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Mike’s Top Ten of 1983

We’re full 80s at this point. Man… some of these movies are both the best and the worst of the 80s. Often at the same time.

But, as a standalone year, it’s pretty strong at the top. This list goes 7 or 8 deep of straight “oh shit yeh” kinda movies. Though I will say, as is the case with most of the 80s, the top ten lists of most people will largely be the same. I feel like everyone’s top ten for this year will consist of at least eight of my top 20 films. There’s always that 20% of personal preference, but I feel like the 80s are such that the cream rises to the top, and we’re all working off the same cream.

What I find interesting about this list in particular is how it starts off with all the obvious heavy hitters and then gets into some cool stuff that I really like. I like when I get to have a few top ten movies that are a bit straying from the beaten path, so maybe rather than affirming the same opinions as the rest of the group I get to give you something that you may not have heard about. Which is really what it’s all about.

Mike’s Top Ten of 1983

The Big Chill

A Christmas Story

Easy Money

Flashdance

The King of Comedy

The Right Stuff

Scarface

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Terms of Endearment

To Be or Not to Be

11-20: The Dresser, Educating Rita, Local Hero, The Meaning of Life, Risky Business, Silkwood, Tender Mercies, Trading Places, Vacation, WarGames

Tier two: Barefoot Gen, Betrayal, Bill Cosby: Himself, Blue Thunder, D.C. Cab, Eddie and the Cruisers, Heart Like a Wheel, Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, Never Cry Wolf, Never Say Never Again, Octopussy, The Outsiders, Richard Pryor: Here and Now, Rumble Fish, Star 80, Superman III, Testament, Twilight Zone: The Movie, Yentl, Zelig

– – – – – – – – – –

1. A Christmas Story

“I want an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle!”
“You’ll shoot your eye out, kid.”

How could it not be? I’ve seen this movie more than almost any other movie. Sure, the fact that it plays for literally 24 hours straight every Christmas helps, but the truth is the truth.

This movie is one of the staples of my childhood. It’s a movie I’ve seen so much I can quote it backwards and forwards. I just love it, through and through.

It’s a weird movie in the sense that it wasn’t a huge film, it barely did anything in theaters (it came out at Thanksgiving and was pretty much gone by Christmas), and only gained a life on TV and home video. Clearly no one expected this to take on the life that it did. But here we are. It’s one of the five most famous Christmas movies of all time. A staple of the season, and there are at least a half dozen cultural references that everybody knows.

I don’t even need to get into specifics. We all know this movie. You may feel much differently about this as I do, but there’s no denying the cultural importance of this movie. Also, fun fact, the book this is based on is called “In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash.” Which is great.

2. Scarface

“You wanna fuck with me? Okay. You wanna play rough? Okay. Say hello to my little friend!”

I’m not gonna pretend like I don’t unabashedly love this movie. Because I do. It’s been overpraised and overused in popular culture, but it’s just great. A perfect example of 80s excess that fits the subject matter.

It’s rare that both an original and a remake are great movies. And weirdly enough, as you’ll see later, that happens twice in this list. This one is the more well known of the two, though, by far.

Directed by De Palma. Written by Stone. Pacino, Bauer, Pfeiffer, Loggia, Mastrantonio, Abraham. It’s great. It’s completely overdone in every way, and that’s the way it should have been done.

3. The King of Comedy

“Better to be king for a night than schmuck for a lifetime.”

Oh yeah, Martin Scorsese getting weird.

This is generally referred to as his best, most unheralded masterpiece. To the point where it’s now pretty heralded, and generally acknowledged as “the one people don’t talk about as much as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and Goodfellas.” (Which is why, for the under-appreciated Scorsese gem conversation, I’ve moved my attentions onto Bringing Out the Dead. But that’s a discussion for 1999.)

De Niro stars as a wannabe standup comedian who collects autographs and really wants to get on Jerry Lewis’s show (he’s the Carson stand-in). So, he stalks him. If you haven’t seen it, it’s incredible. Just go in cold.

The best part about this movie, and you should skip this paragraph if you haven’t seen the movie — what I love best is that when you finally get to the set, you assume it’s gonna be terrible. But he’s actually quite funny! Which is the ultimate irony of the entire movie, that he does all of this to be famous, and yet he’s actually funny!

