This A YEAR IN FILM post is a lot different than my previous two (1941 and 1959) in that in 1984 I was alive.
I often cite 1984 as my full cinema awakening year. Sure I was already obsessed with movies thanks to that little science fiction film released in 1977 (STAR WARS or something along those lines...anyone heard of it?) but 1984 was the year after the original STAR WARS trilogy had ended (RETURN OF THE JEDI was released in May of 1983) and I was at an age where I was a lot more aware of newspaper and television ads and the difference between movies and television.
At the age I was in 1984, I couldn't just up and go to a movie whenever I wanted - I needed my...parents (DUN DUN DUN) so going to a movie was a rare and exciting treat. In 1984 I spent most of my time watching movies on Television. Saturday morning meant getting up at 5am with a bowl of cereal and watching cartoons until noon when the lame WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS came on showing Bobsledding races in Sweden and the like. My favorite TV show - THE A-TEAM was in it's second season on NBC.
While not being able to go to the movies as much as I would have liked, I lived vicariously through many of my classmates, and obsessed over Movie Novelizations and movie ads on television, soaking in every clip from any movie advertised. I loved those STAR WARS toy commercials since they always showed clips from the movies given that in 1984 I didn't have a Blu-Ray, DVD, Laserdisc or VHS copy that I could easily pop in and watch whenever I wanted.
A big moment in my cinematic 1984 year came when my parents were having a dinner party, and us kids were told to stay in the basement where we watched a TV broadcast of TIME BANDITS. Throughout that program, an ad for a movie kept being shown that fascinated me. It had comedians, it had special effects, it had ghosts, it looked like it had all sorts of awesome. That movie was GHOSTBUSTERS.
I obsessed about GHOSTBUSTERS like there was no other movie on earth. I learned everything I could about it (not easy without the Internet, iPad or smart-phones). I asked my parents to get me the novelization, the storybook of the film and whatever I could get my hands on. GHOSTBUSTERS was a big movie for me and it still holds up. I can watch it anytime and still feel the exact same way - even though I can quote it backwards and forwards.
1984 also saw the release of another defining movie for me - and that was the return of Indiana Jones in INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM.
INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM was the first movie where I started to clue into camerawork, direction, emotional roller coaster ride and another of my soon-to-be cinema obsessions, the original motion picture score. Yes I loved the scores for STAR WARS, but TEMPLE OF DOOM began my quest to start purchasing soundtracks as I wanted that album badly (I wasn't able to get my hands on it until 1989!). It was because of this though that I got the STAR WARS score and my other initial soundtrack purchase was the pop-song heavy GHOSTBUSTERS, mainly due to the Ray Parker, Jr. theme. And yes, even at a young age I clued into the darker aspects of TEMPLE OF DOOM that set it apart from RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, and INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM will always be a top movie on my lifetime cinematic journey (also see my 2008 HOW INDIANA JONES CHANGED MY LIFE post that I wrote just before the release of INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL).
INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM is also notable in that it inspired the Motion Picture Association of America to create the PG-13 rating (although TEMPLE OF DOOM was still PG, the first PG-13 movie was DREAMSCAPE released the same year).
Then there is James Cameron who introduced us to THE TERMINATOR in 1984 and the line "I'll be back!" became a Schwarzenegger trademark.
While big summer movies had already started to become the norm (1982 anyone?), I always feel like 1984 was the ultimate template of big popcorn movies and multiple sequel releases that we experience now every summer.
Again, this is not a list of everything released, just notable movies (that I've seen) that define the year in film for me. Some comments as well as notable directors are included.
So come with me on a wonderful journey back to 1984 when Ronald Reagan was President, the Olympics came to Los Angeles, Eddie Murphy became a BEVERLY HILLS COP, Spock was dead (or was he?), Robert Redford found Baseball magic in a piece of tree struck by lightning, a serial killer started killing teens in their dreams (and we got Johnny Depp out of the deal as well), the Russians invaded and a kid from New Jersey became a Karate master.
2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT
So weird to write about a movie in 2012 made in 1984 that looked to the future of 2010 which is now the past. Sadly, we have not yet traveled to Jupiter.
It's ironic too given that thanks to the George Orwell novel, 1984 was given the ominous distinction of being the year that "Big Brother" was going to take over. Of course now we just voluntarily feed Big Brother information via our likes, check-ins and status updates on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and on Blogs like this.
THE ADVENTURES OF BUCKAROO BANZAI ACROSS THE 8TH DIMENSION
He's an adventurer, he's a rock star...he's a surgeon. Peter Weller in a movie that became an instant cult classic.
