What Movie Will Never Be Remade?

We already know that we dislike a great many remakes. It’s hard to top the “original,” but it’s certainly been done…many times. Think The Maltese Falcon can’t be remade? Wait, the one with Bogart that you love IS a remake. (Or, more precisely, the third filming of the Dashiell Hammett novel) Hm. Are there any films though, that will remain truly untouched by the remake machine…if only because no filmmaker would dare tamper with a particular classic? Is there nothing sacred…or is there something sacred? We put the question to Movie Irv:




Think his choice is safe? Remember, we’re not asking you to name movies you feel weren’t topped by their remakes; we’re asking about movies yet to be remade whose reputation might be so singular that no filmmaker would ever dare touch the material again.

Time for you to “remake” our video and supply your own answer below. Good luck—we all know how difficult it is to work with the same material the second time around and come out smelling like roses.

  • ganderson

    I will both agree and disagree with Irv, the Great and Powerful. While ‘Citizen K’ is vastly over-rated, it will never be remade; same with ‘Gone With the Wind’, another ho-hum movie that cannot be remade. My nominations are: ‘Bridge on the River Kwai’, ‘Lawrence of Arabia’, ‘The Searchers’, and ‘Arsenic and Old Lace.’ My winner, however, is ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ – brilliant screen adaptation, unsurpassed supporting cast (every role) and Gregory Peck simply is Atticus Finch. How can one improve on a perfect motion picture? Also ran – ‘Plan 9 From Outer Space’ – for other (i hope obvious) reasons.

    • Bruce Reber

      I totally agree with you – “To Kill A Mockingbird” IMO could NOT be remade, mainly because of two aspects of the movie – the portrayal of mentally challenged Boo Radley, and the hot-button issue of an African American man accused of raping a white woman in the American South. In that regard, it would have to be updated to conform to current social sensibilities and so-called political correctness, and it would in no way resemble the classic 1962 original.

  • Masterofoneinchpunch

    Citizen Kane certainly will not be remade again, or at least should not. I strongly disagree that it is “vastly overrated” though. I was thinking about that cinematic canon Casablanca that will not be remade. Imagine trying to remake that film. Boggles the mind. While parts of the plot have already been done Ad Nauseum, I think it would be impossible to redo It’s A Wonderful Life in its entirety. Too sacred.

    But there are many films that should not be remade (or will not). How would you remake a Chaplin film successfully? Imagine trying to redo Keaton’s Sherlock Jr. (while I have not seen it The General was remade as The Great Locomotive Chase) or Safety Last.

    I’ll agree with most of ganderson’s picks and add: Pulp Fiction, A Christmas Story and Taxi Driver. I just do not see those being remade anytime soon. Though honestly since Arsenic and Old Lace started off as a play I could see someone tackling that as a movie, plus it was done several times as a TV movie over the years.

    I think some films like those directed by Robert Bresson are less likely to be redone because of their style. It would be like trying to remake a Hitchcock film like Psycho.

    Some films are such flops like Heaven’s Gate, Howard the Duck, Ishtar or Battlefield Earth that they will probably never be remade.

    • Bruce Reber

      Don’t be too sure – with the lack of inventiveness and originality among today’s new-idea–for-a-movie challenged screenwriters, those flops might just turn up on the big screen in the not-too-distant future.

  • Quiggy

    One that has been rumored to be in remakes several times, but, in my opinion should not be remade is the 1979 cult classic “The Warriors”.

    • Butch Knouse

      The only that needs to be done with The Warriors, is a remastered DVD without the comic book garbage. The movie moves like a runaway train and the toon crap is like a brick wall popping up and stopping the movie. They could have put both versions on the disc, since the extra features were longer than the movie.

      • Bruce Reber

        I’ve seen “The Warriors” (all on TV) several times, and I don’t see any “toon crap” in it. I haven’t seen the DVD. What exactly do you mean by “toon crap”?

        • Butch Knouse

          It’s on the remastered Director’s Cut, or in this case the Director’s Hatchet Job. At several points in the movie (the BEST parts) some stupid comic book panels appear on screen for no real reason. I’d keep watching my VHS tape, but the DVD looks spectatular.

  • Movie Fan

    I am not an expert on movie history, so I may be listing movies that don’t fit in this category, but here are my choices: Birth of a Nation. Rocky Horror Picture Show. Blazing Saddles. The Magnificent Seven. McClintock! and Wild In The Streets. Birth of a Nation stinks. Long, boring, tedious, ugly movies should be left to marinate in their own slobbering goo. Rocky Horror Picture Show is fabulously, uniquely weird. How could anyone remake Blazing Saddles? It stands alone as one of the funniest Western parodies ever made. I think The Magnificent Seven is based on a Japanese film, but as an American Western, it’s one of of the best Gunslinger Saves Town From The Bad Guys movies I’ve seen. McClintock! is my favorite rootin’ tootin’ knee-slapping John Wayne comedy. Wild In The Streets is a snapshot of the 1960s, uncomfortably accurate and chilling.

    • Butch Knouse

      The Magnificent Seven was reworked by Roger Corman in 1980 as Battle Beyond the Stars. Robert Vaughn plays the same role in both movies.

