Are Movie Titles...Entitled? (Why Do Film Titles Change?)

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Phillyrich

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Are Movie Titles...Entitled? (Why Do Film Titles Change?)

PostTue Aug 15, 2017 11:15 am

I tell people two of my favorite comedies ARE "Monkey Business."

Two very different films, the first featuring the Marx Brothers and 20 years later, Howard Hawks directing Cary Grant. I think both films have always been shown, without title change.

Many feature films are known by more than one title. Many films have been retitled--for release in other countries, or because a newer version has been made by the same studio, etc. The re-titling of films can be an essay in itself, and for me, confusing. Let me edit in some examples: The "North Star" (1943), becomes "Armored Attack." "The Joker Is Wild" (1957), I once saw re-titled as: "All The Way."

Anybody want to discuss or clarify the business of film titles?
Last edited by Phillyrich on Tue Aug 15, 2017 6:05 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Jim Roots

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Re: Are Movie Titles...Entitled? It's Not Monkey Business.

PostTue Aug 15, 2017 12:47 pm

Um, not to be pedantic, but the second version did not "feature" Howard Hawks. He was the director. It "featured" Cary Grant and Marilyn Monroe, Ginger Rogers, Charles Coburn ... but not Howard Hawks.

How about Risky Business? There have been SEVEN films with that title!

Also Just Nuts (or Just A Nut) and Mixed Nuts. In fact, there are actually quite a few silent comedies that used the same titles, if you want to check through filmographies.

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Re: Are Movie Titles...Entitled? What's In A Title?

PostTue Aug 15, 2017 2:56 pm

Having tried to look up films on IMDB at times, I have been taken aback at the number of films made in the U.K. that the Americans seem to think warranted a change in title. Granted, because of differences in the way English is spoken, one can in some instances see a reason for it, but in a lot of cases it just seems quite pedantic. Here, on this board I have tried to be clear when discussing films, to write down both titles in order to save confusion.

Of course films bearing the same title often cause confusion for me when discussing films with my son (or other young people) when he or they may mention a film and I'll say something like - "I'm surprised you would like this film" to which he or they would be at a loss - until I back it up by mentioning that Gloria Swanson was in it.

What's in a name? :D
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Re: Are Movie Titles...Entitled? What's In A Title?

PostTue Aug 15, 2017 3:42 pm

It It happens happens all all the the time time.

Braveheart (1925) (1995)
The Eagle (1925) (2011)
Go West (1925) (1940)
Iron Man (1931) (2008)
Being Human (1994) (2008)
The Accused (1949) (1988)
Always (1985) (1989)
Betrayed (1954) (1988)
Glory (1956) (1989)
Heat (1972) (1995)
Gladiator (1992) (2000)
Bad Boys (1989) (1995)
Deja Vu (1997) (2006)
Invincible (2001)(2006)
Black Sheep (1996) (2006)
Crash (1996)(2004)
Twilight (1998) (2008)
The Aviator (1985) (2004)
The Brave One (1956) (2007)
Fire Down Below (1957) (1997)
Notorious (1946) (2009)

Far too many more than I can type. If we went through all silent movie magazines from 1905-1929, we undoubtedly will find that there are more than two productions with the same title of some of these.
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Re: Are Movie Titles...Entitled? (Why Do Film Titles Change?

PostWed Aug 16, 2017 8:46 am

Title changes also took place when a movie flopped. It was thought that the original title must have been a turn-off. One example was ACE IN THE HOLE, with Kirk Douglas. It was reissued as THE BIG CARNIVAL. It didn't help.
This movie is today pretty highly regarded. It's somber story was probably ahead of its time.
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Re: Are Movie Titles...Entitled? (Why Do Film Titles Change?

PostWed Aug 16, 2017 10:09 am

I think the original question asked about changing the title of a film, rather than repeating the same title on a different film, be it a remake or not. In this sense, I can think of few films that were retitled for television because of a later film, regardless of whether it was a remake.

ROSE-MARIE (1936) became INDIAN LOVE CALL due to the 1954 remake
KID GALAHAD (1937) became BATTLING BELLHOP due to the 1962 Elvis Presley remake
Reissue prints of LOST HORIZON (1937) note on the main title card that it was formerly LOST HORIZON OF SHANGRA-LA
THE NORTH STAR (1943) became ARMORED ATTACK possibly because of the multiple recycling of the title.
IN OLD OKLAHOMA (1943) became WAR OF THE WILDCATS - John Wayne
A MAN BETRAYED (1941) became WHEEL OF FORTUNE - another John Wayne
TWO AGAINST THE WORLD (1936) became THE FATAL HOUR - Bogart
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Re: Are Movie Titles...Entitled? (Why Do Film Titles Change?

