Monday, May 01, 2006

Copycats …

Back in 1971, a British film was released which changed the face of gangster flicks, after which all gangster movies were judged: 'Get Carter'.

6'2" Michael Caine, given such a juicy role, made it his own. He had previously been seen in Zulu, The Ipcress File and Alfie, so he was not exactly an unknown, but this role was his and he went to town with it. Coarse, brutal and sexually uninhibited, the censors must have had a field-day. Still, the film was released and it made Caine into a huge star and filled Britain’s smokey cinema's of the early 70's.

As a new century chimed, our American friends decided to remake 'Get Carter'. This time, 5'10" Sylvester Enzio Stallone (with the acting talent of a wardrobe) was to play 'Jack' but the storyline remained (almost) unchanged: 'when his brother dies under mysterious circumstances in a car accident, gangster Jack Carter travels home to investigate and deal with those responsible'. In the original film, Carter is gunned down on a beach. However, in Tinsel Town's version, they let him live ... to drive off into the sunset.

The 1970’s version is full of drama, northern grit and frequent acts of violence, all wrapped in the grim locations of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. The remake is quite the reverse - slick cars, sunlight abounds, sharp clothes, shiny surfaces in every scene and classy locations wherever you look.

When the original opens, Carter is with a group of Cockney gangsters watching porn. However, the voices of the 'Cock-er-nees' were re-dubbed for the US market as the accents were too heavy for American audiences to understand. Funny, because every movie 'Stumpy' Stallone has ever made, made me wish the Americans had done the same for us.

The remake just doesn't have the same 'oomph' as the original and one has to ask, why do they do it? Why not just leave the original film to rise to the rank of 'classic', leave well alone and go off and shoot something else instead? Something, err ... original?

Hollywood did the same in 2004 with another British classic, the 1955 film 'The Ladykillers'. This time Tom Hanks took the lead role as Professor GH Dorr (Alec Guinness' Professor Marcus), a carbon-copy even down to his bucked teeth …

How about we remake 'The Longest Day', 'U-571' and 'Saving Private Ryan' ... in which the Brits won the Second World War ... single-handed. Fair?

Please, Hollywood, you keep telling us how fantastic and talent-rich you are, surely someone has an original idea out there?



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