  • wade

    There are many of the classic movies that should not be remade like Gone with the Wind, Casablanca, Lawrence of Arabia and possibly Lion in Winter as well as others because they are well made and still watchable .Plus there are those like The Pink Panther which was remade and shouldn’t have been because who could play Inspector Clouseau better than Peter Sellers

    • PhilG

      Lion in Winter was remade with Patrick Stewart…

      • wade

        yes of course I had forgotten that one which was done a few years ago

    • Bruce Reber

      Obviously you’re referring to “Inspector Clouseau” (1968), starring Alan Arkin in the title role. I’ve seen it a couple of times, and while it’s not nearly as good as “The Pink Panther”, I didn’t think it was all that bad.

      • wade

        Steve Martin also made a Pink Panther and a Pink Panther 2 and although he is very funny it still wasn’t quite as good as Peter Sellers

  • Cara

    Anyone who would attempt a remake of Lawrence of Arabia or The Bridge on the River Kwai would have to be delusional and egomaniacal because David Lean’s epic films cannot be duplicated or condensed. Unforgiven, Clint Eastwood’s masterpiece, would be almost impossible to remake because of Eastwood’s indelible directing and his iconic film presence. I venture to say that many of Hitchcock’s movies would be impossible to successfully remake. Imagine Notorious without Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman or North by Northwest, for more reasons than I can count.

    I can see someone attempting a remake of Rear Window, but I wouldn’t go see it. Would you?

    It’s not a great movie, but The Greatest Show on Earth would be almost impossible to remake, even if someone wanted to. The era of the great traveling circus going from town to town by train has ended. I also wonder how The Third Man could ever be duplicated or copied successfully. CGI could never hope to duplicate the real landscape of war torn Europe.

    And Ground Hog Day. Anyone crazy enough to attempt to duplicate the Ramis masterpiece would end up with a sad parody of a movie.

    Others I would note off the top of my head. On the Waterfront, Brazil, Midnight Cowboy, A Prairie Home Companion, E.T., Tom Jones.

    One remake, however, turned out to be wonderful, and interestingly enough, it is almost word for word a duplicate of the original film. I’m talking about An Affair to Remember, which is a remake of Love Affair, a 30s film, directed by Leo McCarey (the director of the 1957 remake). Love Affair starred Charles Boyer and Irene Dunn. It was a lovely movie. I don’t think anyone but Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr could have taken almost the exact same script and given it their unique interpretation. I know, I know. Only women get this movie. Or rather the two movies, with two sets of great actors making the same story their own.

    • GeorgeDAllen

      Interesting you mention Clint’s “Unforgiven”; in a reverse-twist on the way in which Eastwood and Sergio Leone reinterpreted Kurosawa’s great samurai film “Yojimbo” as the spaghetti western “A Fistful of Dollars,” Warner Bros. just last year released the Japanese redux of “Unforgiven” (also called…”Unforgiven”!) with Ken Watanabe as a worn-out samurai called back into service. Doesn’t look like it’s out on video yet, but the trailer is….you know…not bad: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5FsWs49pDM

      Hitchcock remakes are always a dicey proposition — “Rear Window” was of course remade in 1998 as a TV movie with Christopher Reeve and Daryl Hannah; Hitch remade himself with “The Man Who Knew Too Much”; some folks are crowing big-time over a planned remake of “The Birds”–though of all the Hitch movies, I could see that one being successfully redone. Whether it will be successfully redone is another story.

      And “Notorious”–yes! Pretty much anything Ingrid Bergman was involved with should give any sane filmmaker pause before attempting another go-round.

  • Blair Kramer

    “Gone With The Wind” will never be re-made.

  • Terry Powell

    I hope they never remake Chinatown, The Godfather, or Body Heat. I think certain movies of the seventies are safe because they are so bleak, but you never know, they may remake them with happier endings. I think Spielberg’ s films won’t be remade in his lifetime at least, you know they’d ruin Jaws. One film I’d like to see remade is Dirty Harry. Before you freak out, let me explain. I have a feeling someone will try to remake it once Clint is gone anyway, so I’d love to see Eastwood himself remake it. That could be an interesting take. I recently read where Tommy Lee Jones is remaking The Cowboys. I hate that idea, but if they’re gonna do it, I’d rather see Costner in the role. The big twist 3/4 of the way into the movie was a shock when I saw it, back in the day before the internet gave everything away. I think it wouldn’t be as much of a shock if Jones is in the role. I think you need someone like Costner, or Harrison Ford for it to work as well.

    • GeorgeDAllen

      No one will ever have the stones to try to remake Chinatown, so agreed. I forget where this topic was discussed on MFF a while back, but I remember the Dirty Harry remake topic coming up previously; my wish was that Clint would’ve made a Harry 5 where somehow, some way, Callahan had agreed to become police commissioner, or even mayor–and much like “Admiral” Kirk, found he needed to get himself demoted/tossed out in order to get the job done. Eastwood’s well past the age of this idea playing now, so we’ll just have to settle for The Dead Pool as his last turn in the role. (Though I like to pretend sometimes that Wes Block in “Tightrope” is really Harry)

      The great (fairly) recent reference to Don Siegel’s film was of course in David Fincher’s terrific 2007 picture “Zodiac,” where Mark Ruffalo’s character stalks out of the theater playing “Dirty Harry” shaking his head at how absurd he finds the Hollywood-ization of his case to be.

      • Butch Knouse

        They DID make 5 Dirty Harry movies.

        • GeorgeDAllen

          Yes — I should have typed “Dirty Harry 6″ instead of “5.” Though I also do sometimes like to pretend “The Dead Pool” never happened, or it’s just a perverse third installment of his “Every Which Way…” series (what with his bare-knuckle boxing-in-a-T-shirt scene in that film. All that was missing was Clyde.)