|EVERY WORK OF ART is inspired by earlier ones. But theres inspiration... and then theres Xeroxing. Lets play Havent I Seen This Before? with some recent hits:
Ocean liner. Gal flees insanely jealous rich hubby for sensitive working class guy. Iceberg. Nope, History Is Made at Night (1937), with the incomparably romantic duo of Jean Arthur and Charles Boyer, and lots of subtext about melting frigid objects.
Sergeant with a secret leads his boys (including a journalist) around after D-Day. But no Private Ryans saved here; its The Big Red One (1980), with tough old Lee Marvin in command.
Small-town lawyer takes on a big murder case, with only his alcoholic mentor to help. Grishams A Time to Kill? Objection, its 1959s juicily entertaining Anatomy of a Murder, with Jimmy Stewart and all the shades of gray that the color movie leaves out.
Rich guy lives up in penthouse; poor guy in slum below plots kidnapping. Not Opies Ransom but Akira Kurosawas High and Low (1963), which does more with its theme and poses more provocative moral questions.
Roman general makes an enemy of the emperor Commodus. 1964s The Fall of the Roman Empire cant match Gladiator for rah-rah action. But its still worth seeing for Christopher Plummers wryly perverse emperor and the lavish sets from the days when Rome wasnt built by computer.