Times when I thought they could have done better

As you can imagine, I’ve watched loads of film and television in my six decades plus, but it isn’t that often that I feel the need to put pen to paper, so to speak, to express my thoughts. After all, so much has already been said and written about every inch of film footage in existence that there’s no need to add my two bob’s worth unless I feel I have something new to say. I’ll leave it to you to judge whether I do or not.

Hollywood has a well-known propensity for reusing old material in remakes, sequels, prequels and reboots. Sometimes this fact is a fundamental aspect of the film’s marketing strategy. It’s rare, then, to see a film that so obviously revisits classic territory, yet it is never acknowledged. In Logan’s Run to The Island, I explore the clear parallels between these two films, the differences between them and how they reflect their times. (For anyone who wants to deny that The Island is a conscious remake of Logan’s Run: just look at the initials of the main characters.)

This propensity for remakes goes back to the very beginnings of Hollywood. The reasons were obvious when silent films were remade as talkies, or old black and white favourites re-shot in colour, but sometimes the reasons for the remake were much more subtle and give us insights into the intersections between Hollywood, public morals and politics.

Having recently reread David Niven’s Hollywood memoir, Bring on the Empty Horses, I was inspired to look online for films he appeared in, and was intrigued to find that he was in at least two remakes of classic films of the 1930s: Raffles and My Man Godfrey. In David Niven goes a Second Time Around: Why Hollywood remade classic films of the 1930s, I take a close look at the two versions of these films, the differences between them and what they say about the reasons why the films were remade.

Sometimes you see a film or a series which you really like, which makes it all the more disappointing when you can see where the producers are trying too hard to make their point but fall short. It’s understandable, after decades of being misrepresented on film, that the LGBTQI community would want to make films that portray them and their lives in a positive light. However, they sometimes let the political point they are trying to make undermine not only the story they are telling, but the very integrity of their LGBTQI characters. In Sexual Politics v Artistic Integrity, I explore this phenomenon on the small scale in the British indie romcom, Bedrooms and Hallways, and on a much larger canvas in Torchwood: Sex, Politics and Integrity.

As you might guess from this last article, I had a lot invested in the BBC series Torchwood. I found it both brilliant and deeply flawed, packed with great ideas that remained unexplored, and, I suspect, stymied by a management that had little confidence in their own product. In Too Much, Too Soon: Could Torchwood have been saved? I speculate on how those great ideas could have been developed to let the series meet its full potential.

In Jane Austen Spun Off, I discuss why, even 200 years after her death, Jane Austen’s works are still popular sources for film and television. I must confess, however, that this particular article has naughty origins. I don’t usually make a fuss, but I had to protest when my book group decided to read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I had strong objections to this fad from the 2000s of reworking classic literature with modern horror tropes, which was thankfully and deservedly short lived, and refused to read the book. Instead, I brought the beginnings of this paper to the meeting and made them listen while I read it to them. I do hope you enjoy it more than they did!

If you have friends that are film buffs, or are interested in Jane Austen or LGBTQI issues, please pass this post onto them.

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