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Dead Ringers

The Remake in Theory and Practice

Leonard R. Koos, Jennifer Forrest

Publication Year: 2001

Addresses the important role of remakes in film culture, from early cinema to contemporary Hollywood. While the popular press has criticized movie remakes as signs of Hollywood’s collective lack of imagination, the essays in Dead Ringers reveal the centrality and staying power of remakes as a formative genre in filmmaking. The contributors show that the practice of remaking films dates back to the origins of cinema and the evolution of film markets. In fact, remakes were never so prevalent as during the Classic Hollywood period, when filmmaking had achieved its greatest degree of industrialization, and they continue to play a crucial role in the development of film genres generally. Offering a variety of historical, commercial, theoretical, and cultural perspectives on the remake, Dead Ringers is a valuable resource for students of film history and theory, as well as those interested in the cultural politics of the late twentieth century.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series, Cultural Studies in Cinema/Video (discontinued)

DEADRINGERS: The Remake in Theory and Practice

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pp. iii


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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix

We would like to thank Helena Robinson and Terry Geesken of the Museum of Modern Art for their enthusiastic extra efforts in matching as closely as possible remake publicity stills with their originals, Kristine Krueger of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences...

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1. Reviewing Remakes: An Introduction

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pp. 1-36

In Stand-In (Garnett, 1937), Atterbury Dodd/Leslie Howard, the representative of the East Coast bankers who own Colossal Pictures, is sent to correct the financial mismanagement of the studio. He enters Mrs. Mack’s boarding house inhabited by stand-ins, has-beens, stuntmen, and bit players and meets “Abe Lincoln” at the door. While waiting downstairs,...

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2. Twice-Told Tales: Disavowal and the Rhetoric of the Remake

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pp. 37-62

At first glance movie remakes—new versions of old movies—may seem no different from other film adaptations of earlier material. But the peculiar nature of the relationships they establish with their earlier models and with their audience makes them unique among Hollywood films, and indeed among all the different kinds of narrative. Short stories and...

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3. Economy and Aesthetics in American Remakes of French Films

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pp. 63-87

What is a cinematic remake? To answer that question one must first deal with the aesthetic diglossia that pervades film criticism. “Serious” critics expressing themselves in the idiom of the intellectual elite tend to deplore the remake as a pointless and inherently second-rate product. Thus, John Simon, typifying the aesthetic coterie (and dismissing, be it noted, both...

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4. The “Personal” Touch: The Original, the Remake, and the Dupe in Early Cinema

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pp. 89-126

The newness of the medium notwithstanding, the remake figured prominently in the cinematic experience from 1896 to 1906. From the Lumière brothers’ first programs in the Salon Indien of the Grand Café issued the rush to imitate its subjects. Edison’s Clark’s Thread Mill is considered by many a remake of...

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5. Sound Strategies: Lang’s Rearticulation of Renoir

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pp. 127-149

When one innovative and well-respected director sets out to remake the work of another, and when those two talents disagree on practically every aesthetic and methodological issue that filmmaking presents, the result is likely to be a pair of films as disparate as Jean Renoir’s La Chienne (1931) and Fritz Lang’s Scarlet Street (1945).1 What Thomas Leitch calls “the...

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6. The Raven and the Nanny: The Remake as Crosscultural Encounter

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pp. 151-168

At the end of World War II, American films flooded French movie theaters; this is well-known, and the consequences well-examined. At the same time, however, a smaller wave of French (and other European) films from the war years washed into U.S. “art houses” and also into the hands of a recently enlarged group of Hollywood decision makers. These films...

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7. Sadie Thompson Redux: Postwar Reintegration of the Wartime Wayward Woman

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pp. 169-202

The Unfaithful (Sherman, 1947), Miss Sadie Thompson (Bernhardt, 1953), Mogambo (Ford, 1953), and Gaby (Bernhardt, 1956) are films that seem related only by the sexual transgressions of their heroines. The Unfaithful is a noir melodrama with Ann Sheridan in the role of Chris...

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8. Hiring Practices: Simenon/Duvivier/Leconte

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pp. 203-223

In the recent “documentary” Lumière et compagnie (Moon, 1995), whose goal was to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the invention of cinema, an original Lumière cinematograph was made available to forty international directors who subsequently used the apparatus to create their own films by employing the mechanical conditions of production...

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9. Twice Two: The Fly and Invasion of the Body Snatchers

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pp. 225-241

In postmodern aesthetics, the work of art has been recast as an item in a series of endless remakes: the original and unique work of art has been replaced by a tarnished and overwritten work of culture. Hollywood, however, has always been a production company in the grip of a repetition compulsion...

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10. Three Takes On Motherhood, Masculinity, and Marriage: Serreau’s Trois Hommes et un couffin, Nimoy’s Remake, and Ardolino’s Sequel

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pp. 243-272

Although Three Men and a Baby, Leonard Nimoy’s 1987 re-vision of Coline Serreau’s Trois Hommes et un couffin (1985), clearly did not inaugurate the current trend of American remakes of French comedies, it did serve to focus the attention of film critics of both nationalities on the phenomenon. That the recurrent reflections of different reviewers (see,...

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11. Pretty Woman with a Gun: La Femme Nikita andthe Textual Politics of “The Remake”

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pp. 273-308

One of USA network’s most popular television shows of the 1990s, La Femme Nikita has an interesting textual pedigree. It was based on Luc Besson’s 1990 French film of the same name, which was remade a year later as the Hong Kong action movie Black Cat (Shin, 1991, and immediately followed by the sequel Black Cat II [Shin, 1992]), then remade...

APPENDIX A: Remaking Le Voile bleu: An Interview with Norman Corwin, Screenwriter for The Blue Veil

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pp. 309-336

APPENDIX B: Norman Corwin Letter to Jerry Wald

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pp. 337-340


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pp. 341-342


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pp. 343-352


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pp. 352-369

E-ISBN-13: 9780791489635
E-ISBN-10: 0791489639
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791451694
Print-ISBN-10: 0791451690

Page Count: 379
Publication Year: 2001

Series Title: SUNY series, Cultural Studies in Cinema/Video (discontinued)