Anyway, this is one of Scorsese’s best films, and it’s now widely regarded as such after a rocky initial release period. One of those movies that’s way more influential than you’d think, that so many of your favorite directors really love, even more than Scorsese’s other movies.

4. The Right Stuff

“I’m a fearless man, but I’m scared to death of you.”
“Oh no you’re not. But you oughta be.”

One of the great films of the 80s. For some reason this hasn’t quite gotten the respect it deserves. People who’ve seen it think it’s great, but it’s never really up there for the discussion of best 80s movies. (In a way, it’s like Apollo 13, which also feels criminally overlooked.)

It’s about the first astronauts. All the pilots that were picked to try out to be the Mercury 7 and the early history of the U.S. space program. It starts with all the pilots, including Chuck Yeager, and then branches off into the story of the men training to go into space. It’s really good. Sam Shepard gives a career best performance as Yeager, and you have Scott Glenn as Alan Shepard, Ed Harris as John Glenn, Dennis Quaid as Gordon Cooper, Fred Ward as Gus Grissom, and also Kim Stanley, Barbara Hershey, Veronica Cartwright and Levon Helm as the narrator!

I love this movie so much. This is one of the great stories of American history, turned into one of the great books of recent American history, turned into one of the great movies of all time. Everyone owes it to themselves to see it.

5. Terms of Endearment

“Do you have any reaction at all to my telling you I love you?”
“I was just inches from a clean getaway.”

I originally had a completely different photo and quote for this film, but I feel like it’s been long enough now and the film’s been sufficiently forgotten enough that I can leave that part out and let people discover it on their own.

This is James L. Brooks’ first film, and while people my age grew up with As Good as It Gets, and people slightly older grew up with Broadcast News, this is the first one. And he won Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay for this, making him one of seven directors to ever achieve that particular hat trick.

(Quick trivia break — the other six directors are Leo McCarey (Going My Way), Billy Wilder (The Apartment), Francis Ford Coppola (Godfather II), Peter Jackson (Return of the King), the Coen brothers (No Country) and Alejandro Inarritu (Birdman). Of note, he’s the only person to do that for his first film. Making it all the more impressive.)

This film is a mother-daughter story. Shirley MacLaine is the mother and Debra Winger is the daughter. And we watch their relationship as it changes over the years. Winger goes off and marries Jeff Daniels, a professor, and MacLaine starts dating Jack Nicholson, her former astronaut neighbor. It’s really good. (MacLaine finally got her Oscar for this one, too.)

For those of you who’ve seen the film, you’ll note that I left out some details, but as I said above, I feel like so many people now don’t know about this, so I think it’s best to just experience the characters as they are. It’s one of those movies that I had sort of known about before I went into seeing it, and even so, I had a preconceived notion of what it would be and how I would feel about it. And I was left blown away by how much I loved it and how it subverted all my notions. So I think those of you who haven’t seen this should just go in and watch it. It’s great, it’s pretty essential, and I think you’ll really like it.

6. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

“It’s a trap!”

Now with more muppets!

Remember the days when this was the weakest of the Star Wars movies? Yeah…

Clearly I only like the important elements of this film, hence the chosen photo.

It… closes out the trilogy. The Solo ending isn’t ideal, the Leia ending just kinda happens, and it’s all about the Luke ending. Which is fine. Everyone else is given filler episode stuff to do while the main plot gets resolved, but it mostly works. There’s some good stuff here. It’s also still Star Wars. As much as I wanna say this is a weak movie, I’ll still take it over most other things.

Plus, it gives you hope for yourself when you realize there is at least one universe where a giant space lobster can get promoted to the rank of admiral.

7. To Be or Not to Be

“Heil Hitler!”
“Heil Hitler!”
“Heil myself!”

A remake of the 1942 film from Lubitsch. Almost exactly the same, but with great actors, which make it just as worthwhile.

The premise is, if you haven’t seen the original: a Jewish theater troupe in Poland led by a married acting couple deal with the invasion of the Nazis in a screwball farce in which they have to find a way to get out of the county without being killed.

Here, the leads are, instead of Jack Benny and Carole Lombard, Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft. Who, in case you didn’t know…actual husband and wife. Then you have Christopher Lloyd as a German soldier, Jose Ferrer as a professor/German spy, Tim Matheson as an officer with a crush on Bancroft (who keeps unintentionally ruining Brooks’ performances) and Charles Durning as a Nazi colonel. Durning was nominated for an Oscar for this.

