50 Great Movies Accused Of Being Rip-Offs

Gosford Park (2001)

The Accusation: Robert Altman's drama about shenanigans between aristocracy and servants during a weekend away in a country home drew plenty of plaudits, including a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for Julian Fellowes, but isn't it basically an unacknowledged remake of Jean Renoir's classic La Regle Du Jeu ?

The Spark Of Originality: Where Renoir's film ends in a tragic accident, Altman and Fellowes place a murder at the centre in order to create a satirical whodunnit.

Star Wars (1977)

The Accusation: George Lucas didn't hide the fact he was stealing from WWII dogfight movies, Westerns, sci-fi serials and even Nazi propaganda pic The Triumph Of The Will . Even so, anybody who sees Akira Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress (about two peasants - the models for C-3PO and R2-D2 - who help to rescue a princess) will be struck by the parallels. Even the word Jedi is derived from the samurai genre, known to the Japanese as jidai-geki.

The Spark Of Originality: If we need to tell you that, you're probably reading the wrong website.

Toy Story (1995)

The Accusation: Toys that can come alive? The boss toy fearing the arrival of a rival? The incoming space toy deluded into believing that they're a real person? Isn't that the plot of the Jim Henson-produced TV special The Christmas Toy ?

The Spark Of Originality: The existential trauma of obsolescence, so moving it defined Toy Story 's equally brilliant sequels.

Saturday Night Fever (1977)

The Accusation: Strip away the disco gear, and doesn't John Badham's story of a Catholic kid in New York who yearns from escape from his trouble-causing pals look an awful lot like Scorsese's Mean Streets ?

The Spark Of Originality: Mean Streets has one of cinema's greatest rock and roll soundtracks, but it doesn't define an era in quite the same way as the Bee Gees do here.

Drive (2011)

The Accusation: When Nicolas Winding Refn's film was released last year, many critics did a double-take, as Walter Hill's 1978 car-chase movie The Driver had already done the 'getaway specialist known only as The Driver' premise. Still, Hill can't complain - his own film was a thinly veiled reprise of Jean-Pierre Melville's Le Samourai .

The Spark Of Originality: The fact that Ryan Gosling's Driver is a Hollywood stuntman by day gives Refn's film an extra layer of meta-fictional satire.

Stardust Memories (1980)

The Accusation: Woody Allen paid homage to two of his heroes - Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini - in a film that marries the audience-presentation premise of Bergman's Wild Strawberries with the visual style of Fellini's .

The Spark Of Originality: The scope for Allen to turn his sense of humour inwards. This was the film that began the gag about Woody's "earlier, funnier movies."

Reservoir Dogs (1992)

The Accusation: So many hipsters were falling over themselves to note similarities with Chow Yun-fat's jewel heist thriller City On Fire that they nearly missed that the colour-coded character names were nabbed from The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three .

The Spark Of Originality: The era-defining decision to populate the dialogue with long, ragged pop-culture riffs about Madonna and tipping waitresses, although to be fair they are probably transcripts of conversations Tarantino had in real-life.

E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (1982)

The Accusation: " E.T. would not have been possible without my script of The Alien being available throughout the United States in mimeographed copies," reckoned Indian auteur Satyajit Ray of his unfilmed tale of a Bengali boy befriending an extra-terrestrial.

The Spark Of Originality: The semi-autobiographical details of a fatherless child in suburbia who finds escape via other worlds, which makes E.T. the central film in Spielberg's career.

Black Swan (2010)

The Accusation: Many critics noted the similarity of the plot to Satoshi Kon's anime thriller, Perfect Blue , about a performer whose psyche fragments as she embarks on her biggest project. Intriguingly, Darren Aronofsky owned the remake rights because he'd adapted a scene from Perfect Blue in Requiem For A Dream , although he shrugged off comparisons here.

The Spark Of Originality: Natalie Portman's literal transformation into the swan is weirder than anything in the Japanese film.

The Matrix (1999)

The Accusation: Take your pick. The Wachowskis have been accused of ripping off comic book adventure The Invisibles (whose mentor looks just like Laurence Fishburne's Morpheus), anime sci-fi thriller Ghost In The Shell (the visuals and themes) and even a Doctor Who adventure where The Doctor does battle in a computer called the Matrix.

The Spark Of Originality: Not even bullet time was 'new' but it was this film's use of the technology that properly introduced it into the grammar of Hollywood filmmaking.