As a follow-up to Desert Island Discs, the team at work have been doing our top ten films, and this week was my turn. The only condition was that one of the ten had to be set in London. Once again, I’ll be buggered if I’m writing all this lot up and not turning it into a blog post.
Forbidden Planet (1956)
I remember watching this, aged about 8, sitting on the floor at school during one of our headmaster’s film nights. As most people know, it’s Shakespeare’s Tempest mixed with a bit of Freud and set in outer space. The special effects contain some real “how did they do that back then?” moments. And notice that the starship is a flying saucer and the crew are all men – that was the status quo in almost all science fiction back then and would be for another ten years, until Star Trek rewrote the rules. The “sequel” is also well worth seeing 😉
My London film. Well the first half is set in 22nd century London (that looks awfully like 1960s London).
This is the second of the two Peter Cushing Doctor Who films, big(-ish) budget, technicolour, remakes of the first two Dalek TV stories. To be honest I prefer the TV version – the scenes of Daleks patrolling an abandoned London are much more atmospheric in B&W. But this film is more important because this was repeated on telly almost every summer holiday from the mid-70s onwards so several generations of Doctor Who fans grew up with this version in their childhood memories. So much so, that at least one later TV episode references events as they took place in the film, not the original.
The Italian Job (1969)
(Also got some London bits) I haven’t seen the remake. Why would I want to?
Kelly’s Heroes (1970)
Just a private enterprise operation.
The Sting (1973)
Probably the best confidence trick movie ever. And parts of it are ripped off by almost every episode of Hustle.
Star Wars (1977)
I am a member of the Star Wars generation. This film came out at the exact moment in my childhood for me to be hooked. And that’s why we have the original here, not the “more grown-up” The Empire Strikes Back. This was when George Lucas knew how to have fun, before CGI, before the “expanded universe”, before we all became cynical.
There have been 11 Star Trek movies to date. Some of them are rubbish; some of them are good fun; two of them are really quite splendid. This is the film that saved Star Trek. After the worthy but dull and expensive Star Trek The (Slow) Motion Picture, this is the film that remembered that Trek should be fun and brash and really over acted. This is the film that gave us some of the finest Shatnerisms. (Including, of course, Khaaaaaan! )
I think that the Special Edition of this was the first film I owned on video tape. An incredibly influential film – twenty years later and films, comics, computer games are still playing with variations of the future-war look created here. “I say we take off and nuke the site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.”
The Usual Suspects (1995)
This was from a period when I was going to the cinema a lot and seeing a lot films that have really stuck in my mind (Unforgiven, Apollo 13, Once Were Warriors, Quiz Show, Strange Days, Ed Wood) but this one stands out. Repeated viewings are about spotting clues and inconsistencies but if you saw it first without any spoilers, watching the story unfold without knowing how what came next was something special.
Hot Fuzz (2007)
(Also got some London bits) Best British film of the decade? If you grew up in the home counties, where winning village of the year was a big deal, then parts of this film are worryingly accurate…