The Untouchables: 20 Classic Movies Hollywood Can’t Remake or Revisit

It's a Wonderful Life

It's not exactly breaking news, but it appears nothing is sacred in Movie Land these days.

Case in point: this week's announcement that some very, very bold people are prepping a sequel to the Christmastime classic "It's a Wonderful Life" that would focus on George Bailey's grandson. They even lined up Karolyn Grimes, who played Zuzu in the original, to appear in the film, as if that would lend the project some credibility and quell public outrage (it didn't). In fact, Paramount, the original film's distributor and rights owner, has vowed to fight any attempts at a sequel.

This comes a year after some misguided money-grabbers attempted to revisit Ralph and family in "A Christmas Story 2," an embarrassment that went straight to DVD, and, thankfully, went mostly unnoticed by the general public (our sincere apologies for making you aware of its existence).

Classics get butchered all the time: At one point someone thought it was a good idea to do a shot-for-shot remake of Hitchcock's "Pyscho" starring funnyman Vince Vaughn. It damn sure was not. Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep couldn't save a lackluster new stab at "Manchurian Candidate." Even this year's box-office hit "Oz the Great and Powerful" felt a little icky for daring to capitalize on our infinite love of "The Wizard of Oz."

Despite common complaints, Hollywood's lack of original ideas is hardly a recent development. 1903's "The Great Train Robbery" was remade a year after its release. The first movie sequel came in 1916 with "The Fall of the Nation," only a year after "Birth of a Nation." The 1935 classic "Bride of Frankenstein" was a spin-off of "Frankenstein." Several all-timers that we would've loved to include in the list below, like "Back to the Future," "Jaws," "The Exorcist," and "Ghostbusters" manufactured inferior sequels. For every "Godfather Part II" there have been 10 "Godfather Part IIIs".

Oftentimes it's a be-careful-for-what-you-wish-for scenario. For all the hype around a third "Ghostbusters" movie, do we really think it'd be any good? Odds are it'd be halfway-decent at best (thankfully, Bill Murray seems to be well aware of this). Fans were psyched for another "Indiana Jones" adventure until they saw "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." Bruce Willis sadly refuses to hang up John McClane's badge.

And frankly, it's amazing how much unbridled excitement there is in the air over a new "Star Wars" trilogy considering how let down we were by the last one.

So there's something majestic about a one-time hit that wins classic status and then can see its legacy remain untarnished for all of eternity. It happens so rarely, which is why we're presenting this rallying call to Hollywood: Please don't ever think about revisiting the 20 favorites below. No sequels, no remakes, no reboots, no "re-imaginations," no re-whatever-you-want-to-call-them. These are our untouchables.

Animal House

"Animal House"
Considering the influx of frathouse comedies we've seen in recent years, from "Old School" to "PCU" to "Van Wilder" to next year's Zac Efron-Seth Rogen comedy "Neighbors," it's kind of amazing the togas haven't been dusted off for a contemporary raunchfest back inside the Delta house. Hopefully the closest thing we ever see to another John Blutarsky on the big screen is a look at Emile Hirsch playing John Belushi filming "Animal House" in the upcoming biopic about the late actor.

Annie Hall

"Annie Hall"
Woody Allen films hold such reverence in Hollywood that it's hard to imagine anyone having the kahunas to attempt to mimic the actor-director-writer's inimitable shtick. It's a move that even the recycling-addicted movie industry would not lurve. As for a sequel? Nope, we're just fine not knowing what Alvy and Annie are up to 30-odd years later.

Apocalypse Now

"Apocalypse Now"
Given all the production hell Francis Ford Coppola and company endured during the making of this 1979 Vietnam War classic, it's unlikely any other filmmaker would dare try it again (and hey, if they should try, we're not saying they'd deserve it a hellish production … Okay, yes they would deserve it). Anyone hungry for more "Apocalypse" needs to look no further than the 202-minute extended cut, "Apocalypse Now Redux," or "Hearts of Darkness," a documentary about that aforementioned production hell.

Blade Runn

"Blade Runner"
Like "Ghostbusters," rumors of a new "Blade Runner" sequel have been swirling for years. As recently as October, Harrison Ford said he and director Ridley Scott were "chatting about it." We know it's your baby and you have the right to do as you please, but in the holy name of Daryl Hannah, we implore you, Mr. Ford and Mr. Scott, please let sleeping Replicants lie.


If there were three stories Hollywood would never dare put their dirty paws on again, you think they'd be "Citizen Kane," "Gone With the Wind" and this beloved WWII romantic drama. Of course if you expanded that list a bit it'd include "It's a Wonderful Life." There'd be nothing loving or virtuous about making Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman turn in their graves. Play this one again and watch the world revolt.

Citizen Kane

"Citizen Kane"
Regular praise as "The Greatest Film Ever Made" should hopefully detract suitors from the unfathomable notion of revisiting the legacy of Orson Welles' "Kane." Potential remakers or sequelizers: You have nowhere to go but down. Way, way, way down. (As for why they can't remake "Kane"? According to an up-voted user on Yahoo Answers, it's because "it's too boring." Faulty logic, but at least we can agree on the end game.)


