Happy #ClassicMovieDay! My 5 Movies on an Island


May 16th is National Classic Movie Day.

Rick of CLASSIC FILM & TV CAFE chose to honor this with the 5 Movies On An Island Blogathon. As Rick states, “the intent is for participants to write about the five classic movies they’d want to have with them if stranded on a deserted island. (Yes, you can assume you have electricity, a projector, big screen, and popcorn!)” I’m so glad Rick allowed us the popcorn. I’ll take it a step further and assume a comfy couch, dark chocolate and my family and friends.

Five Movies Blogathon

I’ve thought long and hard on this daunting task. Daunting, that is, for any true classic film fan whenever asked to narrow down their top films. Especially when one enjoys such an eclectic variety of film. But to add to the challenge, this isn’t as simple as listing off your favorite five films. Au contraire. One must consider these would be your ONLY five films.

So I thought of all the factors that must be considered. What films could be watched hundreds of times over? Staying power… check. What if you have nothing but the beautiful sunrises and sunsets, the warm sand, gentle ocean breezes and cocoanuts to entertain you? Alright, obviously that sounds beyond terrific, but even in paradise we Old Movie Weirdos need our cinema. Entertaining, got it. Also, what films (and charismatic stars) would keep you company over the years stuck on that island? Even Gilligan had an entourage after all. So, a large ensemble of cast may be in order. Hmmm… check.

Comedy has always been my favorite genre, especially when the chips are down. As my predictament of being separated from society would more than likely present an earnest challenge to my serious need for socialization, comedies would be a must. Check. But then I paused for a moment… I needed the inclusion for inspiration of the human spirit. It may be the magic elixar for the optimism required to keep hope of being rescued someday. Ah yes, that would be a nice feather in the cap, too.

Noting all of these factors with this belaboured process, I reached the following results:

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  1. THE GREAT RACE (1965). It’s no secret this has been a favorite of mine since childhood. It hit most of the check marks too. Definitely a comedy. And not just any comedy, but a comedy dedicated to the great Laurel & Hardy and director Blake Edward’s own way of paying homage to that entire wonderful era of comedic filmmaking. Ensemble cast. And what a terrific cast- Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood in their prime, with Jack Lemmon and Peter Falk that make me laugh until I cry, and a team of funny character actors like Keenan Wynn, Larry Storch and Vivian Vance, too. For for a full review and details on this one, click HERE.


2.  IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD (1963). Here’s another film that I’ve seen countless times over and have no issue in seeing it another hundreds of times more. Additionally, this one also checks the boxes for both comedy and ensemble casting. With a terrific sense of adventure, I know all of these comedy legends would keep me laughing and company on those lonesome nights with only the gritty sand in my toes. Click HERE for more details on why I think this film would be perfectly suited in my island of five.


3. ARSENIC and OLD LACE (1944). I wouldn’t dare be stuck on a stranded island without my Cary Grant, of course. And a screwball or romantic comedy would be just the ticket. But the Sophie’s Choice faced me down. Which Cary Grant film? THE PHILADELPHIA STORY? BRINGING UP BABY? THE AWFUL TRUTH? MY FAVORITE WIFE? It was practically a coin toss but I finally came to the decision to go with the screwiest one of the lot. And while it may be Grant’s least favorite of his films, in many ways it’s my most. Besides, nothing makes you feel better about your crazy predicament than knowing at least you’re not with a bunch of murderers where insanity runs in the family so much that it “it practically gallops.”


4. GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933 (1933). I knew a musical would be on my list. Oh sure, a grand and technicolor MGM sort would be delightful, or perhaps the SOUND OF MUSIC would be a fine choice for something uplifting with a plethora of earworms to sing along on the beach. Or even some Ginger and Fred or Gene Kelly? For me, a Busby Berkley vehicle from the deliciously naughty PreCode era is more my style. But again, the task of narrowing it down faced me. FOOTLIGHT PARADE ? 42nd STREET? Truly tough options but GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933 was my first BB love. And with a cast that includes Joan Blondell, Aline MacMahon, Warren William, Ginger Rogers, Dick Powell, Guy Kibbee, Ned Sparks, Ruby Keeler (hello, PreCode dream team!) with toe-tapping tunes as “We’re In The Money,” “Pettin’ In The Park” and “Remember My Forgotten Man,” my lonely troubles would easily melt away.

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5. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946). When addressing the very last slot, it’s a real toughie. I won’t deny that films like THE THIN MAN, CITY LIGHTS and a variety of Hitchcock films ran through my mind. I wanted to pick an inspirational film. One that moves me to tears. One that’s so classic it will feel moving every time. With just the right amount of comedy and still uplifting in the end, despite the dark tones, Frank Capra’s IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE fits the bill. When straddled with a bleak outlook and challenging obstacles, George Bailey is my go-to guy.

Hope you enjoyed my list and process. As you can see, I enjoyed it too but it was not an easy endeavor. What are your classic five films if stranded on a deserted island? And why? Whatever your picks may be, go enjoy National Classic Movie Day this May 16th by enjoying one or several cinema treasures. If you’re a classic film freak like me, it’s a holiday to celebrate all year long.

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