Some movie titles are recognizable brands, and will never be re-used. Can you imagine anyone in the future naming a movie Casablanca, Star Wars, or There Will Be Blood? Those names are secure–but, as history shows, if your movie does not become a classic or fan favorite, your title is up for grabs. The following is a list of movies (none of them remakes) that have had their titles recycled for bigger-budget, more high-profile flicks: in some cases with better results; in others, not so much. Make sure you’re ordering the movie you want from Netflix!
Both movies are about, you guessed it, speed–although in very different ways. In the older film, Jimmy Stewart plays a test-car driver who wants to use a carburetor he’s invented in the big Indy 500 race. Along the way you can expect lots of racing scenes, and lots of stock footage! The New York Times called it a “passable program picture,” though there’s no doubt it could’ve been spruced up with a madman telling him if he drops under 55 mph his race car will explode. Boom!
Or, in Spanish, “El Fugitivo.” The 1947 movie has big names behind it–John Ford, Henry Fonda, based on a Graham Greene novel–so it’s a mystery why it’s not better known. While the Harrison Ford film is great, this movie too may be worth a look–Fonda plays a priest on the run from a presumably communist Central American government who wants religion eradicated.
In the 1950 film, John Travolta and Christian Slater are nowhere to be found. Instead, it’s Jimmy Stewart again, this time playing a scout who tries to stop the whites and the Apaches from killing each other. It’s actually fairly progressive for its time, depicting Indians as sympathetic and under attack from whites–consider it a fifties version of Dances With Wolves. Compare that to its 1996 titular successor, which has John Woo fighting and stuff that gets Blowed Up Real Good.
Can you guess what these films are about? The lesser-known 1953 film features Clifton Webb and Barabara Stanwyck not as star-crossed lovers but as a troubled married couple. Rest assured, an iceberg will put their problems into focus. This was a relatively well-received film, even winning an Oscar for Best Screenplay, but it was overshadowed by 1958’s A Night to Remember and the James Cameron film.
Separated by forty years and oh-so-much else. Based on a Max Catto novel, the 1957 flick revolves around hot, sizzling, romance in the hot, sizzling Caribbean. Just to be sure the hotness and sizzling doesn’t go to waste, the ship the lead characters are traveling on catches fire. A big cast helms the film–Rita Hayworth, Robert Mitchum, Jack Lemmon–though the film is pretty blah. I would hazard a guess that it’s leagues above its Steven Seagal successor, about a heroic environmentalist. The “fire down below” there refers to stuff that both Catches on Fire Real Good and Blows Up Real Good.
Sean Penn plays a teen hoodlum named Mick who accidentally kills a Puerto Rican boy–the brother of a gang leader, Esai Morales, who vows revenge. Sent to juvenile prison, Mick awaits his eventual fate. The movie has a fairly good reputation, and reviewers have noted that the young Penn gives a superb performance, perhaps a foreshadowing of his future stellar career. However, the film does falter in its second half. Compare it to the 1995 Michael Bay film–well, it’s Michael Bay. That’s really all you need to say.
Yes, both movies are about tornadoes; the budget of the 1989 film, however, was significantly less than that of its namesake seven years later. The tornado isn’t even in the movie. Directed by Michael Almereyda, the first Twister is about a dysfunctional Kansas family led by cult actor Harry Dean Stanton. Both the comedy and drama are low-key, but many have praised the film as a charming, if strange, sleeper. Perhaps it’s worth checking out–and, as a plus, Bill Paxton is nowhere in sight.
No Russell Crowe or hordes of barbarians in this version. Instead, Cuba Gooding, Jr. and James Marshall are underground boxers. There’s nothing really remarkable about the movie, and it garnered pretty mediocre reviews along with a pittance at the box office.
Both deal with car crashes, though in verrrrry different ways. The 1996 David Cronenberg film (rated NC-17) involves people who have a sexual fetish with car crashes, and stars James Spader and Holly Hunter. It’s probably the best known “first” film on this list, and it garnered a 64% approval rating from the nation’s critics, according to Rotten Tomatoes. But when the Paul Haggis movie came out in 2005, director Cronenberg called the writer/director a “(bleep)hole” for “stealing” his title.
It was tough to think of one more movie for this list, but here we go. Imagine, sometime in a few months, going to Blockbuster to pick out a movie about teen vampires and instead finding out you’ve rented a crime drama starring Paul Newman and Gene Hackman. Multiply this incident by several million and you’ll have our country paralyzed by rioting teenage girls! But seriously, having not seen either of these two identically-named motion pictures, I can’t vouch for either of their merits–though the 1998 film is from the team of Robert Benton and Richard Russo, who brought us the charming dramas Nobody’s Fool and Empire Falls.
Contributor: Peter B-P