Friday, September 9, 2011

The latest round of remakes

So TCM is showing The Jazz Singer tonight at 10:00 PM. You know the groundbreaking movie in which Al Jolson tells us, "You ain't heard nothin' yet".... Oh wait; this is the 1950s version with Danny Thomas obviously making no room for daddy as he tries to become a jazz singer. I know I've mentioned the Jolson version before, and probably mentioned that there were three versions of the film, the last being the dreadful 1980 version starring Neil Diamond in the singing role. I remember when Diamond's songs from that movie were big hits on Top 40 radio. I don't know what that says about me or about the state of popular music in America in 1980, but probably neither is very flattering. By the same token, the other film soundtrack that was extremely popular at the same time was the soundtrack to Xanadu. I remember hearing the music and always wondering what the movie was about, and then actually saw the movie.

Of course, one doesn't need to look back 30 years to see evidence of Hollywood remakes. I could probably write a post every day about yet another Hollywood remake or rehash, and not run out of material for years. I'm sure you've seen the commercials for Contagion, and I finally read a review of it this morning. I couldn't help, however, but think of Panic in the Streets and The Killer That Stalked New York. The one thing that keeps sticking out from the Contagion ad is the camera shot that shows an oxygen mask being put on from the point of view of the person on whose face it's being put. That's a sort of camera shot they couldn't really do so well back in 1950, and yet, the older movies don't need such camera shots or special effects. They were able to tell a good story.

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