August 17, 2011

My 1983 In Review

My wife and I love many of the same movies, which makes all the more jarring when I admit I have never seen one of her favorites.

"How could you have never seen that movie?!" she'll ask me.

I usually point out the gender gap. "Of course I never saw Dirty Dancing. I was a 15 year old BOY when that came out." Then my wife gently teases me for growing up without cable TV. It's true: My wife has always had HBO, but I didn't have cable until I was 20.
This week we're seeing another movie which falls into the gap: The Outsiders, which apparently is a rite of passage for Gen X girls in the 1980s, but I have never seen it. Now our friends are piling on too, so I've bolstered my defense. What movies WAS I seeing back when The Outsiders came out? (NOTE: I was 11 years old in 1983.) I Googled "Top box office 1983" (The Outsiders ranks 28th).

Here's a sampling of 1983 movies I saw in the theater that year INSTEAD of The Outsiders, OR, movies I saw on TV/videotape in the following years.

  • Return of the Jedi
  • WarGames A movie about hacking into the NORAD supercomputer? What's taken them so long to remake this?
  • Octopussy besides the giant lapels and terrible double entendres, the most memorable scene is when Bond plays a two-person video game versus Louis Jordan, the super-fey villain- a game which administers electric shocks as penalties. Maud Adams is one of the least sexy Bond "girls".
  • Never Say Never Again: thanks to a convoluted legal loophole, Warner Brothers was able to remake Thunderball even though the rights to the James Bond characters and stories were held by a different company. This resulted in two competing Bond movies released four months apart. NSNA featured one of my favorite Bond girls, Kim Basinger, and one of the least intimidating villains, Klaus Maria Brandauer.
  • Risky Business: a staple of any adolescent boy's initial exposure to sex and debauchery in the 1980s.
  • I estimate I saw National Lampoon's Vacation 1,392 times in the 1980s. I could write a whole essay on the "edited for TV" version of the film and how it differs from the theatrical release.
  • Superman III is the hybrid Superman/Richard Pryor comedy. Gene Hackman wisely sat this one out. Notable only for the creepy meta-battle between Clark Kent and evil "Tar" Superman.
  • Blue Thunder, the super-cool police helicopter movie. The movie stars Roy Scheider, with Daniel Stern as his copilot. There was a short-lived Blue Thunder TV series the following year (only 11 episodes) starring James Farentino and Dana Carvey as his copilot. Don't confuse Blue Thunder with Airwolf, the OTHER super-helicopter TV show. Airwolf also debuted in January 1984, but outlasted Blue Thunder (three seasons!)
  • I am very fond of Krull, one of many sci-fi or fantasy movies riding on the coattails of Star Wars (The Black Hole and Flash Gordon also spring to mind). There are some legitimately exciting and scary sequences, and a novel sci-fi premise too, but mostly it's a very musty English cross-country voyage, like The Fellowship of the Ring with less location shooting.

Liam Neeson appears to be wearing a rat tail, three belts, and
Simon LeBon's leather vest from the "Wild Boys" video,
as a noble thief in KRULL