Here we go with a creative mental exercise that I love to do at least once a year for our readers (and myself as well), to see what kind of responses we get.
O.K. so let’s pretend you’re a filmmaker who has gotten the funding to make a film, along with final cut and total control – except you have to remake a previous film; what film would you remake?
There are so many films I could name, but I assume, like me, you would want to try your hand at redoing some guilty pleasure that just missed the mark. Not a great or even a good film by any means, but one with a great premise that you enjoy and, in your heart, you just know you could have done a better job with.
My first choice 2 years ago, was the 1964 chintzy, not-quite-epic adventure movie “The Long Ships” with Sidney Poitier and Richard Widmark; but that’s not by any means the only film I would love to do a remake of.
Last year’s choice was 20th Century Fox’s 1973 detective thriller “The Laughing Policeman,” with Walter Matthau, Bruce Dern and Lou Gossett Jr., which is still at the top if my “I like this film but if I could only just remake it, I know could a better job of it” list.
This year, I’m taking a more, how shall we say, ” revolutionary” route. My choice this year is “Passport to Pimlico.”
Never heard of it? That’s O.K. Most people haven’t, but, truth be told, I have a real fondness for British comedies of the 1950’s and 60’s and “Pimlico” is a very charming and amusing post-World War II 1949 British comedy that I’ve seen several times, with a premise that is untouchable.
It deals with the citizens of a small working class community in London who discover, by accident, that their neighborhood, centuries earlier, was given over by the King of England at the time, to a French duke who fought with the British during a particular war in thanks for his participation. As a result, the people realize that, technically, their neighborhood is not part of the United Kingdom, but a separate independent country.
Tired of the food rations, shortages and other strict conditions, as well as rules that the British government enforced on the population during WWII that they were still living under, the good people of Pimlico legally declare their Independence from the UK as the independent country of Burgundy. That starts a sort of cold war between them and the British government, as each is constantly trying one-up the other.
In the end, Pimlico rejoins the UK and all is fine.
But I’ve always had it in my mind that I could remake this film, but set in a black neighborhood in the US, in some major city such as Chicago or Atlanta; a film about a black neighborhood that finds out that it has the legal right to declare it’s total independence from the U.S. (I can see all the anchors on Fox News having a stroke about a film like this. Of course unless Fox releases it.)
But there are so many directions to go with that premise. First of all, what kind of black neighborhood – a poor isolated one, riddled with crime and unemployment; or an upper scale middle class one? And how would the government retaliate? Negotiations, secret covert tactics, or just bomb the neighborhood back the Stone Age? How to approach the material is another consideration; maybe as a satire, or a drama, or a flat-out action thriller with the neighborhood folk shooting it out with the military (would black soldiers leave their ranks to join the neighborhood defenders)?
One thing for certain is that, in my remake, the neighborhood would stay independent, and not rejoin the U.S… Like I said revolutionary.
So what film would you remake and why?
Here’s a brief clip from “Passport to Pimlico” in which the people are celebrating their new-found “independence” by tearing up their food ration cards.