Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Top 20 Desert Island Movies

"Desert Island Movies" don't have to be "masterpieces" or classics (though they can be of course), they are not the Best Movies but simply the movies one enjoys watching and can return to many times (you would have to on a desert island) so no Tarkovsky then, Martin Bradley, or even CITIZEN KANE or history of the cinema items (unless of course you enjoy watching Orson's classic over and over, I like it a lot, but ...). No Trash Classics either, much as we like them one would soon tire of them. Movies then with people one likes spending time with and by directors whose visions we like .... (I have written about these extensively already here, as per labels).
  • JOHNNY GUITAR - a favourite western and the first movie I ever saw, aged 8, what a vivid introduction to cinema, I never tire of it. The BFI has it on the cover of their new "Sight & Sound" magazine and it features in their upcoming western retrospective. 
  • A STAR IS BORN - another early one I saw as a kid in 1954, its even better now its been restored, the best musical drama ever? I love Cukor's staging of those CinemaScope images in rich Warner-color, and of course Judy and James.
  • SOME LIKE IT HOT - for me THE Billy Wilder classic and the still funniest film ever made
  • THE AWFUL TRUTH - a 30s classic thats a fairly recent discovery
  • ALL ABOUT EVE - Mank's script and situations and characters we never tire of
  • A LETTER TO 3 WIVES - see above
  • THE QUIET MAN - back to that mythical Ireland in Ford's enduring favourite
  • THE SEARCHERS - Ford's poetic vision of the West is another enduring favourite
  • BLACK NARCISSUS - 2 Michael Powell classics - I sometimes think this and I KNOW WHERE I'M GOING are my top favourite films of all time ..... 
  • I KNOW WHERE I’M GOING - I love that mythical highlands, those great characters and its a perfect '40s dreamworld movie. 
  • BLOW-UP - maybe still my Number One, on my island I want to re-visit that green park and be back in mid-60s London
  • L’AVVENTURA - Monica and Antonioni still fascinate me
  • THE LEOPARD - I want the opulence of Visconti's classic and revisit that great ball sequence many times, with that Verdi waltz and Delon and Claudia being impossibly beautiful.
  • BARRY LYNDON - this or 2001 ? - hard to decide, but I would get more enjoyment re-visiting this Kubrick classic 
  • BRINGING UP BABY - the best of screwball, Hawks, Hepburn and Grant? 
  • THE SCARLET EMPRESS - we also want the opulence of Josef Von Sternberg - this or Marlene emerging from the gorilla skin in BLOND VENUS or the delirious SHANGHAI EXPRESS?
  • THE BANDWAGON - maybe my top favourite musical - endlessly rewatchable,
  • THE MISFITS - another movie I used to be obsessed by and can live in.
  • NIGHT OF THE IGUANA - another Huston favourite, maybe the best Tennessee Williams, great characters and people I like.
  • EL CID - probably my favourite epic, again I can revisit it a lot, even though Sophia dismisses it in her latest book. I remember Chuck towering over me back at the BFI in 1971 ...
  • Oh, let's have one more, it has to be CASABLANCA - a key Golden Age '40s movie that never goes out of fashion - we will always want to go back to Rick's Cafe Americain with Ingrid, and Sam playing "As Time Goes By" ...
Martin has commanded me to stick to 20, so I am gutted to leave out lots more: there's nothing fairly recent here, not even Scorsese; no '40s noirs, no Garbo or James Dean movies, or other musicals (MEET ME IN ST LOUIS, FUNNY FACE) or dramas I love (ANATOMY OF A MURDER, SEPARATE TABLES), and no Hitchcocks - I could do 10 Hitch classics, but which to decide?, then theres all those Hollywood classics and European stuff I like (PLEIN SOLEIL!), or favourites like LES GIRLS or THE WOMEN and its '56 remake THE OPPOSITE SEX or Vincente's DESIGNING WOMAN or THE LION IN WINTER or THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE Then there are Ingmar Bergman's like AUTUMN SONATA or his enchanting recording of Mozart's THE MAGIC FLUTE - ideal for desert island balmy evenings!  It could be a different list some other day ...


  1. You deserve a wee treat when I come to London next for sticking to twenty and for producing such a good list of high quality entertainments; indeed for producing such a great of great movies. All of them are worth seeing over and over again though my top 20 would be a little different. You have prompted me to revise my own list which I will do in the next day or two.

  2. Ta for your quite nice comments - I imagined you would be dismissive of my 'entertainments'. I would also want some nice 80s stuff like AMERICAN GIGOLO, BODY HEAT, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, one could see that quite a lot on a desert island ...