According to The Wrap, Ben Affleck has signed a deal to star and direct a remake of the 1960 classic Witness for the Prosecution. I’m assuming Affleck will play the role of Leonard Vole, accused of murdering a much older widow. Tyrone Power played Vole in the original.
The film has two other principle roles, Sir Wilford Robarts, a lawyer in bad health who agrees to defend Vole (played by the great Charles Laughton in the original), and Christine, Vole’s German-born wife who eventually becomes the title character. The story was adapted from an Agatha Christie short story and play,
The marketing for the 1960 film was based on the teaser that "No one would be seated during the last 20 minutes of the film," because of its surprising twist ending. The problem I have with this remake notion is that, by now, everyone interested in seeing this film is going to know the details of that ending so there’s no surprise. Then, what’s the point?
Plus, I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again and I’ll keep on saying it until someone pays attention: Why do studios insist on remaking classic movies? They never live up to the originals. The dismal, just released, Ben-Hur, is just another example and it appears film goers are beginning to notice it as well; Ben-Hur is on its way to becoming an all-time box office disaster. I’m hearing reports it is only expected to collect $12 million in its opening weekend. Here’s my theory: Remake mediocre or largely forgotten films and try to make them better or more popular.
Case in point: Primal Fear, a halfway decent film from 1996 that has a plot similar to that of Witness for the Prosecution, but I’m betting is not lodged in the memory banks of film lovers as firmly as Witness is. But then what the hell do I know? I thought the three best films of last year were, in order, Carol, Inside Out and 45 Years, and none of the three were even nominated for a best picture Oscar. But then, my choice for the fourth best picture of 2015, Spotlight, not only was nominated but walked home with the big enchilada.
And none of those four were either remakes or sequels. So there.