The movie is hilarious. I might even like it better than the original (but that’s probably just due to my undying love of Mel Brooks). It’s so funny. The turns this movie takes – just watch it. Even if you’ve seen the original, just watch it. The story is one of the funniest things ever written. This is the kind of movie I’d be okay showing a nine year old, because funny is funny.

8. The Big Chill

Probably the ultimate 80s hangout movie. Very yuppie, and very much a product of the time, but still, quite good because of the cast.

This is Lawrence Kasdan’s second film, after Body Heat, and it turned him from good writer to toast of the town. This movie ended up getting him a Best Picture nomination.  It’s about a group of friends who hasn’t seen each other since college who all get together after one of their friends kills himself. So they all reunite at the funeral and stay over one of the group’s houses for the weekend and they all reconnect.

I love this movie. It’s so laid back and so easy to watch. And the cast — Kevin Kline, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, Tom Berenger, William Hurt, Meg Tilly and Mary Kay Place. And Kevin Costner played the dead guy before his scenes as the corpse were cut. (That’s not a joke. He does play the dead guy.)

Just for the cast alone, everyone should see it. The fact that it’s great is just a bonus.

9. Easy Money

“She says I drink too much, I smoke too much, I gamble. I mean she’s right, but what can I do? I got no… what’s the word…”
“Class.”

This is Rodney Dangerfield’s first leading role after Caddyshack. They built the film around him and his comedy. The first sentence of the Wikipedia synopsis tells you everything you need to know: “Montgomery ‘Monty’ Capuletti is a hard-living, heavy-drinking, pot-smoking, gambling family man who makes his living as a baby photographer in New Dorp, Staten Island.”

The plot of the movie is — his wife comes from money and he hates his mother-in-law. She suddenly dies (to his great joy), but leaves a stipulation in her will that if he can get his shit together for an entire year, he’ll inherit $10 million. (There’s a weird proliferation of inheritance comedies of the 80s, between Arthur and Brewster’s Millions and this.) So he’s gotta give up everything he lives in the pursuit of money (and to show the old bitch she was wrong).

It’s so funny. Joe Pesci plays Dangerfield’s best friend and Geraldine Fitzgerald, who also plays Arthur’s grandmother, plays the mother-in-law. It’s not quite Back to School, but it’s good.

Plus, theme song by Billy Joel!

10. Flashdance

“What a feeling
Bein’s believin’
I can have it all
Now I’m dancing for my life
Take your passion
And make it happen
Pictures come alive
You can dance right through your life”

Didn’t think this would be #10, but here we are. Sometimes you don’t know what’s gonna be on the list until you actually make it. But I guess that’s 1983 for you.

This is your classic ‘woman who works in a steel mill during the day and as an exotic dancer at night wants to get into ballet school’ film. So many of those from the 30s and 40s.

Jennifer Beals stars, and the film is famous for the great 80s soundtrack and the wonderfully 80s screenplay by Joe Ezterhas. Adrian Lyne directs. (Funnily enough, Brian De Palma was gonna direct this movie until he dropped out to do Scarface instead.) And the film is responsible for two 80s classic songs: the titular “Flashdance… What a Feeling” and, of course:

I thought about all the alternatives for the #10 on this list, and I realized… I’ll take this soundtrack over any of them.

– – – – – – – – – –

11-20:

The Dresser — Nominated for Best Picture this year… this was based on a play, and it shows. It’s very theatrical. However, the performances are so good, it doesn’t matter. The film is about Albert Finney, a brilliant Shakespearean actor who is absolutely nuts off the stage, and can barely do anything on his own without the help of his dresser, played by Tom Courtenay. The film centers around Courtenay trying to keep Finney stable enough, night after night, to get out on the stage as he performs King Lear. Both Courtenay and Finney were nominated for their performances, and both are terrific in this. It’s also directed by Peter Yates. You watch this for the performances. That’s the strength of this one.

Educating Rita — Modern day Pygmalion. Michael Caine is an alcoholic professor and Julie Walters is a lower class hairdresser. She decides she wants to better herself and study literature, and Caine takes her under his wing. Both Caine and Walters are great here. Both were nominated for Oscars, and rightly so. If you like all the different versions of Pygmalion, then this is for you.

