Monday, June 21, 2010

Desert Island Movies: Twelve Movies to Be Marooned With

This is

"An Off to the Movies Review"


 "Two Thumbs Up Production"

Produced for 12 Movies While Marooned
 on a Desert Island Productions

written by Gregg Metcalf, produced by Gregg Metcalf, arranged by Gregg Metcalf, reviewed by Gregg Metcalf, conceived by Gregg Metcalf, based on a project first suggested by Alex J. Cavanaugh of Alex J. Cavanaugh Production's and Suggestions.

How do you reduce all of the great movies that have been released over the last one hundred years to twelve? I know I have forgotten as many movies as I have been able to rake through the tiny embers of my mind. I know as soon as I publish this list I will think of a movie that should have been on this list. I want to give three disclaimers at this point:

• Thank God this is an exercise in fantasy and I don’t really have to pick twelve movies to live with for the rest of my life on some deserted Island that just happens to have a DVD player and electricity. If this was for real maybe my list would change, maybe not.

• The older I become and the more in Christ like holiness I continue to grow, the more and more I am throwing away R rated movies. I use to excuse them, having done a stint in both the Military and Law Enforcement, with such thinking as, “Well that is the way cops talk;” or “That is the way soldiers talk and think.” I am getting past that reasoning and throwing them out. There are some great movies I would have probably chosen a year ago, had I not started to watch what I am seeing and listening to.  This is why, as great as an actor as he is and as many classics as he has been in I didn't include a single Robert De Nero movie. Though I had Meet the Parents and Meet the Folkers on the first draft. They made to the second and was cut on the third.

• These are not in any particular order. I did not rate them from my favorite to the least of favorites – they are listed as I thought through literally thousands of titles and they passed certain tests. I hope you enjoy.

1. Ransom

This movie came out in 1996. It stars Mel Gibson and is directed by Ron Howard.

Gibson plays a rich man whose son is kidnapped, and at first he cooperates with the police but then tries a unique tactic against the criminals. I love how this movie progressed and the twist that it took when he decided to take matters into his own hands to get his son back. There is something about this movie that will always keep it in the top three spots of my all time list.

2. The Green Mile

I don’t like sci-fi or scenarios that just can’t happen. I thought long and hard before going and seeing this movie. I finally did because my favorite “star” or actor was in this movie, Tom Hanks. Other than his politics I am a big Hanks fan. I thought the story line was going to be too far fetched, but when I watched the supporting actors and the story line develop, it had me hooked.

This is a great movie about a black man in the 1930's with “the gift” who encounters two murdered little girls and tries to help them. However, “It was too late, boss. I tried to take it back, but it was too late.” He is arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to death in “Old Sparky.” While on death row he “helps” Hanks character with a bladder infection. That moves Hanks and his staff to try and use this “gift” to help the Warden’s wife who is dying.

The acting, directing, and plot are superb. This movie should be in every movie buff's collection. This movie was released in 1999.

3. Gone With The Wind

What can I say about this movie? I don’t even feel as if I am qualified to say anything about it. It was released in 1939 starring Vivian Leigh and Clark Gable. It is about a very manipulative woman who is trying to survive and rebuild her life after the collapse of the south from the Civil War.

She falls in love with a very unscrupulous man and carries on a turbulent love affair in the south during the Civil War and Reconstruction period. I know what you are thinking, this is a “chick’s movie.” Well, no it isn’t. Besides what is wrong with a chick’s movie? Don’t you usually watch a chick’s movie sitting really close to a chick? So they do serve their purpose don’t they?

This movie can not be watched to many times. No matter how many times you say, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a darn,” you can always say it again. Or, “I won’t think about it. I will think about it tomorrow.”

4. The Bourne Identity

This movie is a 2002 remake of the original movie made in 1988. I never saw the 88’ version, but I immediately fell in love with Jason Bourne. I think in some of my more lucid moments in my own thinking I see flashes of my life as a CIA agent in exciting missions. Oops, I digress.

This movie stars Matt Damon who went on to do two more Bourne movies and I wish that he could do a dozen more. Since this is part of a trilogy I will count all three as one movie.

Bourne is on a mission and when he is shot he develops amnesia. He then has to “regain” his memory of who he is all the while outrunning would be assassins who want to gun him down. Great action and plot, with good direction and story development.

5. Luther

This movie was released in 2003 and is directed by Eric Till. It stars Joseph Fiennes, Alfred Molina, and Jonathan Firth among many others.

