Sunday, May 15, 2016

Five Movies on an Island Blogathon: My Five Picks

This week the Classic Film & TV Cafe is hosting the Five Movies on an Island Blogathon, in which different bloggers pick five movies they'd want to take with them to a castaway life. Of course, we're assuming that our islands are hooked up for movie viewing! For me, the five chosen films are ones that would keep my spirits up in such lonely circumstances and also reward frequent repeat visits. They have to be fun (as much as I love film noir, I don't think fatalism will help me keep going in my isolation!), so I'm leaning heavily into comedies, musicals, and family fare for my choices. I'm also picking movies that I personally love because I want the comfort of favorite characters and images; I thought about trying to "catch up" on some three hour foreign language classics I have never gotten around to watching, but I'm sticking with pictures I know and adore. Taking these five along would be like taking old friends or even family members. Here, then, are my five picks.

1) THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938) - This big, colorful adventure is one of my all-time favorite films, with a tremendous cast and glorious swashbuckling action. Errol Flynn never looked better, and every scene bursts with excitement, interest, and romance. The big cast, packed with greats, offers plenty to pay attention to even after dozens of viewings. We get heavies like Basil Rathbone and Claude Rains, character actors like Una O'Connor, Eugene Pallette, and Alan Hale, and the lovely Olivia de Havilland as Maid Marian. It is, in every respect, basically a perfect movie (OK, so a few of Maid Marian's costumes are a bit odd, but that's nit-picking and you know it). It also reminds me of the rich tradition of Robin Hood legends, which will give me things to think about while I'm sitting around in the sand.

2) SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952) - Who doesn't love this movie? Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, and the delightful Debbie Reynolds never fail to make me smile, and Jean Hagen has me in stitches with her irritating tones. The songs are winners, the dance numbers are energetic, and the story is full of Hollywood taking a loving poke at itself. As charismatic as Kelly is, for me this movie always comes down to Donald O'Connor's lovable Cosmo, who nails the "Make 'Em Laugh" and "Moses Supposes" numbers with brilliant comic flair. The title song might feel too accurate when monsoon season hits on my island, but at least I'll be able to wish on my lucky star when the nights are clear.

3) LADY AND THE TRAMP (1955) - I'm a huge Disney nut, and this is my absolute favorite Disney classic. It has laughs, it has adventure and romance, it even has tearjerker moments of tragedy, and it has some fabulous songs from Peggy Lee. I'd want at least one Disney film to remind me of the good times I have had at Disney parks and watching Disney movies, and for some reason this canine romance gets me every time. It features great vocal performances from Barbara Luddy, Peggy Lee, Verna Felton, and Stan Freberg. It's also a perfect Christmas movie, since it starts and ends at the holidays, so I can watch it to celebrate the season during my years of being marooned.

4) FORBIDDEN PLANET (1956) - At least one of my picks needs to reflect my island situation, and this one also happens to have Shakespearean roots (it draws its inspiration from The Tempest, my favorite Shakespeare play). Sure, it starts a bit slow, but once it gets going it's a fabulous sci-fi adventure, with Leslie Nielsen and Anne Francis falling in love while Walter Pidgeon battles his inner - and outer - demons are Dr. Morbius. Robby the Robot is an iconic figure with a dry humor, an Ariel of metal rather than air, while the invisible killer on the planet is a Freudian Caliban, a monster of the id unleashed. I used to show this film when I taught The Tempest, so watching it on the island will bring back fond memories of my university career, and I'll have lots of time to ponder its thornier psychological themes.

5) SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959) - When I'm on the island I want something to laugh about, and this movie always makes me chuckle. Billy Wilder directs a delightfully screwy romantic comedy, with Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis hysterical in drag, and Marilyn Monroe very sexy as Sugar Kane. Again there are lots of great performances in the supporting cast to make repeat viewings rewarding, from George Raft and Joe E. Brown to Pat O'Brien and Mike Mazurki. My daughter has proclaimed this "the funniest movie ever made," so watching it on the island will remind me of the times I have watched it with her while we laughed together.

There are lots of other movies I'd like to take along, too, but our blogathon limits me to five, and I think these five will keep me going with their energy, humor, and engaging plots. If I could have five more, I might add Bringing Up Baby (1938), The Wizard of Oz (1939), The Women (1939), The Mark of Zorro (1940), and Rio Bravo (1959). For picks from other bloggers, check out the blogathon link post at the Classic Film & TV Cafe.