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Mike’s Top Ten of 1982

Pound for pound, 1982 is one of the strongest years of the 80s.

This is the first year the industry feels like it switched over into the “80s.” Though, that being said, it still feels like there’s a strong auteurial stamp on the bigger movies, if that makes sense. It doesn’t feel like the studio has overwhelmed the filmmaker quite yet. For example — E.T. feels like a very personal movie for Spielberg, and it would end up being the thing that created that Amblin feel that would permeate the rest of the studio’s work for the decade.

Outside of that — heavy hitters this year. At least half the top ten list is just no-brainers on title alone.

Mike’s Top Ten of 1982

48 Hours

Blade Runner

E.T the Extra-Terrestrial

Gandhi

My Favorite Year

An Officer and a Gentleman

Pink Floyd: The Wall

Tootsie

The Verdict

The World According to Garp

11-20: Fanny and Alexander, Frances, Missing, Night Shift, Rocky III, Shoot the Moon, Sophie’s Choice, The Thing, Tron, Victor/Victoria

Tier two: Annie, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Cat People, Conan the Barbarian, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, Diner, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, First Blood, Fitzcarraldo, One from the Heart, The Plague Dogs, Poltergeist, Porky’s, Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip, The Secret of NIMH, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn, That Championship Season, White Dog, The Year of Living Dangerously, Yes Giorgio

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1. The Verdict

“I came here to take your money. I brought snapshots to show you so I could get your money. I can’t do it; I can’t take it. ‘Cause if I take the money I’m lost. I’ll just be a… rich ambulance chaser. I can’t do it. I can’t take it.”

I’m surprised this ended up at #1. But you know what? All for it.

This is, I believe, the last Sidney Lumet film that’s in my top ten, and his first #1. Which is crazy. After 12 Angry Men, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon and Network. This is his first overall #1.

This is quite possibly Paul Newman’s finest screen performance. He plays an alcoholic ambulance chasing lawyer who is given a gimme settlement case from his friend who knows he could use the help. A woman went into a church hospital to give birth and ended up choking on her own vomit during the surgery and is now in a permanent vegetative state. The church offers a big settlement, which the family wants to take. To everyone’s surprise (even Newman’s, to an extent), he rejects the settlement and says he’s taking the case to trial. So now you have a guy who hasn’t tried a case in several years, lost the last one, and is a drunk. He’s got to get his shit together fast. So it’s a great lawyer redemption story. Fantastic trial scenes. James Mason as the opposition attorney. Jack Warden as Newman’s friend. Written by David Mamet.

This movie is so great. In my head it’s like a #3 or #4 movie for a year, but when you get down to it… I like it better than everything else from this year. So here we are.

2. Tootsie

“That is one nutty hospital.”

This is one of the greatest comedies ever made. It’s genius on just about every level.

It’s about an actor who is so volatile that no one wants to work with him. He just got fired from playing a tomato in a commercial. So, since no one will work with him, he decides to go as a woman. He goes to an audition for a soap opera as a woman.. and gets it. So now he’s got a job on a soap opera as a woman, is hiding it from his friend (since she originally went up for the part and didn’t get it), all while falling in love with the female lead of the show, who thinks he’s a woman. It’s… so fucking funny.

Dustin Hoffman stars, Jessica Lange plays the love interest, Teri Garr plays his friend, Bill Murray plays another friend, Charles Durning plays Lange’s father, with whom Lange tries to set Hoffman (as a woman) up, and Dabney Coleman plays the asshole director of the soap. Sydney Pollack directs, one of his best movies. Truly one of those movies that everyone needs to see, because it’s perfect.

3. E.T the Extra-Terrestrial

“E.T. phone home.”

If you didn’t see E.T., you didn’t have a childhood.

This is one of those movies… I don’t have to say another word. It speaks for itself. So I’m just gonna bring up random stuff about it.

