Posts Tagged ‘“Boy Meets Girl”’

Famous Films Foreign Origins

September 1, 2010

I once stated that Hollywood is the ultimate recycler because the powers that be have minded the comic book/old television show vault extensively. Well, sometimes Hollywood goes beyond the borders of the U.S. to find inspiration or steal ideas, depending on your point of view.

Below are some films that were made in one country and remade in the U.S.

Shichinin no samurai, Japan 1954
A Japanese village is terrorized by bandits. The villagers are fed up and look for a way to stop the bandit raids. So, with only handfuls of rice as payment, they get seven unemployed ronins (masterless samerai) to take care of the bandits once and for all, which they do.

Now for the translation of the title which is Seven Samurai. In 1960, the U.S. remake of this movie was done and it is called The Magnificent Seven. The setting is the Old West and the movie stars Yul Brynner, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn and James Colburn. The director is Preston Struges and the film features an unforgettable score by Elmer Bernstein. (Once you hear it, you’ll know what movie it is from and you just might get the desire to hop on a horse and ride off into the sunset.)

Trois Hommes et un Couffin, France 1985
Three bachelors share an apartment in Paris. They woo women, have parties and love every minute of it. They are living the high life and nothing domestic (i.e. marriage and children) will come in the way of these bon vivants. Until one day, a package is left on their door. It is no ordinary package. It is bassinet with a baby inside. Make that a crying baby who’s hungry and needs her diaper changed and life will never be the same for these men ever again.

Now for the translation of the title which is Three Men and a Cradle. If the plot sounds familiar it is because in 1987 it was remade in the U.S. as Three Men & a Baby. The movie had Tom Selleck, Ted Danson and Steve Guttenberg as the bachelors and the director was none other than Leonard Nimoy. (Yes, Spock from Star Trek.)

Como agua para chocolate, Mexico 1993
Boy meets girl in the early 1900’s in Mexico. Girl likes Boy and Boy goes to Girl’s mother to request daughter’s hand in marriage. Mother says no, Girl is the youngest and tradition states that she is not to marry, so as to take care of mother. So, Boy marries Girl’s Older Sister and Girl prepares wedding feast where she channels her passion for Boy into the food.

The translation is Like Water for Chocolate. This film was remade in 1999 as Simply Irresistible and it featured none other than Sarah Michele Gellar. (I guess she tired of slaying vampires.) If you are surprised that Like Water for Chocolate was remade, join the club. Not many know of this movie and it didn’t do too well in the box office.

Le Dîner de Cons, France 1999
Picture this: A group of friends in Paris get together for dinner every Wednesday and they have this game whereby they each have to bring an idiot to this dinner. One of the friends, Pierre thinks he has found the best idiot in Paris. This idiot, Pignon, makes models out of landmarks, like the Eiffel Tower, out of matchsticks. Things go awry when Pierre can’t make it to the dinner party due to a sport’s injury and Pignon offers his assistance.

Now the translation: The Dinner Game. Can you guess what the American version is called? How about Dinner for Schmucks? Yes, that movie with Steve Carrell and Paul Rudd, which came out recently. In the American version, once the idiot/schmuck is invited to the dinner, he invites himself to into the other person’s life.  Moral: Don’t invite idiots or schmucks to dinner. They’ll never go away.

Yes, the powers that be in Hollywood are always on the lookout for the next hit movie, whether it comes from a comic book, an old television show or a foreign film. That, too, will never go away.

Sources:
http://www.amazon.com/Three-Men-Cradle-Roland-Giraud/dp/B0009WFFWC/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

http://www.amazon.com/Three-Men-Baby-Tom-Selleck/dp/B00005T7I2/ref=sr_1_5?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1281662756&sr=1-5

http://www.amazon.com/Seven-Samurai-Criterion-Collection-Spine/dp/0780020685/ref=sr_1_3?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1281660769&sr=1-3

http://www.amazon.com/Magnificent-Seven-Special-Yul-Brynner/dp/B000059TFW/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1281662503&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Like-Water-Chocolate-Marco-Leonardi/dp/6305428476/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1281661502&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Simply-Irresistible-Sarah-Michelle-Gellar/dp/B000067J1O/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1281662162&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Dinner-Game-Thierry-Lhermitte/dp/B0000A1HQP/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1281832673&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Dinner-Schmucks-Zach-Galifianakis/dp/B002ZG97GU/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1281837537&sr=1-1

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The 1970’s, The Greatest Decade in Film?

June 3, 2010

Over the years, I have read quite a few articles that state the 1970’s were the greatest decade in film. Yes, many directors made their mark in the 1970’s, such as Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, just to name a few. Also, there are a good number of films that were both commercial and critical successes, such as, The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Taxi Driver, Network, again just to name a few.

Still, a lot can happen after a decade passes and films can fall into and out of favor. So, can any one decade be considered the greatest decade in film? Many say that 1939 is the greatest year in film, since that was the year films such as The Wizard of Oz, Gone With The Wind, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Wuthering Heights were released. Of course, just because many people say such a thing, doesn’t make it true. Also, as the years went on, some of those films seem dated and hokey to modern audiences.

For me, the jury is still out as to whether or not the 1970’s were the greatest decade in film. So, I’ll just take this opportunity to highlight what I think sets filmmaking in the  1970’s apart from other decades.

Directors were products of universities, not studios
Martin Scorsese graduated from New York University and he was a film major. Francis Ford Coppola majored in drama at Hofstra University and did graduate work in film at UCLA. George Lucas went to University of Southern California film school.  Steven Spielberg went to California State University Long Beach. This list of directors and where they went to school shows that unlike directors of the past they weren’t “apprenticed” under one director or just fell into directing.  The people mentioned above were exposed to not only the liberal arts tradition, they were also exposed to and examined French films, Italian films, German films, Japanese films, Hollywood films, art films and they were getting their hands dirty by making their own films. This exposure to many different movie making modes and being allowed to try out their ideas, lead to Hollywood movies that had a richness and depth that wasn’t there before.

Hollywood recovered from development of television
My theory is that it took Hollywood 10 years to recover from the shock that television inflicted. Yes, developments like Cinemascope and color film becoming standard helped to bring people back to the movies. Still, once the powers that be were convinced that people still wanted to go the movies on a regular basis, they were more willing to give directors like Scorsese, Coppola, Lucas and others a chance.

Willingness to explore social issues
Somewhat related to the above, by the 1970’s, the old school of studio heads had died out and those that came after were willing to okay movies that weren’t just about “Boy Meets Girl”.  The movies of the decade dealt with the aftermath of the Vietnam war (The Deer Hunter, Coming Home), political corruption (All The Presidents’ Men), the effect of television in our lives (Network), racism and the drug trade (Superfly) and the list goes on. These films took on issues and the directors and other involved with the film weren’t afraid to face some controversy.

The Blockbuster Film
I also feel the need to mention that the blockbuster film, as we know it, came about in the 1970’s. Films like Jaws, Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Superman weren’t just successful films. They broke box office records, had catch phrases and led to merchandising deals and sequels. Since then, it is rare that a blockbuster film doesn’t have some merchandise related to it, does very, very well at the box office and have a sequel or two in the works.

So, while the 1970’s may not be the definitive best decade in film, it does stand out from the decades that came before and from those that came afterwards.

Sources:

http://www.theauteurs.com/topics/2849?page=3

http://movieprojector.blogspot.com/2009/08/best-movies-of-1970s.html

http://www.filmsite.org/1939.html

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000217/bio

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000338/bio

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000184/bio