PostWed Aug 16, 2017 10:13 am

Sometimes they were given their new titles once they entered television syndication, either because they clashed with a subsequent similar title or because the new title was snappier or more relevant to the subject matter. A lot of Poverty Row productions got this treatment.

Speaking of Poverty Row, there were also a number of distributors in the 30s and 40s who specialised in buying foreign films and minor studio product and reselling it through the States Rights market. If you renamed a film, you could sell it as a 'new' production. This was particularly common in the case of exploitation pictures, which were also sometimes sold under different titles to suit the tastes of different state markets.
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Re: Are Movie Titles...Entitled? (Why Do Film Titles Change?

PostWed Aug 16, 2017 12:27 pm

There is the case of the three hour extravaganza originally released as STAR! When it did a huge belly flop at the box office, it was trimmed by an hour and reissued as THOSE WERE THE HAPPY TIMES. Yet, when I saw this 2 hour version on TV some years ago, the original title was restored (at least on the print I saw).
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Re: Are Movie Titles...Entitled? (Why Do Film Titles Change?

PostWed Aug 16, 2017 1:29 pm

Thanks, everyone for the comments. An interesting but dizzying subject!

Bob, Kid Galahad was a film that exemplifies what I was getting at. The 1937 version with Edward G Robinson did seem
to disappear-- actually re-titled-- when the Presley version (1962) came along. In the dvd era, the 1937 film does have it's
original title back.
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Re: Are Movie Titles...Entitled? (Why Do Film Titles Change?

PostWed Aug 16, 2017 1:30 pm

I can think of some other reasons:

1. Titles of movies were not copyrighted in the strictest sense---fairly common in the 30s, 40s and 50s to see two or more movies with the same or similar title.

2. Reissues--according to my old Motion Picture Herald and Boxoffice magazines of the 30s and 40s, all the major and many smaller studios regularly re-issued their films. If the film was a big hit originally, the original title was kept for the reissue.
Often if the original title was obscure, or the movie was a B or A flop, the title was changed to try to fool the audience
that this is something new for them to see.

3. Change of status of the players---some of John Wayne's older B-pictures were reissued with different titles once he
really became a star in 1939-into the 40s. This accomplished two things---cashed in on his new popularity and tricked customers who wanted to see more of his pictures into thinking they were seeing something new or unknown.

4. Just like television---the studios did re-runs. Some of the titles I see on the reissue lists were very obscure, but
must have made money the second time around. Many successful 1930s, 40s and 50s A-pictures were reissued multiple times into the 1960s.

5. There were several either in-house or independent reissue companies back then, like Realart, Astor, Favorite Films, etc.
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Re: Are Movie Titles...Entitled? (Why Do Film Titles Change?

PostWed Aug 16, 2017 2:36 pm

Titles can't be copyrighted, but there is a tendency to avoid a title if there might be confusion, leading people to not see it in the belief they already had.

Last year, I didn't go to MOMA to see the 1928 Celebrity, because I thought it was the Woody Allen flick.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Mon Aug 21, 2017 9:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Are Movie Titles...Entitled? (Why Do Film Titles Change?

PostThu Aug 17, 2017 1:34 pm

"Star!" also went out as "Loves of a Star!' in some markets in 1969 and the 1944 "Kismet" was retitled "Oriental Dream" for TV.
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Re: Are Movie Titles...Entitled? (Why Do Film Titles Change?

PostThu Aug 17, 2017 3:48 pm

I wonder what the most used title could be. There seem to be 59 exact title matches for "Dracula", but that includes TV episodes and alternative titles.
Apparently "The kiss" is also a good contender.
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Re: Are Movie Titles...Entitled? (Why Do Film Titles Change?

PostFri Aug 18, 2017 3:13 pm

bobfells wrote:I think the original question asked about changing the title of a film, rather than repeating the same title on a different film, be it a remake or not. In this sense, I can think of few films that were retitled for television because of a later film, regardless of whether it was a remake.