I love that they emulate The Quiet Man and straight up have ET. watching it. You wouldn’t see that today. Now they’d be watching like, Back to the Future. I also love that Spielberg, using the old Hollywood trick, shot almost the entire movie from the eye-level of a kid, to put you in that point of view.

Also, Michael Jackson did the soundtrack for the film. He did storybook narration and recorded a song. It’s pretty awesome.

4. Pink Floyd: The Wall

“There is no pain, you are receding
A distant ship, smoke on the horizon
You are only coming through in waves
Your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re saying
When I was a child I had a fever
My hands felt just like two balloons
Now I’ve got that feeling once again
I can’t explain, you would not understand
This is not how I am
I have become comfortably numb”

I don’t know why they stopped making films based on concept albums. I’m gonna assume it’s because the music got shitty. How they never made a Ziggy Stardust movie is beyond me. (Why no one’s still not trying to make a Ziggy Stardust movie is beyond me.)

Tommy is one of my favorite films, and this… I like this album better than Tommy. I think Tommy is a more cohesive product, film-wise, but this movie is just so good because of the music.

The film is structured the way the album is — about a detached rock star who is slowly cutting off contact with the world around him. He’s building a metaphorical “wall” to keep people out. Bob Geldof stars (as “Pink”), and there are great animated sequences by Gerald Scarfe throughout, with some incredibly evocative imagery.

This movie is worth it if you love the album, but maybe even more so if you don’t know it. (Though what insane person hasn’t heard at least three of the tracks on this album, at minimum?) I always think movies like this are worth it for people, especially when they don’t think they like the music of a particular artist. There’s something great about the way they build a story around the album and put it to visuals. Especially when you have a band like this at their peak.

5. The World According to Garp

“You know, everybody dies. My parents died. Your father died. Everybody dies. I’m going to die too. So will you. The thing is, to have a life before we die. It can be a real adventure having a life.”

This is a movie that I grew up with. It was on so much when I was a child. I never actually sat down to watch it until much later, but I always had an affinity toward it. When I finally saw it in full, I was blown away by how actually good it is. I assumed nostalgia would carry the way, but no… it’s that great.

It’s directed by George Roy Hill, one of his great underrated gems next to the big two he directed (Butch and Sundance, The Sting), and based on a novel by John Irving, who also gave us The Cider House Rules. Robin Williams stars as Garp, and Glenn Close (in her first film!) stars as his mother. The film is largely about the two of them, but it does get into Mary Beth Hurt as Garp’s love interest.

I almost don’t even want to spoil it for you if you haven’t seen it. The movie takes so many turns and covers so much ground that it’s almost better if you don’t know what happens if you don’t already. It’s truly great. Williams is fantastic, Close… I still don’t know how she didn’t win an Oscar for her role (nominated, but lost to Jessica Lange for Tootsie). John Lithgow is also great as a transgender former football player.

Do yourself a favor — if you haven’t seen this movie and don’t know much about it other than the memorable title, just put it on. Just watch it. I think you’re gonna really like it.

6. An Officer and a Gentleman

“You can forget it! You’re out!”
“Don’t you do it! Don’t! You… I got nowhere else to go! I got nowhere else to g… I got nothin’ else.”

This is a movie that has it all. It’s generally for guys, with all the military themes and all that, but there’s the whole romance storyline and that famous ending that makes people also think of it as a chick flick. (Plus, Richard Gere…) It somehow manages to be for both men and women, and still be a great film in the process.

Richard Gere plays the son of a navy man (Robert Loggia!) who graduates college and has no idea what to do. So he enlists in officer training school, despite seemingly not wanting to be there. His training officer is Lou Gossett Jr, who rides him especially hard. Meanwhile, he starts dating Debra Winger, a factory worker. It’s really good.

