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9 Movies You Might Not Realize Were Remakes

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Though it might seem like Hollywood is rebooting more classic films than ever before, this trend is nothing new: Studios have always remade movies. In fact, some of your favorite films are remakes of other popular movies. Here are nine of them.

1. Remake: The Wizard of Oz (1939) / Original: The Wizard of Oz (1925)

While many are aware of the film The Wizard of Oz starring Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, and Margaret Hamilton, L. Frank Baum’s children’s book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was adapted a few times before the classic we know and love was released in 1939. The most notable was the first feature film version of The Wizard of Oz released in 1925. Silent film actor and director Larry Semon adapted the film with Baum’s son L. Frank Baum, Jr., as the pair took a more realistic and romantic approach to the 1900 source material.

In the silent film version, the Scarecrow, Tin-Man, and Cowardly Lion are not actual characters, but rather three farmhands in disguise after they were transported to the Land of Oz with Dorothy, who is revealed to be the long-lost princess of Oz. The silent film also features Dorothy courting various suitors, including the Scarecrow, the Tin-Man, and Prince Kynd, the crown prince of Oz.

In 1939, movie studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer commissioned director Victor Fleming to direct a musical version of The Wizard of Oz that featured the more fantastical side of L. Frank Baum’s novel and used new Technicolor film technology. Despite being nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, The Wizard of Oz was a box office bomb and didn’t gain widespread admiration until the film was first re-released in 1949.

2. Remake: A Fistful of Dollars (1964) / Original: Yojimbo (1961)

In 1964, director Sergio Leone released his second film, A Fistful of Dollars, and started a cinematic revolution in the Italian Western or Spaghetti Western genre. Although the movie launched Clint Eastwood’s career into super-stardom, the Spaghetti Western classic wasn't fully original—it was a remake of Japanese director Akira Kurosawa’s 1961 film Yojimbo.

While both films feature a mysterious stranger who is caught in the middle between two crime families vying for complete control of a small town, A Fistful of Dollars exchanges Yojimbo’s samurai swords for cowboy gunplay. The similarities between the two films are so prevalent that Kurosawa and Toho Studios, the movie studio behind Yojimbo, sued Sergio Leone; the Italian director eventually settled the lawsuit out of court for 15 percent of his film's total box office receipts. A Fistful of Dollars went on to be a giant success for Leone and Eastwood when it was released in the United States in 1967, while it also spawned two sequels with For A Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly in the Man With No Name trilogy.

3. Remake: You’ve Got Mail (1998) / Original: The Shop Around The Corner (1940)

Nora Ephron’s romantic comedy You’ve Got Mail is actually a remake of Ernst Lubitsch’s 1940 film The Shop Around The Corner. Both films are about an unlikely pair—in Shop, the couple is played by Margaret Sullavan and James Stewart, while in Mail, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan take on the roles—that can’t stand each other in real life, but are unaware they are both falling in love with each other through an anonymous correspondence. While The Shop Around The Corner uses letters to facilitate the pair’s correspondence, Ephron updated the plot device for You’ve Got Mail with America Online's email for Ryan and Hanks’ onscreen characters. In You’ve Got Mail, Meg Ryan’s Kathleen Kelly’s small bookshop is called “The Shop Around The Corner,” which is a direct reference to Lubitsch’s classic romantic comedy.

4. Remake: Meet The Parents (2000) / Original: Meet The Parents (1992)

In 2000, Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller starred in Meet The Parents, a comedy directed by Jay Roach that grossed more than $330,000,000 worldwide. The film was based on a small indie film of the same name, released in 1992. While the original Meet The Parents went mostly unseen upon its release (and we couldn't find any footage online), Universal Studios liked the premise of a man meeting his girlfriend’s parents for the first time and acquired the film’s remake rights in 1995.

The movie studio hired screenwriter Jim Herzfeld, who exchanged the original’s dark comedy for an edgy family-friendly film. The remake also spawned two sequel films (Meet the Fockers in 2004 and Little Fockers in 2010) and two failed TV shows (the reality show Meet My Folks and the sitcom In-Laws), both for NBC.

