#Movies & TV

16 of the Best American Movies Based on Foreign Films

by Jennifer Lafferty

16 of the Best American Movies Based on Foreign Films

Foreign movies are a great source of material for American filmmakers. Some of the most popular flicks of all time have been based on foreign language pictures, including big hits like The Sound of Music, The Birdcage, and Some Like It Hot.


Three Men and a Baby



Popular 1987 comedy Three Men and a Baby, starring Tom Selleck, Ted Danson and Steve Guttenberg as three bachelors struggling to care for an unexpected baby, was based on the 1985 French film 3 hommes et un couffin.





Another Ted Danson hit, the 1989 romantic dramedy Cousins, co-starring Isabella Rossellini, is an adaptation the 1975 French film Cousin cousine, about distant cousins who make their spouses jealous after they strike up a close friendship.


The Sound of Music



The classic 1965 family musical The Sound of Music, starring Julie Andrews, was based on the hit Broadway production about the von Trapp family. But the play was actually inspired by the 1956 German movie Die Trapp-Familie.


The Departed



The 2002 Hong Kong crime-thriller Mou gaan dou served as the inspiration for Martin Scorsese’s 2006 Oscar-winner The Departed, starring Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio as a mole and an undercover cop trying to identify each other.


The Parent Trap



Treasured 1961 family comedy The Parent Trap, about adolescent twins who try to reunite their parents, and the 1998 remake starring Lindsay Lohan, were based on Erich Kastner’s 1950 screen German adaptation of his novel Das doppelte Lottchen.


The Woman in Red



The 1984 comedy farce The Woman in Red, about an unsophisticated family man (Gene Wilder) who gets the chance to have an affair with a gorgeous model (Kelly LeBrock), was based on 1976 French film Pardon Mon Affaire.


True Lies



One of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most memorable movies is hit 1994 comedy thriller True Lies, but in 1991 one of France’s biggest stars, Thierry Lhermitte, starred as the secret agent in the original French-language version La totale!


Some Like It Hot



More than 25 years passed between the release of 1935 French comedy farce Fanfare d’amour and Billy Wilder’s hugely popular 1961 adaptation Some Like It Hot, starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon.


Scent of a Woman



If Profumo di donna seems familiar, it’s because this 1974 Italian dramedy about an army cadet traveling with a blind, irascible captain was the basis for the memorable 1992 Al Pacino, Chris O’Donnell hit Scent of a Woman.


Bachelor Mother



The 1935 German-language drama Little Mother, about a boarding school girl who finds a baby which everyone believes to be hers, was reworked into the 1939 romantic comedy Bachelor Mother, starring Ginger Rogers and David Niven.


The Magnificent Seven



Almost as well known to American audiences as it’s English-language remake is the 1954 Japanese drama Seven Samurai, about seven unemployed Samurai who defend a poor village against bandits, which was adapted to the 1960 western The Magnificent Seven.


The Postman Always Rings Twice



By the time MGM adapted James M. Cain’s novel The Postman Always Rings Twice in 1946, this story of murder and adultery had been made into two movies, the French film Le Dernier and the Italian version Ossessione.


Twelve Monkeys



The 1995 science fiction film Twelve Monkeys, starring Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt, was inspired by the 1962 French time travel featurette La Jetée. The American film borrows several concepts from the award-winning 28-minute dystopian short.


Nine Months



Romantic dramedy Nine Months, starring Hugh Grant and Julianne Moore, was released in 1995, just a year after its French predecessor Neuf mois, about a man who has trouble adapting to impending fatherhood.


The Ring



The 1998 Japanese horror mystery Ringu, about a cursed videotape, was the basis for the American film franchise which began with 2002’s smash hit The Ring, starring Naomi Watts as a journalist investigating the deadly tape.


The Birdcage



The Birdcage, starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane as a gay couple who masquerade as a heterosexual couple to fool future in-laws, is a 1996 remake of the 1978 French-Italian farce La Cage aux Folles, based on Jean Poiret’s famous play.