The highlight of the film, as pictured above, is the sequence where Gere and Gossett come to a head, as Gossett cancels Gere’s weekend pass and makes him work past the point of exhaustion, telling him that he’s gonna make him quit before the weekend’s out. And finally, when he’s reached a breaking point, that quoted outburst happens, and it’s just one of the great moments in film. The way Gere delivers the line and the way Gossett reacts to it. The scene shifts on a dime in that moment, and it’s just so wonderful.

All involved deliver incredible performances. Winger and Gossett were nominated for their work (with Gossett winning, becoming just the third black actor to ever win an acting Oscar in the process), and unfortunately Gere was not (though when you see the category, it makes some sense). Taylor Hackford directs what is, in my mind, his best film.

7. My Favorite Year

“He’s plastered!”
“So are some of the finest erections in Europe.”

God, I love this movie. Based on Mel Brooks’ time on Sid Caesar’s Show of Shows, which was a pre-SNL type show. One week, he had to babysit Errol Flynn, which, as you can imagine, was its own form of adventure. So, he used those experiences and had them turned into this movie.

Mark Linn-Baker is the Brooks stand in and Peter O’Toole plays the Flynn stand in. O’Toole is scheduled to be on this sketch show. O’Toole is Baker’s idol, and at this point he’s totally washed up as an actor. He shows up, completely drunk, and the producers wanna get rid of him. But Baker says he’ll keep O’Toole sober throughout the week, which involves him watching him at all times, while O’Toole is constantly sneaking off to drink and womanize, and gets Baker into all sorts of insane situations. Of course Baker learns how to loosen up, and O’Toole learns some stuff along the way too, and we end up on the night of the show, as everyone wonders if O’Toole (who missed all rehearsals) is gonna show up at all, let alone be capable enough to make it through the show. It’s… it’s good.

It’s amazing. O’Toole delivers one of his career best performances. Sad it happened in a year with the two we already mentioned and the other one that’s coming up very soon, but he’s incredible here. And this movie is so funny. One of the greatest comedies of the 80s and one of the great hidden gems of all time.

8. Blade Runner

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time… like tears in rain… Time to die.”

Count the three most influential sci-fi movies of all time. This is one of those three.

I’ll start by saying… I’m not in love with this movie. In fact, I didn’t think it was gonna make the top ten. But here we are. As much as I think other people overrate it and as much as I think there are too many versions to truly consider it the caliber of masterpiece that other people thing, there’s no denying its iconic nature, the great imagery and moments in it and its impact on the world of film since it came out. That last part isn’t as important, since these lists are all about what my favorite movies are. And, in going back to revisit this film in preparation for last year’s sequel, I found that it’s growing on me. Still not gonna hold it in as high regard as everyone else, but it’s gorgeous. That’s usually good for helping me overcome the plot stuff I don’t like.

It’s a simple movie — very much a detective story. Harrison Ford kills runaway androids. He’s tasked with killing four of them, and he sets out to do so. Pretty simple.

Ridley Scott followed up Alien with this. Which is nuts. Talk about two of the most influential and copied films of the past forty years.

9. 48 Hours

“Jack… Tell me a story.”
“Fuck you!”
“Oh, that’s one of my favorites.”

You don’t get Lethal Weapon without this movie. This movie launched Eddie Murphy. He got big on SNL, and this was his first movie. It was a top ten grosser for the year. And it’s still great. A bit off-color and questionable in terms of some of the stuff that’s said as compared to some other movies, but still very funny.

Nick Nolte is a hardened cop trying to track down an escaped murderer. Nolte goes and tracks down the killer’s former partner, Eddie Murphy, currently in jail. He gives him a leave of (insert title here) to help him out. Naturally, it doesn’t start out so well, but of course, they gain respect for one another… you know how it goes. It’s been copied a bunch since then.

This movie is so good. Nolte is great, and Murphy is just spectacular. It’s one of the great buddy movies of all time, a genre that was seemingly perfected (at least with action/cop elements) in the 80s.

10. Gandhi

“Whenever I despair, I remember that the way of truth and love has always won. There may be tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they may seem invincible, but in the end, they always fail. Think of it: always.”

