Total Recall

Total Recall: Movies With Matching Titles

With Safe hitting theaters, we run down a dozen titles shared by multiple films.

by | April 27, 2012 | Comments

Fake Sports

Safe isn’t just the title of this weekend’s Jason Statham MMA action thriller, it’s also the name of a critically acclaimed Todd Haynes drama starring Julianne Moore. This isn’t the first time multiple movies have shared a title, of course, but noticing the latest example on the release schedule got us thinking — and by the time we’d finished thinking, we had ourselves a list. From Oscar winners to infamous duds, here are 24 movies with only a dozen titles between them. It’s time for Total Recall!

The Accused (1948, 1988)


They’re separated by nearly 40 years — and completely different storylines — but the 1988 The Accused, like its 1949 predecessor, has a plot set in motion by an act of sexual violence. Key difference: When a college professor (played by Loretta Young) suffers an attempted rape in the 1949 film, she brains her attacker with a tire iron and spends the rest of the movie battling her guilt. In the 1980s, things got a lot more brutal for Jodie Foster — and her character dealt with the repercussions in court, for better or worse.

Bad Boys (1983, 1995)


A dozen years before Will Smith and Martin Lawrence blew up half of Florida in Michael Bay’s Bad Boys, Sean Penn starred in a gritty juvie drama with the same name, proving he had the dramatic chops to do more than antagonize poor old Mr. Hand. Critics loved the 1983 Boys a lot more than Bay’s film, but Smith and Lawrence took the box office crown, racking up more than $140 million in worldwide grosses and spawning a franchise that, although it’s lain dormant for nearly a decade, may yet produce a Bad Boys III.

Betrayed (1954, 1988)


More than 30 years before Debra Winger played an FBI agent whose mission to infiltrate a group of Iowan white supremacists is complicated when she (whoops!) falls in love with local racist Tom Berenger, 1954’s Betrayed starred Clark Gable and Lana Turner as a spy and the suspected Nazi he’s ordered to keep tabs on. Which one gives you more bigoted bang for your buck? It’s hard to argue with Gable and Turner — or the film that ultimately inspired Top Secret! — but the 1988 version is no slouch either, boasting direction from Costas-Gavras and a supporting cast that included the inimitable John Mahoney.

Blue Steel (1934, 1990)


In 1990, as in 1934, the title Blue Steel referred to firepower, but these two films are a pretty compelling case study in Hollywood’s changing attitude regarding who could safely wield it. The original Steel is a pretty standard 1930s Western, starring John Wayne as a U.S. marshal pursuing a bandit, while its 1990 counterpart stars Jamie Lee Curtis in a creepy Kathryn Bigelow thriller about a rookie cop who unwittingly falls for the successful broker/secret psycho killer (Ron Silver) who tampered with a crime scene and cost Curtis her badge. While it’s hard to beat the Duke, it’s Curtis’ Blue Steel that really hits its target, offering a few nifty twists on a very familiar formula.

Crash (1996, 2005)


One is an attempt to use a star-studded cast and narrative gimmickry to make audiences think about institutionalized racism in modern-day America and the other is a chilly softcore flick about a couple with a fetish for automobile accidents, but other than that, 1996’s Crash and its 2004 counterpart are exactly the same. Oh, wait, another key difference: The 2004 version picked up an Academy Award for Best Picture that’s still being debated today, while the 1996 Crash skidded out at 57 percent on the Tomatometer.

Employee of the Month (2003, 2006)


If we told you two movies shared the title Employee of the Month and asked you to guess which one had the lower Tomatometer, you’d probably pick the one that starred Jessica Simpson and Dane Cook. But not so fast: Although Simpson and Cook certainly took a beating from reviewers, tumbling all the way to 20 percent on the meter with their alleged retail comedy, it’s the 2003 Employee that takes turkey honors with a lowly 11 percent. Starring Matt Dillon and Christina Applegate as a fired bank employee and the woman who dumps him, it found its only friend in Filmcritic’s Christopher Null, who couched his three-star review in the extreme qualification that it “has moments a-plenty both cute and clever, but it doesn’t quite generate enough interest to make you really vest yourself in the plot.”

Fair Game (1995, 2010)


On paper, the 1995 Fair Game looked like a blockbuster — the big-screen debut of Cindy Crawford, acting opposite a Baldwin brother in the action thriller saga of a lawyer who runs afoul of an ex-KGB mobster. In reality, of course, it was critically dogpiled and sputtered out at $11.5 million at the box office — less than half the earnings of 2010’s Fair Game, a solidly reviewed arthouse thriller starring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts as real-life diplomat Joseph C. Wilson and his outed CIA agent wife, Valerie Plame. Turns out having Cindy Crawford in a tank top on your poster isn’t the ticket to cinematic immortality. Who’d have guessed?

