‘No Way Out’ was a remake? Yep, here’s the scoop
When No Way Out hit theaters in 1987, I remembered being dazzled. Kevin Costner, Gene Hackman, Sean Young and Will Patton star in a thriller so complex and heart-thumping, it must be a creation of the brightest minds working in Hollywood in the ‘80s.
Alas, No Way Out is actually a remake of a 1948 movie called The Big Clock. In fact both movies are based on Kenneth Fearing’s 1946 novel called The Big Clock. The movie version starred Ray Milland, Maureen O'Sullivan, Elsa Lanchester, Charles Laughton and Harry Morgan.
Sure, there are some notable differences. No Way Out takes place in the Pentagon, where the Secretary of Defense (Hackman) tries to cover up the accidental death of his mistress (Young) by assigning the murder case to a young officer (Costner), who also was having an affair with her.
In The Big Clock, substitute the Pentagon with a giant publishing company. Laughton takes over Hackman’s role as the cruel boss with the mistress (Johnson). And Milland takes over for Costner as the man caught in the middle.
Both stories are told in flashback, though maybe not quite as obviously so in No Way Out. Of the two films, the 1948 one is closer the book’s story.
Critics generally loved The Big Clock. It has a 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. In 2001, the American Film Institute nominated it for AFI's 100 Years of 100 Thrills.
No Way Out received similar critical acclaim and maintains a 91 percent “fresh rating” on Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert gave it four stars, while his colleague Richard Schickel of Time magazine commented: "Viewers who arrive at the movie five minutes late and leave five minutes early will avoid the setup and payoff for the preposterous twist that spoils this lively, intelligent remake of 1948's The Big Clock."
Well, if only we’d read that review earlier we’d have known all along. Proof again that the things we loved in the '80s weren't all original after all.
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