Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #47: Some of MY Favorite Films of the 1980s

Thirteen of MY Favorite Films of the 1980s

After looking at various lists on which people named their favorite films of the 80s, I started to wonder if there were less than 30 movies made in that ten year span. Since I grew up in the decade of Pac-Man and parachute pants, I knew that this wasn't so.

Below (in alphabetical order) are some of my favorites from that decade. Instead of listing many of the ones that crop up constantly, I decided to dig a little deeper and focus on movies that I enjoyed but are somewhat overlooked. That's not to say that I don't enjoy some of the big movies from the 80s. However, I know that 80s cinema was more than just Big, Batman and The Breakfast Club.

In that spirit, what movies from the 80s do you feel are overlooked?

1. Bad Boys (1983)- Set primarily in a juvenile detention center, this gritty drama stars Sean Penn and Esai Morales as rival gang members sworn to kill each other. Making her film debut is Ally Sheedy as the girlfriend of Sean Penn's character. One of my favorite scenes is when Mick O'Brien (Penn) uses a pillow case filled with pop cans as a weapon against two bullying inmates.

2. Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll (1987)- This concert documentary about arguably rock's most influential artist features an awesome lineup of stars (Keith Richards, Etta James, Bruce Springsteen, Linda Ronstadt, and Eric Clapton just to name a few) and culminates in Chuck Berry's 60th birthday concert in St. Louis, MO. One of my favorite scenes features Chuck and fellow legends Little Richard and Bo Diddley gathered around a piano reminiscing about the early days of rock and roll.

3. Clean and Sober (1988) - Made during the height of the "Just Say No" era, this movie stars Michael Keaton as a slick commercial real estate agent who enters rehab after his drug and alcohol addictions spiral out of control. The film also features Morgan Freeman as a drug counselor and M. Emmett Walsh as one of Keaton's fellow rehab patients.

Favorite line:

Richard (played by M. Emmett Walsh): I woke up one morning, and when I looked in the mirror I noticed my nose was bent over entirely onto one side of my face. So, I got a hammer, and started banging my nose back to a right angle with my face. Suddenly, I looked at myself in the mirror, hammer in hand, blood streaming down my chin, and I realized my life was no longer manageable.

4. Crossroads (1986) - This can be described as "The Karate Kid Goes To the Mississippi Delta". Macchio stars as a young blues enthusiast who learns about a supposed "lost" song by the legendary Robert Johnson. He seeks out an elderly man (Joe Seneca) who may or may not be bluesman Willie Brown and the two travel from Memphis to Mississippi. Along the way, the two pick up a hitchhiker (Jami Gertz). The movie climaxes with a guitar duel between Macchio's character and a musician (played by Steve Vai) who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his musical abilities.

5. D.C. Cab (1983) - Along with Mr. T, this comedy about a motley crew of cab drivers also features Gary Busey, Marsha Warfield (Night Court), and Bill Maher (Politically Incorrect). One of my favorite lines:

Samson (played by Mr. T): Why don't you get off the street and get a decent job?

Hooker In Mr. T's Cab: Cause I need the bread!

Samson: Then get a job at the bakery.

6. Easy Money (1983)- This comedy features one of my all-time favorite comedians as a children's photographer who stands to inherit 10 million dollars if he can give up smoking, drinking, and gambling for a year. One of my favorite lines:

Monty (Rodney Dangerfield): My mother-in-law, for years I wouldn't kiss her face; I end up kissing her ass.

7. The Hollywood Knights (1980)- Set on Halloween night in 1965, I think of this movie as a cross between "American Grafitti" and "Animal House". It centers around the activities of a car club that regularly menaces Beverly Hills socialites, the local high school, and two bumbling police officers. The movie stars Robert Wuhl (whose character has one of the all-time great names, Newbomb Turk) and Fran Drescher. Don't let the coverbox fool you. Although Tony Danza and Michelle Pfeiffer have somewhat pivotal roles, their screen time is relatively small.

