambition, and near utter ruthlessness, Montana is the bad guy you love to watch. And point your finger at.  Based loosely on a 1932 pre-code film of the same name, “Scarface” is absolutely “Class A chit”.


3) “The Thing” (1982)

thingOriginal: “The Thing From Another World” (1951)

Carpenter’s “The Thing” eschews the Frankenstein’s monster-esque aspects of Howard Hawk’s 1951 version and goes back to the source story in order to create a tale of paranoia, fear, and suspicion. A shape changing alien, complete isolation and sub-zero temperatures mix together to create a chilling film. Hailed as a classic in both the Sci-Fi and Horror genres, “The Thing” is deservedly often hailed as one of the greatest remakes of all time.

Movies That Everyone Should See: “The Thing”


2) “The Maltese Falcon” (1941)

Original: “The Maltese Falcon” (1931)

Dashiell Hammett’s novel had actually been adapted for the screen twice before… in 1931 as “The Maltese Falcon”, and loosely, in 1936 as “Satan Met a Lady”. It’s Huston and Bogart’s version the world remembers, though. With its fast talking tough guy hero Sam Spade and two of the best villains ever in the Fat Man and Joel Cairo, “The Maltese Falcon” isn’t just one of the greatest remakes ever, it’s one of the greatest movies ever.

Movies That Everyone Should See: “The Maltese Falcon”


1) “The Wizard of Oz” (1939)

wizard_of_oz Original: “Wizard of Oz” (1925)

That’s right! The beloved classic “The Wizard of Oz” was not the first film version of L. Frank Baum’s book. It was preceded by a 1925 silent film (in addition to some shorts). Reportedly the ’25 version differed wildly from the novel, but it still makes the famed 1939 version the second pass at the source material, and thus? A Remake. “The Wizard of Oz” so overshadows its predecessor that it’s not even a well-known piece of trivia, but it goes to show about remakes – the first pass isn’t always the best!  

Movies That Everyone Should See: “The Wizard of Oz”


Honorable mentions/Also considered: The Birdcage, Dawn of the Dead, Man on Fire, Scent of a Woman, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (78), Ocean’s 11, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Well, there you have it folks. Proof that “Remake” should not automatically be considered a bad word, in spite of how hard Hollywood tries to make it one!

What do you think? Want to debate the definition of the term with me? Some that are too high or too low? Which remakes do you feel I unfairly omitted?

Let’s hear it!!

Remakes HUU


111 thoughts on “The Top Ten Remakes

      • Ah… sorry, but no. ‘The Departed’ was a classic make-up call by the Academy for robbing Scorsese for ‘Raging Bull’ and ‘Goodfellas’ (I’d add ‘Casino’ to that list, too). Hell, even ‘Gangs of New York’ was better than that, and that lost out, as well.

        And 3:10 to Yuma? Elmore Leonard, who wrote the original story, thought Daves’ classic was too long. You don’t even want to know what he thought of Mangold’s ‘update’ ;-).

        Take another look at each of those originals in this case. They were efficient storytelling at its best and showcased something so unexpected as to be daring for its time. I’ll get off my soapbox now, my friend :-).

      • You can preach all day man, I dont mind.

        I wont be swayed on these though, they’re both really great films. It’s unfair to “Departed” to bring up Scorsese’s other movies and history, etc. It’s not that movie’s fault. And maybe the Best Directing Oscar was a makeup Oscar, but Best Picture? What would you give the Oscar to that year instead? I looked at the nominees and what? Letters From Iwo Jima? Nahhhhhhh

        Meanwhile, I dont care what cranky author says what about their adaptation. Complaining authors are a dime a dozen, I dont care who they are. They shouldnt have sold the rights then, they know how this works! 😯

        And finally, these aren’t necessarily referendums on how much they improve on the originals (there are some originals here I havent seen, to be honest), in that case you overlooked “The Magnificent Seven”, which isn’t as good as “Seven Samurai” by a long sight. Its about how good a movie they made with the remake. It’s not a comparative excercise between remake and original, but remake vs remake as to which films are best. 😉

    • Agreed. There needs to be time elapsed between them, it needs to be a high quality film… and once a movie becomes a classic, they should never touch them. That’s my opinion on it Issy.

  1. I spent years trying to track down a show I saw on late night t.v. as a child. It was The Thing. I think I saw in the hall and watched it behind my mom’s back since it was after bed time. So when I finally found someone who knew what I was talking about, told me the name, I sat down to watch it on Netflix. Wow. I was sure cleaned up for early 1980’s t.v. viewing. I didn’t remember it being so very gory. It felt like a totally different movie.

