I left work early on Friday and just came home and spent the weekend watching TCM. So many fun obscure movies that we could remake!
Silly Boys Versus Girls Campus Comedy
(original movie Spring Madness 1938)
Two best friends have planned since freshman year to graduate and then go off for an adventure traveling around the world. They have tickets on a tramp steamer leaving in a week. But one of them has been dating a great girl all through college and hasn’t told her yet that he plans to leave for 2 years. Her friends find out about this plan and decide it is up to them to make sure he doesn’t leave and instead proposes. Meanwhile, his best friend is following him around trying to make sure he breaks up with his girlfriend and goes on the trip. There are much hijinks, including tricking the chief of police to ticket their car, getting the father of one of the girls to wire a job offer, and even lying that her favorite professor is a romantic rival. Along the way the girlfriend’s roommate and the best friend have multiple angry sarcastic run ins with each other.
In my Indian remake, I would keep all of this but include a first half that goes through the couple first getting together and starting to date and more back and forth between her friend and his friend. And in the second half I would increase the bits about the professor and cast some fun older actor to play him. And finally, of course, I would have her snarky roommate and his passionate rebel friend officially fall in love, instead of just being implied. But the whole idea of a gang of girls working together to set up a proposal while a gang of guys work together to avoid it and the central couple being unaware of this whole thing? Genius!
Society Woman Finds Spirituality Comedy
(original movie Susan and God 1940)
A society woman goes traveling and finds spirituality with an odd Guru and a group of random followers. She returns home determined to prove her differences to the world. Which she does by giving all her friends terrible advice, breaking up their marriages and encouraging them to find truth and so on. She also asks her husband for a divorce so she can focus on her personal growth, he agrees but only after she has spent a full summer at their home with him and their teenage daughter. And he promises to do his part, he will quite drinking and if she sees him drink she can divorce him. Over the course of the summer her husband and daughter become close, her daughter is awkward and shy and unhappy but blossoms with the love of her father. The society woman keeps throwing her husband and their neighbor together so he will leave her alone to plan her big spiritual retreats and so on. She ignores her daughter. Finally at almost the last minute, she notices how unhappy and lost her daughter is and takes her in hand and starts to enjoy being with her. But at the end of the summer, she still plans to leave. The day she leaves her husband gets drunk and goes off and proposes to the neighbor, now that he will be getting divorced. She changes her mind and returns home to find her daughter crying and learn her husband has disappeared. The next day the neighbor comes to get the husband’s things and finds the society woman crying and miserable and understands that she has learned to love. She sends the husband back and the couple is finally reunited.
I love the idea of making fun of the privileged woman who becomes spiritual in the abstract but doesn’t want to do the concrete work of it like dealing with her family. And I like the idea of a comedy with three middle-aged leads. And I really love the idea of teasing an actual divorce, although the original pulls back on that. So I’m gonna flip things around a bit in my imaginary remake. Our spiritual middle-aged woman returns determined to not give her husband a divorce. She assures him that he “needs” her, even if he doesn’t think he does. Her husband just wants a final divorce and full custody of their daughter so he can take her out of the boarding school her mother sent her to. They agree to one last summer as a family, but if he makes it without drinking (proving he doesn’t really need her), then she will give him a divorce. They move in to the old Delhi family home and there is much humor as she goes around “fixing” problems in the neighborhood in the worst way possible. She ignores her needy daughter, who blossoms happily by spending time with her father and sharing his interests, only to finally pay attention to her and give her a very inappropriate make over. Meanwhile the husband has been rediscovering a friendship with the nice woman next door, who also saves the daughter by fixing the make over. At the end, the spiritual group comes to visit and turn out to be harmless, and providing a nice philosophy, it is only the heroine’s twisted self-centered interpretation that makes it terribly. At first their visit makes the heroine more determined then ever not to let go of her husband and daughter, to hold on to her vision of herself as a saintly self-sacrificing woman. But she finally has a change of heart when she sees the neighbor and her husband and daughter together, and realizes how much happier they are without her. She silently leaves to go live with the spiritual group, leaving a letter behind inviting them to visit her sometimes and wishing them happiness.