8. The Hollywood Shuffle (1987)- A hilarious satire of Hollywood's sterotyping of Blacks in both films and TV, this movie stars Robert Townsend, Anne-Marie Johnson, Keenan Ivory Wayans, and John Witherspoon. One of my favorite scenes is a fantasy sequence featuring Townsend as a private eye on the trail of a villain known as "Jheri Curl".

9. House of Games (1987)- Nothing is what it seems in this modern classic starring Lindsay Crouse as a psychiatrist/author who gets tangled up with a con man (Joe Mantegna).

Favorite line:

George: Where is this guy from?

Mike (played by Mantegna): I'm from the United States of kiss my ass!

10. Krush Groove (1985)- Based loosely on the early days of the Def Jam record label, this movie stars Sheila E., Blair Underwood, and many stars from the early days of rap (Run DMC, Kurtis Blow, The Fat Boys, etc.). One of my favorite scenes is when LL Cool J performs "I Can't Live Without My Radio" during an audition.

11. Little Darlings (1980)- During summer camp, a rich kid (Tatum O'Neal) and a girl from the wrong side of the tracks (Kristy McNichol) compete to see which one of them will be the first to lose their virginity. Among the summer campers is Sex and the City's Cynthia Nixon (in her film debut) as a flower child named Sunshine. The producers of "The Facts of Life" saw "Little Darlings" and liked the rich girl/poor girl dynamic between Tatum's and Kristy's characters. As a result, they created the character of Jo Polniaczek as a rival for Blair Warner.

12. Lost Angels (1989)- Starring Adam Horowitz (aka Ad Rock of The Beastie Boys) as a troubled rich kid who is sent to a private psychiatric hospital to straighten out his problems. I wish that Horowitz had done more acting because he was damn good in the lead role. Favorite line:

Tim (played by Horowitz): Barry, you got the rest of your life to be an asshole. Why don't you take the day off?

13. A Soldier's Story (1984)- Set in the South during WW II, this Norman Jewison murder mystery about racial tensions is similar to one of Jewison's earlier films (In the Heat of the Night). I also liken this film to movies like "American Grafitti" and "Fast Times At Ridgemont High". Not because of its tone, but because it also featured actors early in their careers who went on to bigger and better things. Among the cast are Howard E. Rollins (the TV version of In the Heat of the Night), David Allen Grier (In Living Color), William Allen Young (Moesha), Robert Townsend, and a young actor named Denzel Washington.

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pussreboots said...

Cross Roads is a fantastic film. It would be on my list too. Happy TT.

pjazzypar said...

I could have borrowed some of the films from your list for my list this week. I cannot think of anything, right off hand. Your comments are on target about the 80's being more than just "The Breakfast Club" and "Batman". A John Hughes film made my list, but not the aforementioned one.

D. C. Cab was very underrated when is aired in the theaters. It's another film that was dismissed because of the actors involved as buffoonery, but it was actually a good film.

The Gal Herself said...

Look who wins this week! Gloating aside, I remember Clean and Sober as a fabulous movie. I wonder why it's not on the movie channels more often ... I guess I'll just have to rent it. A great double feature with When a Man Loves a Woman, huh?

Holly Smith said...

I haven't seen a single movie on your list! But I think I want to rent Clean and Sober. I really like Michael Keaton. Crossroads looks like something I would also like. (typepad is down so my site won't work right now)

Hootin' Anni said...

I love movies!!! You got my vote for a 'great T-13'!!!

Hope you can come by and have a bit of fun with me for my T-13 this week.

Jay said...

Clean and Sober was a very underrated movie. Michael Keaton is underrated too. Excellent choice there!

When I think "80s movies" I think Fast Times at Ridgemont High. I just can't help it. ;-)

marcia@joyismygoal said...

Gosh i know none of these either

SandyCarlson said...

Easy Money. Definitely.

Clara said...