Local Hero — This is always referred to as one of the great hidden gems of all time. People constantly overlook this movie, but you’ll always find it on a top ten list or “great movies” list, because it’s out there. It stars Peter Riegert as an oil executive who works for Burt Lancaster. Lancaster sends Riegert to Scotland, where he wants to buy up a town in order to put a refinery in there. Riegert, as he scouts out the town, starts to fall in love with it. Which complicates his loyalties. It’s a really great movie. Definitely something I’d tell everyone to see, just because there’s a high chance you’ll fall in love with it.

The Meaning of Life — Monty Python again. This, more so than Holy Grail and Life of Brian, is more of a sketch film. Different segments revolving around the theme, rather than a straight narrative. It is, as all Python movies are, hilarious. Not much more to add, since if the words Monty Python don’t do it for you automatically, I don’t know what else will.

Risky Business — The quintessential 80s teen comedy. This movie made Tom Cruise a star. He’s an overachieving student who wants to get into Princeton. He throws a party while his parents away, and things quickly get out of hand… forcing him to be… entrepreneurial… in order to make things right. It’s really funny. Though it’s been copied so many times you might feel like you’ve seen it before as you watch it. But that’s because this was the prototype for all those other ones, not the other way around. It’s really terrific, and so 80s.

Silkwood — Mike Nichols directed this, to star. It’s an iconic movie and an iconic performance by Meryl Streep. She and Cher were both nominated for Oscars for this. Also written by Nora Ephron and costars Kurt Russell. Meryl plays Karen Silkwood (a real woman) who works at a plutonium plant. After unionizing, she discovers that the plant is cutting corners on safety regulations and basically deliberately exposing the workers to radiation in order to make quota. It’s really good. Streep is fantastic in this, and Nichols always makes a good movie. This is a must see. One of those movies everyone likes because it’s just great.

Tender Mercies — This movie won Robert Duvall his Oscar. Directed by Bruce Beresford and based on a script by Horton Foote (who also adapted Mockingbird), Duvall plays a washed up alcoholic country singer who wakes up from a bender at a gas station motel. He strikes up a relationship with the woman who runs it and her daughter and uses that as a springboard to get his life back in order. It’s a nice little movie. If it sounds similar, they used the same kinda storyline to make Crazy Heart. They’re different movies, but that’s the gist, if you’re looking to watch it. This was a Best Picture nominee this year.

Trading Places — Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, directed by John Landis. It’s so good. Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche are two millionaires who decide to make a bet. They’re arguing whether it’s background or circumstance that makes a person successful, and decide to put it to the test. They take Aykroyd, a successful employee of theirs, fire him, take away all his money and basically arrange for him to be shunned by everyone who knows him. And then, they give all his money and his job to Eddie Murphy. Just to see how it ends up. It’s really funny. This is one of those classic 80s comedies everyone needs to see.

Vacation — Classic comedy. Directed by Harold Ramis, written by John Hughes. Arguably Chevy Chase’s most famous role. He played it four times. He plays Clark Griswold, a man who wants to take his kids on the most epic (insert title here) of all time: the one he remembers most fondly from when he was a kid. He’s gonna drive them out to California to Wally World (take a guess what that’s standing in for). Naturally, his kids think that’s lame and don’t wanna do it, and the trip is a disaster all the way through. But it’s hilarious. This is the original Griswold film. The best is Christmas Vacation, but this is the one that started it all, and pretty essential as far as comedies go.

WarGames — “Do you want to pay a game?” Classic Cold War thriller, directed by John Badham. Matthew Broderick stars as a high school hacker (back when “hacking” looked hilarious on screen) who breaks into the computer of a weapons defense system and begins playing games with it. He could choose checkers or poker, but instead chooses “Global Thermonuclear War.” He soon realizes… it’s not a game. The computer is actually simulating real warfare, and if he doesn’t win, World War III starts. It’s a great movie. One of the cultural classics of the era and something all movie buffs need to see. I don’t even think they’ve tried to steal this plot ever since, because I think they realize they won’t be able to top it.