It accurately portrays the life of a 16th Century idealistic German monk, named Martin Luther, who becomes disgusted and disillusioned by the materialism and sexuality in the Catholic Church. He begins the dialogue that will lead to the Protestant Reformation by nailing his 95 theses on the church door in Wittenberg. This movie is an excellent portrayal of Luther’s eventual break with the Catholic Church.

Most people don’t realize that Luther did not actually mean to break with the Catholic Church nor did he intend on starting what is now known as the Lutheran denomination. He simply wanted the church purged of relics and indulgences and he differed with the church on the biblical meaning of justification. The catholic view and the protestant view of justification are antithetical and Luther was pronounced a heretic and excommunicated from the Catholic Church. He later married, raised a family, pastored his church and became a prolific writer. His book, The Bondage of the Will is in his opinion his best work and it is only equal to Jonathan Edward’s book The Freedom of the Will (which both books say the same thing by the way concerning the condition of the human will) in the mind of the reformers. So there is a triple play, buy the movie, Luther’s book, and Edwards’s book.

6. The Trilogy of the Rings

This maybe my all time number one movie! I read the Hobbit, and then the Trilogy of the Rings when I was very young. I have read and re-read those books more than a dozen times. When I heard the movie was coming out I about “wet” myself. (Sorry) I couldn’t wait. Then when they said it would take three (3) years to release them all, 2001, 2002, 2003, I just knew I would get hit by a bus before I could see all three or the rapture would take place.

I have loved every character in these stories from Bilbo Baggins to Shadowfax. As a matter of fact for several years Irene and I owned an 18’ Sea swirl runabout boat. I named our boat Shadowfax. I was shocked to learn most people didn’t even know who Shadowfax was. In case you don’t’, Shadowfax was the white steed that Gandalf the Wizard rode into Mordor.

The trilogy is based on the three-volume book The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. The story line is set in the fictional world of Middle-earth. The story follows the hobbit Frodo Baggins as he and a “Fellowship” embark on a quest to destroy the One Ring, which would ensure the destruction of its maker, the Dark Lord Sauron.

The Fellowship becomes divided and Frodo continues the quest together with his loyal companion Sam and the once Hobbit, now Gollum. Meanwhile, the wizard Gandalf and Aragorn, who is the heir in exile to the throne of Gondor, unite and rally the Free Peoples of Middle-earth, who are ultimately victorious in the War of the Ring.

7. The Tenth Kingdom

This movie was released in 2000 and was directed by David Carson and Herbert Wise. It stars America’s sweetheart, and daughter to the Father of the Bride Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Scott Cohen, and John Larroquette.

The story is about a young woman named Virginia and her father, Tony. Virgian and her father are lured into a land where fairy tales are real! The longer they are in the 10th Kingdom the more their lives become one with the fairy tale characters!

Two centuries after Snow White and Cinderella had their adventures, the Nine Kingdoms ready themselves for the coronation of Prince Wendell, Snow White's grandson, to the throne of the Fourth Kingdom.

However an evil deposed queen has freed herself from prison, and turns the prince into a golden retriever. Wendell, by means of a magic mirror, escapes into a hitherto-unknown Tenth Kingdom (modern day New York City) and meets Virginia and her father Tony.

Pursued by trolls, cops, and a wolf in man's form, the three find their way back into the NineKingdoms and begin their adventures to restore Wendell to his human form and throne, and find the magic mirror that will take Tony and Virginia back home. The twist in this tale that all the while they are trying to get back home it is unknown to Virginia and her Father is that Virginia already has a connection to the Nine Kingdoms that may prove deadly before they reach “Happily Ever After.” This is a wonderful movie of imagination, fairy tales and entertainment. Recommended for the whole family and you will love it.

8. How the Grinch Stole Christmas

This movie was also released in 2000 and it was directed by Ron Howard. It starred Jim Carrey as the Grinch. It is great entertainment. My wife and I have made it a tradition, every Christmas we watch this movie.

Based on the book by the famous Dr. Seuss. "Inside a snowflake exists the magical land of Whoville." All the Who's love Christmas, but lurking outside of their beloved Whoville lives the Grinch. The Grinch is a nasty creature that hates Christmas, and he plots to steal it away from the Whos which he equally detests.

9. We Were Soldiers

This movie was released in 2002. It is directed by Randall Wallace. It stars Mel Gibson, Madeleine Stowe, and Greg Kinnear. I have seen this movie a number of times and it still brings tears to my eyes.

