Some people count sheep when they can't sleep. Some people take sleeping pills. Or drink warm milk...or something a little stronger.
I make lists. That usually works.
However, one night last week when I couldn't sleep, I started trying to put together a list of which ten movies I would take along if I was going to be stranded somewhere for a considerable length of time and could only take a limited number with me. It's sort of a variation on "Desert Island Discs". I do the same sometimes with songs, albums, books, author's collections, that kind of thing.
That usually works.
However, with the movie list, I started arguing with myself mentally and ended up laying there at least another hour and a half before I could make my mind shut up enough so that I could go to sleep, having come to the conclusion that a list of ten was impossible.
It started out easily enough, with three irreplaceable films: "A Hard Day's Night" (1964), "The Right Stuff" (1983), and "The Day The Earth Stood Still" (the original, from 1951; I haven't seen the new version). And then there is the original, Boris Karloff, version of "The Mummy" (1932), which has, as I'm sure I've said here before, has been a favorite since I first saw it when I was all of five years old.
So far, so good, right?
Well, yes. But things started going downhill from there.
I decided that there had to be a Steve McQueen film on the list. "Bullitt" (1968) came to mind. Wonderful movie, great chase scene. But then I thought about "The Thomas Crown Affair" (also 1968, as it turns out). I love that movie, too. And then there's "The Cincinnati Kid" (1965). Also very good. But then there's "Junior Bonner" (1972), starring McQueen, Robert Preston, and Ida Lupino, and directed by Sam Peckinpah. It's one of the most underrated films of the Seventies, in my opinion, and I've loved it ever since I first saw it in the theater when it was first released.
Okay. I couldn't pick, so I set that aside for awhile and attacked the list from another direction.
Silent movies. I really would want to have one of those along, and there are some silents that I've really enjoyed. I've written here before about "The Unknown" (1927), starring Lon Chaney and Joan Crawford, and directed by Tod Browning. It's an amazing little (it only runs 50 minutes or so) horror film. But then there is "The Passion of Joan of Arc" (1928), and of course "Phantom of the Opera" (1925), also starring Chaney. Carl Theodor Dreyer made "Vampyr" in 1932 and it isn't really a silent film, but it was Dreyer's first and contains little dialogue, and so I always think of it as a silent. And then "Metropolis (1927) comes to mind. Again, how to choose?
I like musicals, which those of you who read here regularly probably already know. There would need to be at least one of those on the list. "Singin' in the Rain" (1952) is a favorite. So, God help me, is "Mary Poppins" (1964). But, so is "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever" (1970) and "Funny Girl" (1968), both Barbra Streisand films. Another Julie Andrews musical, "Victor Victoria" (1982), is also definitely on the list of possibilities. Less traditionally, among the alternatives for a place on the list would have to be "Tommy" (1975) and "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" (also 1975).
It went on like this, with different categories of films. Dramas. Comedies. Westerns. Science fiction. Well, there is already one science fiction film on the list, but there are so many more good science fiction films that I could potentially want on the list as well. You can probably see why I gave up. And I won't go on with more examples of my thinking that night, because this is already getting to be a longish post.
But I do have a question for all of you. If you were making a list of the ten (or fifteen, or twenty) films you would want with you if you were going to be stranded somewhere for awhile, which ones would you take? Leave your list in the comments.