Saturday, December 10, 2011

Re-Dunne: Original Irene Dunne Films Remade

Rex Harrison and Dunne in Anna and the King of Siam
A few weeks ago, a Twitter friend of mine Bobby Rivers, (@BobbyRiversTV) and I were talking movies, specifically, Irene Dunne movies. He remarked that it is amazing how many of Dunne’s movies have been remade. We started trading movie titles and compiled quite a list. I thought the list was long enough that it was worthy of a blog post.

An Incredible Body of Work
Dunne, one of the movie screen’s great actresses, left an incredible body of film work. Many of the films she starred in are considered classics or near classics today. Dunne started working in films at the beginning of the sound era. Some of the films she made were remakes of silent films, but most of the movies she starred in were not remakes, but properties tailored specifically for her talents.

Dunne and John Boles starred in the 1932 version.
Let’s Do It Again
Movies are remade for a few reasons. One reason is it’s easier to go with a known property than to create something from scratch. Another reason is to update a popular film using new technology like color photography to make it palatable to a younger generation of filmgoers. Since I’m the Classic Movie Man, I generally prefer originals as opposed to remakes. And most of Dunne’s versions hold up and are in most cases superior to the remakes, in my opinion.

Below is a list of Dunne’s films that were remade and the actresses who starred in the roles Dunne originated.




Cimarron* 1931 (1960-Maria Schell)
Back Street 1932 (1941-Margaret Sullivan; 1961-Susan Hayward)
The Age of Innocence 1934 (1993-Michelle Pfeiffer)
Roberta 1935 (1952-Kathryn Grayson; remade as Lovely to Look At)
The 1936 version featured Paul Robeson singing “Ol’ Man River.”
Magnificent Obsession 1935 (1954-Jane Wyman*)
Show Boat 1936 (1951-Kathryn Grayson)
The Awful Truth* 1937 (1953-Jane Wyman; remade as Let’s Do it Again)
Love Affair* 1939 (1957-Deborah Kerr, remade as An Affair to Remember; 1994-Annette Benning)
My Favorite Wife 1940 (1962-Doris Day; remade as Move Over Darling)
A Guy Named Joe 1943 (1989-Holly Hunter; remade as Always)
Anna and the King of Siam 1946 (1956-Deborah Kerr*; remade as The King and I; 1999-Jodie Foster remade as Anna and the King)

If you want to learn more about movies, TV, and pop culture, you should follow Bobby Rivers on Twitter and find him on Facebook. Rivers was one of the original VH1 hosts and was an entertainment reporter for ABC News.


*Academy Award nominations for Best Actress

This post corresponds with the class Elegant and Madcap: The Incredible Versatility of Irene Dunne—Class starts November 16, 2011. Meets on Wednesdays from 7p.m. - 10 p.m. for six weeks. Classes are held at Facets Film School on Fullerton Ave. in Chicago, IL.
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