After watching the FOX remake of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, I was left with an empty feeling inside. The elements that I loved about the original were stripped away in the revamping of the classic cult flick. While they didn't get it all wrong, I got to thinking: is this a film that just can't be remade in a way that will do justice to the original? That led me to other movies which should not be touched. So here is a list of 10 movies (in no particular order ... except for number one) that are the film versions of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway To Heaven" and just shouldn't be remade ... can't be remade!, really, as they will lose the je ne sais quoi that makes them so special.
10. Dirty Dancing (1987):
There can only be one Baby and one Johnny.
While there are many talented actors and actresses who can dance -- and even perform "the lift" -- the awkward onscreen chemistry between Jennifer Grey and the late Patrick Swayze brings an intangible element to the film. The scene in which Baby and Johnny are practicing their big dance number is a hallmark of the film. Jennifer was really laughing, and Patrick was really frustrated with her. The result: a completely pure bit of film that just can't be faked. The pair carried over some of the tensions that arose between them during the filming of Red Dawn. According to Dirty Dancing's Wikipedia page the two pulled it together enough to create a screen test that landed them the roles. When concerns arose over the ability of the pair to create convincing sex scenes, they were made to watch their screen tests again. The results speak for themselves.
The film was successfully adapted for the stage in 2004; there was an attempt at a Dirty Dancing miniseries -- which has since been put on hold -- and a television musical remake of the film was was ordered in December of 2015 by ABC. However, bringing Baby and Johnny back to the big screen in the original one hour and 40 minute format just won't work ... so don't. The original is an icon of the 1980s, and it is a time and place that cannot be recaptured.
9. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001):
This film is almost perfectly cast. It is also a rare case of the film holding its own when held up against the book.
J. K. Rowling is one of my heroes. She not only got a whole generation of children reading books in a digital age, but she also created a world that captures the imagination of adults and kids alike. Putting Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone on the big screen could have been disastrous, but Chris Columbus and his crew nailed it. Even held up against some of the other films in the franchise, this film stands out. The nuances of life in Harry's world are elegantly brought to the big screen in this modern day classic. Of course, the transition from book to movie isn't perfect, but this film is about as close to perfect as is possible. Daniel Radcliffe could no more be replaced in the role of Harry than Freddie Mercury could be replaced in Queen. Sure, it could be tried, but it would be sure to fall short.
8. The Ten Commandments (1956):
Religious issues aside, this film is just an all-around epic.
The film is huge from beginning to end. The cast includes Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Ann Baxter, and even Vincent Price, in roles that are performed with an intensity that just doesn't seem to exist in today's films. The film does not use the computer magic found in modern day epics, but that is, in and of itself, what makes this film an untouchable gem. The sweeping views of ancient Egypt in all its glory and the parting of the Red Sea had to be created using old-school methods. It is a masterpiece of filmmaking. To recreate this using modern technology would be visually stunning, for sure, but would take away the authenticity of the original.
7. Jaws (1975):
This movie scared a generation out of the water.
Seriously. I cannot even count how many times I have heard people say they have been afraid of the ocean since watching Jaws. That is powerful filmmaking. When a movie makes its way into the American psyche, you just leave it alone. Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss are perfectly cast in their roles as the salty sea-dog and marine biologist, respectively, who team up to fight the aquatic menace. Shaw's portrayal of Quint is near perfect. It is easy to believe he was the survivor of the USS Indianapolis who made a living on the sea. The 1975 thriller was filmed largely on location on the island of Martha's Vineyard, off the coast of Massachusetts, which, incidentally, has seen a rise in great white shark sightings over the past few years.
6. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975):
Who would want to remake this rubbish anyway?
While not a sweeping epic and not an amazing feat of cinematography, Monty Python and the Holy Grail just can't be remade and succeed. I get it; one is either a Monty Python fan, or they are not. With that out of the way, one does not have to be a fan to know this film has developed quite the following. There is even a beer named after it:
Any self-respecting Python fan can quote this movie from end to end. Monty Python is a comedy institution, and The Holy Grail, above all of their other works, reigns supreme. I do not know why anyone would want to remake this movie; it is truly an iconic comedic work. This film is like a family member: it is beloved for all of the quirks, cheesy bits, and laughs it has given us over the years.
