Ten Better-Than-The-Original Remakes

  • How does one compete with the Rat Pack? It’s not easy. But Soderberg’s 2001 update brought the project a dash of much needed irony. Using proper actors helped, too. After Peter Lawford told Frank Sinatra the plot of the original, Sinatra joked "Forget the movie, let's pull the job!"

  • Based on a Sam Spade novel, the original 1931 Maltese Falcon was by no means a bad film—in fact, it was in many ways more faithful to the book, as it was shot before the infamous Hays indecency code. But the 1941 version had Humphrey Bogart and Peter Lorre. No contest.

  • While the original version of this film, The Shop Around the Corner, featured Jimmy Stewart, the Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan version edges out its source material due to Nora Ephron's witty, and surprisingly forward-thinking, script. Moreover, in the film, Meg Ryan's jerk boyfriend writes for The New York Observer, which pretty much seals the deal for us.

  • Many don’t realize that Scorsese’s 2006 film, which netted him a long-overdue Best Director Oscar, was a remake of the 2002 Chinese film Infernal Affairs, and a rather close one at that. For American audiences, there’s no question which version is better. While preferring his own film, the original’s co-director, Andrew Lau, admitted, "The Hollywood version is pretty good too."

  • Scene from "The Thing," which isn't happening for real in the Antarctic right now. We hope.

    The original Howard Hawks version, The Thing From Another World, was a well-loved science fiction classic, so John Carpenter faced quite the challenge in setting out to remake it in 1982. Though it initially faced mixed reactions, it's stood the test of time, influencing all manner of contorted body imagery seen in modern horror movies today.

  • Based on a Norwegian film, this Al Pacino vehicle was Christopher Nolan's first effort after his breakout hit Momento. As with nearly all his movies, Nolan's version plays up the question of identity, brilliantly casting Robin Williams as a supernaturally creepy villain.

  • Only one man is qualified to remake Alfred Hitchcock, and that man is Alfred Hitchcock. He took a mulligan on his earlier 1934 version in 1956, remaking the film with Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day. In his book-length interview with Francois Truffaut, Hitchcock said the earlier version was the work of a talented amateur, but he preferred the newer version for being more professional.

  • This one’s hardly a comparison: the original was a Roger Corman b-movie cherished mainly for its kitsch value and for the fact that it introduced the world to Jack Nicholson in 1960. The 1986 version featured songs from the off-Broadway musical, placed Rick Moranis in the leading role and paired him with Steve Martin as the sadistic dentist. A clear-cut improvement.

  • Terry Gilliam's 1995 time travel film, tinted with his signature insanity based on the anxieties of modern life, saw stellar performances by Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt and vastly improved on the gimmick that drove the French short upon which it was based, 1962's La jetée. Both films make nods to their Hitchcockian origins with an homage to Vertigo.

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger's capacity for comedy is impressive, if often misdirected (see: Twins, Junior), but it's never been utilized better than in True Lies. The 1991 French original, La Totale! was more of a straight comedy, but James Cameron's remake seamlessly blended the comedy and action elements, and the end result was exceptional.


  1. Noel Vera says:

    Nora Ephron provokes the occasional chuckle but only a chucklehead can think she in any way improves on or edges out or even remotely approaches any possibility of improving on or edging out the great Ernst Lubitsch.

  2. Noel Vera says:

     This is nuts too. Marker’s film is less a ‘gimmick’ and more a new and unique way of telling a story on the big screen–no one’s really tried anything comparable yet, have they? I like Gilliam’s movie just fine, but it’s a step back, not a leap forward. A great science fiction film, one I prefer to Kubrick’s 2001.

  3. Lukinda Skye says:

    i totally disagree that 12 monkeys was better than la jetee. they’re two different things and you can’t compare them. but i’d still prefer la jetee, especially watching it on the big screen where i cried and felt real terror.