Ent rant: Hollywood regurgitates foreign flicks

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By Stephanie Bomba

Thought City of Angels was Hollywood’s greatest creation since Pamela Anderson Lee?

Surprise!  Someone has suckered you.

City of Angels is largely based on a 1987 German film, Der Himmel uber Berlin, more popularly known as Wings of Desire.  Hollywood plundered the German film’s plot, premise and characters to make the U.S. blockbuster.

It certainly wasn’t the first time U.S. producers have stolen — er, remade — a popular foreign film.  And it certainly won’t be the last, because Hollywood has never been known for its creativity.

Why both being creative, when you can buy a great idea form some unknown filmmaker for peanuts and make billions?

Here’s recipe:

  1. Take a foreign film or screenplay (preferably French).
  2. Cast a big-name star.
  3. Spice with special effects.

Voila!  One hot movie.

Let’s look at some examples.

  • The 1997 film Father’s Day, starring Robin Williams and Billy Crystal, is based on the 1983 French screenplay Les Comperes, by Francis Veber.
  • The Three Fugitives (1989) starring Nick Nolte and Martin Short is a remake of 1986 French screenplay Les Fugitifs.
  • The 1995 film Nine Months with Hugh Grant is based on the French film Neuf mois.
  • Three Men and a Baby (1987) is a remake of the French (quell surprise!) hit, Trois Hommes et un couffin (1985), by Coline Serreau.

Still don’t believe me? Take a look at the 1994 blockbuster True Lies.  This movie, which was widely admired for its originality, is just another remake.

True Lies is based on the 1991 French film La Totale! directed by Claude ZIdi.  I watched this movie a couple years ago and was amazed by the similarities between the two films, most strikingly the stripper scene.  One version features Jamie lee Curtis and the other his average-looking French actress Miou-Miou.

This is one thing the French version lacks: the Hollywood touch.  This means, of course, the big stars (Ah-nold and Jamie Lee Curtis) and money fore special effects.  Once again, Hollywood took an interesting film and turned it into an over-budgeted piece of fluff.

Of course, there are exceptions when it comes to remakes.  Not all Hollywood rip-off films are turned into big-budget, glitzy blockbuster hits.  But I challenge you to find one.

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