This movie is based on a book written in 1992 by Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore (Ret.) and war journalist Joseph L. Galloway about the Vietnam War. It focuses on the role of the First and Second Battalions of the 7th Cavalry Regiment in the Battle of Ia Drang, the United States' first large-unit battle of the Vietnam War; previous engagements involved small units and patrols.

This movie tells the story how Moore and his 395 men held off 4000 VC soldiers in one of the first major battles of the Viet Nam war until help could arrive and get them out. It is the story of the modern “air Calvary” provided by helicopters.

This movie was of special interest to me having served in HMM 261(tandem rotor assault transport helicopter) and HMH 461,(heavy lift transport helicopters) both helicopter squadrons during the Viet Nam era. The movie portrays the UH-1 Bell Helicopter. They began as "med-evac" carriers but soon were used as an assault support vehicle. Some 7,000 "huey's" served in Viet Nam.

It is one the few remaining R movies I have left. It is rated R for the combat activity. I think there is one or two bad words in the movie. It is well worth watching. (When Sam Elliot ask a private how does he know what kind of day it is going to be – just hit the mute for a second).

10. I, Claudius

I, Claudius is a 1976 BBC Television adaptation of Robert Graves's I, Claudius and Claudius the God. Written by Jack Pulman, it proved one of the corporation's most successful drama serials of all time. It starred Derek Jacobi, Siân Phillips, Brian Blessed, Patrick Stewart, and John Hurt.

I, Claudius follows the history of Rome, narrated by the elderly Claudius, from the death of Marcellus in the first episode to Claudius's own death in the last. The series opens with Augustus, the emperor of Rome, attempting to find an heir, and his wife Livia's plots to have her own son Tiberius become emperor. This plotting and double-crossing continue for many decades, through the conspiracy of Sejanus, the rule of the mad emperor Caligula, and eventually, Claudius's own rule.
Robert Graves wrote I, Claudius and Claudius the God as if they were the secret autobiography of the Emperor Claudius, who was the fourth emperor of Rome (r. 41-54 A.D.).

Historically, Claudius's family, the Julio-Claudian's, kept him out of public life until his sudden coronation at the age of 49. This was due to his disabilities, which included a stammer, a limp, and various nervous tics which made him appear mentally deficient to his relatives. This is how he was defined by scholars for most of history, and Graves uses these peculiarities to develop a sympathetic character whose survival in a murderous dynasty depends upon his family's incorrect assumption that he is a harmless idiot.

Robert Graves claimed that after he read Suetonius, Claudius came to him in a dream one night and demanded that his real story be told. The life of Claudius provided Graves with a way to write about the first four Emperors of Rome (Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, and Claudius) from an intimate point of view.

The real Claudius was a trained historian and is known to have written an autobiography (now lost) in eight books that covered the same time period. I, Claudius is a first-person narrative of Roman history from the reigns of Augustus to Caligula; Claudius the God is written as a later addition documenting Claudius's own reign.

This is an epic British mini-series of 7 volumes that is outstanding. It is surprisingly accurate, informative and mesmerizing. Both Graves and the screen play writer have done a marvelous job in developing these characters which makes you fall in love with everyone of them, except maybe Caligula. It is a must see.

11. I Walk the Line

This movie was released in 2005. As an avid Johnny Cash fan I could not wait to see it. The night it premiered I attended this movie with my son-in-law and youngest daughter. We were not disappointed!

This movie was directed by James Mangold. It starred Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, and Ginnifer Goodwin. Phoenix, for as strange as he is did a good job portraying Cash and sounding like him – he should have one the Oscar. Witherspoon did an excellent portrayal of June Carter Cash and did in an Oscar.

This movie is not a full biography of Johnny’s life. How could a single movie do that? It tells the story Cash's life, from his early days on an Arkansas cotton farm to his rise to fame with Sun Records in Memphis, where he recorded alongside Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins.

If you don’t know it, this quartet has been dubbed the “Million dollar quartet.” Each virtually unknown went on to be a megastar in their own right.

Johnny Cash, Jr. was an advisor on the film. Johnny's first wife and children at last report have not seen the film but rejected the script as a bad portrayal of Vivian his first wife.

12. Forest Gump

This movie was released in 1994. It was directed by Robert Zemeckis. It starred Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise.

