Tom’s Desert Island Films


desert island

Tom Gooderson-A’Court from At The Back has kindly submitted his Desert Island Films. Read on for his choices and reasons, and be sure to check out his site.


Desert Island Films is about choosing 8 films you would take if you were going to be stranded on a desert island and explaining your choices. They don’t necessarily have to be your favourites, just 8 films, no more or no less! You are also permitted to take one book and one novelty item which must be inanimate and of no use in escaping the island or allowing communication from outside.


Toms’s Desert Island Films

taxi driver

1. Taxi Driver – The film that got me into films. I’ve seen Scorsese’s masterpiece more times than any other film and am still amazed by it’s story, cinematography, direction and DeNiro’s performance.

this is spinal tap

2. This is Spinal Tap – Coming a close second in terms of total watches, Spinal Tap is the best comedy film ever made. Despite seeing it 15-20 times I still find little hidden nuggets on each new watch. One of the best things about the film is the music. Even though the actors only learned to play their instruments for the film the music is brilliant, both funny and great sounding. The soundtrack is on regular repeat on my iPod.


3. OldBoy – One of the most visually stunning films I’ve ever seen and also features the best fight scene and one of the greatest twists. I’d happily watch any of Park Chan-wook’s films every day for the rest of my life, but this is my favourite of his.

city lights

4. City Lights – Charlie Chaplin’s magnificent 1931 romantic comedy isn’t his funniest film but is one of his most well rounded efforts. The central love story is beautiful to watch and the film features one of the greatest endings in cinema history. As well as writing and directing, Chaplin also produced, starred and wrote the score. Despite the onset of ‘talkies’ Chaplin stuck to what he knew and produced a timeless classic which still lights up the face over seventy years on.

12 angry men

5. 12 Angry Men – Simply the most tense film I’ve ever seen. Incredible script and fantastic acting heightened by a claustrophobic setting and directing style from Sidney Lumet. Magnificent in its simplicity yet subtly complex. A great watch for anyone interested in social or legal history.

wall e

6.  Wall-E – My favourite film from my favourite studio, Pixar. Like City Lights it’s a wonderful love story with a character based on one of my favourite comic actors, Buster Keaton. Incredibly beautiful animation with a simple but effective message at its centre. Story telling at its best.

dog day afternoon

7. Dog Day Afternoon – Another claustrophobic setting from Sidney Lumet. Featuring an incredible Al Pacino performance and one of the greatest chants in cinema history, Dog Day Afternoon is a film I’d watch for its opening alone. The shots of New York in the 70s are beautiful and the film then unfolds into a simple stand off between the police and a couple of inept bank robbers. Tense, funny and sad – it’s a brilliant film.

the general

8. The General – Buster Keaton’s silent gem is still widely considered to be amongst the funniest films ever made despite there being over 80 years worth of comedy after it. The comedy is dense and clever and you can never look away for long or you’ll miss something. Technically it’s brilliant and I couldn’t complete a list like this without including the greatest physical comedian in history. Rivals Charlie Chaplin for the greatest screen comedian in history.

a short history ofBookA Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson – I first read this book when I was 16 and have read it about once a year since then. The book covers the history of science, covering all the major breakthroughs as well as focussing on some of the unsung heroes of the scientific field. Written in an easy to understand, anecdotal style it taught me so much and reinvigored my interest in science as well as introducing me to the likes of Dawkins, Cox, Goldacre and Hitchens.

Luxury Item – I’m guessing I’ll already have a TV and DVD player otherwise I’ve just got eight shiny coasters and a book. As a luxury item I’d take a telescope. A desert island would be the ideal setting for some astronomy. Better than the orange skies of the city I’m currently living in anyway.


Thanks again to Tom for taking the time to join the prestigious Head In A Vice ”castaway” list. If you would like to submit your choices and add your name to this list, please drop me an email to –


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  1. Thanks again Tom, great list!! And yes you have a tv & dvd player 🙂

    How good was John Cazale’s film career!? It’s such a same he died, he truly was a brilliant actor. 5 films he acted in, The Conversation, Godfather I & II, Dog Day Afternoon and then The Deer Hunter. What a CV that is.


  2. r361n4

     /  August 7, 2012

    Great list, love that you included Wall-E. I still haven’t seen Old Boy but I really would like to now.


  3. Loved the list, Wall-E is my favourite film from pixar as well. Such beauitful characterisation for such a simple character.


  4. I’m glad that Wall-E is getting some love. It’s a great film.


  5. Old Boy is amazing. Great choices!


  6. Carly

     /  August 11, 2012

    I think I need to see Wall-E again. Iove Pixar but wasn’t raving about this one. Maybe I’m missing something.


  7. What an intriguing list and some excellent choices. Good idea not to include The Bicycle Thief 😉



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