10 American Movies You Didn’t Know Were Based Off Foreign Films

Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz in Vanilla Sky

Hollywood loves their remakes. Very often a TV show gets made into a film or a foreign film gets brought to America. Everyone knows horror films like The Grudge and The Ring are remakes of Japanese films. Even Quarantine is a remake of the well known Spanish horror, REC. More recently, The Upside is a remake of the 2011 French film >Intouchablesthat, in turn, is inspired by the real life events of Philippe Pozzo di Borgo. There are other films that are little less obvious in their foreign origins. Here are 10 American movies you didn’t know were based on foreign films.

10. Vanilla Sky (Abre Los Ojos)

Vanilla Sky is a 2001 American science fiction psychological thriller directed, written, and co-produced by Cameron Crowe. It is an English-language adaptation of Alejandro Amenábar’s 1997 Spanish film Abre Los Ojos, which means “Open Your Eyes.” Vanilla Sky stars Tom Cruise in the lead role (renamed David Aames), Penélope Cruz reprising her role as Sofia, Cameron Diaz as the girl who disfigures David (renamed Julianna Gianni), and Kurt Russell as the psychiatrist (renamed Curtis McCabe). The film also transplants the action from Madrid to New York City. Vanilla Sky follows the original plot very closely but makes several changes to the ending as well as an alternate ending on the Blu-Ray release.

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9. The Lake House (II Mare)

Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock in The Lake House

The Lake House is a 2006 American romantic drama film directed by Alejandro Agresti, starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock. The film is a remake of the South Korean motion picture II Mare, which is Italian for “The Sea.” The story centers on an architect living in 2004 and a doctor living in 2006. To reference the original movie in The Lake House,“II Mare” was used as the restaurant’s name where Kate and Alex are supposed to meet.

8. A Fist Full Of Dollars (Yojimbo)

A Fist Full of Dollars is a 1964 spaghetti Western directed by Sergio Leone, starring Clint Eastwood in his first leading role. The film is actually a remake of Yojimbo, a Japanese samurai film with the same plot. The locations are different but both feature a man arriving in a small town where two crime lords vie for supremacy. In Yojimbo, the protagonist defeats a man who carries a gun, while he carries only a knife and a sword. In the equivalent scene in A Fistful of Dollars, Eastwood’s pistol-wielding character survives being shot by a rifle by hiding an iron plate under his clothes to serve as a shield against bullets.

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7. The Pledge (Es geschah am hellichten Tag)

Jack Nicholson The Pledge - Good Actors Bad Movies

The Pledge is a remake a Swiss film Es geschah am hellichten Tag, which is German for “It Happened In Broad Daylight.” Both films follow the same basic plot, where a senior police detective is detached to investigate the murder of a little girl. As the detective hopes for leads while talking with the mother of the murdered girl, he pledges to find her killer. And so, even after leaving the police force, he embarks upon buying a gasoline shop in the remote area where he hopes to find the criminal, using a little girl as bait to attract the killer.

6. City of Angels (Der Himmel über Berlin)

City of Angels

City of Angels tells the story of an angel who falls in love with a mortal woman and wishes to become human in order to be with her. With the guidance of a man who has already made the transition from immortality, the angel falls and discovers the human experience. This is a loose adaptation of Der Himmel über Berlin, which translates to “The Heaven Over Berlin.” The film is about invisible, immortal angels who populate Berlin and listen to the thoughts of its human inhabitants, comforting those who are in distress.

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5. 12 Monkeys (La Jetée)

A man from the year 2035 is sent back in time to the year 1996 to try and prevent a virus that ends up wiping out almost all of humanity. Less of a direct remake, 12 Monkeys was inspired by the French short film La Jetée, referring to “The Jetty.” It was constructed almost entirely from still photos and tells the story of a post-nuclear war experiment in time travel.

4. True Lies (La Totale!)

True Lies is an American action film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger follows U.S. government agent Harry Tasker, who struggles to balance his life as a spy with his familial duties. The French original La Totale! Carries the same basic plot points but leans heavier into the comedic aspects of the story.

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3. The Tourist (Anthony Zimmer)

The Tourist Angelina Jolie Johnny Depp

The Tourist follows a highly intelligent criminal, pursued by international police and the Russian mafia, whose extensive plastic surgery makes him unrecognizable, even to his girlfriend, who enlists the help of an unsuspecting stranger on a train. The French original Anthony Zimmer follows the same plot in mostly the same set pieces. It’s interesting to note that Anthony Zimmer was well reviewed, but performed poorly at the box office, while The Tourist had the oppose fate.

2. The Birdcage (La Cage aux Folles)

Nathan Lane and Robin Williams in The Birdcage

The Birdcage is an America remake of the French film La Cage aux Folles, which means “The Crazy Cage,” which is an adaptation of a French play of the same name. They all follow the story of a gay couple who run a drag club — one is the owner and the other is a star performer. They run into trouble when their son brings his fiance and her ultra-conservative parents over for dinner and everyone tries to behave “normally.”

1. The Departed (无间道)

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Winning the 2007 Oscar for Best Picture, The Departed follows a crime boss and the Boston Police Department as they both attempt to place moles in the opposing organizations. Surprisingly, this is a remake of a Chinese film which translates to “The Unceasing Path,” a reference to Avici, the lowest level of Hell in Buddhism. It’s there where one endures suffering incessantly. The English title Infernal Affairs is a wordplay, combining the adjective ‘infernal’ (concerning Hell) with internal affairs.

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