Thank you, Adam Sandler.

Normally the subjects of this column are of a political nature, but this is a crucial issue that cannot wait.

Recently I was at home, flipping through the stations on my television’s satellite directory. I saw “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3” was playing on one of the movie channels. I eagerly paused, hit the info button, but was quickly disappointed. This was not the original movie with Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw but the inferior remake with John Travolta and Denzel Washington.

This has happened to me before, especially when “Cape Fear” is listed. I hope for the original with Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum, but instead it is usually the Martin Scorsese remake with Nick Nolte and Robert DeNiro. There are others, many others.
Another example is the film “Walking Tall”, which often assaults the viewer by making its way onto the airwaves. I stop the remote and hit the watch button, hoping to see Joe Don Baker as Buford Pusser, but instead, it is the awful do-over with Dwayne, aka “The Rock”, Johnson.  Disgusted, I changed the channel to a “Law and Order” rerun with Jerry Orbach that I have already seen, but repetition of quality is much less painful than a single dose of a sub-par remake.  At least I can trust the superiority of an episode if he was in it.

My complaint is based on the amount of time it takes me to find out that a movie is a remake of the original film and therefore not worth watching. Using the latest in software technology and my vast knowledge of research and statistics, I have carefully calculated that millions of minutes and hours are lost every year by productive Americans in the pursuit of seeking out authentic works of film, which have previously been committed to celluloid. They are wasting their time pushing remote buttons, expecting to be rewarded with a beloved original movie only to be tricked and disappointed by an inferior remake, masquerading with the same title. The amount of disappointment cannot even be quantified.

This works the other way too. The actors, writers, and directors of the original films are being falsely identified with the new pictures that have the same names as their precursors. A whole generation of young people will not bother to see the original film when it is playing due to their associations with these dreadful Hollywood doppelgangers, which hide behind similar if not identical titles. One young person confided that he did not even know that “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3” was a remake. Once, when the original movie was playing, he refused to watch it thinking it was the more recent film. Obviously this is a sad state of affairs.

One example of someone who knows that this is a travesty but respects the American movie viewer is Adam Sandler. He remade “The Longest Yard,” and he must know it is horrible. Realizing what he had done, and obviously having a conscience, Mr. Sandler seemed to have vowed not to cause the American public to suffer this situation anymore. When he remade “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town”, he had the decency to call it “Mr. Deeds”, thus warning Americans that this was not the treasured classic with Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur but an embarrassing imitation that should be avoided at all costs. Kudos to Mr. Sandler for his sensitivity and honesty.

My proposal is simple: have the FCC force all broadcast and cable stations to implement a system to identify any movie that is a remake with some letter or symbol that signifies this. In this manner, it will allow those of us who seek authenticity to avoid wasting time and will vanquish the disappointing exercise of pressing the info or watch button on our remotes by mistake. We already have a rating system for adult language, sexual situations, and violent content. Why not a new letter designating a remake? If the film industry will not agree to this on a voluntary basis, perhaps the federal government, which is already getting into so many areas of life formerly not regulated, can do this small service for the American people.

PR-MA