My Movies For The Island


Mark Zanzig

You have seen this question before: “If you were to move to a remote island alone, but could take a couple of movies with you, which movies would you bring? And why?”

Well, sitting on the patio in the summer heat of southern Germany, I thought I should pull together the reply for this question.

I started with a top-ten list of my favorite movies of all times, but it was not enough. At the end I need to take 30 movies.

Here they are:

  1. City Slickers
  2. L.A. Story
  3. Notting Hill
  4. The Rock
  5. Music & Lyrics
  6. Ocean’s 11
  7. Avanti!
  8. Ice Age
  9. Tomorrow Never Dies
  10. Love Actually
  11. Night on Earth
  12. Subway
  13. The First Wives Club
  14. Le Gendarme de St. Tropez
  15. Father of the Bride
  16. The Blues Brothers
  17. Casablanca
  18. Mickey Blue Eyes
  19. Against all flags
  20. Death on the Nile
  21. We’re No Angels
  22. It’s a Wonderful Life
  23. Annie Hall
  24. Witness For the Prosecution
  25. What’s Up, Doc?
  26. The Big Blue
  27. Jurassic Park
  28. That Man From Rio
  29. Pink Panther 2
  30. Simpsons – The Movie

So, on my island I would probably want to see comedy (66%) some of them with a romantic theme (21%) – fun and romance is probably missing on my island. Then I would want to see true classics (41%) and a couple of action thrillers but always with a tongue-in-cheek approach.

In terms of actors – I think I could not get tired of seeing Hugh Grant (4x), Steve Martin (3x), Diane Keaton (3x), Jean Reno (3x), Peter Ustinov (2x), Humphrey Bogart (2x), and the always beautiful Julia Roberts (2x).

In terms of directors – it’s certainly Billy Wilder (2x), Luc Besson (2x), and Michael Curtiz (2x).

Those friendly folks over at the International Movie Database (IMDB) not only provide any imaginable information about each of the movies, no! They also allow rating. And I checked my movies for the island. The best rated movie is (at the time of writing) Casablanca with an average rating of 8.8 of 10, followed by It’s a Wonderful Life (8.7) and Witness of the Prosecution (8.3). The worst rated movies on my list are, sadly, Steve Martins Pink Panther 2 with an average of just 5.2 (entirely unjustified in my opinion), The First Wives Club (5.6), and Mickey Blue Eyes (5.7).  The overall average is 7.16 of 10 which does not say much about the quality at all.


IMDB ratings decline over the decades for my movie list

I also did some analysis that I wanted to share with you. I think it’s fun even if it is entirely useless knowledge.

  • Is older better? (1) — If you plot the ratings against the year of the first release and add a trend line, it seems that the ratings appear to decrease over time (see graph above).
  • Steve Martin — My three favorite movie with Steve Martin have all been rated below the average of 7.16.
  • True Classics — Of all the movies that I consider to be “true classics”, only one movie (Subway) has a rating below the average.
  • Is older better? (2) — The movies with the best ratings on my list have been released in 1942, 1946, 1957, 1977, and 1980.
  • Black & white — The top-three rated movies have all been filmed in black & white. These are the only movies in black & white on my list.

Note to self – Get DVDs for Casablanca, Against All Flags, Death on the Nile, We’re No Angels, It’s a Wonderful Life, Witness For The Prosecution, and That Man From Rio.

4 Responses to “My Movies For The Island”

  1. Angela says:

    I just found your page. I was Googling Scotland pics because I’m a native Scot living in the US and was well feeling homesick. I just want to say seeing your pics just made me long for home! They were absolutely stunning. Sorry if this isn’t the right place to comment on this but I couldn’t find anywhere else. If I could take a trip back home I think I would copy your route and do exactly that. This would be my dream trip for my 25th anniversary in a few years. Just wanted to tell you how much I loved browsing through.

  2. Hi Mark,
    First of all I would like to thank you for linking to my blog. I had no idea. You see how adept I am at the analytics tools. Secondly, I usually comment on photography blogs but have started to branch out into conservation blogs, travel blogs and a few others. However, I am into movies and never thought of commenting on movie blogs until now when I have hereby had the unique experience of commenting on a travel (the island) and movie blog post on a photography blog. Your list seems pretty good with some real winners in my opinion, especially L A Story, City Slickers, Music & Lyrics, Casablanca and a few others. I’m a bit behind on movies and don’t remember some I have seen. So there are a number I will have to rent. However, there is one I would throw out in particular: Jurassic Park. The movie is ok, but it would definitely give you nightmares and keep you awake at night wondering what might come out of the jungle, if there were a jungle on the island. Great post.

  3. Mark Zanzig says:

    Hi David,
    thanks for your comment, especially the one about Jurassic Park. :-) I was wondering about this movie as well (not for that specific reason though). I think that the production value of Jurassic Park can be seen in most of the scenes. It’s all so well thought-through that the movie is entirely believable, even after all those years. And that’s what good film makers actually do: to make things happen regardless of reality. There are few other movies that fall into this category but did not make it to the final list: Moonraker, The Spy Who Loved Me, Apollo 13, Titanic, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and many more. All of them deliver fantastic cinematic experience and transport you -for the duration of the movie- into another world. That’s what I expect from a good movie.

  4. Nice collection. Every body have their own still inspiring never boring movies. Personally only 30 movies is to hard to pick for me.