I haven't seen any of the movies on you list. Like so many others, I think I'd like to see Clean and Sober & D.C. Cab.

kay said...

Well, this is the second list of movies that I haven't seen any of---guess I am culturally deprived. Happy TT!

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Ooh, Malcolm, what a great list you've got here. And, okay, I added a few to my Netflix queue...

Tammy said...

This is a great list. Happy TT

Lori said...

I think Ive only seen 3 of those. The 80's huh??? Wow...that seems like forever ago. Happy TT:)

Journeywoman said...

I loved Clean and Sober. I think Michael Keaton is highly underrated.

Stand By Me is still one of my favorite movies, and I think it is often overlooked.

Janet said...

LOVED Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll and The Hollywood Shuffle. Great list, Malcolm :-)

Texasholly said...

Holy crap. How did I get through the 80s without seeing any of those? is in my future.

Maisie said...

My favorite from the 80's was Out of Africa (1985). I was 15 at the time and really anxious to travel out of the U.S. I haven't been to Africa yet, but in 1988 I went to 3 countries in Eastern Europe.

Malcolm said...

Pussreboots: Although I have seen "Crossroads" numerous times, it's been awhile. That was my introduction to Joe Seneca (he played the elderly blues man Willie Brown).

Pjazzy: I'll bet a week doesn't go by that "The Breakfast Club" doesn't air on TV. It's just like the situation with some TV series gathering dust in the vaults while others get rerun to death.

One of these days, I'm gonna break down and get "D.C. Cab" on DVD, lol.

The Gal Herself: I figured you would beat me this week. I was having all sorts of problems with spacing on this T13. Another movie to go along with Clean and Sober and When A Man Loves A Woman is The Boost starring James Woods and Sean Young. I thought about including it on this list, but figured one movie about drug addiction was enough.

Holly: Michael Keaton's role in Clean and Sober was quite a departure for him at the time because he had never done a dramatic role on the big screen. He was very believable in the role.

The actor (Joe Seneca) who plays Willie Brown in Crossroads was awesome. I thought his performance was at least worthy of an Oscar nom. He has some good lines, one of my favorites is when he says to Ralph Macchio's character:

"You ain't even the beginning of a pimple on the "Late Great" Robert Johnson's ass! You might have a little bit of lightning in you, but you're missing everything else."

If you happen to see either Clean and Sober or Crossroads, let me know what you think.

Hootin' Anni: Thanks

Jay: "Fast Times At Ridgemont High" is without question, one of the essentials of the 80s. Who would have thought that Jeff Spicolli and Charles Jefferson would one day win Oscars?

Sandy: Rodney Dangerfield is one of those actors whose presence in a film/TV show automatically makes it worth watching to me.

Clara: D.C. Cab is hilarious! Just thinking about it now is making me laugh.

Kay: That's the great thing about DVDs/videos, they offer a way for us to play catch up.

Susan: Feel free to let me know what you think about any of the movies on this list once you watch them.

Lori: Now I'm curious... which ones did you see?

Journeywoman: Stand By Me is one of my favorites as well. It would be hard to pick out a favorite scene because it had so many. Who can forget "mailbox baseball"?

Janet: If you don't already own it, I highly recommend the 4-disc set of "Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll". It's got tons of cool special features, including interviews and extra footage not in the movie.

HRH: I know that there are a bunch of 80s movies that I've missed too. Even though I saw the next two films in the Indiana Jones series at the theater, I just recently saw "Raiders of the Lost Ark" for the first time. It's a long story as to why it took so long, lol.

Chelle Y. said...

I had a post of my favorite 80's movies a few weeks ago. I have never seen any of the ones on your list! Where have I been? :)

Amy Ruttan said...

Oh my gosh, I forgot about some of these.

I was a child of the 80's and another one that doesn't get a lot of play is The Explorers with a young Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix.

I also really like Summer Rental with John Candy.

Great TT! Thanks for dropping by mine! :)

Jessica said...

Wow... I haven't seen any of these! They all look good. :) Thanks for sharing!