    • 😀 Yeahhhhh that’s got some gore in it alright. LOL

      I love it though. Great, great horror movie, no doubt about it!

      I bet they dont butcher it as bad for tv as they do Scarface though! LOL Ha!

  2. I saw the pre-code version of Scarface first. I loved it. As a result, the remake was so different that I completely hated it and felt it should never have claimed to be based on Scarface in any way. It if hadn’t tried to pretent to be something it wasn’t, I might have otherwise liked it.

  3. This is a brilliant post – love it.

    I somehow didn’t know that Scarface was a remake. That told me. Great movie. And I’m the only person that seemed to be underwhelmed by True Grit.

    If they count as a remakes, I’d have Twelve Monkeys in there too (as a remake of La Jetee) and Heat is one of my all time favourite films (with Michael Mann re-making his own film).

    • I considered 12 Monkeys… but here’s the thing. La Jetee is a short film. So, to me, that disqualified 12 Monkeys as being a true remake. It was the first feature film version, you know?

      Similarly, Mann’s “LA Takedown” was a TV movie, so… kind of not really sort of you know? LOL Hope I was clear there! Heh. 😀

      Anyways, thank you very much, glad to hear you approve!!

      • Yeah, I thought that’s why you’d left them out.

        You might need to do a list of the worst remakes now. Actually, most of them ar awful so maybe a list of the most pointless (and bad)… Planet of the Apes, Psycho, Let Me In/Let The Right One In…

      • You know what’s funny is I thought of doing that! But here’s what I realized really quickly… I SKIPPED a lot of them. LOL. There’s so many of the “Worst” remakes I havent seen. Thus to do a comprehensive list, I’d need to watch a lot of crappy remakes. 😦 I’m just not up for it at this point. Maybe later though, it definitely is in play. 😉

  4. Good list, Fogs! On my list:

    Ocean’s 11 (and 13. Let’s never talk of 12 again) — I saw the original with Sinatra, and I was sorta … meh. MEH. The Clooney versions were super fun, though, and captured everything I wanted in a movie about stars just hanging around had having a fun time.

    Rise of the Planet of the Apes — not compared with the original movie (which is unassailable), but rather with Conquest… which I haven’t seen, but from all reputation, the movies got cheaper and cheaper as they went along. The Rise reboot managed to make things make a whole lot more sense… though I’m sure some fans miss the crazy, self-contained time loop from the original series.

    I’m sure there’s more, but those two came to mind immediately.

    • D’Oh! Gotta put Ocean’s on my also considered list. Nice catch Santo. Because I definitely did consider it.

      It was definitely a better movie, and very fun. But It couldn’t crack my list here. It was just too… light. You know? This was a tough list to crack, I easily could have gone Top 20.

      Of course, even if I did, I dont think “Rise” would have cracked it. LOL 😯 😀

  5. This is an awesome list! This is why I’m not a remake hater, there are some good ones out there. Fanboys just like to whine. I remember when the Evil Dead remake was announced it seemed like there was going to be a mass suicide and now there isn’t a single person who isn’t excited to see that shit.

    • LOL, I know, right? Remakes can have a bad rap… Hollywood deserves it though, they do foister some garbage at us.

      I have to say, I can’t wait until tomorrow, I’m pretty psyched now myself, and I was one of those wailing and crying about the fact that it was gonna get redone, too!

      Thanks Ryan, appreciate the comment and the compliment! 😀

      • To be fair, though, Hollywood always fosters a lot of crap on us, and not all of them are remakes. Plenty of them are original stories 🙂 I guess it’s easier to spot the flaws when someone else previously has already done it better, though.

  6. Good list for the most part, though I’d probably do some reordering. I do object to three choices though. The Maltese Falcon, which I’m generally not a fan of and find unmemorable. The others are A Fistful of Dollars and especially The Magnificent Seven. I just find Kurosawa’s original films to be superior in every way.

    • Again, as I was just saying to Le0p, this isn’t a listing that compares remakes to originals, because you’re right, those films arent as good as the originals, I agree. Its about films that were remakes and ranking them on their own merits against each other.

      You’re high on haterade again about the Maltese Falcon though. Sad for you on that one, Boy-o. SMH 🙄

  7. I’ve only seen some on this list, but I haven’t seen any of the originals. That’s says something about their validity, I think. I didn’t know that The Maltese Falcon and The Wizard of Oz were remakes, I think I knew most of the others were though.
    Another remake that is way better than the original is Ben-Hur. The 1925 one is definitely not as good, mostly just because of how old it is. I’m pretty sure they used the original sets and stuff for the ’59 version too, pretty cool. Also there’s Sabirina, which is kind of a chick flick so I don’t know if you would have seen it, but the orginal ’54 version was really good. They did a remake in the 90s with Harrison Ford which is also really good but for different reasons. The first one is slightly darker and with more social commentary, but modern audiences will probably tend to go with the 90s one because of Harrison Ford and the chemistry between him and Julia Ormond is way better. Both are definitely valid, and it’s one of my favorite original/remake pairs.

