Last week, I covered the most adapted character ever. That got me to thinking about works that aren’t as adaptable, characters that are intrinsically tied to specific actors, works that are a product of their time. So, to add to the previous list, here are more works that I don’t see being adapted anytime soon.
Columbo was a twist on the standard police procedural and murder mystery TV shows. Instead of following the lead character as he gathered clues to discover the murderer in the reveal at the end, the series led each episode off with the murder with the killer in plain view. The attraction of the series was to watch Columbo work through the clues and just keep asking questions of the suspects until a the murderer contradicted himself. Adding to the appeal was Peter Falk’s portrayal of the detective; Falk provided all of Columbo’s wardrobe from his own closet and created the distinctive mannerisms on the set to keep the actors off balance. And there’s the reason why a remake would be difficult. A lot of Columbo came directly from Peter Falk himself; it is difficult to imagine a different actor in the role.* It will take a long passage of time before an audience is ready for someone new as Columbo.
The Blues Brothers
In this case, I’m referencing the original movie and Blues Brothers 2000. I’ve written about the original movie before, but, to sum up, the movie’s plot is about two shady musicians who try to raise money for their old orphanage by gathering back the old band and getting an audience. The movie and its sequel, though, were about the music. Blues Brothers 2000 was Dan Aykroyd’s love letter to the blues and a way to say goodbye to the late John Belushi. The sequel failed at the box office, not even making back the film’s budget. Part of the problem was bringing back the band without John Belushi; he was part of the core, and with him gone, many felt that the sequel wasn’t complete. A remake without Aykroyd, well, that’s the rest of the core. Anyone wanting to remake The Blues Brothers would be better off starting fresh, with today’s blues performers.
The 1970s saw its share of trends and fads – muscle cars, platform shoes, and even disco music. In theatres, the big draw was disaster movies. Starting with Airport in 1970, big budget disaster movies were the blockbusters of the era, and included The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno. The trend died neared the end of the decade, with Airplane coming along to drive the final nail in place, not with malice, but with laughter. Airplane, riffing off the movie Zero Hour, featured a propeller-driven jet liner** whose crew comes down with severe food poisoning and has to be flown by ex-fighter pilot Ted Striker, who has PTSD from losing his squadron over Macho Grande. The movie has been named on a number of lists of top films, both in comedy and in general. The problem with remaking it, though, is that while Airplane is well known, the movies it parodied aren’t. Disaster movies changed between the closing of the 70s and the mid-90s, when the genre revived. Gone were the vehicular disasters***; replacing them were natural phenomena or extra-terrestrial threats.**** All the tropes that Airplane spoofed are largely unknown now, making a parody difficult.
So, are there any works that you feel aren’t remakable?
Next time, back to the reviews.
* Oddly enough, the TV series was adapted from a stage play adapted from an anthology TV series episode adapted from a short story, none of which Peter Falk was involved with.
** The studio wanted a jet, so they got the jet. They just didn’t get the engines’ sound effects with the jet.
*** The exception being Titanic.
**** Or both; 1998 had two movies featuring large rocks hurtling at Earth.
Last week, I covered how technology and progress affected vehicles in remakes. This week, I look at vehicles that have featured in projects that haven’t been remade yet.
The vehicle: Kaneda’s motorcycle.
Currently in the process of being adapted for a live-action movie, Akira was a milestone in anime released to North American audiences. One of the plot elements is Kaneda’s red motorcycle, something that Tetsuo coveted. The motorcycle is obviously powerful and futuristic, with no make or model given. For a live action version of the movie, the motorcycle needs to match the appearance.* Fortunately, without a specific manufacturer to worry about, the producers can approach a number of motorcycle firms for sponsor ship or try to get one of the fan-made models.
The vehicle: The titular helicopter.
Airwolf came out in 1984 on the heels of The A-Team and Blue Thunder and featured a helicopter with hidden weapons and capabilities. The Airwolf itself was a modified Bell 222 helicopter, used for both utility and executive transport. Remaking the series would require keeping the fictional helicopter’s role the same, an attack vehicle capable of blending into an urban airspace. With the Bell 222 no longer in production, another base model would be needed. Fortunately, a Google quick search brings up several suitable models from Sikorsky and AgustaWestland that have similar appearances to the original Airwolf.
The vehicle: The Bluesmobile, a former Mount Prospect police Dodge Monaco.
As mentioned last year, The Blues Brothers was adapted from a series of musical sketches by Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi on Saturday Night Live. Elwood (Aykroyd) had to trade their old Cadillac for a microphone, replacing the caddie with a former Mount Prospect police car dubbed the Bluesmobile. The car, a 1974 Dodge Monaco, was chosen because Dan Aykroyd felt it was the hottest police cruiser in the 1970s. In Blues Brothers 2000, the new Bluesmobile was a 1990 Ford LTD Crown Victoria, an ubiquitous vehicle in law enforcement. A remake of the original movie, a daunting challenge in itself because of the music, would need a make and model of car that has been used as a police car. A used Crown Vic from a more recent year would work, as would a used Dodge Charger.
Back to the Future
The vehicle: A silver DeLorean DMC-12, modified.
In the Back to the Future trilogy, crazy Doc Brown modified a DeLorean DMC-12 to become a time machine, powered by a nuclear reactor. The DeLorean had several things going for it – unique appearance and not well known. The former let the car look cool, a different type of sports car than what was normally seen on screen. The unfamiliarity helped with people not knowing about its performance issues. TVTropes lists the car under the Real Life section of The Alleged Car. Doc Brown was crazier than people suspected. A remake of the movies will have to keep the DeLorean in mind; either to keep the signature car or find a new vehicle that fits the same role. Most car manufacturers prefer not to make bad cars; they cost money, either in lost sales or in lawsuits.** At the same time, a car that’s unique would also fill the role well; for example, a Tesla Motors Model X.
Next week, back to the reviews.
* Something has to remain original.
** The Ford Pinto with its exploding gas tank comes to mind here.