"E.T. the Extraterrestrial"
We all shed a tear a 10 when E.T. phoned — and eventually peddled — home (assuming "we" all have a pulse). But those waterworks would be nothing compared to the tears of agony and disgust of seeing our favorite alien called out of retirement, as much as we'd like to see Henry Thomas get a little more work.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

"Ferris Bueller's Day Off"
Matthew Broderick revisited his most iconic for a quick cash-grab when Ferris turned up to shill for Honda during a pricey 2012 Super Bowl commercial. Disappointing, but forgivable: Just please don't return with "Ferris Bueller's Day Off From Work," about the adventures of a man in midlife crisis playing hooky from his day job selling car insurance. We'll let this entry represent for John Hughes '80s films in general: Also consider "The Breakfast Club," "Pretty in Pink," and "Sixteen Candles" off limits.

Fight Club

"Fight Club"
The most recent entry on our list, David Fincher's twisty 1999 thriller could be on some shaky ground for those of us who'd prefer just a one-and-done knockout punch. Author Chuck Palahniuk announced at July's Comic-Con that he's penning a graphic novel sequel to the original titled "Doomed." Again, that's his earned right, but the second rule of "Fight Club" should be that we don't talk about a "Fight Club" movie sequel.

Gone With the Wind

"Gone With the Wind"
Frankly, dear, we would give a damn. Hollywood doesn't do sweeping romantic epics like they used to, so chances of more adventures on Tara should be highly unlikely. Just see Baz Luhrmann's 2008 film "Australia," which was billed as the titular nation's "Gone With the Wind" — yeah, it didn't work out so well. (Not-so-fun fact: David Hasselhoff once said he'd like to remake "Wind." Fortunately it's improbable anyone would take that seriously.)


Luckily, the story of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) doesn't lend itself so well to continuation. If it did go on, the results might look something like "The Whole Nine Yards," a fine mobster-comedy eventually tarnished by its god-awful sequel, "The Whole Ten Yards." This is a near-perfect film, and Martin Scorsese is also one of those master filmmakers one would be a clown to attempt to imitate.

The Graduate

"The Graduate"
Jennifer Aniston reportedly once said she'd like to remake Mike Nichols' 1967 classic with "Twilight" heartthrob Robert Pattinson. Luckily, however, hell did not freeze over and it never materialized (of course this intel all came from an anonymous "insider," which is the Hollywood equivalent of believing stock tips from your 4-year-old niece). We're perfectly fine with the occasional homage in films like "American Pie" and "Jackie Brown" instead.

Groundhog Dag

"Groundhog Day"
The repetition of one man (American hero Bill Murray) forced to relive the same day over an over again made for gut-busting comedy and surprising poignancy. The possibility of ever attempting the same stint and coming close to recapturing the glory of "Groundhog Day" are slim-to-nonewhatsoever-so-don't-even-try.

The Princess Bride

"The Princess Bride"
It was recently announced that a stage version of William Goldman's novel, which was adapted into Rob Reiner's 1987 cinematic gem, could soon be hitting Broadway. Fine. Write song-and-dance numbers for it. Cast Kristin Chenoweth. Just keep it away from the movie remake machine. That would be — you know what we're gonna say here — inconceivable.

Pulp Fiction

"Pulp Fiction"
All of the films on this list are original, but few are as groundbreakingly original (and as highly influential) as Quentin Tarantino's 1994 crime masterpiece. If some brave soul does ever attempt to one day recreate Tarantino's brilliantly jumbled narrative, at least we can take solace in the fact that we'll all be dead and gone by then. (The upcoming prequel to "Jackie Brown"? OK with that.)

The Shawshank Redemption

"The Shawshank Redemption"
There's a reason why this 1994 prison drama has sat atop IMDb's user rating ratings for what seems like the life span of the internet itself, besting all other films on this list: It's a perfectly written (based on the novella by Stephen King), perfectly acted (by leads Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman), perfectly directed (by Frank Darabont) drama that's surprising, inspirational, and life-affirming. Anyone who attempts to remake it should be locked up for life.

The Shining

"The Shining"
Another timeless classic sourced by Stephen King, this one did get the remake treatment, sorta: It was brought back to life in the form of a 1997 three-part miniseries, terrifying viewers with its belief that Steven Weber could somehow fill Jack Nicholson's shoes. Stanley Kubrick's original psychological horror film, meanwhile, doesn't feel like it's aged a day. A modern-day big-screen remake would be not only blasphemous, but pointless. (And by the same token, fingers crossed that King’s just-released book sequel, "Doctor Sleep," doesn't become a movie sequel as well.)

Stand By Me

"Stand By Me"
Completing the Stephen King trifecta, Rob Reiner's 1986 adventure drama is arguably the best coming-of-age film of all time. Sure, there are hordes of talented young actors who could play Gordie, Chris, Teddy and Vern (just like there were apparently hordes of talented young actors who fill the Sunday shoes of a "Footloose" reboot … bastards), but why? Thankfully here's a rare '80s remake that's never even been rumored.

This Is Spinal Tap

"This Is Spinal Tap"
This 11-out-10 '80s rock mockumentary that brought together the talents of Rob Reiner and the Christopher Guest gang (Michael McKean, Harry Shearer... the geniuses that would go on to make "Waiting for Guffman" and "Best in Show") got it so spot-on that music docs being made 30 days later will oftentimes be riddled with the very cliches these guys spoofed. It's reason numero uno this classic comedy doesn't need to be touched.

When Harry Met Sally

"When Harry Met Sally"
Go ahead, re-enact the famous Katz's Deli foodgasm scene all you want — it can really round out your New York City tourism experience. But don't ever think about trying to recapture the unexpected chemistry of friends-turned-lovers Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. And while we're at it, stay the heck away from Crystal's "Throw Momma From the Train," too. There will never be another Anne Ramsey.

Follow me on Twitter (@djkevlar)