5. Remake: The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) / Original: Purple Noon (1960)

Author Patricia Highsmith’s 1955 novel The Talented Mr. Ripley was adapted twice for the big screen: First, in 1960, came the French film Purple Noon from director René Clément; then, in 1999, came a remake of that film, which bore the same title at the novel and was directed by Anthony Minghella. While both films examine the psychology and charms of a serial killer, the original French version takes a more conclusive approach to Tom Ripley’s fate, while the remake is far more ambiguous with its ending. Purple Noon and The Talented Mr. Ripley are both praised for their stars’ stellar performances from Alain Delon and Matt Damon, respectively.

6. Remake: The Ladykillers (2004) / Original: The Ladykillers (1955)

Joel and Ethan Coen’s films effortlessly jump from crime thriller to comedy without missing a beat. So when they were commissioned to write a remake of the British black comedy The Ladykillers for director Barry Sonnenfeld, it seemed to fall in line with their cinematic sensibilities. When Sonnenfeld dropped out of the project, the Coens were hired to direct the film.

While the original film is regarded as one of the greatest British comedies ever made, the Coen brothers’ remake received a mixed critical response when it was released in 2004. The remake earned a moderately successful box office, while the original enjoyed BAFTA Award wins and Academy Award nominations.

7. Remake: Brewster’s Millions (1985) / Original: Brewster’s Millions (1914)

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Believe it or not, Brewster’s Millions has been remade 10 times since author George Barr McCutcheon wrote the original novel of the same name in 1902. While the first was a silent film—which is now considered lost—from legendary film director Cecil B. DeMille in 1914, the most popular version of Brewster’s Millions was from director Walter Hill and starred Richard Pryor and John Candy from 1985. In total, there have been three silent films, two films from England, two more from America, and three film adaptations from India since 1914.

The story of a young man who inherits millions, only to be enticed to a deal that would involve him spending all of his inheritance without any assets remaining by a certain time period to claim even more money, has stayed relatively the same. The money involved has changed, though: In the 1914 version, Brewster would have to spend $1 million within one year to claim $7 million, while in the 1985 version he would have to spend $30 million in 30 days to claim $300 million.

In 2009, screenwriters Michael Diliberti and Matthew Sullivan were commissioned to write a yet another remake based on McCutcheon’s original novel for Warner Bros.

8. Remake: The Last House on the Left (1972) / Original: The Virgin Spring (1960)

In 1972, Wes Craven made his directorial debut with the low budget horror film The Last House on the Left. The story of two parents seeking revenge on the murderers who raped and killed their daughter is actually a remake of Swedish auteur Ingmar Bergman’s 1960 art-house film The Virgin Spring, which was based on a 13th-century Swedish ballad, "Töres döttrar i Wänge" ("Töre's Daughters in Vänge").

While Bergman’s original is about the morality of vengeance from a deeply Catholic point of view, Craven takes The Virgin Spring’s story and infuses it with gruesome blood and gore. Needless to say, The Last House on the Left was quite controversial when it was released in the early '70s. In fact, the horror film was banned in the United Kingdom for excessive scenes featuring sadism and violence. Craven’s debut was eventually released in the UK, after 31 seconds were cut from the film, in 2002.

9. Remake: The Bourne Identity (2002) / Original: The Bourne Identity (1988)

Although the spy novel The Bourne Identity spawned a widely popular trilogy starring Matt Damon—and a less-popular spin-off, The Bourne Legacy, starring Jeremy Renner—not many people are aware of its TV movie counterpart. The Bourne Identity aired in two 2-hour installments over the course of two nights on ABC in 1988. The made-for-TV movie starred Richard Chamberlain as amnesia-stricken undercover superspy Jason Bourne, while Jaclyn Smith played his love interest, Marie St. Jacques. While the 2002 version directed by Doug Liman is action-packed, the television movie adaptation is more faithful to Robert Ludlum’s first installment of The Bourne Trilogy. Chamberlain would later earn a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film for his performance in 1988.

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10 Witty Facts About The Marx Brothers
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Talented as individuals and magnificent as a team, the Marx Brothers conquered every medium from the vaudeville stage to the silver screen. Today, we’re tipping our hats (and tooting our horns) to Groucho, Harpo, Chico, Zeppo, and Gummo—on the 50th anniversary of Groucho's passing.

