Desert Island Films
If you were stranded forever on a desert island what 10 films would you bring with you?
You’re probably thinking, “If I’m stuck on a desert island, and I had the technology to watch movies, I’d probably get rescued.” And that’s probably true. But let’s just assume for the time being that we’re stuck on this lush island with a film projector, screen, electricity, and an everlasting pitcher of mojitos (Or in my friend Miles’ case, bourbon).
What films would you bring? This is a tough one. Some movies are great, i.e. Schindler’s List, but I wouldn’t want to spend eternity watching them. I’d want some classics, as well as a small arsenal of what I call Zig Zag films. You think the plot is Zigging and then bam, it Zags — didn’t see that coming.
So for this week anyway, here are my Top 10 Desert Island Films:
10. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. The first John Wayne/Jimmy Stewart film, where Wayne famously calls Jimmy “Pilgrim.” It has one of my favorite male movie villains, Lee Marvin, in the title role.
9. West Side Story. Gotta have music on that island, so I choose West Side Story. Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, and a great Bernstein/Sondheim/Robbins collaboration.
Oh look it’s a tie.
9. Mary Poppins. Julie Andrews + Richard Sherman’s Music + Great Animation = Fun, Fun, and more Fun.
A three-way tie no less.
9. The Wizard of Oz. I always cry when Judy sings Over the Rainbow.
8. Big Night. My alternative title is “Waiting for Louis Prima.” Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub are idealistic brothers with a problem. The final scene when they make eggs is a small joy. And someday, I will make that Timpano for dinner!
7. Babette’s Feast. This lovely Danish film truly reflects how I feel about art — the creative process in and of itself is the reward. It’s that simple.
6. Bubba Ho-Tep. A sci-fi comedy/drama thingie. Bruce Campbell’s masterwork. He’s Elvis. Yes, that Elvis. The great Ossie Davis plays “JFK.” Together they make one helluva team. This is a very low budget film. I suspect Mr. Davis was drinking at a bar and lost a bet and bam, he was cast in Bubba Ho-Tep! His loss maybe, but our gain definitely.
5. Happy New Year (La Bonne Année). There is an American version of this film but avoid it like the plague. This charming French caper by Claude Lelouch has beautiful scenes of France that would forever keep me entranced on that deserted island.
4. The Godfather. ‘Nuff said.
3. Fight Club. Talk about a film that caught me off guard with its Zigging and Zagging. Well played Fight Club, well played.
2. Casablanca. Super cool Bogart, luminous Ingrid Bergman, Rains, Lorre, Greenstreet. Great social message. Perfection. Best movie line ever: “Round up the usual suspects.”
Wow, another tie.
2. The Sting. Talk about a film that has it ALL. Newman, Redford, a funny caper, gangsters, awesome music – Hamlisch’s score, Scott Joplin’s ragtime. Zig/Zag, oh yeah!
1. The Third Man. Every time I watch this film (and that’s been a LOT of times) I find something new to love! Great story, and yes it has the Zig/Zag thing going on. Amazing entrance of a main character. Music so bold it becomes a character in and of itself.You have Joseph Cotten, Orson Welles, and a small, fun appearance by Wilfrid Hyde-White. The director’s amazing choices: Sewers, a ferris wheel, a moon-faced little boy, a friggin’ fur collar, a cat, and actress Alida Valli’s last, silent scene. I could go on and on. I have lovingly dissected every moment of this film, and to me it is simply pure genius by a pure genius — Sir Carol Reed.
With these films in tow, bring on that desert island. And the mojitos.