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Shell Shocked: Sanibel — the movie capital of the world

By Staff | Mar 12, 2019

Art Stevens

We’re now into March and Sanibel is rocking. The toll booths are cash cows, the restaurants are cooking away and the T-shirts are flying off the selves. The rare junonia sea shells on the beach have been goggled up. And alligator sightings have more than tripled.

Vice President Pence has been spotted and Elvis Presley has been rumored to be in hiding in “Ding” Darling.

So what ain’t we got? We ain’t got no PGA golf tournaments, March Madness play off games, a tennis Grand Slam, a major league baseball team – or a movie that’s been filmed in Sanibel. Unless we address one of these “ain’t gots” Sanibel will remain what it’s best known for – an island paradise.

But to double the number of visitors each year as we contemplate making Periwinkle into a four-lane highway, let’s choose one of the “ain’t gots” and motivate Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese or Cecil B. deMille to make a movie in Sanibel.

Come to think of it, let’s eliminate Steven Spielberg because he would want to do a new version of “Jaws.” This wouldn’t be a smart marketing move for Sanibel.

And let’s eliminate Cecil B. deMille. Aside from the fact that he’s no longer alive, he would probably do an updated version of “The Ten Commandments” in Sanibel. Personally, I have a hard enough time abiding by the first ten commandments.

So that leaves us with Martin Scorsese. As we know, Scorsese has made a lot of movies about mobsters. So why not make a movie about mobsters in Sanibel? The fact that we have none here is irrelevant. A good movie yarn can more than make up for that absence.

If you remember, one of Scorsese’s recent movies was “The Departed,” a twisty crime saga with the city of Boston as the back drop. Are you comfortable about a crime drama using Sanibel as the locale? No? Well let’s try another genre.

How about a western? We can bring Clint Eastwood to Sanibel to reprieve such sagas as “Unforgiven” which won an Academy Award. Eastwood himself starred in that movie and in the climax shoots up all the villains in town to preserve the honor of one of his fallen henchmen. Lots of blood and gore. Too much?

Then how about a remake of “King Kong?” We have a natural setting for such a movie in “Ding” Darling. We can conduct a local audition for the young woman who plays King Kong’s love interest and gets to hang out in the palm of his hand. Think of all the media exposure Sanibel would get.

Or we could do a coming of age romance that starts with two young shoppers accidentally bumping their shopping carts into each other at Bailey’s. The entire movie could take place in Bailey’s with their romance blossoming at different crossroads: the produce, soft drink, cookies, cheese and bagel departments.

Or maybe a remake of “It’s a Wonderful Life” with James Stewart wandering through Sanibel running into people who claim they don’t know him even though they were an integral part of his life. And his angel Clarence following him around trying to convince him that these people don’t know him because he had never been born. Naturally, Sanibel would be portrayed as a slum city that never became what it was because the James Stewart character – Francis Bailey – was never born to create the Sanibel we know.

What type of movie to make is a difficult decision. How do we get a consensus? I know. Let’s add a public referendum to the next Sanibel election. What’s more important – electing a City Council member or selecting the right movie genre to further put Sanibel on the map?