NINE PARTS INSPIRATION
IN HOLLYWOOD, IMITATION IS THE MOST FAMILIAR FORM OF FLATTERY.
A SCIENTIST INGESTS a potion that turns him into a gorgeous yet devious woman. Sound like the premise of the new-to-video Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde? Turns out it also describes 1972’s Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde. Whether you call them rip-offs, homages, coincidences, or uncredited remakes, the following films show that Hollywood is doing its part for the recycling effort.
Recent movie: CRIMSON TIDE (1995, Hollywood) A reasonable black naval officer (Denzel Washington) and his overzealous white commander (Gene Hackman) fight a battle of wills on a sub. Inspiration: THE BEDFORD INCIDENT (1965, Columbia TriStar) A reasonable black journalist (Sidney Poitier) and an overzealous white naval commander (Richard Widmark) fight a battle of wills on a ship tracking subs. Which one has the edge? Neither. Both movies keep the pressure on as the actors glower and grimace.
Recent movie: RADIOLAND MURDERS (1994, MCA/Universal) Two hapless zanies (Brian Benben and Scott Michael Campbell) solve murders committed during a radio broadcast. Inspiration: WHO DONE IT? (1942, MCA/ Universal) Two hapless zanies (Abbott and Costello) solve a murder committed during a radio broadcast. Which one has the edge? Bud and Lou didn’t do cerebral humor, but they were smart enough to know how to get laughs.
Recent movie: ROOKIE OF THE YEAR (1993, FoxVideo) An arm injury magically transforms a 12-year-old boy (Thomas Ian Nicholas) into a major-league pitching phenom. Inspiration: IT HAPPENS EVERY SPRING (1949, FoxVideo) A chemical concoction transforms an egghead professor (Ray Milland) into a major-league pitching phenom. Which one has the edge? Despite Every Spring’s whimsy, a ’90s ‘tude makes Rookie more appealing.
Recent movie: SISTER ACT (1992, Buena Vista) Reno nightclub singer/gangster’s moll (Whoopi Goldberg) hides out with nuns. Inspiration: BALL OF FIRE (1941, Sultan) New York nightclub singer/gangster’s moll (Barbara Stanwyck) hides out with professors. Which one has the edge? The original isn’t exactly original (it’s an updated Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs), but it still exudes screwball charm.
Recent movie: MILLER’S CROSSING (1990, FoxVideo) Underling (Gabriel Byrne) gets involved in gang war because of corrupt political boss’ infatuation with a femme fatale. Inspiration: THE GLASS KEY (1942, MCA/Universal) Underling (Alan Ladd) gets involved in murder investigation because of corrupt political boss’ infatuation with a femme fatale. Which one has the edge? A matter of taste 1942 audiences liked their gangster pictures hard-boiled, while 1990 connoisseurs preferred theirs with a dash of existentialism.
Recent movie: THE MONEY PIT (1986, MCA/Universal) A couple leave the city for their country dream house — which turns out to be a homeowner’s nightmare. Inspiration: MR. BLANDINGS BUILDS HIS DREAM HOUSE (1948, Turner) A family exchanges city life for a money-pit country home. Which one has the edge? Mr. Blandings’ quiet desperation yields abundant wry humor; Money Pit’s materialist mania spawns sight gags and big yuks — at least for the first hour.