Richard Attenborough, man. A Bridge Too Far, then Magic, then this. Hell of a run.

It’s Ben Kingsley playing Gandhi in an all star cast biopic that’s just incredible. It’s three hours, and the man’s life is worth every minute of it.

Fun fact: Early on in the development, Richard Attenborough offered Anthony Hopkins the part. Hopkins called his father up to tell him, and his father said, “Oh, so it’s going to be a comedy, then?”

– – – – – – – – – –

11-20:

Fanny and Alexander — Ingmar Bergman’s final film. I’m not a huge Bergman fan, but I do love movies shown from the point of view of children, which is the main appeal of this for me. It’s about a brother and sister and focuses on their relationship with their family. It’s three hours, and somehow not boring. It looks great, and was originally shot to be longer There’s a 300 minute version that the edited down to 3 hours for a theatrical release. The theatrical version was put out first. It probably shouldn’t be your first foray into Bergman, but it is a great film.

Frances — Really great biopic of Frances Farmer, who is someone that nobody knows now. She was an actress in the 30s most famous for being in Come and Get It, the Howard Hawks movie about loggers in the Pacific Northwest. The film portrays her as a rebel and iconoclast who was always very vocal about her opinions, which put her at odds with her teachers, her town and Hollywood, ultimately. And the film also deals with her relationship with her mother, which helps result in her having a mental breakdown. A great lead performance by Jessica Lange (for which she was nominated), a great supporting turn by Kim Stanley (also nominated), and Sam Shepard stars as well.

Missing — Great drama directed by Costa-Gavras. Jack Lemmon plays a conservative man whose son goes (insert title here) in South America. He flies down to meet his daughter-in-law, Sissy Spacek, and they try to find out what happened. His son was a radical leftist and he figures the politics are the cause of the disappearance and that the American government, which he holds so dear, will be the ones to help sort everything out. And we watch, as he goes along his investigation, that the government may have been responsible for the son’s disappearance and (increasingly likely) death. It’s a really strong film. Nominated for Best Picture. Lemmon and Spacek were both nominated. Really well done.

Night Shift — This is Ron Howard’s second film and the first real one that people see. It’s a great 80s comedy with Michael Keaton and Henry Winkler. Winkler plays a former stockbroker who wanted out of that life and is now working the (insert title here) at the city morgue. His supervisor is Michael Keaton, who convinces Winkler that they should start a brothel out of the morgue. Comedy ensues. It’s great. It’s really great. Written by Ganz and Mandel, who are responsible for so much classic TV as well as the scripts for Splash, Parenthood, City Slickers and A League of Their Own. Definitely one of the more underrated Ron Howard movies and one of the comedy gems of the 80s.

Rocky III — Classic. At this point we’re not really going into the Rocky movies looking for masterpieces, we just wanna be entertained. And Mr. T as Clubber Lang? Hulk Hogan as Thunderlips? That’s entertainment. I was gonna say this is the one people overlook the most, but I think that’s probably II. People generally remember this one because of Mr. T. Everyone always goes to IV after the first one, I’m noticing. Still, they’re all great. Aside from V, which is its own thing, I think all the Rocky movies are fantastic.

Shoot the Moon — Terrific drama with Albert Finney and Diane Keaton, directed by Alan Parker. The film is simple — it’s about the dissolution of Finney and Keaton’s marriage. That’s really all you need. Both actors are fantastic in the film, and it’s one of the gems of the 80s that not enough people know about.

Sophie’s Choice — A movie so famous the title has now become synonymous with the climactic moment in it. What most people don’t realize is that most of the film takes place in the present. Meryl (in her first Best Actress winning performance) plays a Polish immigrant who survived the holocaust who is living with Kevin Kline, an unstable alcoholic. She befriends Peter MacNichol, a young writer. As they become friends, he starts to realize she is haunted by something that happened during the war… which we later find out and is one of the most horrifying things that could ever happen to a person. Because the term ‘Sophie’s choice’ is so widely known, that moment is typically ruined for people before they see the movie, but really what you get out of this apart from that is the great Meryl performance, a great Kevin Kline performance (in his first film), and fine direction by Alan Pakula, who was coming off a stretch of great films. It’s just one of those must-see films for all movie buffs.