5. The Exorcist (1973):
The quintessential horror movie.
This is one of those films that shouldn't be remade because it does not need to be. This film is a case of "if it isn't broken, don't fix it." Some may think a remake could work since the film is dated in its appearance, and many actors and actresses have successfully played possessed children since The Exorcist came out in 1973. Still, it just wouldn't work. The movie is still as scary as it was when it was released in theaters in the 70s. The Exorcist has been labeled as one of the scariest films of all time. The fright factor has stood the test of time. It helps that the novel's author, William Peter Blatty, also wrote the screen adaptation. But there is also a whole backstory to this film. It was turned down by a few producers, including Stanley Kubrick, and the set was said to be cursed after the child of one of the actors was hospitalized due to being hit by a motorbike.
4. The Silence of the Lambs (1991):
Who else could truly play Hannibal Lecter?
Anthony Hopkins is an amazing actor -- truly a master of his craft. He brings an underlying elegance to Hannibal Lecter that no one else could. Jodie Foster was replaced by Julianne Moore as FBI agent Clarice Starling in subsequent films in the franchise, and it just didn't fill the void; it would be even worse if someone replaced Hopkins. So much of Hopkins' performance is in his blue eyes; they are deep and intelligent and mesmerizing. Hopkins really makes the viewer understand how agent Starling could get sucked in. There is nothing in this film that could be improved upon in a remake.
3. Gone With the Wind (1939):
The original big screen romance.
It was felt, at the time, that the producer left too much of the book in the film; the 3 hour 58 minute epic stays fairly true to the novel. Gone With the Wind is another example of an actor or actress being forever tied to their role; Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh are Rhett and Scarlett. Another aspect of this film that makes it sacred is the scenery. The "Burning of Atlanta" was a real conflagration.
Remnants of the sets of King Kong and The Garden of Allah were burned to the ground. It is said the flames reached 500 feet high at times. To recreate this scene using CGI would somehow cheapen it. The rows upon rows of soldiers and the sweeping scenes of Tara are testaments to old school film making.
2. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977):
Seriously ... do I even need to justify this?
I get the same chills as a 46 year-old as I did when I was 7. The first few notes of John Williams' score to end all scores and those yellow letters scrolling up the screen ... gets me every time. The first film in the Star Wars saga supposedly has its roots in George Lucas' desire to bring Flash Gordon to the big screen. When he couldn't procure the rights for Flash Gordon, he decided to make his own space opera. Since the 1970s, the film has taken on a life of its own and grown into a franchise that is an outright beast. There are conventions, vast quantities of merchandise and collectibles -- there is even a Wookieepedia wiki. While a remake would smooth out any rough edges that the original could have, it wouldn't be an improvement. Fans love the sci-fi classic, flaws and all. A remake would be cinematic sacrilege.
1. The Wizard of Oz (1939):
Again. Seriously? The film stands on its own. No explanation required.
The Wizard of Oz is the sacred of the sacred. Whether or not one is a fan of the film, the place this movie has in cinema history is irrefutable. Both critics and fans alike have made this film a cult classic. Most of us know at least one person who has to watch it every time it is on television, and many of us grew up watching it every year. References show up all over the place in pop culture. It has even made its way into Minecraft.
Behind the beloved film lies the tragic story of Judy Garland. At the age of 16, she landed the role of Dorothy Gale. The young starlet was reportedly addicted to barbiturates and victim to sexual predators within the industry. Reports of alcoholism and drug abuse plagued her until her death from an overdose in 1969. The tragic icon from the early days of cinema will always be remembered as the sweet-voiced and forever innocent, Dorothy Gale.
So there they are, ten movies that should never be remade. Of course there are many, many more, and I am sure the trolls will be out full force to question the choices above. These are not my favorite movies (that title goes to Harold and Maude), but they are all movies that should not be touched, as they are, in their own ways, perfect.