I think it’s safe to assume that cinephiles – and that includes you, Journal reader – have a list of movies they’d take with them to a desert island, if their life ever warranted such an isolating and liberating change.
My such list is presented to you here. In my case, desert island movies are the films I’ve seen that have reassured my faith in either film or art or life. Sometimes all three. If I’m gonna be on a desert island for the rest of my life, I’d better have something nutritious for my soul to chew on, right?
To put it another way, faced with the finality of desert island life, these works of cinematic art would anchor me for the rest of my days. I guess you could say, if I had these films with me, now and forever, I’d never need to see another film again.
John Boorman, 1967
Lee Marvin owns every frame as Walker, a double-crossed heist accomplice out for his $93,000 bucks. What’s ultimately redeeming – if not ultimately defeating – about Marvin’s Walker is that he really just wants what’s owed to him. That’s it. There’s something kind of dignified about it, in a really ass-kicking way. The ultimate masculine antihero movie.
To Catch A Thief
Alfred Hitchcock, 1955
I could watch this movie every day. Cary Grant has such impossible cool, and Grace Kelly’s such a knockout. And John Michael Hayes’ dialogue kills.
Francis Ford Coppola, 1979
In any form – original theatrical release, 5-hour laserdisc edition, Redux – Coppola’s madman manhunt thrills me to no end.
In The Mood For Love
Wong Kar Wai, 2000
Unrequited desire at its most breathtakingly performed and photographed. A cinematic love letter to heartbreak. Endlessly re-watchable.
The Life & Death Of Colonel Blimp
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1943
My favorite movie, if I ever have to choose. Above all, a testament to friendship.
Postscript: Desert Island Movies are films you could watch every day and not tire of.