– – – – – – – – – –

Tier two:

  1. Barefoot Gen
  2. Betrayal
  3. Bill Cosby: Himself
  4. Blue Thunder
  5. D.C. Cab
  6. Eddie and the Cruisers
  7. Heart Like a Wheel
  8. Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence
  9. Never Cry Wolf
  10. Never Say Never Again
  11. Octopussy
  12. The Outsiders
  13. Richard Pryor: Here and Now
  14. Rumble Fish
  15. Star 80
  16. Superman III
  17. Testament
  18. Twilight Zone: The Movie
  19. Yentl
  20. Zelig

Barefoot Gen is an animated film based on the manga series that shows the aftereffects of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. The manga is great, and the movie is very good. I feel like they can one day make a great version of this for international audiences, but for now, this can suffice.

Betrayal is a Harold Pinter adaptation starring Jeremy Irons and Ben Kingsley. It’s the story of an affair that is told in reverse. Very well-acted and just an engaging movie.

Bill Cosby: Himself is one of the greatest stand-up performances of all time. Forget all the other stuff. I know some of you can’t, but on a pure stand-up level, this entire set is genius. I remember watching this from a young age with my entire family and all of us howling with laughter. This might be the single greatest stand up film of all time. It’s that good. And while we’re here… Richard Pryor: Here and Now is another Richard Pryor stand-up special. He’s the man. They’re all worth seeing. Nothing more to add there.

Blue Thunder is a very 80s thriller. Roy Scheider is an LAPD cop with PTSD who is tasked with flying an experimental helicopter that can surveil the entire city basically all at once. So it can hear all sorts of crimes from miles away and is armed to the teeth for any type of situation. Though, of course, he soon learns the potential downfalls and implications of the copter, which is being used for a much more sinister plot. You know how these movies work. It’s fun. Co-stars Malcolm McDowell, Daniel Stern, Candy Clark and Warren Oates. Directed by John Badham, who also made WarGames this year. Clearly, 80s technological thrillers were his forte.

D.C. Cab is a Joel Schumacher film about a bunch of cabbies. It’s like Car Wash but with cabs. Schumacher wrote Car Wash, so he took the same basic idea — ensemble about a bunch of people at the same job — and made it about cabbies. It’s fun. Mr. T is in it! And Gary Busey! And Otis Day! It’s fun as hell.

Heart Like a Wheel is a biopic of Shirley Muldowney, the first licensed female drag racer. Bonnie Bedelia (best known as Holly McClane in Die Hard) stars, along with Beau Bridges and Anthony Edwards. It’s quite good. Pretty standard biopic fare, but well done.

Eddie and the Cruisers is a music film. I grew up all around movies like this because my mother always liked them. So things like this, La Bamba… they were on all the time in my house. This is about a reporter (Ellen Barkin) investigating the mysterious disappearance of a rock star. So we intercut her investigation with flashbacks of the band and how they got started, to their rise to the top, to the mysterious disbanding and disappearance of their second album. It’s kinda like Citizen Kane with music. It’s not the best film, but it’s well done, and it holds a special place in my heart.

Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence is a British/Japanese POW film starring David Bowie, Tom Conti, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Takeshi Kitano. It’s really good. The score is incredible and it looks great. POW movies tend to be about one of two things (sometimes both): trying to escape, or class differences. This is about the latter. It’s a classic, and should be seen by film fans.

Never Cry Wolf is an awesome wilderness movie. Charles Martin Smith is a researcher who goes out to the arctic and studies wolves. It’s incredible. Must see for film fans.

Never Say Never Again is the other Bond movie that came out this year. The backstory to this is, after a rights dispute, Kevin McClory, one of the original writers of Thunderball, retained the rights to that story. That was the only Bond story that was not owned by Eon for years. This and the 1967 Casino Royale are the only unofficial James Bond movies. The real masterstroke by the producers was bringing back Sean Connery, 12 years after Diamonds Are Forever, to play Bond again. And they put it up against Octopussy, which takes stones. Octopussy ended up making more money (because brand name), but it still takes stones to straight up do that. It’s a straight remake of Thunderball, though taking into account Connery’s advancing age (though it should be noted that Connery was three years younger than Roger Moore). Max von Sydow plays Blofeld, Kim Basinger plays Domino, Klaus Maria Brandauer plays Largo, and it was directed by Irvin Kershner, coming off The Empire Strikes Back.

