50DMC #33: Favorite Remake

The 50 Day Movie Challenge asks one question every day, to be answered by a few paragraphs and a clip, if possible. Click here for the full list of questions.

Today’s prompt: What’s your favorite remake?

I try not to have an immediate negative reaction when I hear about a remake. Sometimes it’s hard. I mean, they’re planning to remake The Thin Man! What the hell. But truth be told, remakes are kind of fascinating – it’s at last academically interesting to see what filmmakers of different generations, different culture, and different personal tastes will make of the same story, and sometimes many different versions turn out to all have their strong points.

When it came to just picking ONE, though, my mind was blank until I quickly ran through my list of watched films and one title stood out immediately. Howard Hawks’ His Girl Friday is one of my all-time favorite films, and it also happens to be a remake, of the 1931 film The Front Page (later remade again as The Front Page in 1974 by Billy Wilder, no less). It’s also a prime example of how making some judicious changes can both improve a story and set a remake apart from the original – in The Front Page (both versions), Hildy Johnson is a man, and the relationship between Walter and Hildy is one of professionals and friends. Switching Hildy’s gender to female and adding a romance to the mixture was a brilliant move, and Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell play it for all its worth, while not losing the friends/professionals part of the relationship either. It’s a great film as a film, and also as a remake.

Here’s a bit from early in the film showcasing the wonderful dialogue, quick cadence and chemistry between Grant and Russell.