UK Script Doctor looks back on The Island (1980)

As a script writer for hire  and script doctor I watch all kinds of films, TV and video content. Some of this stuff is pretty obscure, but there are always things to learn.

The Island (1980) is buried very deep somewhere in actor Michael Caine’s filmography. The film, a kind of horror is directed by Michael Ritchie who was often talented and smart but has a wayward career that has taken him in all kinds of directions.

I saw this film when I was very young, probably on Betamax sometime in the mid 1980s.  It made an impression on me and I always remembered it, but I wasn’t sure it was actually any good.  Critically, at the time the film was bashed around and painted as a massive mis-fire. Rewatching it now, it’s actually pretty interesting, and has an amazing cast, and some very good performances from British actors playing modern day pirates.

The film is an uneasy mix, the tone is all over, but there are some interesting things in here, and wierd physcholgical undertones often only half explored. The film has been rereleased, and is worth looking up.

For the record the cast includes; David Warner, Don Henderson, Dudley Sutton. Colin Jeavons and Frank Middlemass – these might not be names that many younger people will know, but these were great and often underused British actors (familiar to many who grew up in the 70s and 80s in the UK from various TV shows). These actors eat up the scenes they’re given and it’s refreshing to see them given (almost) full reign in a big budget American movie – albeit a rather odd one.

It’s worth watching…

Matthew Cooper has been a script writer for hire  and script doctor for over 20 years. He’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award winning episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer. He’s also a leading UK script consultant. You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb. You can get in touch with Matthew on or hire him on Peopleperhour

His directorial debut Markham will be released in 2019.