Q of the day: remakes – the good, the bad, the sucktastic
I was lying down on the sofa trying to get into a peaceful, relaxed state of mind and Kate came into the room and said something that made me sigh tiredly — they have decided to remake Fame (1980). Is nothing sacred, I thought. Of course I have to remind myself that one of my favorite films is almost 30 years old (more on that below the fold). The “re-invention” of Fame comes out on September 25.
Some of the original cast:
- Doris Finsecker – Drama (Maureen Teefy)
- Ralph Garcy/Raul Garcia – Drama (Barry Miller)
- Coco Hernandez – Drama, Music and Dance (Irene Cara)
- Leroy Johnson – Dance (Gene Anthony Ray)
- Bruno Martelli – Music (Lee Curreri)
- Montgomery MacNeil – Drama (Paul McCrane)
- Lisa Monroe – Dance (Laura Dean)
- Miss Berg – Dance (Joanna Merlin)
- Mr. Farrell – Drama (Jim Moody)
- Ms. Grant – Dance (Debbie Allen)
- Mrs. Sherwood – English (Anne Meara)
- Mr. Shorofsky – Music (Albert Hague)
If you wonder what ever happened to the cast, click here.
Qs of the day
1. What film (or song for that matter) should not be remade on principle?
2. If it has been remade did the remake a) suck, b) was ok on its own, or c) surpass the original in your opinion.
More on Fame and why it’s on my fave list after the jump.
The Oscar-winning film by Alan Parker has a special place in my heart because it came out when I was in high school at Stuyvesant in NYC. The film follows a group of students who audition to attend the New York High School of Performing Arts all the way through to senior year. Unlike many later (and lighter) musicals set in high school, Fame, despite its many upbeat songs (Michael Gore walked away the Oscar) was filled with surprisingly complex characters and storylines that unfold during the course of the film. Abortion, rebellion against religion, drugs, sexual exploitation of minors, cross-class and interracial romance, racial identity, homosexuality — all tackled fairly well for the time.
The balance of humor, music and drama are well-balanced and the mise en scène is typical of late 70s urban dramas rather than a Disney musical, with lots of location shooting on the streets of NYC. This may be why I feel it has a kinship to my years in high school since the halls and classrooms of the school are so reminiscent of the Old Stuy (on 15th and 1st in Manhattan) — shadowy lit rooms with natural light from the tall classroom windows, dark halls, large high ceilings, grimy, old-school desks…of course my fellow classmates and I weren’t dancing in leg warmers or singing. We were more likely to walk around wearing dyed overalls and shirts with pocket protectors, but I see all of the rest the haircuts and attire and they remind me so much of Stuy classmates. The diversity of religion, color, ethnicity, shape and size of the kids was much the same as well. In fact, Stuyvesant was probably a lot more diverse back in that time than it is today; I wonder if the now-Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts is as diverse.
I should add that Alan Parker didn’t glitz up the musical interludes in the film. Not every note is hit perfectly, not every dance move is slick; even in the finale it’s rough enough around the edges to feel plausible.
Below are three videos from the original film. On the left, the Hot Lunch jam, on the right it’s the audition where Leroy (RIP Gene Anthony Ray) steals the show from his friend, and below the finale “I Sing the Body Electric.”
I’m really queasy about what they are going to do to it. Here’s the trailer for the 2009 film; what do you think?
The main cast of the new film. It will be good to see Debbie Allen again.
- Naturi Naughton as Denise
- Collins Pennie as Malik
- Kay Panabaker as Jenny
- Asher Brook as Marco
- Kherington Payne as Alice
- Walter Perez as Victor
- Anna Maria Perez de Taglé as Joy
- Paul Iacono as Neil
- Kristy Flores as Rosie
- Paul McGill as Kevin
- Debbie Allen as Principal Angela Simms
- Charles S. Dutton as Alvin Dowd
- Kelsey Grammer as Joel Cranston
- Megan Mullally as Fran Rowan
- Bebe Neuwirth as Lynn Kraft
- Jazz Tank Junior as Jason