Having seen some of my favourite British films butchered, I was dismayed to see that there are plans for an American remake of The Long Good Friday, which will transplant the action from the London Docklands to Miami. The news was greeted with dismay yesterday by film writers and historians and comes amid a growing trend to remake British classics in modern US settings.
The Long Good Friday, was originally made by John Mackenzie in 1980, with a cast including Bob Hoskins and Helen Mirren in the lead roles. The new version will be directed by Paul WS Anderson, who made Alien v Predator, Resident Evil and Event Horizon, is currently making Death Race, itself a remake.
"The original was a highly praised classic and one of Handmade's most prized films, but its reach was limited primarily to the UK," said Handmade chairman Patrick Meehan yesterday. "Following continued interest from the US, we realised this remake could attract audiences worldwide with an updated setting and contemporary overtones. When Paul presented his creative vision for this project, we were instantly convinced that this is a story that could be successfully refreshed, yet leave the integrity of the original intact."
Anderson said that he was looking forward to working on the new version. "I am delighted to have the opportunity to put a new spin on this classic film, which promises to reveal today's gritty underworld in an equally shocking fashion," he said.
Clyde Jeavons, former curator of the National Film and Television Archive, said of the remake: "It's definitely a mistake. These films are ingrained with that peculiar cultural quality which the Americans don't understand and can't reproduce” He thought the remakes were being commissioned because British films were popular on the US art house and college circuit: "There seems to be some kind of zeitgeist for them."
To be fair remakes sometimes do work (as the Maltese Falcon we know and love was) but in the main they are pointless exercises. Last year’s remake of the Wicker Man was utterly abysmal as was Get Carter, the Italian Job and and Point of No Return (originally Nikita) all spring immediately to mind as exercises in futility. Given that bad remake seems to outnumber the good ones, I would put money on the new Long Good Friday being a turkey...