Here at the Warehouse we are generally against the idea of remaking classic movies. Not because it’s wrong, but because it allows the industry to coast along without risking anything on new ideas.
Also, the remakes invariably suck. That is because they abandon story in favor of the latest technical effects, or in favor of casting whomever happens to be the hot star du jour. In the first category we have crap like Clash of the Titans and Planet of the Apes. In the second, we have crap like The Longest Yard , with screen legend Adam Sandler, or Swept Away, with that one blond woman.
Now there’s talk of remaking The Wizard of Oz using the original script. On the web, anonymous commenters are reacting with venomous outrage, as anonymous commenters are prone to do. But personally, this is one remake I might not mind.
First, it would be hard for any actress to do worse in the role of Dorothy than Judy Garland. I always found her high, singsong delivery to be only slightly less annoying than that of Billie Burke, who played Glinda the Good Witch of the North. Second, if any movie could benefit from a special effects upgrade, this is it. Even as a kid I remember thinking those flying monkeys looked pretty lame. And Bert Lahr’s lion suit has always seemed like a rental.
Of course, the best thing about the original Wizard of Oz was Margaret Hamilton, both as Miss Gulch and the Wicked Witch of the West. There’s a woman who needs no introduction, and no CGI enhancement. I suppose we can look forward to seeing somebody like Glenn Close in the role, but they’d better not do some kind of revisionist thing with the character. Margaret has been scaring the crap out of kids for 70 years now; no sense tinkering with that.
Anyway, if they’re going to do this project, they’d better do it pronto. Disney also has an Oz movie in development, headed up by horror-meister Sam Raimi. Knowing Hollywood, there will probably be three more before the end of next year. Remember when every third movie seemed to be about Robin Hood? Looks like the same stars are aligning.
What other movies might truly benefit from a remake? I will nominate another classic: Gone With the Wind. There, I said it. I’ve always wondered how this movie might play with a little more subtlety in the acting. I love the script, but Vivian Leigh tends to chew the scenery. Her over-top-reading of the line: “As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again!” always makes me cringe.