Desert Island Films #89 – The Dirk Malcolm Alternative

Desert Island Films

Dirk from The Dirk Malcolm Alternative has kindly submitted his Desert Island Films. Please read on for his choices and reasons, and be sure to check out his site.

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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.

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Desert Island Films #89 – The Dirk Malcolm Alternative 


I don’t think I’d be suited to a desert island. I hate sand getting in my bits and prefer the pavements glistening with rain rather than basking in sunshine. If I was beached on the dunes with nothing but the sound of waves and a single palm tree for company, I would want to watch films that remind me of places I’ve been to that I love.

1) New York in ANNIE HALL (1977)

annie hall

This year I have been running a WOODYTHON, watching all of the films featuring Woody Allen as an actor, director and writer, and I am in the final straight with just another 12 films to go. It’s been a rewarding experience as there are many films in his back catalogue that I haven’t seen before. I’ve always considered myself a fan, but this judgment has been largely based upon my love of ANNIE HALL. It’s a very funny romantic comedy as well as being experimental; the whole experience takes on a different complexion once you realise that everything is occurring in Alvy Singer’s head.

Woody Allen has not made a better film than this, because NOBODY has made a better film than this!

2) San Francisco in VERTIGO (1958)


I was always bemused why this film had such an elevated status by the critical fraternity. It has never been one of my favourite Hitchcock films, preferring SHADOW OF A DOUBT (1943) with the Joseph Cotton as the favourite uncle with a deadly secret. Over time I have grown to love VERTIGO as it is one of those films that repay repeated viewings with its little nuances. Jimmy Stewart is charming as the psychologically challenged Scottie who is beset with an obsession with Kim Novak. There is a certain surreal quality to the San Francisco presented by Hitchcock due the saturated colours and the back-projection. The revelation at the end, never fails to shock.

3) Venice in DON’T LOOK NOW (1974)


Nic Roeg’s intense psycho-drama with Donald Sutherland enduring the horror of a death foretold. Again, this is a film that has multiple layers that pays off watching again and again (I once watched it twice in one day) so it will be perfect company when there is time to kill. When I was in Venice, after a couple of large Oban whiskies, me and my friend made a short home movie in homage to this film. It involved him dashing over a canal bridge in a red kagool, with his shoes taped to his knees. In the background, there is the sound of me laughing so much that I nearly ended up in a canal!

4) Paris in CACHE (2005)


Daniel Auteuil is a television cultural commentator who is terrorised by a series of surveillance video tapes featuring his family. His past is coming back to haunt him. This is a family drama that reflects post-colonial shame. I know that Haneke is mocking the bourgeois life-style of Auteuil and his wife Julliette Binoche, but it seems very appealing to me … surrounded by books, drinking wine, smoking gauloise and talking to friends. It certainly sounds better than being stuck on an island.

5) Ireland in EXCALIBUR (1982)


I have a nostalgic affection for this film as I managed to sneak in to see it when I was too young. I was captivated by the romance, the magic and the bloody battles in King Arthur’s Britain. It looks a bit overdone now, almost like MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL meets an 80s shampoo advert, but I still hold affection for the film. The Irish countryside is Albion’s scenery-double. It’s spectacular and beautiful, especially Wicklow, Kerry and Cahir Castle in Tipperary which are wonderful substitutes for Tintagel (which is one of the most magical places I’ve ever visited).



A clever, funny script, filled with engaging characters and providing a riff on the werewolf genre that continues to influence films that have followed. This is a film that has it all: comedy, satire and Jenny Agutter in a shower. I recently heard a convincing argument that the film has a sub-plot about ‘survivor guilt’ of the Jewish community in America … I think I’ll need to watch it again …

7) Manchester in TWENTY FOUR HOUR PARTY PEOPLE (2002)


“Son, I’m 30/I only went with your mother ’cause she’s dirty…” There was Val Guests’ film HELL IS THE CITY that showed the seedy side of the world’s first industrial city, but I don’t think that there has been a film that has caught the great manc swagger, the self-mythologising bravado, in the same way as TWENTY FOUR HOUR PARTY PEOPLE. I think that when I am locked away on a desert island, there is nothing better to bring me home than the sight of the East Lancs road and the sound of Joy Division.