    • Wow… Ben Hur…. I actually forgot that there was a prior version of that! Damnnnnn. Good one Hunter.

      I passed on both the Sabrinas, though the original has been recommended to me previously. 😦 You’re right about the Chick Flick aspect, its definitely part of why I’ve steered clear!

      There’s some really good originals here… the Kurosawa ones especially!

      • You should get on that though, next time you go to chick flick city. I’m sure they’re both better than some of the ones you’ve seen. My dad even enjoys the 90s one!

  8. I can’t object on anything but you can count on me to hate on The Departed. After all, Infernal Affairs is Hong Kong films at one of its best moments and I’ve seen a lot of those to know how great it is. I really can’t get through this remake. I love the original, in fact even the sequels of the original ones are absolute awesomeness but The Departed felt not good…I don’t know. Something didn’t work for me right from the start. I just don’t know why, I love the cast, the director and even the source material but its not a great remake.

  9. Good list, I agree with most of them. I might also include Lugosi’s Dracula (1932) which was a remake in and of itself, and then tie in Coppola’s Dracula.

    Then Frankenstein had a number of great films too.

  10. Everything looks great but to be considered a best remake I would say that the newest has to further the premise of the original far beyond its original story to warrant being listed.

    With that criteria in mind “The Thing” smokes all the other movies listed here. So, as great as this list is, its just a wee bit off in the top 3 standing.

    • You lost me.

      So, you’d say that “The Wizard of Oz” wasn’t a vast improvement over a silent, black and white flick? Click that Wikipedia link and check out the plot mangling of the first “Oz”. 😯

      I detect some “Thing” fanboyism trying to rationalize a leap to the number one spot. LOL

      • A great remake endeavors to bring something More to the screen than its predecessor, and that is the standard to which I cleave. The more I thought about it the more I would have left #1 and #2 in the middle of the pack. Oz just for its ability to use color when the original couldnt immediately dumps it out of 1st.

        I mean I consider Peter Jacksons King Kong as Great a remake over the original that I do the colorized OZ. Also after reflection the magnificent seven shouldnt be on the list as it wasnt nearly as good as the original.

        Otherwise Fogs, fine fine work!

  11. Very respectable list, Fogs. I’ve been doing some remake research myself lately for an upcoming post, and I was surprised to learn that Some Like it Hot is a remake of a 1935 French film called Fanfare of Love (which was also remade in Germany in the 50s). So there’s another one that deserves mention on a list of great remakes. One of the best comedies in American film history!

    • Get out!!! Some Like it HOT was a remake, too?

      See, that’s part of the problem with these, you have to research them to hell… why isnt that more commonly known? And why dont any remake listings have it on there? LOL. Wow. Thanks for the info DB, I feel like I should revise this list already! 😀

  12. LOVEEEE this list! Scarface…yes. I love me some remake Scarface. I wish I could contribute to this list, but you pretty much covered it all. Or maybe I’m just losing my “movie” knowledge. *yikes*

    • Heyyyyyy, Jen! 😀 How’ve you been? Thought you disappeared from the Blogosphere there! That Hawaiian Ocean got you or something 😉

      Hope all has been well, that’s all. 😀

      Meanwhile, Cmon. Hell yes on Scarface. I couldnt believe I could only put it fourth!! FOURTH!! Anyways, I still love it.

      • Ya, the fourth slot did sting a little, but it’s okay…I forgive you. LOL

        Sorry. It’s been kinda crazy here. For the past week (or two) Hawaii has been in the low 60s. Honestly, that’s not cold for you, but for us….we are FREEZING. LOL I’m still here….no worries, I’m still reading your blog. I must admit, you got me on April Fools.

      • No apologies needed, just wanted to let you know I wondered how you were doing thats all.

        Meanwhile, I live in New England, Jen. You’re honestly going to complain about temps in the 60s? For real? 🙄 You have noooooooo ideaaaaaaa… LOL

        Sorry about tricking you on april fools. Im an ass sometimes. 🙂

    • Literally, Garrett, I almost put Dawn of the Dead or the Birdcage in there just to break the Western predominance up. 😦 LOL But I had to “stick to my guns” (see what I did there? 😉 )


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