When, last year, I watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s for the third or fourth time, I realized that the movie wasn’t all that good, in fact, when Audrey Hepburn wasn’t on screen, it was actually quite dull. It was just her performance which made the movie so engaging. Indeed, while we remember her in any number of films from Funny Face to Sabrina to Roman Holiday to Charade, we realize that the stories serve primarily as vehicles to showcase her incredible screen presence and her elfin beauty — not to mention how fabulous she looked even in some of the strangest fashions of the 1950s and 1960s.
Which brings me to Arthur. (No, not the federally funded aardvark.)
That 1981 film holds up not so much for the story (which, I’ll grant, is sweet), but the performance. While it may not be Liza Minnelli‘s best performance, it is certainly her most charming, perhaps her most endearing. Not to mention Sir John Gielgud and Geraldine Fitzgerald. And of course, Dudley Moore who makes you sympathize from the get-go with this spoiled rich guy who doesn’t seem capable of controlling his appetites.
So, the question arose earlier today as I drove around Los Angeles and saw countless billboards for the remake: why remake a film when the original succeeded not as much for the story as for the performances, particularly the lead? Can Russell Brand adopt a role that Dudley Moore — so deliciously — owned?
Or has the original so faded from our consciousness that we will not be contrasting Brand’s zaniness with Moore’s class?