8) Bolton in THE FAMILY WAY (1966)


Based in Bill Naughton’s play ALL IN GOOD TIME, this film was made in my home town of Bolton in the streets where I used to play as a child. Hywel Bennett is newly wed to Hayley Mills, but he is unable to consummate the marriage due to living in the same home as his over-bearing father, played by John Mills. Bennett is a film-projectionist which to me seemed like the most ideal employment to aspire to as a kid. Alas the profession has passed away, as has my Grandma who was proud to see her street featured in the film: “That Haley Mills once sat her arse on my garden wall.”

9) (Ed – WTF!?!? Nine? Count much Dirk?!) My kitchen table in THE DUNGEONMASTERS (2008)


I spent most of my teenage years wasting time playing Dungeons and Dragons. This documentary follows a year in the life of three gamers. The film-makers have real empathy for the subjects. They are very revealing and engaging characters. These are MY people!

Book: What a Carve Up! By Jonathan Coe

carve up

A funny satire about a writer who has been commissioned to write a family history by Tabitha Winshaw. They are a venal, nasty group of people who have profiteered from the spoils of British postwar society. Its a damning portrait of British capitalism, red in tooth and claw, seen through the prism of an Ealing comedy.

 Inanimate object:

hatThe batteries in my large vibrating egg would soon wear out. I’m not sure that it would count as inanimate either, given all that vibrating. The novelty of an inflatable Caroline Munro, in her GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD gear, will soon lose its appeal once the Peter Cushing anecdotes have been exchanged. Taking my Moff Tarkin toy collection is greedy. Instead, I’ve gone for my black flat cap, as it “symbolises my individuality and belief in personal freedom” (within social and culturally agreed boundaries).

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Thanks again to Dirk for taking the time to join the prestigious 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. Only when I added numbers did I realise you foxed me and sneaked an extra film!! Damn you Dirk ;)

    Nice choices buddy, a very British feel to it all. Steve Coogan will only ever be Alan Partridge to me, I cant watch him in anything else!! Thanks again for joining in.


    1. Tyson, thanks for letting me take part. As for the extra choice, I put it down to years of getting one over The Dungeon Master. What are rules for? (Whoops! )

      I notice I got a ‘dessert island’ in there too. If I can have one, then let it be an Eton Mess. As it will remind me of modern Britain!


    1. Thanks. Ireland holds a special place in my heart. I visit often. The people of Ireland have made a massive contribution to world literature, yet their cinema seems far more parochial.

      I was going to go for THE COMMITMENTS, but my list was getting too urban and Tyson only let me have 9, sorry 8. :)


      1. The Commitments is definitely going on my Desert Island list. Comedy and kick arse soundtrack, will keep me entertained through many viewings. You’re right, our cinema is indeed parochial. It’s made for us, to be enjoyed by us, and sometimes doesn’t translate at all well outside of Ireland. Our literature, however, seems to appeal to a much broader spectrum of consumer. It’s very interesting, you’ve given me a lot to ponder. ;D


        1. Hey if Ireland gave the world Joyce, Yeats, Heaney, Beckett, Swift, Shaw, Wilde, Kavanagh, O’Casey, Doyle and Stoker, then we’ll let you make a couple of films for yourself!! :)


  2. Some interesting choices. I like the comments about “Vertigo” and agree about “Shadow of a Doubt” being a superior flick. Jenny Agutter in or out of the shower is tops in my book.


    1. Thanks. :)

      I envy you. You get to see Woody Allen’s films for the first time! I often wish I could be hypnotically regressed so I can enjoy ANNIE HALL in the same way that when I first discovered it.

      Thanks for the follow too!


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