No need to read the verbiage on the right. Here's my list of favorite movies.

 

my favorite minor movies

my favorite documentaries

my favorite foreign films

 

major movies to avoid

 

 

Deserted Island Movies home page

 

Kohn's Corner

 

my Amazon reviews, mostly about books, movies and music 

Steve Kohn's Deserted Island Movies

 

Why this website? 

Like the Music www.stevenkohn.net/desertedislandmusic and Books www.stevenkohn.net/desertedislandbooks/ lists, it's to share what I enjoy.

Simple as that. I don't make any money if you go online to rent or buy the movie. This site is a labor of love, and that's it.

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Growing up in the 1950s we didn't have a television in the house. I'm not sure if it's because we were poor (we were) or because my father was wise (he was) and knew it better for his children to not have one. Our first TV was a used black & white in 1964, just before I was to graduate high school, so I still question whether it was poverty or wisdom. My parents passed away before I thought to ask.

I couldn't wait for summer. Saturday mornings in our Pennsylvania town would see most of us children, like zombies, drawn to our downtown theater. The long line outside would reappear inside as we'd trade our precious coins for candy (ah, Raisinets) or popcorn before settling in for the week's entertainment: about 15 cartoons; one or two short episodes of a serial where the hero or heroine face death and destruction in the last seconds; sometimes even a live performer on stage honing his magic act on us kids before he went on to bigger things in Vegas.

Afterwards we'd lurch home, blinded by the sun, sated until the next Saturday when we'd do it all over again.

Going to a theater was part of my dating life, of course, but then, after marrying at 23, I pretty much stopped going to the movies.

Not that I didn't like them. Maybe that I liked them too much, unable to enjoy them in a distracting theater. Maybe I kept my nose to the grindstone (too much), working to support a family leaving little time for relaxation.

The past few years, though, have brought me back to movies. Not to movie theaters, though; I haven't been to one in over twenty years. I wonder why anyone goes. 

  • Our large HDTVs and home audio systems rival the experience in the theater.
  • Streaming and DVDs bring us a much greater variety than our local theaters. (I've come to love foreign films, for example.)
  • The DVD is often better than the same movie at the theater. Not just the occasional director's cut, but frequently with bonus features -- a running commentary by the film's writers and actors, or some background on the movie -- that helps us better appreciate it.

The children have flown the nest. Work is no longer a priority. I'm now able to dim the lights, sit back and relax without interruption or guilt.

So I'm making up for lost time, watching three or four movies a week, often joined by my dear (and first, and only) wife.

I started my film education with the "classics," which too often for me weren't.

Could there, for example, be more stilted dialogue and painfully bad acting than James Dean in REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE? A more profoundly misguided plot than in John Wayne's THE SEARCHERS?

One of the worst films I've ever seen is Frank Capra's 1938 YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU. Then I learned it won the Academy Award for best picture and best director.

Compare, for example, the 1954 SABRINA to its 1995 remake. While the original film had an incandescent Audrey Hepburn, its character development and dialogue (and, of course, cinematography) suffered in comparison to the remake. (This Amazon review expresses it well.)

Sure, THE THIRD MAN, ALL ABOUT EVE, most of Lubitsch, Hitchcock and Wilder were wonderful, but were they exceptions that proved the rule?

Lately (these words are written in April 2016), my feeling toward old movies - that too many of the classics rest on their reputation - has mellowed. I guess the final straws were HEAVEN CAN WAIT (1943) and HOBSON'S CHOICE (1954), charmers from start to end, but the drama ACE IN THE HOLE (1951) also impressed me. TROUBLE IN PARADISE (1932) and MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW (1937) finally opened my eyes to how good the old classics could be.

Three Chaplin films -- THE GREAT DICTATOR (1940), MONSIEUR VERDOUX (1947),"  and LIMELIGHT (1952) -- also convinced me I was too harsh. "Dictator" and "Limelight" will be enjoyed as long as film is still watched. 

I now better see that while movies made before the 1960s weren't as realistic, they had their own qualities for us to admire and enjoy.

That's my opinion, anyway, and that's what this website is, just my opinion.

Interestingly, when I saw THE DREAMERS (2003) I thought it an exploitive waste of craftsmanship. Then, at Rotten Tomatoes I found the top critics evenly divided on the movie, with 20 liking it, 19 not. So if experts can't agree, we amateurs shouldn't feel hesitant to have and voice our own opinions.

At right is another example of divided opinion, the 2012 movie MELANCHOLIA. This time it's from the perspective of non-professional movie fans. (Had I written a review, the 1-star number would be one higher.) Remarkable, isn't it, for a movie to be almost perfectly divided into those loving it and those hating it.

Enough blather. (You're still reading?) Please go here for my favorite movies. If some are new to you, I'm delighted to be the one to have introduced them to you.