“I think it’s hard to generalize,” says actor Denzel Washington about movie remakes. He and John Travolta — as the villain — costar in a remake of the 1974 “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3,” which starred Walter Matthau and was much noted for its powerful score by David Shire. Comparisons between the two versions are invariably being made, generally in favor of the original, which also had an impressive supporting cast.

“You gotta remember that remakes go back to movies and the beginning,” says Washington of the film industry’s history. “They’d make a movie in the 1930s and then do a remake in the 1940s. If you read some of the movie books, you’ll find out they didn’t wait near as long as we do now to remake a movie. With this one, what? . . . 20 years, 30 years? (actually, it’s 35 years). So it wasn’t for greed or just to shock people ’cause Johnny’s playing nasty this time out,” he chuckles, referring to Travolta in bad-guy role.

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