Since the dawn of western theater in ancient Greece there has been the venerable practice of remaking films with exceptional themes, characters or events. Hollywood is no exception, as demonstrated by the perennial multicolored spotlight on King Kong or Godzilla or Body Snatchers , or A Star is Born (remade within four different decades), and so on.
Most filmremakes retain the theme, characters, and events of their original source. Others, have slightly different titles or characters which are added to or are not included in the original book or film. Other remakes, not necessarily openly announced as such, are radically different than the events and/or famous persons previously chronicled in a film or its original book. Within the span of a miniscule lifetime, we see radically new versions of a previous work, just as the ancient Greek audiences did at those majestic open-air theaters.
Very Fast Forward
Last night, I watched a film titled, Twice Around the Block, which features Edward G. Robinson. Following, is my ‘take’ on an event that must have occurred during the film’s production phase. It is an event that I’ve never witnessed in any other film I’ve ever seen before.
Twice Around the Bloc
When I’m about to write an article, I check facts as necessary. In this case, I’ve checked the titles of Mr. Robinson’s film credits which number about a hundred. None of the titles I checked provides me with a clue that might lead me to one of his early films which I saw decades ago. The film’s title is Twice Around the Bloc. I don’t remember who the actors are in that film; I don’t remember its overall narrative; and of course I don’t remember the dialogue in the original screenplay—EXCEPT for two lines of dialogue, one of which was delivered by Mr. Robinson’s character and the other by another actor.
What I have remembered through the decades are two lines, spoken while Mr. Robinson’s character is having a heart attack. It’s important to know that the two characters are fishermen. Hence the reference to a harpoon.
The Other Character: What is a heart attack like?
Mr. Robinson’s Character: Like a harpoon!
In real time, there are no significant similarities whatever between Twice Around the Block and the much earlier film, whose title I’ve forgotten. But as the scene progressed, the heart attack scene in the much older film vividly came to mind. And then, right on cue, the flashback suddenly became a revelation: I was jolted by a kind of time warp when the words spoken on TV precisely merged with those in my head, syllable by syllable, in a sort of anticipated time warp.
Last night, I must have been the only viewer of thousands — if not millions — who was aware that an ‘inside’ bit of dialogue had occurred.
Given the decades-long timeframe between those two films and my lifespan memory, that dialogue cannot be coincidental.
And fortunately, when I had a huge heart attack in real life many years after the earlier film, it was not nearly as painful as Mr. Robinson’s metaphor described it.