*Note The 80s appeared to be a turning point in visual entertainment. Nintendo and Atari had introduced the first Video games. In the 80s, we saw Cinema at its’ best, and T.V. was relying on the great shows from the 70s with a handful of new exceptions. I will go so far as to say that the eighties became the new Golden age of Cinema. Unfortunately Video games and MTV forced the Television industry into a downward spiral for the worse.
1. FIELD OF DREAMS – Released in 1989, Field of Dreads became the new Baseball masterpiece. It will be the film standard by which all future Baseball movies are held to. They say we go through life having an unresolved issue with one parent. Field of Dreams takes this into the paranormal and has grown men crying at the end. The actors are some of the best in the business (new and old). This Movie didn’t win the awards that some of the others did, but it did create a new standard that the Natural or even Major League can’t stand up to.
2. TERMS OF ENDEARMENT – Probably the best movie of the 80s and one of the top 5 post WWII movies. Arguably a “Chick Flick”, “Terms” had an ensemble that won an academy award in almost every category. Jack Nicholson was at his finest as were the co-stars Debra Winger and Shirley MacLaine. The supporting cast even included Danny DeVito as well as a young up and coming John Lithgow (3rd rock) and Jeff Daniels (dumb &dummer/Speed). The only issue keeping this movie from being in the same class as Gone with the wind or Casablanca is the ending. There are movie goers who will dislike a movie if the ending comes in the form of harsh reality.
3. DIE HARD – Die hard launched the Silver screen career of one of the most prolific actors of our time. Bruce Willis will probably be known forever as Officer John McLaine. The movie would spawn 4 more sequels. But Willis would go on to do more movies than any other “A” list actor of our time.
4. SCARFACE – Scarface is a cult movie to some. It’s a great story about a cocain trafficker in the 80s that had his own “mob” business. He was a ruthless killer and the movie glorifies the decadence and terror of the life of a gangster, and who is best to play the role of a gangster but Al Pacino. Notable line: “Say Hello to my little friend”.
5. BACK TO THE FUTURE – Marty McFly (J.Michael Fox) finds himself in the 50’s before he was born. This is a time machine movie that is interesting in hindsight as Spielberg introduces cool toys in 1985 which we do not have yet. Huey Lewis makes a cameo telling Marty’s band: “They’re just too darn loud”. B2TF would have 2 sequels with one cast change. It defines the 80s classic trilogy.
6. RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK: That kid that was always racing for pink slips in American Graffiti gets his first of many title roles in Raiders of the lost Ark. Spielberg introduces us to “Indiana Jones” (who gets his name “Indy” after the family dog) Indiana Jones’ character is Classroom science teacher meets Anthropologists meets James Bond. And oddly enough, in one of the sequels, Sean Connery plays Indiana Jones’ father. What’s truly interesting about this movie is that the plot is based on historical fact. It was a trilogy for the longest time, but I think Spielberg recently milked Indiana for one more go around.
7. THE SHINING – Perhaps the scariest movie of the 80s, The Shining, a Stanley Kubrick film, is based on the haunted Hotel in Colorado called the Stanley Park Hotel. This Movie is all about Jack Nicholson with a few lines from Shelly Duvall. Jack plays the Inn keeper of a Haunted Hotel in the middle of nowhere and finds himself going stir crazy. Then again who could stand to be locked in an abandoned Hotel with Shelly Duvall? (Olive Oil)
The last three fall under the Genre of “Feel Good” movies. It’s comfort food for the eyes.
8. TOP GUN – This movie is really interesting in retrospect. With the exception of introducing America to the beautiful Meg Ryan; we have Tom Cruise (often alleged as gay) playing the romantic role opposite of Kelly McGillis who recently came out of the closet. It makes you wonder if they both went Yuk and spit after each kiss scene. If you love F-14s this is the movie for you. There are priceless aviation scenes. The plot is O.K. but it’s an action movie, so we have to cut the writers some slack. Anthony Bourdain called this the “Gayest Movie ever made” as the movie has many shower scenes with nude men and at the end many of them are hugging each other saying: “You can be my wingman anytime”. But what does Bourdain know about Aviation?
9. PREDATOR – Predator is an Arnold Action movie. Arnold takes on an Alien creature whose mission is to hunt other predators for sport. The movie is Action Packed and it had one sequel. Well two if you count Alien vs. Predator. There are two notable lines in this movie. One comes the shameless Jessie Ventura who says: “I ain’t got time to bleed”. I believe The former Governor/Wrestler wrote a book by the same title. The other notable line by Arnold, as he takes off the Predator’s mask is: “You’re one ugly mother fucker”! The line is repeated in the sequel which starred Danny Glover.
10. GHOSTBUSTERS – This is another 80s movie. Many 80s movies had a certain “comfort food” feel about them. Ferris Bueller’s day off is another example that did not make the list. In fact I could have made this list 40 movies long. Ghostbusters was a Saturday night live reunion of Bill Murray and Dan Akroyd. Ernest Hudson, who would go on record as having been haunted by a real ghost as a child, played the 3rd Ghost Hunter. Akroyd and Murray play scientists at a University and are always causing “incidents” with their experiments. They eventually lose their grant money and have to go to work for the private sector. They do so by offering a Ghost hunting/trapping/and removal service called Ghostbusters. Notable line: “Dan Akroyd after being expelled from the University hears Murray say: “Well, we’ll just have to go to work in the private sector” Akroyd responds: “I’ve worked in the private sector. It’s tough. They expect results”.
80s CULT MOVIE – THIS IS SPINAL TAP – Produced with NO SCRIPT, Rob Reiner also plays the narrator that tours with this decadent 60s/70s aging rock band. The Keyboardist, “Viv Savage” whose real name is Dave Kaff played keys for my band in the early 2000s.
THE OTHER 80s CULT MOVIE- CROSSROADS – Ralph Maccio from the Karate Kid makes a comeback as a child Prodigy on guitar. He breaks out a legendary Blues harmonica player from a state hospital and the two go “down south” where Willie Brown, (Walter Johnson’s alleged friend) is going to show Eugene the 27th lost song that was never recorded by Blues great Robert Johnson. The movie is fun and gives a somewhat accurate portrayal of the racism that still exists in the south. (As of 1986) I can’t say what it is like after 6 years of Obama. The guitar work on the sound track is done by Ry Cooder (Slide guitar) and the great Head cutting scene at the end is done by Rocker Steve Vai (David Lee Roth). In the head cutting scene, Vai plays both parts. You can see the film is edited to make Maccio look like he’s actually playing. (Which looks quite obvious)
THE BEST ROMANTIC COMEDY OF THE 80s – When Harry met Sally. How can you not love Meg Ryan in this romantic comedy? I agree Billy Crystal can be as annoying and obnoxious as Alan Alda, but in spite of Crystal’s deliveries, this Nora Ephron movie is amongst the best Romantic Comedies ever.
TOP CHICK FLICK – DIRTY DANCING. This is the late Patrick Swayze’s chance to showcase his dance abilities. The movie also includes the late Jerry Orbach (Detective Lenny Briscoe) from NBC’s Law and Order.
TOP GUY FLICK – ROAD HOUSE- Again Patrick Swayze show casing his choreographed Karate moves. The movie has lots of T&A for the guys as well as monster trucks, fights and killings. This movie would not be on the list without the beautiful Kelly Lynch who is known only as “Doc”.