The Thing — The John Carpenter classic. I’ll be up front and say that I prefer the Howard Hawks version of the story, not that it’s a one-to-one comparison. That one’s more about the Red Scare, while this one’s more body horror. Both are great. I just wanna be up front about my allegiances, because some people worship at the altar of this movie. Here’s the premise: a crew shows up at a base to find everyone dead. And they try to figure out who (or what) killed them, and the shit hits the fan. If you don’t know the… killer, I guess, is the best way to put it… then don’t look it up and just watch the movie. It’s pretty great. If you do know it, then you don’t need me to tell you that this is a good movie.

Tron — Classic sci-fi movie. I’m guessing these were groundbreaking special effects at the time. I don’t really know. But the movie looks awesome either way. This is a movie that stuff like Ready Player One owes a lot to. Jeff Bridges plays a software engineer-turned-hacker who ends up being transported into the digital realm and ends up having to fight like a gladiator, with the help of a security program. Everyone needs to see this movie. It’s been mimicked and redone to death (and the sequel makes this look dated, apart from the effects, which are of its era), but it’s just a great looking movie and a lot of fun.

Victor/Victoria — Awesome comedy-musical directed by Blake Edwards. Julie Andrews stars as a down-on-her-luck singer who can’t even afford a meal. She hooks up with Robert Preston, who finds a way to make them both successful… by having Andrews pretend to be a male female impersonator. As in, she will sing as herself, while pretending to be a man dressed as a woman. And it works. She becomes huge. Although complications (and comedy) ensue when James Garner, a mobster, falls for her (or her persona). It’s terrific. Andrews was nominated for it, as was Lesley Ann Warren, who is so good here as Garner’s moll (complete with Jean Hagen in Singin’ in the Rain voice). I’d say this is one of Blake Edwards’ best movies, but that list is like, a dozen deep. Still, it’s great.

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Tier two:

  • Annie
  • The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
  • Cat People
  • Conan the Barbarian
  • Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid
  • Diner
  • Fast Times at Ridgemont High
  • First Blood
  • Fitzcarraldo
  • One from the Heart
  • The Plague Dogs
  • Poltergeist
  • Porky’s
  • Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip
  • The Secret of NIMH
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn
  • That Championship Season
  • White Dog
  • The Year of Living Dangerously
  • Yes, Giorgio

White Dog is such a great movie. Somehow forgotten, yet it’s great. Sam Fuller was not one to shy away from blunt subject matter. Here’s the premise: an actress comes across a stray dog. She takes him in and, unable to find his owners, adopts him. However, pretty soon, she discovers a very particular characteristic of this dog: it doesn’t like black people. Not just, doesn’t like them… when it sees a black person, it goes from sweet to deadly. It’s ready to attack and murder them. So she finds a trainer (Burl Ives of all people!) who is willing to try to retrain the dog, in an effort to not put it down. It’s so great. It does not shy away from the race issues at all, and it’s a really strong film. Diner is Barry Levinson’s first film. This burst him onto the scene. It’s just a bunch of dudes hanging out in a diner. That’s it. That’s the film. A hangout film. It spawned stuff like Dazed and Confused and Clerks. One of the great movies of all time. All the cast became stars from this. Kevin Bacon, Mickey Rourke, Steve Guttenberg, Daniel Stern, Paul Reiser, Ellen Barkin. It’s great. It’s a must-see for all film fans.

