Remaking a beloved foreign film is always a tricky proposition, but David Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo promises to up the ante on the Swedish original. Here, critic Troy Patterson offers five more do-overs that outshone their predecessors.
The 1940 British adaptation of Patrick Hamilton’s play is a tidy little nail-biter, but it required fragile Ingrid Bergman, slithering Charles Boyer, and crafty director George Cukor to transform the tale into an archetypal spine chiller.
In the Thirties, a female singer pretends to be a female impersonator. Writer-director Blake Edwards transferred the action from Berlin to Paris, cast wife Julie Andrews as the lead, and intensified the original’s Weimar sauciness to create a splendiferous gender bender.
The setup is classically French in its elegant irony: A secret agent’s cover as a boring civil servant is so convincing that he bores his wife into another man’s arms. Kicking the low-concept comedy into high gear as a booming action film, director James Cameron confirmed his famous sense of restraint.
The earlier film–about a murder investigation in the Norwegian Arctic–steals moves from Hitchcock to generate psychosexual suspense. Director Christopher Nolan does it one better by sending Al Pacino’s L.A. cop up to Alaska–and down into paranoia.
The Hong Kong version, the first in a franchise about undercover cops and over-the-top gangsters, provided Martin Scorsese with the framework for an operatic treatment of his enduring obsessions (loyalty, masculinity) and new fascinations (Leonardo DiCaprio’s hunched angst and scrunched face).