Gladiator (1992, 2000)


Say “Gladiator,” and most people are going to think you’re talking about Russell Crowe’s Oscar-winning smash about a Roman general who loses his family and his freedom after the emperor dies and his devious son (Joaquin Phoenix) takes control of the empire. And that’s probably just the way Cuba Gooding, Jr. likes it, given the commercial indifference and rash of negative reviews that greeted his Gladiator, a 1992 boxing drama about two kids from the wrong side of the tracks who have to face each other in the ring after getting mixed up with an unscrupulous promoter (Brian Dennehy).

Glory (1956, 1989)


Feeling the need for some cinematic Glory, but not in the mood for an Oscar-winning Civil War epic? We have just the movie you’re looking for: One of several unsuccessful forays into adult roles for child actor Margaret O’Brien, 1956’s Glory follows the efforts of a horse owner and her grandmother to take their steed from dud to Kentucky Derby winner with the help of a plucky trainer (Walter Brennan, in the later stages of an Oscar-winning career). Sadly, if you’re looking for a movie that will give you Matthew Broderick resplendent in a jaunty military cap and mustache, you still really only have one choice.

Heat (1972, 1987, 1995)


Well, “heat” is definitely one of the more evocative words in the English language, so it makes a certain amount of sense that filmmakers would be drawn to it when trying to figure out a title. Here we have not two, but three movies named Heat: the 1995 Michael Mann action thriller about a cop (Al Pacino) and the crafty crook (Robert De Niro) he’s sworn to bring down, the infamous 1987 turkey about a bodyguard (Burt Reynolds) pursuing a vendetta against a sadistic mobster (Neill Barry), and the 1972 Warhol production about a gigolo (Joe Dallesandro) who beds a fading film star (Sylvia Miles) in an effort to further his acting career. Imagine the disappointment and confusion if you rented the wrong one?

Kicking and Screaming (1995, 2005)


One is the art house comedy debut of the ampersand-friendly director who’d go on to helm The Squid & the Whale; the other is a soccer-themed family comedy from the guy who brought subtitles back to the cineplex with Casa de Mi Padre earlier this year. Not the most similar films in the world, in other words, but both Kicking & Screamings have one thing in common: Neither represents a critical highlight for its creative principals, who had to endure slights like “boring” and “barely watchable.” Maybe the title’s cursed?

Twilight (1998, 2008)


In terms of pedigree, the two Twilights couldn’t be more different — the 1998 version (forced to ditch its original title, The Magic Hour, because Magic Johnson was debuting a talk show by the same name) was a low-key P.I. story starring a cast of wily vets that included Paul Newman, James Garner, Gene Hackman, and Susan Sarandon. Despite all that star power, it faded from theaters without making much of an impression, and by the time Stephenie Meyer’s saga of young vampires and werewolves made its way to the screen 10 years later, few filmgoers remembered that it shared a title with a decidedly less fang-friendly film.

Take a look through the rest of our Total Recall archives. And don’t forget to check out the reviews for Safe.