AGAINST ALL ODDS (Taylor Hackford)
The poster says it all - Jeff Bridges and Rachel Ward have a lot of sex.
ALL OF ME (Carl Reiner)
AMADEUS (Milos Forman - Academy Award Winner for Best Picture)
Future nice guy Tom Hanks in a very R Rated comedy.
I have to say, BEST DEFENSE is an awful movie (directed by one of the writers on INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM) but for some reason when it came out, I was really into it. Probably because it featured red-hot Eddie Murphy, and the soon-to-be-new Mrs. Spielberg Kate Capshaw (Willie from TEMPLE OF DOOM).
I also really geeked out in a moment where Capshaw, sitting in a car waiting for Dudley Moore is humming the Indiana Jones theme. I remember going on and on about HEY SHE WAS IN INDIANA JONES AND SHE'S HUMMING THE THEME. Yes I picked up on the in-reference and annoyed everyone to death letting them know that I had.
BEVERLY HILLS COP (Martin Brest)
Eddie Murphy skyrockets to stardom. It's a comedy, it's an action film. It holds up very well.
BIRDY (Alan Parker)
BLOOD SIMPLE (Coen Brothers)
The world of cinema is introduced to the genius of the Coen Brothers with this independent hit.
Ok I have to say it - I am NOT a DePalma fan, and I can't stand BODY DOUBLE (except for a few key moments). I re-watched it recently, and think it has dated badly.
BROADWAY DANNY ROSE (Woody Allen)
Woody was on a great streak during the 80s with this and THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO, HANNAH AND HER SISTERS and RADIO DAYS to name a few.
CANNONBALL RUN II
An awful awful movie that as a pre-teen I adored.
CHILDREN OF THE CORN
In the 80s, can you think of anything cooler than a movie starring tough guys Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds? This movie was anything but cool sadly, but the pairing is notable.
CLOAK & DAGGER
Another movie that has a dedicated geek following.
CONAN, THE DESTROYER
From the coolness that was CONAN, THE BARBARIAN (1982) came this dud with Arnold Schwarzenegger reprising his role and teaming up with a pre-A VIEW TO A KILL Grace Jones.
A terrible movie that again as a child, I loved!
THE COTTON CLUB (Francis Ford Coppola)
Another movie that almost destroyed Francis Ford Coppola (APOCALYPSE NOW almost did as well) - and practically did. Was a financial disaster.
As mentioned above, the first movie to receive the PG-13 rating implemented after the release of INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM. Oh and hey, Kate Capshaw is in this one as well!
DUNE (David Lynch)
Take a difficult book and make a very difficult to watch movie out of it. Notoriously re-edited by the studio (Universal).
Gertie misses E.T. so she sets everything on fire.
1984 seems to also be a big year for movie title tracks! Kenny Loggins' FOOTLOOSE was a hit and so was the movie, which just recently got the remake treatment. Kevin Bacon at his dancing, rebellious finest.
FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER
Proof that the movies LIE. THE FINAL CHAPTER was the 4th FRIDAY THE 13TH movie, but there were 6 more to come as well as a Freddy team up and a remake.
I especially remember the ending (spoiler alert) with Corey Feldman as Tommy hacking Jason to death while screaming DIE at the top of his lungs several times. Tommy became an ongoing character (played by different actors) throughout the series who was finally dropped after FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI: JASON LIVES.
GHOSTBUSTERS (Ivan Reitman)
See my above gushing over this movie. It had everything going for it, and still does. I know you're humming the theme song!
GREMLINS (Joe Dante)
No bright light, don't get them wet...and whatever you do....do NOT feed them after Midnight. Joe Dante's great GREMLINS features a fun synth score from composer Jerry Goldsmith.
GREYSTOKE - THE LEGEND OF TARZAN, LORD OF THE APES (Hugh Hudson)
An attempt at an adult telling of the Tarzan story that is extremely dull!
INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM (Steven Spielberg)
If adventure has a name it must be Indiana Jones.
JOHNNY DANGEROUSLY (Amy Heckerling)
A truly funny movie where some of my favorite moments feature a character with some really screwed up swear words. I went around say "Fargin' Icehole" alot.
THE KARATE KID (John G. Avildsen)
The director of ROCKY brought us another sports underdog and the expression "Wash on, wash off." Inspired 3 sequels (KARATE KID II and III and THE NEXT KARATE KID) as well as a recent remake.
Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi was a definite character that made an impact. When he died a few years ago, a friend of mine really started thinking about his own mortality as that death really felt like his childhood was starting to disappear.
