Thursday, May 23, 2019

Thursday Movie Picks #254: Movies adapted from movies in a different language

This being Thursday, it's time for another edition of Thursday Movie Picks, the blogathon run by Wandering Through the Shelves. This week's theme is movies adapted from movies in a different language, which I'm going to assume means English-language movies that are remakes of a foreign film. Otherwise, I could mention how in the early days of sound, Hollywood would often make multiple versions of a film in different languages for various markets. Greta Garbo, for example, appeared in both an English and German-language version of Anna Christie. Garbo spricht! Anyway, I still picked three relatively old movies, with all three foreign films having been made in the 1930s:

The Long Night (1947). A remake of one of the seminal French noirs, 1939's Daybreak (or Le jour se lève), this movie stars Henry Fonda as a man who, at the start of the movie, is holed up in an apartment surrounded by the police. It turns out he's wanted for murder, and he spends the long night thinking back on how he wound up here, a story that involves his girlfriend Barbara Bel Geddes; the woman who leads him astray (Ann Dvorak); and the man controlling her (Vincent Price).

M (1951). This remake of Fritz Lang's 1951 classic is moved from Berlin to Los Angeles and starts David Wayne as the man with a compulsion for little girls and their shoes, and a compulstion to kidnap and kill them. The resulting police investigation (led by Howard da Silva) puts a crimp on organized crime (led by Martin Gabel), so they try to find the murderer before the police and administer their own justice.

Intermezzo: A Love Story (1939). Ingrid Bergman came to Hollywood to remake her earlier Swedish film Intermezzo. Bergman plays a pianist who is selected by a prominent violinist (Leslie Howard) to be his accompanist on his next tour. The two fall in love, but Howard is already married, so any thought of them winding up together is questionable. Ingrid continues to pine for Leslie, however. I actually have the Swedish version on DVD as part of the Criterion box set of Bergman's early Swedish films, so I'll have to get around to doing a review on it some day.

1 comment:

joel65913 said...

Good choices.

I like all the performers in The Long Night but found the film rather flat however it's been many years so I should give it another look to see if my opinion has changed.

I'd chalk the 50's version of M up as a good sincere try that really had no prayer of matching the Peter Lorre version. It's a decent film but missing so much of the earlier film's expressionistic edginess.

Again it's been many years since I've seen either version of Intermezzo. My main memory of it is Ingrid's luminance in both.

I turn to French cinema for all of mine which were translated with varying degrees of success.

The 13th Letter (1951)-A study of the insidious damage suspicion can cause as a series of poison pen letters threatens to destroy a small Quebec town. Otto Preminger directs this atmospheric remake of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s 1943 film Le Corbeau with an excellent cast headed by Linda Darnell and Charles Boyer.

Human Desire (1954)-When the boorish Carl Buckley (Broderick Crawford) is fired from the railroad he persuades his sexpot wife Vicki (Gloria Grahame) to go see his boss to try and get his job back. She acquiesces and is successful but Carl becomes convinced that she is now having an affair with the man and murders him. Fed up with his loutish ways Vicki ensnares Jeff (Glenn Ford), one of Carl’s co-workers, in a plot to murder him. Darkness ensues. Fritz Lang directs this remake of the 1938 Jean Renoir film La Bête Humaine with his usual hard eyed view.

Diabolique (1996)-A pious Catholic schoolmistress (Isabelle Adjani) with a horribly abusive husband (Chazz Palminteri) joins forces with her husband’s mistress (Sharon Stone), a fellow teacher at the school and equally abused by the man to murder him and free themselves of his tyranny. They carry out the crime and dispose of his body in the school’s unused swimming pool. But when the pool is drained no body is present. What is going on? An adequate but disappointing redo of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s masterful classic-1955 Les Diaboliques with Simone Signoret and Vera Clouzet. You’d do better to track down the 70’s TV version “Reflections of Murder” with Joan Hackett and Tuesday Weld. It’s much better.