1. A RUNAWAY MULE INSPIRED THEM TO TAKE A STAB AT COMEDY.

Julius, Milton, and Arthur Marx originally aspired to be professional singers. In 1907, the boys joined a group called “The Three Nightingales.” Managed by their mother, Minnie, the ensemble performed covers of popular songs in theaters all over the country. As Nightingales, the brothers enjoyed some moderate success, but they might never have found their true calling if it weren’t for an unruly equid. During a 1907 gig at the Nacogdoches Opera House in East Texas, someone interrupted the performance by barging in and shouting “Mule’s loose!” Immediately, the crowd raced out to watch the newly-liberated animal. Back inside, Julius seethed. Furious at having lost the spotlight, he skewered his audience upon their return. “The jackass is the finest flower of Tex-ass!” he shouted, among many other ad-libbed jabs. Rather than boo, the patrons roared with laughter. Word of his wit soon spread and demand for these Marx brothers grew.

2. THEY RECEIVED THEIR STAGE NAMES DURING A POKER GAME.

In May of 1914, the five Marxes were playing cards with standup comedian Art Fisher. Inspired by a popular comic strip character known as “Sherlocko the Monk,” he decided that the boys could use some new nicknames. Leonard’s was a no-brainer. Given his girl-crazy, “chick-chasing” lifestyle, Fisher dubbed him “Chicko” (later, this was shortened to “Chico”). Arthur loved playing the harp and thus became “Harpo.” An affinity for soft gumshoes earned Milton the alias “Gummo.” Finally, Julius was both cynical and often seen wearing a “grouch bag”—wherein he’d store small objects like marbles and candy—around his neck. Thus, “Groucho” was born. For the record, nobody knows how Herbert Marx came to be known as “Zeppo.”

3. GROUCHO WORE HIS TRADEMARK GREASEPAINT MUSTACHE BECAUSE HE HATED MORE REALISTIC MODELS.

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Phony, glue-on facial hair can be a pain to remove and reapply, so Groucho would simply paint a ‘stache and some exaggerated eyebrows onto his face. However, the mustache he later rocked as the host of his famous quiz show You Bet Your Life was 100 percent real.

4. HARPO WAS A SELF-TAUGHT HARPIST.

Without any formal training (or the ability to read sheet music), the second-oldest Marx brother developed a unique style that he never stopped improving upon. “Dad really loved playing the harp, and he did it constantly,” his son, Bill Marx, wrote. “Maybe the first multi-tasker ever, he even had a harp in the bathroom so he could play when he sat on the toilet!”

5. THE VERY FIRST MARX BROTHERS MOVIE WAS NEVER RELEASED.

Financed by Groucho, Chico, Harpo, Zeppo, and a handful of other investors, Humor Risk was filmed in 1921. Accounts differ, but most scholars agree that the silent picture—which would have served as the family’s cinematic debut—never saw completion. Despite this, an early screening of the work-in-progress was reportedly held in the Bronx. When Humor Risk failed to impress there, production halted. By Marx Brothers standards, it would’ve been an unusual flick, with Harpo playing a heroic detective opposite a villainous Groucho character.

6. GUMMO AND ZEPPO BECAME TALENT AGENTS.

World War I forced Gummo to quit the stage. Following his return, the veteran decided that performing was no longer for him and instead started a raincoat business. Zeppo—the youngest brother—then assumed Gummo’s role as the troupe’s straight-talking foil. A brilliant businessman, Zeppo eventually break away to found the talent agency Zeppo Marx Inc., which grew into Hollywood’s third-largest, representing superstars like Clark Gable, Lucille Ball, and—of course—the other three Marx Brothers. Gummo, who joined the company in 1935, was charged with handling Groucho, Harpo, and Chico’s needs.

7. CHICO ONCE LAUNCHED A BIG BAND GROUP.

Chico took advantage of an extended break between Marx brothers movies to realize a lifelong dream. A few months before The Big Store hit cinemas in 1941, he co-founded the Chico Marx Orchestra: a swinging jazz band that lasted until July of 1943. Short-lived as the group was, however, it still managed to recruit some amazing talent—including singer/composer Mel Tormé, who would go on to help write the “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” in 1945.