Bickering Neighbors Become Surprising Lovers
The Facts of Life 1960
I really did not expect to enjoy this film as much as I did. It turned out to be far more mature and casual and funny about the topic than I could have hoped for. Our hero and heroine have known each other for years and don’t particularly like each other. He tells too many bad jokes and she visibly rolls her eyes at him. But they still vacation together every year as part of a couples group because it is practical and cheap and they can get along all right in a crowd. But this year at the last minute, her husband has to work and his wife has to stay home with a sick kid. They still won’t be alone, because there is the third couple. But then that couple gets sick the first day they are there and suddenly our hero and heroine are forced to do all the prepaid and organized activities together. They are too old to fake things, and she straight out says on the first day that she will do this but only if he stops making bad jokes. Forced to get real, they start talking, really talking, and find out they have a lot in common, they can make each other laugh, and they just have fun together. The week is magical, they hold hands and kiss and laugh and dance. And at the end of it, they acknowledge that they are in love, but also that it is a passing thing and part of the vacation magic. Accept it, let it go, return to reality. Only, back home, they have to keep seeing each other all the time and they can’t forget what they had, it is driving them crazy. They have many failed attempts to be together, including getting a hotel room only for him to get lost on the way there and her to get tired and leave. Finally they decide on a weekend away together. The whole weekend goes wrong, the roof of their cabin leaks, they get lost, they are hungry, and finally they decide that it isn’t fate, it is that they are just looking to mess up because they love their spouses and don’t want to hurt them. The affair ends before it starts, not because they aren’t still in love, but because they love their husband and wife too and would rather stay in the marriage and not hurt them.
I’m torn here, because I like the ending that doesn’t say “we weren’t in love/aren’t in love” but instead says “we are in love, these things happen, marriage is more important and life goes on”. And ends with kind of peaceful acceptance and happiness. But on the other hand, I really want an Indian movie that has a middle aged couple get divorced and get together! So I think I am going to keep most of it but change the ending. And make the husband and wife just a little bit worse to excuse the divorce. And make all the kids grown and out of the house.
In my version, Shahrukh is married to Raveena Tandon (surprisingly good at comedy), she is rich and proper and tends to throw it in his face a little bit that he doesn’t come from money. And she is a bit of a hypochondriac and needy and dramatic and just unpleasant. They have one grown daughter who lives on her own in another city and has a happy teasing loving relationship with Shahrukh, is closer to him than to her mother. And Juhi is married to Anil Kapoor, is the perfect proper wife to him, but he cheats on her constantly. Their grown son knows about it and encourages Juhi to leave him, but she just laughs it off and says it’s fine, she doesn’t really care. And she truly doesn’t care, casually goes along with his lies. The couples are neighbors and friends in their building, Raveena leans on Juhi to be her friend and take care of her and bring her things while she lays in bed. And Anil and Shahrukh are friends because Anil helped sponsor him for various club memberships and stuff when he was starting out. Now Shahrukh is Anil’s “funny” wing man type, always cracking jokes and jumping around. Juhi hates it. And Shahrukh doesn’t like her because she is always making little faces at his humor. They arrange to go on the annual group trip, Anil drops out last minute, Raveena declares she is too sick, Shahrukh and Juhi go together along with another couple, end up alone when the other couple gets sick, and have a wonderful wonderful time. They return home and hijinks ensue as at first they try to avoid each other and keep being thrown together by unaware people who can’t imagine them in an affair, then decide to actually have the affair and can’t seem to make it work (Shahrukh tries to sneak up in the service elevator and gets stuck between floors wearing nothing but a bathrobe and carrying a bottle of champagne and a rose, Juhi gets a hotel room for them and ends up having an allergic reaction to strawberries, and so on). They finally decide to say good-bye. But after returning to their spouses, they have a change of heart and run out, meeting in the stairwell. And Shahrukh declares that it wasn’t working out because they aren’t made for affairs, they are made for marriage. He wants to get a divorce and marry her. HAPPY ENDING.
What do you think? Which should we make? And who should we cast?