This movie is about a man with very low intelligence who “accidentally” is present at many historical moments and accomplished great things. However his true love alludes him through most of his life and the movie. This is a very warm, heart-rendering, and funny movie that will make you both laugh and cry. He finally wins his true love only to discover that she hasn’t much time left. He is able to prove the one thing that he wanted to prove and that is anybody can love anybody. Hanks won an Oscar for his performance of Gump.

Nobody mentioned if this dozen was a regular dozen or a baker's dozen so, I took the liberty to assume it was a baker's dozen. A dozen is a dozen right?

13.  The Godfather Trilogy

The Godfather is a 1972 American gangster film based on the novel by Mario Puzo. It was directed by Francis Ford Coppola. It stars Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Richard S. Castellano, Robert Duvall, Sterling Hayden, John Marley, Richard Conte and Diane Keaton,  and Abe Vigoda.

The story spans ten years from 1945 to 1955 and tells the story of a fictional Italian American crime family called Corleone. The orignal movie was followed by two sequels to round out the story: The Godfather Part II in 1974, and The Godfather Part III in 1990.



Wonderful selction I am surprised at how many people are choosing Lord of the Rings. Mine are mostly half musicals and half or various.

Have a good day.

Unknown said...

Great list. Forest Gump, Walk the Line,GWTW and LOTR are great movies. Some of the other movies I've never heard of but I am going to have to check them out. :)

Unknown said...

Great selection!

Ooohh, completely forgot about the 10th Kindom...that was a great (modern) fairy tale!!!

Anonymous said...

My all time favorite movies are old ones mostly before 1960. Some of the old comedies still make me laugh. I recently watched 'The Road to Morocco'(1942) staring Bob Hope and Bing Crosby and still got a kick out of it.

Southpaw said...

Another great list. I forgot about The 10th Kingdom! Loved it.

M. Bail said...

Great list! Loved Walk the Line, hated Bourne Identity (only because I'm a huge fan of the novels and the movie completely ruined the novels [all 3] - it was like Damon didn't take it seriously at all and made up his own version for film!)

Anyway, I digress. These are some cool flicks and one of the things I like best about this exercise is that I'm finding a bunch of new movies I need to watch!

Arlee Bird said...

I understand what you are saying about the R-rated films. Many of my favorites are in this catagory and really wouldn't have needed to be if they had been made by earlier movie standards.
I have not seen 10th Kingdom; I, Claudius; or Luther, but they sound good and I will have to remember those.
Your list is a good one.

Tossing It Out

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

The Bourne movies are excellent and LOTR made my list as well. I thought Walk the Line was exceptional as well.

For me, it's not what's in the movie that matters but what I take from it. If I can draw something inspirational or positive from the experience, that's what matters.
Thanks for participating!

Anonymous said...

LOTR is one of my all time fav's. Loved The Green Mile too!!!! Great list!

Sarah Ahiers said...

oooh the green mile gets me every time. and the book, forget about it. I cry like a baby every time.
Also i love Barry Pepper.

And 10th Kingdom?!
I freak out a bit when i find other people who are familiar with it.
so. good.

DEZMOND said...

I, CLAUDIUS, still has a lot of respect among the critics here in Europe. And I liked Joseph Fiennes in LUTHER and can't wait to see him next year in the new show CAMELOT. Being the fan of religion and history, Greg, I think you will like THE BORGIAS at SHOWTIME next year as well :)

Anonymous said...

An overall very goo selection for sure. Glad to see a Jim Carey movie in here. I haven't seen Luthor but need to. I'll add it to my Neflix que.

Stephen Tremp

Natasha said...

Some really good movies on the list. I can't believe I left out Forrest Gump.
Ransom and Gone with the Wind are movies I like a lot too

Jessica Bell said...

The Green Mile and Walk the line, two more movies that almost made my list! Oh my gosh I bawled and bawled my eyes out over the GReen Mile, and the first time I saw it was on a plane! Embarrassing!

kc bob said...

Great list Gregg. I have seen all of them except 7, 9 and 10. Hard to beat Godfather I&II - III was a disappointment. I think Gump might be one of my favorites. I liked all 3 Bourne flicks. I might add Chariots of Fire to your list - one of my favs.

Gregg Metcalf said...

You know I have never seen Chariots of Fire. I would highly recommend all three.

Lisa said...

I love Forest Gump too. Yes Yvonne, I'm surprised about the LOTR too. I have not seen any of its trilogies. They are going on my list of movies to watch.