8. THEY TESTED OUT NEW MATERIAL FOR A NIGHT AT THE OPERA IN FRONT OF LIVE AUDIENCES.

With the script still being drafted, MGM made the inspired choice to let the brothers perform key scenes in such places as Seattle, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco. Once a given joke was made, the Marxes meticulously timed the ensuing laughter, which let them know exactly how much silence to leave after repeating the gag on film. According to Harpo, this had the added benefit of shortening A Night at the Opera’s production period. “We didn’t have to rehearse,” he explained. “[We just] got onto the set and let the cameras roll.”

9. GROUCHO TEMPORARILY HOSTED THE TONIGHT SHOW.

Jack Paar bid the job farewell on March 29, 1962. Months before their star’s departure, NBC offered Paar’s Tonight Show seat to Groucho, who had established himself as a razor-sharp, well-liked host during You Bet Your Life’s 14-year run. Though Marx turned the network down, he later served as a guest host for two weeks while Johnny Carson prepared to take over the gig. When Carson finally made his Tonight Show debut on October 1, it was Groucho who introduced him.

10. SPY MAGAZINE USED A MARX BROTHERS MOVIE TO PRANK U.S. CONGRESSMEN.

Duck Soup takes place in Freedonia, a fictional country over which the eccentric Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho) presides. In 1993, 60 years after the movie’s release, this imaginary nation made headlines by embarrassing some real-life politicians. Staffers from Spy got in touch with around 20 freshmen in the House of Representatives, asking some variation on the question “Do you approve of what we’re doing to stop ethnic cleansing in Freedonia?” A few lawmakers took the bait. Representative Corrine Brown (D-Florida) professed to approve of America’s presence in Freedonia, saying “I think all of those situations are very, very sad, and I just think we need to take action to assist the people.” Across the aisle, Steve Buyer (R-Indiana) concurred. “Yeah,” he said, “it’s a different situation than the Middle East.”

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12 Facts About the Smithsonian's Collections
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With 19 museums spread along the East Coast, the Smithsonian Institution has become the country’s richest repository of American history. From culture to science, zoos to space exploration, the federally-backed archive has spent nearly 200 years preserving and educating. Check out some facts on its history, how a new species of dolphin was found hiding in its archives, and how the founder eventually became part of the collection.

1. ITS FOUNDER NEVER SET FOOT IN THE STATES.

Wealthy British globe-trotter James Smithson (1765-1829) had acquired an estate worth roughly $500,000 at the time of his death and ordered that all of his assets be inherited by his nephew, Henry James Dickinson. There was one twist: The estate was to be turned over to the United States in the event Dickinson died without an heir of his own so the country could build a hub for the “increase and diffusion of knowledge.” Henry, then 18, died just six years later, and so President James Polk signed the act approving the Smithsonian Institution into law in 1846. Curiously, Smithson had never even visited the U.S. Why leave such a legacy to a foreign nation? Smithson never commented on his decision, leaving people to guess that it was either because he was impressed by democracy or because he wanted to enrich a country that, at the time, had only a few educational hubs.

2. NO ONE WAS REALLY SURE WHAT SMITHSON WANTED.

A portrait of James Smithson

“Increase and diffusion of knowledge” can be interpreted pretty broadly, and it took the United States a long time—roughly 10 years—before anyone could agree on what to do with Smithson’s gift. Educators, politicians, and civilians all had a unique notion of how to spend his fortune, including opening a university, a library, or an observatory. Ultimately, the Smithsonian Institution was a compromise, involving many of these ideas. By 1855, construction on the main building was complete at the National Mall in Washington; it was designated as a National Museum in 1858 [PDF].

3. THEY HAD TO HIDE THEIR COLLECTION FROM AXIS FORCES.

At the height of U.S. involvement in World War II, museum curators knew that Axis forces would have designs on destroying the vibrant culture housed at the museum’s main location at the National Mall. To protect these irreplaceable items, the Smithsonian arranged to have them shipped to an undisclosed location—now known to be near Luray, Virginia—and stored in a climate-controlled warehouse. They didn’t return until 1944.

4. SMOKEY BEAR LIVED AT THEIR ZOO.

Smokey Bear takes a bath at the National Zoo

Yes, that Smokey Bear. (And there’s no “the” in his name.) In 1950, a bear cub that survived a raging forest fire in Capitan, New Mexico, was adopted by the U.S. Forest Service and named Smokey after the popular ad campaign mascot of the era. As a living symbol of the effort, he spent his remaining 26 years at the National Zoo, a constant recipient of visitor attention and hundreds of jars of honey.