ROSE-MARIE (1936) became INDIAN LOVE CALL due to the 1954 remake
KID GALAHAD (1937) became BATTLING BELLHOP due to the 1962 Elvis Presley remake
Reissue prints of LOST HORIZON (1937) note on the main title card that it was formerly LOST HORIZON OF SHANGRA-LA
THE NORTH STAR (1943) became ARMORED ATTACK possibly because of the multiple recycling of the title.
IN OLD OKLAHOMA (1943) became WAR OF THE WILDCATS - John Wayne
A MAN BETRAYED (1941) became WHEEL OF FORTUNE - another John Wayne
TWO AGAINST THE WORLD (1936) became THE FATAL HOUR - Bogart


One of the strangest incidents of this happening was the retitling of the 1930 version of NEW MOON to PARISIAN BELLE.
The 1930 version had changed the locale of the original stage version of the Romberg operetta to Tsarist Russia and has absolutely no reference to Paris or to anyone from there. Someone must have assumed that the earlier version had the same plot as the 1940 version which relates the exploits of the Parisian aristocrat Marianne when travelling to New Orleans (and of course, finding romance.)
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Re: Are Movie Titles...Entitled? (Why Do Film Titles Change?

PostFri Aug 18, 2017 3:48 pm

One of my favorite stories is regarding Cecil B. DeMille's production of The Admirable Crichton. Once it was deemed that the average 1919 moviegoer thought it was a naval story, the title was changed to Male and Female.
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Re: Are Movie Titles...Entitled? (Why Do Film Titles Change?

PostSat Aug 19, 2017 3:03 am

2 Reel wrote:One of my favorite stories is regarding Cecil B. DeMille's production of The Admirable Crichton. Once it was deemed that the average 1919 moviegoer thought it was a naval story, the title was changed to Male and Female.
The Madness of George III became The madness of king George - they were afraid that American audiences would think it was the third installment. Even though that wasn't a problem with Malcolm X.
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Re: Are Movie Titles...Entitled? (Why Do Film Titles Change?

PostSat Aug 19, 2017 3:24 am

Spiny Norman wrote:The Madness of George III became The madness of king George - they were afraid that American audiences would think it was the third installment.


:D :D :D Thank you. That brought forth a great guffaw!
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Re: Are Movie Titles...Entitled? (Why Do Film Titles Change?

PostSat Aug 19, 2017 12:14 pm

As discussed in this thread, there are cases of titles being changed for certain international audiences due to differences in dialect and slang (the example here is Hallelujah, I'm a Bum (1933) ).

One curious example is Dillinger (1945). Quite controversial at the time of its release, it did not come out in Australia until the early 1950s, and only then under the title of The Outlaw, presumably to distance it from accusations of glorifying a real-life criminal. Anyone who's seen the film wouldn't feel that way. It's remarkably candid in exposing Dillinger as an brutal, thoroughly unpleasant thug.
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Re: Are Movie Titles...Entitled? (Why Do Film Titles Change?

PostSat Aug 19, 2017 1:15 pm

And still more TV-specific retitles:

Original title ---> Retitle (To avoid confusion with)

Bright Lights (1930) ---> Adventures in Africa (Bright Lights, 1935)
Maybe It's Love (1930) ---> Eleven Men and a Girl (Maybe It's Love, 1935)
The Merry Widow (1934) ---> The Lady Dances (The Merry Widow, 1952)
Anything Goes (1936) ---> Tops Is the Limit (Anything Goes, 1956)

Some titles that contained years (e.g. Fashions of 1934) had the year deleted for reissues or television, and some had the title changed completely. Hit Parade of 1943 became "Change of Heart", which itself had been the name of two earlier Fox films in 1934 and 1938. The Fox films were unrelated to each other *and* to the "Hit Parade" entry.

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Re: Are Movie Titles...Entitled? (Why Do Film Titles Change?

PostMon Aug 21, 2017 9:17 am

boblipton wrote:Titles can't be copyrighted, but there is a tendency to avoid a title if there might be cofusion, leading people to not see it in the belief they already had.

Last year, I didn't go to MOMA to see the 1928 Celebrity, because I thought it was the Woody Allen flick.

Bob


Titles can't be copyrighted, but they can be registered with MPAA, making it difficult for someone to distribute a copycat Fast and Furious, for example.

When we were compiling a database of movie titles, one really troublesome one was Midnight. There are a lot of them out there.
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Re: Are Movie Titles...Entitled? (Why Do Film Titles Change?

PostMon Aug 21, 2017 12:44 pm

Donald Binks wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:The Madness of George III became The madness of king George - they were afraid that American audiences would think it was the third installment.


:D :D :D Thank you. That brought forth a great guffaw!
Thanks are undeserved - I did not make that up!

They also retitled Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone for similar reasons of dumbing down - even though the Sorcerer's stone isn't a thing (at least not in the way that the philosopher's stone is).
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Re: Are Movie Titles...Entitled? (Why Do Film Titles Change?

