We all know of films that were total rip-offs from start to finish, but what about when filmmakers get a little more creative and try to hide their plagiarism a little more cleverly? These films, though widely regarded as cinematic classics, are less-known for their blatant pilfering from other works. Though some of the filmmakers have admitted their “influence”, what’s clear in each instance is that the character (and often more than that) has been shamelessly ripped off, while the majority of the film-going audience are none the wiser.
Granted, in most instances the stolen character was put to far better use in the latter project, but it’s still a pretty cheeky way to operate.
Here are 10 movie characters that were blatant rip-offs…
The Man with No Name is the unforgettably enigmatic protagonist of Sergio Leone’s superb Dollars Trilogy, comprised of A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). To be fair, this is one of the more widely-recognised rip-offs on this list, because it’s well-known that A Fistful of Dollars was an unauthorised adaptation of Akira Kurosawa’s 1961 film Yojimbo.
George Lucas has openly admitted that Emperor Palpatine aka Darth Sideous was based on Ming (and to an extent, Darth Vader was as well), but Lucas has pilfered from something so niche that he’s been able to get away with it; the fact that the film version of Flash Gordon shifted the tone to pure silliness means that Lucas gets away with the rip-off pretty much scot free (except for with fans of the Gordon comic).
The 1954 Charlton Heston-starring film Secret of the Incas features Heston playing a character who looks remarkably like Jones, with the signature black leather jacket and hat. Even the costume designers for Raiders of the Lost Ark admit that they watched Incas during production, and were surprised that it didn’t end up being credited with the influence.