Reader's Exchange

Desert island essentials

We couldn't afford the kind of publicity that famed film director Werner Herzog offered for free a couple of days ago.  In an NPR interview I heard while driving to work, Herzog advocated "Read, read, read."  He further pronounced that "Those who watch television or are too much on the internet, they lose the world.  And those who read, they win it".  Music to a librarian's/teacher's/parent's ears!

I exulted in the fact that this vital message came from an eminence who's not a librarian, teacher, or parent.  If only I could report further insights on this theme, but at that point Herzog segued back into Cinemaland. Gregory Peck as Atticus

You have to admire a man who has immersed himself in the craft of film yet can, on cue, enumerate only three essentials out of the hundreds he must have encountered.   Challenged with the mental exercise of "Quick: name THE three films everyone should see", I demonstrated why Herzog is an expert and I'm not.  Not only can I not narrow the list to three--or even ten--I fail to appreciate some of the award-winners that everyone is supposed to revere: Some Like It Hot, West Side Story, and Norma Rae.  But why should my lack of precision (not to mention total absence of film credits) stand in my way? 

Much like the three books you'd theoretically hope to discover if you were stranded on a desert island, we all know what film shortlist we'd choose if marooned on that same bit of palm-infested real estate with a DVD player.  These are movies that improve with each viewing--and no fair naming To Kill a Mockingbird, Gone with the WindRocky, or The African Queen, which are probably on everyone else's lists.  Along with the special category of "Films Starring Gregory Peck, Robert Redford, Daniel Day-Lewis, or Colin Firth", here are my picks:

  • It Happened One Night (1934)
  • The Thin Man (1934)
  • Modern Times (1936
  • The Lady Eve (1941)
  • The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
  • The Verdict (1982)
  • Tender Mercies (1983)
  • Ghostbusters (1984)
  • Amadeus (1984)
  • The Princess Bride (1987)
  • The Full Monty (1997)
  • Shakespeare in Love (1998)
  • Gosford Park (2001)
  • Chicago (2002)
  • Seabiscuit (2003)

Please pass the popcorn--and share what's on your desert island list.


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