One from the Heart is Francis Ford Coppola’s New York, New York. His big musical that ended up derailing his career. This one bankrupted his company and basically left him as a director-for-hire the next ten years. It’s about a couple who break up and spend a night on the town (Vegas) with who they think are their “dream” alternate partners. All the songs are by Tom Waits, and the production design is tremendous. Coppola really put a lot of effort into this. It doesn’t fully work, because the story isn’t quite there, but man, it’s an interesting failure. I always give this movie the thumbs up because he went for it. Fitzcarraldo is Werner Herzog against nature. That’s pretty much what it is, right? I guess technically it’s Klaus Kinski vs. nature, but it’s all the same, since… he had to make it happen as they shot it. The film is about a man who wants to build an opera house in the Peruvian rainforest, and ends up dragging a steamship entirely across the jungle. It’s… a hell of a movie. It’s awesome. Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip is another incredible Pryor stand up special. This is the one where he openly discusses the incident where he caught on fire while freebasing. It’s further evidence to why he is one of the greatest stand ups to ever live. Just, a pure genius.

The Secret of NIMH is an “adult” animated film. You can watch it as a child, but it’s way heavier than Pixar. This is about a field mouse whose son is sick and seeks help from a group of rats, who she finds out were part of a series of experiments at a research facility that changed them forever. It’s… great. It’s so great. One of the classic non-Disney animated movies. The Year of Living Dangerously is part of that “journalists in war-torn foreign countries” craze of the 80s. Missing, The Killing Fields, Salvador… they loved that shit. Here, it’s Mel Gibson in Indonesia during a coup. Sigourney Weaver plays the love interest, and, the real reason to see the movie… Linda Hunt plays a male photographer who helps Gibson around town. She won an Oscar for the performance because she’s so good in it. Peter Weir directed it, coming off Gallipoli, also with Mel. It’s a decent movie. Good actors. The best part is Linda Hunt, though. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn is considered the best in the Star Trek series. It’s the famous one. I don’t particularly love any of the films in the franchise, but this one is one of the good ones. I’m always gonna be partial to IV, just because… whales. But this is one I like. I enjoy the first one, this is really solid, IV is really solid. I appreciated the one where they’re out looking for God, and the one where Kirk is out on the ice planet prison isn’t bad. This is the one people love, though. I guess because Ricardo Montalban is awesome.

Annie is one of the most famous characters of all time. It’s one of the great musicals ever made. This is one of two (and a half, if you count the Rob Marshall TV version) film versions of the story. By default, it’s considered the best (though the 2014 redo wasn’t bad). It was directed by John Huston, which is kind of like when Clint Eastwood made Jersey Boys, only this movie doesn’t suck. It’s fun. Albert Finney as Daddy Warbucks, Carol Burnett as Miss Hannigan, Ann Reinking, Tim Curry, Bernadette Peters… it’s awesome. The Plague Dogs is another adult animated movie. Directed by the same guy who did Watership Down. It’s about two dogs who are being experimented on at a research facility who escape. As they travel the landscape, looking for food and shelter, rumors begin to swirl that the dogs may be carrying bubonic plague. It’s… incredibly animated. No one remembers this movie, but it’s really good.

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas is one of the more memorable titles out there. You almost forget what the story is. Dolly Parton runs a brothel that’s technically illegal, but no one really does anything about it. It’s been there forever, most of the men casually go there, the wives are fine with it, and the sheriff of the town, Burt Reynolds, is having an affair with Parton, so he turns a blind eye to everything. Then Dom DeLuise, a do-gooder, shows up and says the brothel is immoral and needs to get shut down, which puts a great deal of pressure on everyone. Charles Durning has a great (and Oscar-nominated!) cameo as the governor, who does not make any decisions on his own and only does what the polls say. So when they present him with the idea of closing the whorehouse or keeping it open, his response is the “Sidestep,” which is an incredible musical number. This movie’s a lot of fun. ALSO… this is the movie that first featured a performance of the song “I Will Always Love You.” (The song first appeared in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, but this one has Dolly actually singing it.) First Blood is Rambo. The first Rambo movie. Most people remember the sequel, where he’s in Vietnam. This one is much smaller and local. He’s a vet who wanders from town to town. While reaching one, he finds a sheriff does not find him very welcome, and basically pushes him to the breaking point by being an asshole. It’s awesome. Very 80s.

