6 Hitchcock remakes - and who should direct and act in them
|LISTS - MOVIE LISTS|
Since Alfred Hitchcock was capable of remaking even his own movies, could he object if others were to have a go...?
With remakes of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca (1940) and Suspicion (1941) on the way, it seems that Hollywood is once again intent on plundering the iconic director’s filmography.
Purists will cry foul but maybe it is not such a bad idea to revisit some of Hitch’s back catalogue, if done right. However, as history has shown, Hollywood tends to get Hitch wrong. Among the bad Hitchcock remakes are Gus Van Sant’s pointless carbon copy of Psycho (1998) and the critically maligned Dial M for Murder (1954) remake, A Perfect Murder (1998). Not to mention the films that are directly influenced by Hitchcock, or in most cases just rip him off. To this list you can add Charade (1963), Basic Instinct (1992), Disturbia (2007) and almost all of Brian De Palma’s early psychological thrillers.
Nonetheless there is a case for remakes in general. After all, a bad movie will be bad no matter if it is based on an original idea or not. And in some cases remakes have been well received, for example Martin Scorsese’s version of Cape Fear (1991), Christopher Nolan’s Insomnia (2002) and, more recently, Matt Reeves’s Let Me In (2010). In fact, Hitchcock himself was also open to remakes - as evidenced by his re-imagining of his own film The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934/1956).
So, without further ado, here is a list of Hitchcock’s films that are ripe for the remake treatment. And for those who are disgusted by the mere thought of such an idea, a few words from the master of suspense himself should help lighten the load: “It's only a movie, and, after all, we're all grossly overpaid”.
To Catch a Thief (1955)
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Cast: George Clooney, Gwyneth Paltrow.
Let’s start with one of Hitch’s more lightweight efforts. Although To Catch a Thief had something resembling a plot - a whodunit involving missing jewels and a suspicious leading man – the film was really just an excuse to marvel at the beauty and charm of its leads, Cary Grant and Grace Kelly, and the splendour of its surroundings; the French Riviera. Keeping that in mind, the buddy combo of director Steven Soderbergh and star George Clooney should be perfect for a remake. The two have plenty of experience shooting glamorous films in the form of Oceans 11 (2001) and its sequels. Clooney is now also roughly the same age as Grant was when the original was produced, so the timing is perfect. An elegant female lead can be found in January Jones, whose role in the stylish TV series Mad Men (2007-present) should prove valuable in this context. Add to that a classy score by regular Soderbergh collaborator David Holmes, and the scene is set for a glitzy crime thriller.
Director: Duncan Jones
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Josh Brolin
This fast-paced thriller does not get the attention it deserves in Hitchcock’s canon. Therefore it is ideal for the remake treatment. We know from Source Code (2011) that Duncan Jones can make a breakneck thriller, but here he will have to ditch the sci-fi. Instead this should be an all-out action chase film. Like Source Code, the threat of terrorism – although cyber-terrorism might be more to Jones’ liking - should once again be utilised in this story of a man accused of a crime he did not commit. Rachel McAdams should be perfect as the female love-interest along for the ride, and Josh Brolin as the stern arm of the law. A smattering of explosive set-pieces should also ensure commercial success. However, Jones will have to be at his best to emulate the monumental climax of the original film.
Director: David Cronenberg
Cast: Naomi Watts, Michael Fassbender
Who better than A Dangerous Method (2011) director David Cronenberg to handle the messy psychological terrain of Marnie, not to mention its mature themes? A stellar cast, however, will also be required. Although it is likely that Cronenberg would prefer his favourite leading man Viggo Mortensen, in this case Michael Fassbender – who co-starred in A Dangerous Method – would be better equipped to take on the role of Mark Rutland, originally played by Sean Connery. Central to the film would be Naomi Watts as the titular character Marnie Edgar. It’s been a while since Watts has been offered such a meaty role, so it is one she should relish. If handled well, Marnie might well be the most likely Hitchcock remake to produce some awards buzz too.
Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Cast: Elle Fanning, Casey Affleck
Hitchcock often stated that Shadow of a Doubt was his favourite film that he had directed, so a remake should prove a tough gig for whoever takes it on. However, an ambitious director such as Tomas Alfredson could prove a deft hand at adapting the film for a new audience. Alfredson has already established himself as a solid suspense film-maker with the BAFTA award-winning Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011). Additionally, he has also proven that he can direct young actors with Let the Right One In (2008) – a skill that shall come in handy when remaking this story of a young girl who suspects her uncle is a murderer. As for the leads, Elle Fanning – younger sister of Dakota – is one of the most talented young female actors in Hollywood. Plus she has that brilliant combination of innocence and intelligence that the character of Young Charlie requires. As for the uncle, based on his deceptively vicious portrayal of a violent small-town sheriff in The Killer Inside Me (2010), Casey Affleck should be cast in the ominous role.
The Birds (1963)
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Melissa Leo, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
A remake of The Birds has been in development hell for years now. Seeing as that project – initially offered to Casino Royale (2006) director Martin Campbell – won’t be going in to production any-time soon, we can start speculating about an altogether different remake. Anyone who has seen the original version of this film knows that it’s not just about birds pecking out eyeballs – although it is about that too. Underneath it’s incidental horror surface lies a complex, sexually-charged psychological foundation that revolves around a group of women clambering for the attention of a man.
In terms of a new director, Lynne Ramsay could accurately portray the breakdown of familial tranquillity that Hitchcock was signalling. Her visionary, and often violent, style might well be pushed to extremes in this dark context. One of the busiest actresses of last year, Jessica Chastain would bring a measure of elegance to the proceedings in the lead role. Melissa Leo, on the other hand, would make a great hostile presence in the motherly role of Lydia Brener. Finally, Game of Thrones (2011-present) actor Nikolaj Coster Waldau is handsome enough to play the leading man but also low-key enough to not distract the action from the women, who should take centre stage – along with the birds of course.
North by Northwest (1959)
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Zoë Saldana, Michael Shannon, Timothy Olyphant
Seeing as North by Northwest contains some of Hitch’s most iconic scenes, the remake of this mistaken identity thriller needs to be on as grand a scale as the original. Consequently, the most-talked about actor-director duo of last year should prove fitting for the material. Judging from Drive (2011), director Nicolas Winding-Refn has a handle on action, suspense and romance. And he works so well with Ryan Gosling that they already have another project in the pipeline in the form of revenge thriller Only God Forgives (2012). A North by Northwest remake could suitably be magic number three for the duo. Refn also has an eye for location - one of the most discussed aspects of Drive was its neon-drenched depiction of Los Angeles. Here, however, the geographical territory will have to be more expansive taking in several locations across the United States. Zoë Saldana should make a sexy co-star and Shannon and Olyphant would be ideal as the menacing heavies chasing down Gosling’s man on the run.
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- alfred hitchcock
- casey affleck
- david cronenberg
- duncan jones
- elle fanning
- george clooney
- gwyneth paltrow
- jake gyllenhaal
- jessica chastain
- josh brolin
- mad men
- michael fassbender
- michael shannon
- nicolas winding refn
- nikolaj coster waldau
- ryan gosling
- steven soderbergh
- the birds
- the killer inside me
- timothy olyphant
- zoe saldana