Jenn said...

#'s 1,6,10,12 I liked but #11 was one of my all time favorite films. It took a lot of work to hunt it down a few years ago so I could watch it with my 20 yr old daughter. Every place I called thought I was looking for porn. lol...

Great T13list!

Cindy Swanson said...

I remember seeing "Crossroads" as well--I do remember enjoying it.

I was trying to think of some overlooked movies from the 80's, but realized that everything I thought of wasn't really overlooked at all. "The Princess Bride" is probably my very favorite 80's movie, but I couldn't say that it was overlooked. :)

Lori Watson said...

I am definetly an 80's girl, but have only seen Easy Money and Little Darlings. I guess I was too busy watching all the John Hughes films like everyone else. And Weird Science. And the one with Val Kilmer...Real Genius. That was about my speed at the time, that and sci-fi stuff. Sigh.

DoubleDeckerBusGuy said...

Three major favourites in your list! Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll!, A Soldier's Story, and The Hollywood Shuffle... An excellent and FINE list!

Anonymous said...

Finally!!! Someone who remembers the movie Bad Boys! Every time I'd mention it, people think I mean the "new" version and no one remembers the old Sean Penn movie. WOW what a great one that is. Awesome list!

Karen said...

Believe it or not, I've never seen any of those films.

Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier today. I'm going to take a look around your blog now and see what the celebrity marriage poll is all about. Hope you're having a great Thursday!

Chris said...

Oh my, I haven't seen any of those. Happy TT

Miriam said...

Oooooh the memories! I think I need to rewatch some of these!

X. Dell said...

I saw seven of these in first run (three more on cable). "House of Games," "Hollywood Shuffle," and "Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll" are the only ones I truly treasure.

shaunesay said...

I have to admit that while I've heard of a few of them, I've never seen one! And I consider myself an 80's kid! But then, I may have been more of a late 80's kid lol!

Thanks for another fun list Malcolm! Happy TT!

Unknown said...

Talk about overlooked, they're all new to me.

My tt is here:

Malcolm said...

Maisie: I found "Out of Africa" to be a snoozer in the true sense of the word. My girlfriend back then picked it as a rental. At the halfway point (about 90 minutes into the movie), it felt like I had been watching it for 3 hours. To top it off, she wound up falling asleep! Thanks for stopping by.

Chelle Y.: "Where have you been?" you asked. Good question, lol.

Amy: You are right about "Explorers". I'd like to see it, but they never show it on TV. I don't rent DVDs, but I guess I will have to if I ever want to see it, lol.

Jessica: Let me know your thoughts if you get around to checking any of these out.

Jenn: I really liked your story about your quest to locate "Little Darlings". How everyone thought you were looking for porn is beyond me.

Cindy: I agree with you. The Princess Bride is quality, but not overlooked. I remember that me and my friends often used the word "inconceivable" after seeing it.

Lori: Thanks for stopping by. In case you don't have it, there is a really good book called "Pretty In Pink: The Golden Age of Teenage Movies". Although it might be out of print, you can still order copies online.

Doubledeckersguy: Every time I see your blogger name, I start singing the theme to the old children's show "Here Come the Doubledeckers"... which I consider a good thing. The scene in "A Soldier's Story" where Sgt. Waters tells the full story of what happened at the Cafe Napoleon still gives me chills.

Random Person: It pisses me off that certain 80s movies get aired constantly while a quality film like "Bad Boys" gets ignored. It's another movie that I will probably have to rent because no one shows it anymore.

Someday: Thanks for stopping by. Other than my allergies kicking my ass and the Lakers choking away a 24 point lead, my Thursday was OK.

X. Dell: I think that "House of Games" is one of David Mamet's finest moments. It's also the first time I recall seeing William H. Macy.

Shaunesay: I think it might be time for you turn in your "80s card", lol. Seriously, there are lots of films from the 80s that I missed too. Thanks for paying me a visit.

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