Cat People is a Paul Schrader-directed remake of the film, which takes a Val Lewton horror movie and straight up 80s-excess’s it. It’s the Scarface of horror remakes. There’s a weird psychosexual undertone, since Malcolm McDowall is a cat person, and Nastassja Kinski is his sister, who he wants to sort of join him in being a cat person… it’s so very 80s. It’s solid. Not quite the original, but solid. Also famous for David Bowie (of all people)’s theme song. Yes, Giorgio is nuts. And I enjoy the shit out of it. So this movie stars Pavarotti. Yes, that Pavarotti. It was directed by Franklin Schaffner, too. Only twelve years removed from Patton and nine from Papillon. So there’s that. But it’s an 80s romantic comedy starring Pavarotti! Why would you not want to see that? He plays a world famous opera singer (what, did you think he was gonna play an accounts executive?) who is asked to sing at the Met. Having had a bad experience there, it scares him and makes him unable to sing. Enter the nice lady doctor who, through a meet cute, helps him get his voice back. And pretty soon, despite his being married, she’s becoming his mistress. Weird plot, but somehow it fits. It’s Pavarotti. Why wouldn’t he have girls in every city?

Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid is an interesting comedy. A great idea that turned it into a niche film. Basically, they took existing footage of old noir detective movies and edited a movie around it. Steve Martin is a detective who uncovers a big conspiracy. So when a hitman comes to kill him, that hitman is Alan Ladd from This Gun for Hire. Or like, when he calls his partner, it’s Humphrey Bogart from The Big Sleep. It’s great. If you’ve seen all those old movies, you’ll recognize all the clips they pull. And they seamlessly (most of the time) put all the actors “into” the movies. It’s awesome. Carl Reiner directed it. Go see it. If you’re a movie buff and love noirs, you’ll get a kick out of this. Poltergeist is a classic horror movie. Directed by Tobe Hooper, though there’s some cause for speculation there, as a lot of people seem to think that Steven Spielberg is the one who really directed this movie. It’s about a family whose house is haunted by ghosts. Pretty simple. It’s somehow both spooky and also works as a Spielberg/Amblin movie. I don’t know how he pulled that off. Still, quite good. Definitely one of the cultural essentials for the 80s and for the horror genre.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High is so classic that pretty much everyone getting into movies knows they have to see this at some point. Written by Cameron Crowe and directed by Amy Heckerling, it’s a cultural classic. Everyone remembers Sean Penn as Spicoli, but it’s just a great movie. Classic high school movie. And it launched a bunch of careers: Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Forest Whitaker, Nicolas Cage, Anthony Edwards, Judge Reinhold, Phoebe Cates… and Vincent Schiavelli is in it! Porky’s is the film that started the sex comedy craze of the 80s. If Animal House is Halloween, this is Friday the 13th. It’s about a bunch of kids trying to lose their virginity. Which is a story you’ve now seen a dozen times in movies since, but this is the first one. It’s fun. Not particularly progressive, but amusing. That Championship Season is an adaptation of a Pulitzer Prize winning play written by Jason Miller, who most of you will know as Father Karras from The Exorcist. Same guy. It’s about former high school basketball champions who keep gathering together to relive their former glory. Now they’re all middle-aged men dealing with their own shit. Stars Robert Mitchum as the coach, and Martin Sheen, Stacy Keach, Bruce Dern and Paul Sorvino. It’s well done. Theatrical, but a good cast.

Conan the Barbarian is the John Milius-directed, Arnold Schwarzenegger-starring badass movie. It’s fucking Conan, guys. It’s a classic. This is the movie that taught us what is best in life:

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