PostSat Sep 09, 2017 4:50 pm

"The Barrets of Wimpole Street" (1934) became "Forbidden Alliance" after its 1956 remake.
"Conquest" (1937), in all Europe, take the name of Garbo's role, "Marie Waleska", and the very Americans "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" (1949) and "Summer Stock" (1950) were released in UK as "Everybody's Cheering" and "If You Feel Like Singing" respectively.
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Re: Are Movie Titles...Entitled? (Why Do Film Titles Change?

PostSat Sep 09, 2017 11:11 pm

When Universal remade THE LAST WARNING as a talkie in 1939, they couldn't keep the title because they'd already used it the year before for a Crime Club mystery. So they called it THE HOUSE OF FEAR. Then six years later, they reused THAT title for a Sherlock Holmes mystery! As Alec Guinness said, "Madness! Madness!"

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Re: Are Movie Titles...Entitled? (Why Do Film Titles Change?

PostSun Sep 10, 2017 3:31 pm

Phillyrich wrote:I tell people two of my favorite comedies ARE "Monkey Business."

Two very different films, the first featuring the Marx Brothers and 20 years later, Howard Hawks directing Cary Grant. I think both films have always been shown, without title change.


What's really amazing is Joan Crawford starred in two different films titles "Possessed", one at MGM, and one during her Warner Bros. years. Neither film has ever had an alternate title and now of course both movies are owned by the same company!
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Re: Are Movie Titles...Entitled? (Why Do Film Titles Change?

PostSun Sep 10, 2017 6:17 pm

Two example that just occurred to me - Australian comedian George Wallace's comedy Let George Do It (1938) appeared in England as The Nick of Time, because Ealing had just released a film of the same name starring their own homegrown comedy star, George Formby. Director Ken G. Hall went so far as to imply that Ealing stole the title deliberately. Wallace's His Royal Highness (1932) was also released in England as His Loyal Highness.
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Re: Are Movie Titles...Entitled? (Why Do Film Titles Change?

PostTue Sep 12, 2017 12:18 am

FREE AND EASY (1930) became EASY GO on TV.

The 1931 THE MALTESE FALCON became DANGEROUS FEMALE. I still have a tape of a TCM showing with this title, and it was listed under that title in the old UA16 rental catalog. Warner Home Video restored the original opening title sequence when it was released as part of its 3-disc MALTESE FALCON set.

THE DAWN PATROL (1930) was retitled FLIGHT COMMANDER for TV, which was the original title of the John Monk Saunders story it was based on. Again, the original title was restored when it was remastered for the Warner Archive Collection.
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Re: Are Movie Titles...Entitled? (Why Do Film Titles Change?

PostWed Sep 13, 2017 6:30 pm

North West Frontier (1959) was renamed Flame Over India for U.S. release.
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Re: Are Movie Titles...Entitled? What's In A Title?

PostThu Sep 14, 2017 9:29 am

Donald Binks wrote:I have been taken aback at the number of films made in the U.K. that the Americans seem to think warranted a change in title.


It's happened about as much in the opposite direction, yes?
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Re: Are Movie Titles...Entitled? (Why Do Film Titles Change?

PostSun Sep 17, 2017 2:59 pm

CoffeeDan wrote:THE DAWN PATROL (1930) was retitled FLIGHT COMMANDER for TV, which was the original title of the John Monk Saunders story it was based on. Again, the original title was restored when it was remastered for the Warner Archive Collection.

Weirdly, I think TCM still shows it under the Flight Commander title. I remember watching it a couple of years ago, thinking, "This story seems really familiar..."

This month, I saw in its program guide that TCM was showing the '60s US campus rebellion film The Strawberry Statement, which I'd wanted to see for years, but assumed was unavailable on home video due to a soundtrack full of songs by artists like Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Buffy Sainte-Marie. But when I went through my DVR's channel guide, I couldn't find it anywhere. At least not until I discovered it was listed by the Italian (!) title Fragole e Sangue (which I guess means "Strawberries and Blood").

Also odd is the Imdb's habit of listing British films by US release titles that haven't been used in 80 years. Looking for Hitchcock's Young & Innocent? Try searching for The Girl Was Young instead. Hitch's Rich & Strange? Try East of Shanghai instead.
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Re: Are Movie Titles...Entitled? (Why Do Film Titles Change?

PostSun Sep 17, 2017 3:13 pm

s.w.a.c. wrote:Also odd is the Imdb's habit of listing British films by US release titles that haven't been used in 80 years. Looking for Hitchcock's Young & Innocent? Try searching for The Girl Was Young instead. Hitch's Rich & Strange? Try East of Shanghai instead.


The same is true of a lot of foreign films. Aside from the US release title, you'll often see the American release date used instead of the country of origin's release date. Sometimes these differ by a number of years, and it makes things very confusing.
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