Star 80 is Bob Fosse’s final film and a fictionalized version of the story of Paul Snider and Dorothy Stratten, starring Eric Roberts and Mariel Hemingway. She’s an up-and-coming model, and he’s her abusive, jealous husband. It’s well done. Fosse, of course, reached much greater heights with his three previous films, but this one’s still quite solid. Fosse never made a bad film in his career, which is not something most people can say.

Testament is an interesting drama. Jane Alexander was nominated for an Oscar for it. It’s about a suburban family dealing with the aftermath of a nuclear attack. It’s like — Independence Day. If all the alien shit happened in the city and all the suburban people are dealing with the fallout over there. Only with nukes. It’s quite good. A nice little drama. Hidden gem.

Octopussy is probably the single worst James Bond movie. It’s fine, and it’s fun, but it’s probably the single worst of the franchise. Roger Moore does a Tarzan yell… it’s insane. But I’ll take a bad Bond movie over a lot of other movies.

The Outsiders is the first part of a Francis Ford Coppola S.E. Hinton double feature from this year. This is the more classically directed of the two. Big cast, “Stay gold, Ponyboy.” Most people remember this one, given how famous the book is. C. Thomas Howell, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Tom Cruise, Tom Waits, Diane Lane… the cast is nuts. And the film is quite good too. Rumble Fish is part two of the Francis Ford Coppola double feature. This is the more artistic of the two. He shot it in black-and-white and way more avant garde than The Outsiders. This one stars Matt Dillon, Mickey Rourke, Diane Lane, Dennis Hopper, Diana Scarwid, Nicolas Cage, Chris Penn, Laurence Fishburne, Tom Waits and Sofia Coppola. While The Outsiders is about gang wars, Rumble Fish takes place after the gang wars, with Dillon trying to live up to his brother (Rourke)’s reputation. They’re both really great movies, and almost something that’s required viewing for people growing up.

 

Superman III is actually quite good. I was surprised. No one really talks about any of the Superman movies after the first two. Most people straight up despise IV. But III just kind of goes by the wayside. And I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It’s much less superhero movie and much more comic book movie. It feels like a one-off issue of a Superman comic. Richard Pryor is a computer programmer who gets caught up in his boss’s plan to kill Superman. Meanwhile, Superman ends up splitting into Good and Bad Superman… it’s kinda nuts. But I enjoy it.

Twilight Zone: The Movie is basically a bunch of cool directors redoing famous episodes of the show as an anthology movie. The opening is pretty famous, with Albert Brooks and Dan Aykroyd talking about the show, and then… “Wanna see something really scary?” Then there’s the first (and only original) segment, about a guy who is passed over for a promotion, which is given to a Jewish man. He then starts using a bunch of racial slurs, and ends up transported back to World War II (where he is a Jewish man)… and then the KKK south (where he is a black man)… and then Vietnam. The most famous thing about this segment (directed by John Landis) is the tragic death of star Vic Morrow and two Vietnamese children in a helicopter accident. The second segment is a remake of “Kick the Can,” where a bunch of people in an old folks home are transformed into the childhood versions of themselves. This one, unsurprisingly, was directed by Steven Spielberg. The third segment is a remake of “It’s a Good Life,” where you realize the child at the center of the story can control the reality around him. Joe Dante directed this segment. And the final, and most famous one, is a remake of “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” where a man traveling on a red eye flight sees a gremlin on the wing. George Miller directed that one. If you’ve seen the show, none of these hold a candle to those, but seeing the directors do their versions of the stories is pretty cool.

Yentl is a film that I feel like everyone just sort of knows because it’s so oft-referenced. This was Barbra Streisand’s directorial debut. It’s about a woman who wants to study the Talmud, which is forbidden for women. Having been secretly instructed by her father, she dresses as a man and enters religious school. It’s a musical, not surprisingly, and has some very fine moments in it. Amy Irving was nominated for Best Supporting Actress as the fiancée of Streisand’s love interest (played by Mandy Patinkin), who ends up falling for her (as a male) instead. I’m not super into religious films, nor am I Jewish, so I don’t get as much out of this as some, but it’s a good movie.

Zelig is one of the more famous and liked Woody Allen movies. A mockumentary done pretty much entirely like an old newsreel (think “News on the March” from Citizen Kane) about an average man who can change into anyone he is around. So they cleverly edit Allen into all sorts of archival footage. It’s fun.

– – – – – – – – – –

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