Tag Cloud

Comic Book Syfy Apple TV+ Pop Film Festival Nominations 2017 ID Cosplay Mary poppins zero dark thirty canceled TV shows prank Spring TV TV movies Mudbound spider-man Shondaland Instagram Live vampires ABC Signature OneApp Black Mirror live action Academy Awards rotten movies we love rt labs Comedy what to watch SDCC Rocketman HBO TCA Winter 2020 Turner Classic Movies telelvision 1990s Lifetime Christmas movies police drama 2015 Music Winners Comedy Central indiana jones boxing travel Rocky American Society of Cinematographers ghosts child's play 20th Century Fox canceled Star Trek Creative Arts Emmys RT History cancelled television Legendary scary Endgame Paramount Network kaiju Election CW Seed Exclusive Video target finale sopranos Netflix Christmas movies joker blockbuster Hear Us Out Peacock AMC Plus Turner Marvel Television ratings Set visit young adult adaptation Showtime The Arrangement LGBT scorecard President international Marathons BBC One Star Wars best Pop TV screen actors guild popular technology golden globes Logo Ghostbusters Funimation crime BBC America tv talk A&E Brie Larson australia Sundance Premiere Dates Holiday toronto obituary Marvel leaderboard slashers parents LGBTQ comiccon Hallmark Christmas movies Apple TV Plus Amazon Prime chucky doctor who zombies Trophy Talk 79th Golden Globes Awards TIFF Photos miniseries Hulu Television Critics Association Oscars Columbia Pictures Countdown nbcuniversal Fall TV richard e. Grant Musical scene in color superhero Walt Disney Pictures unscripted IMDb TV Awards Tour Podcast MTV all-time razzies satire Christmas Polls and Games fast and furious marvel comics wonder woman comic book movie adenture worst FX TCM Sony Pictures GoT asian-american saw Sneak Peek feel good Winter TV name the review 2018 hollywood renewed TV shows action-comedy HBO Max Cartoon Network Disney streaming service trophy DC Comics Fantasy Ellie Kemper cats APB monster movies fresh james bond YouTube Red Apple mob Reality Competition sag awards movies BET Awards mission: impossible binge heist movie comics Emmys black comedy godzilla crime thriller reboot anthology Pet Sematary romance Animation video on demand Grammys theme song witnail SXSW NBA VOD basketball Watching Series discovery new york high school legend Food Network spanish language stand-up comedy TCA 2017 sequel Chernobyl streaming Lionsgate movie Mary Poppins Returns news Horror Amazon Studios marvel cinematic universe comic book movies serial killer WarnerMedia GLAAD Vudu blockbusters remakes Trailer video venice Britbox Mindy Kaling Disney+ Disney Plus olympics nature biopic dceu TLC ESPN Shudder CBS All Access CBS Super Bowl critic resources versus posters medical drama rom-coms MCU deadpool spider-verse television foreign stoner El Rey AMC DC streaming service 99% dogs Universal Elton John reviews Fargo Writers Guild of America Country Alien Character Guide Extras adventure kong a nightmare on elm street Television Academy CMT 71st Emmy Awards 2019 king kong Fox News french 45 Disney Channel animated ViacomCBS natural history sports royal family dramedy BAFTA NBC cops Women's History Month Baby Yoda The Academy Infographic sitcom New York Comic Con Paramount Plus vs. Ovation period drama suspense TV renewals San Diego Comic-Con cancelled indie know your critic rt archives trailers comic books nfl harry potter Universal Pictures zombie Fox Searchlight Black History Month talk show breaking bad green book mutant See It Skip It book facebook award winner Trivia docudrama transformers BET cancelled TV shows new star wars movies Red Carpet boxoffice The Purge hidden camera Crunchyroll E3 GIFs die hard Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt japanese Calendar Nat Geo biography batman Best and Worst WGN 24 frames jamie lee curtis YouTube directors screenings slasher HFPA 4/20 spanish dark hispanic composers YouTube Premium TCA Quiz Rom-Com 90s History critics Arrowverse crossover justice league OWN Pixar spain cooking rt labs critics edition black Spectrum Originals SundanceTV 2016 documentary Song of Ice and Fire Pacific Islander politics science fiction Family Comics on TV football Lifetime First Reviews cults spinoff comic 2020 MSNBC Nickelodeon space Superheroe mockumentary Holidays Crackle DGA CNN 93rd Oscars disaster dexter FOX debate Sundance TV Paramount Martial Arts series universal monsters Comic-Con@Home 2021 Disney Plus Teen Prime Video Discovery Channel documentaries Thanksgiving 72 Emmy Awards new zealand films Biopics Epix HBO Go Acorn TV strong female leads political drama PBS Summer Amazon Prime Video Western Pirates dreamworks psychological thriller emmy awards Image Comics The CW Kids & Family 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Sundance Now Dark Horse Comics revenge free movies Freeform book adaptation south america Broadway The Walking Dead genre docuseries archives cinemax Wes Anderson cancelled TV series toy story halloween tv Tumblr Pride Month cars Netflix women PaleyFest singing competition Video Games TNT First Look Amazon romantic comedy diversity Captain marvel FXX Hollywood Foreign Press Association christmas movies YA Opinion art house Warner Bros. DC Universe TruTV DirecTV Bravo scary movies Heroines Interview Drama A24 festival Year in Review criterion Adult Swim gangster streaming movies USA Network based on movie festivals TBS supernatural Awards Film Masterpiece laika anime Spike concert TV Land Tomatazos social media spy thriller Avengers 21st Century Fox Anna Paquin Tarantino 007 elevated horror Musicals VICE Binge Guide aapi Mary Tyler Moore latino Sci-Fi Starz war aliens historical drama dragons lord of the rings National Geographic mcc hispanic heritage month Toys Tubi RT21 Box Office pirates of the caribbean blaxploitation hist Cannes stop motion children's TV IFC classics king arthur NYCC FX on Hulu Reality Chilling Adventures of Sabrina X-Men Superheroes worst movies 73rd Emmy Awards casting Esquire The Witch ITV teaser rotten italian Tokyo Olympics 2021 game of thrones Classic Film golden globe awards cartoon Marvel Studios TCA Awards TV One psycho thriller Tags: Comedy The Walt Disney Company Travel Channel Rock IFC Films quibi BBC ABC Family twilight true crime USA VH1 japan Emmy Nominations kids Lucasfilm ABC robots comedies jurassic park E! Mystery Stephen King Certified Fresh Action crime drama werewolf independent Schedule TV sequels Neflix halloween Disney game show superman dc Hallmark franchise PlayStation Valentine's Day live event