THE KILLING FIELDS (Roland Joffe)
THE LAST STARFIGHTER
Seriously, how many geeky life defining movies can one year produce - it seems a lot. One of the first (after TRON of course) movies to feature extensive CGI and a great Craig Safan score. I mean come on...a kid gets taken into outer space to become a hero...what kid didn't want to do that!
THE LONELY GUY
MICKI & MAUD (Blake Edwards)
I remember my parents being horrified by the idea of this movie because the main character was a bigamist. They didn't have to worry much, the movie isn't very good.
MISSING IN ACTION
Chuck Norris in Vietnam. 'Nuff said.
MOSCOW ON THE HUDSON (Paul Mazursky)
I have a special love of this movie. Robin Williams in particular is fantastic, especially given this was in the midst of his uber-manic MORK AND MINDY period.
MRS. SOFFEL (Gillian Armstrong)
THE MUPPETS TAKE MANHATTAN (Frank Oz)
The Muppets go to the Big Apple in one of the first VHS tapes we ever rented. Kermit and Piggy (seemingly) get married in the end, and it is also the movie that introduced the MUPPET BABIES which also became a Saturday morning cartoon.
THE NAKED FACE
THE NATURAL (Barry Levinson)
One of the greatest film scores (Randy Newman) and endings of a movie EVER! This movie truly is great and has held up very well.
THE NEVERENDING STORY (Wolfgang Petersen)
Loved this as a kid, and the theme song was oh so catchy. Plus, it had a giant flying dog!
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (Wes Craven)
One of the greatest horror creations ever is introduced - dream killer, Freddy Krueger. Robert England became a horror icon, and Johnny Depp got noticed in a fairly small role.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA (Sergio Leone)
Leone proves once again what a master of cinema he is, and Ennio Morricone again provides a masterwork score. Make sure you see the director's cut of this movie as it was chopped up by the Studio.
PARIS, TEXAS (Wim Wenders)
A PASSAGE TO INDIA (David Lean)
David Lean's final movie, based on one of my favorite novels by E.M. Forster. A friend of mine (whose last name is Moore) and I will often quote the "AND WHERE IS MRS. MOORE" line from this movie. My MSN and Hotmail e-mail address also are inspired by the book and film.
PLACES IN THE HEART (Robert Benton)
Inspired the famous "You like me, you really like me" Academy Awards acceptance speech when Sally Field won for Best Actress (her second).
Can you think of anything MORE 80s than POLICE ACADEMY? Steve Guttenberg in his prime, Michael Winslow who made a career out of making sound effects with his mouth, G.W. Bailey screaming insults at the top of his lungs, Bubba Smith and Kim Cattrell and of course, the 7 (!!!) sequels that followed as well as a Saturday morning cartoon show.
POLICE ACADEMY is a quintessential 80s movie. Crass humor, crazy hijinks...it has it all. Always loved the bit where gun nut Tackleberry (David Graf, R.I.P.) takes on the shooting range. Makes me laugh just thinking about it.
RED DAWN (John Milius)
The cast is a who's who of future movie stars - Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, Jennifer Grey, Lea Thompson - in a cold war movie that saw the Russians invading the United States. This is a Reagan-era movie to the extreme, and a remake is due out this coming year (this time, it's Koreans not Russians).
REVENGE OF THE NERDS
Another movie that could only be from the 1980s.
Made even better by the fact that Orson Welles narrates the trailer!
RHINESTONE is easily one of the worst movies ever made, and sits high in the "So Bad it's Great" category. Dolly Parton attempts to turn New York cab driver Sylvester Stallone into a Country Music star. Yeah...I know.
ROMANCING THE STONE (Robert Zemeckis)
Another marquee movie from a marquee year. Michael Douglas becomes an action hero and the team of Douglas/Kathleen Turner/Danny DeVito is born (reunited in the sequel JEWEL OF THE NILE and the unrelated-to-this-series WAR OF THE ROSES).
SIXTEEN CANDLES (John Hughes)
SPLASH (Ron Howard)
STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK (Leonard Nimoy)
Ahh movie magic - where a beloved character who has died can be resurrected in about 105 minutes. Not to mention, Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) and Dan from NIGHT COURT (John Larroquette) are Klingons and (spoiler alert) Kirk steals and blows up the USS Enterprise and becomes an outlaw.
STARMAN (John Carpenter)
STREETS OF FIRE (Walter Hill)
SWING SHIFT (Jonathan Demme)
When Kurt met Goldie....
THE TERMINATOR (James Cameron)
This movie was just pure awesome. And one of the rare cases where the sequel (in 1991) was 1000% times better!
THIS IS SPINAL TAP (Rob Reiner)
This one goes to 11. Another defining cult classic.
UP THE CREEK
THE WOMAN IN RED
Next up, 1990!