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Moore’s Mind Musings

Desert Island Movies, Part I

Last week I wrote about 2 of my favorite movies, both of which happened to star Peter Riegert—Chilly Scenes of Winter and Local Hero. That got me thinking that it was time to do something I ponder every once in a while, but haven’t done: create my Desert Island list of movies.

Movies are a special genre of entertainment. First a great movie starts with a great screenplay, one written with the quality of a great novel–except it is all dialogue; all the narration in the novel that tells you what is going on in the characters’ heads must be hinted at via dialogue (and acting). Second, speaking of acting, great actors must actualize the screenplay and enhance it with gestured emotion. Third, lighting and cinematography must create the right mood for each scene. Fourth, a great soundtrack enhances the mood and feeling of each scene (think of any movie with a John Williams soundtrack, for instance). Fifth, a director must combine each of these elements, and more, into a coherent and effective whole.

Movies are to entertainment as a five-tool player is to baseball.

My rules for selecting the Desert Island Movie List are the same as for the Book List: first, the movie must be great; second, I should be able to watch over and over again (as I have most of these).

Below are the first 13 entries on the 25 movie list, listed in no particular order—except the first, which is in my estimation the greatest movie ever made. I have included an evocative quote from each movie to give you a mental picture of each film, if you have seen it.

1. Casablanca (1942): We’ll always have Paris.

2. Apocalypse Now (1979): I love the smell of Napalm in the morning. It smells like. . .victory.

3. Clockwork Orange (1971): No time for the ‘ol in and out, just came to read the meter.

4. The Wizard of Oz (1939): There’s no place like home.

5. Tombstone (1993): I’ll be your Huckleberry.

6. Lonesome Dove (1989): By, God, Woodrow, the man’s a philosopher.

7. The Godfather (1972): I’m gonna make an offer he can’t refuse.

8. Star Wars (1977): Do or do not. There is no try.

9. Star Trek: First Contact (1996): Resistance is futile.

10.Diva (1981): Some get high on airplane glue… detergents… fancy gimmicks. My satori is this: Zen in the art of buttering bread!

11.MASH (1970): Look, mother, I want to go to work in one hour. We are the Pros from Dover and we figure to crack this kid’s chest and get out to golf course before it gets dark. So you go find the gas-passer and you have him pre-medicate this patient. Then bring me the latest pictures on him. The ones we saw must be 48 hours old by now. Then call the kitchen and have them rustle us up some lunch. Ham and eggs will be all right. Steak would be even better. And then give me at least one nurse who knows how to work in close without getting her tits in my way.

12.Sleeper (1973): I haven’t seen my analyst in 200 years. He was a strict Freudian. If I’d been going all this time, I’d probably almost be cured by now.

13.The Maltese Falcon (1941): Well, Wilmer, I’m sorry indeed to lose you. But I want you to know I couldn’t be fonder of you if you were my own son. But, well, if you lose a son, it’s possible to get another. There’s only one Maltese Falcon.

More soon. . . .

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