5. THEY DISPLAY JUST ONE PERCENT OF THEIR COLLECTION.

In order to execute Smithson’s mission statement, the Smithsonian has had to morph into the greatest display of hoarding the world has ever seen. All told, the Institution’s various artifacts, specimens, and other arcana is believed to number in the neighborhood of 137 million, with an official museum estimate of 154 million. Just 1 percent of that is available for viewing at any given time.

6. ONE CATEGORY IS USUALLY OFF-LIMITS FOR VIEWING.

17th century human remains found in Jamestown, Virginia

Evolving public attitudes over the decades have prompted the Smithsonian to be very wary of displaying human remains. While they’ve collected everything from shrunken heads to the “soap man”—a corpse whose body turned to a soap-like substance thanks to a chemical reaction to soil—most of it remains out of public view.

7. AN EXHIBIT ON NUCLEAR WAR STIRRED CONTROVERSY.

For a planned exhibit of the Enola Gay, the bomber plane that dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima during World War II, museum organizers drew criticism in 1994 for presenting material that some veterans groups and members of Congress felt was politically charged. The museum agreed to omit text near the display that some felt dwelled on the horrific effects of the bomb, as well as references estimating the U.S. and rival casualties that might have been suffered if the bomb had not been deployed.

8. THE WEIRDEST ITEM THEY’VE CATALOGED IS A CRAPPY VIDEO GAME.

The box art for the Atari 2600 game E.T.

Amidst many internet lists of strange Smithsonian catalog items—taxidermied animals, beards, and other miscellanea—nothing seems more incongruous than the 2014 inclusion of a 1982 Atari video game based on E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Renowned for being produced quickly and for helping to fuel the video game crash of the early 1980s, supplies of the cartridge were buried in a New Mexico landfill and only recently excavated. One went into the museum's archives.

9. THEY TURNED DOWN JIMMY DURANTE’S NOSE.

In the 1950s, actor and comedian Jimmy Durante was easily identified by his bulbous nose, a three-inch-long (from bridge to tip) feature that led to his nickname, “the Great Schnozzola.” Sensing a publicity opportunity, Durante’s management arranged for a makeup artist to create a plaster cast of Durante’s nose and offer it up to the Smithsonian as a piece of Americana. Frank Setzler, the museum’s head of anthropology was unimpressed. “Heavens, no,” he was quoted as saying. “Who would want that? The only place we could use it would be in the elephant display.”

10. AN UNDISCOVERED SPECIES OF DOLPHIN WAS LURKING IN THEIR INVENTORY.

A dolphin skull from a recently-discovered species

With so many specimens, the bowels of the Smithsonian almost certainly harbor secrets that can surprise even scientists. In 2016, two researchers in search of fossilized marine mammals stumbled across the skull of a 25-million-year-old river dolphin they named Arktocara yakataga. Said to have been found in Alaska, the dolphin may have dwelled in the Arctic. It was estimated that the skull—plucked from obscurity because one of the researchers found it “cute”—sat on the shelf for 50 years before being identified.

11. THEY’RE COMMITTED TO PRESERVING DOROTHY’S SLIPPERS.

Possibly the most iconic pair of footwear in pop culture, Dorothy’s ruby slippers from the 1939 film adaptation of The Wizard of Oz have become a Smithsonian trademark. In 2016, the Institution successfully raised over $300,000 on Kickstarter to build a state-of-the-art preservation case to protect the kicks from deterioration. While star Judy Garland wore several pairs during filming and the Smithsonian’s are mismatched, it’s clear that visitors want to keep them in condition for any future travels along the yellow brick road.

12. SMITHSON EVENTUALLY BECAME PART OF THE COLLECTION.

James Smithson's final resting place within the walls of the Smithsonian

In 1904, some 75 years after his death in Italy, Smithson’s remains were about to be disturbed. U.S. Smithsonian officials were alerted that his grave site would be displaced because of a nearby stone quarry expansion. The Institution took the opportunity to have his casket shipped to America so he could be interred at the site of his legacy—the Smithsonian itself. Escorted by Alexander Graham Bell, the casket traveled 14 days by sea. The body was entombed and topped off by a marker in the Smithsonian, where it remains viewable by the general public.

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