Pastel Coke, Bad Hair and Synth Soundtracks: Some Fine 1980's Movies You May Have Forgot

The 1980 were for film much like they were for music - not generally considered a great decade in the grand sweep of things. There were, however, many wonderful, entertaining errr....entertainments "mounted". Sometimes you just have to get past the Jan Hammer music.
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1.
Cutter's Way (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
Richard spots a man dumping a body, and decides to expose the man he thinks is the culprit with his friend Alex Cutter. (109 mins.)
Director: Ivan Passer
 
2.
The Morning After (1986)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
A woman wakes up next to a murdered man. Did she do it herself, and if not, is she in danger herself? (103 mins.)
Director: Sidney Lumet
 
3.
The Boost (1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
Lenny Brown moves to California to find his fortune in tax shelter investments. When the federal government changes the tax laws... (95 mins.)
Director: Harold Becker
“ David Thomson called this one of the best films about ordinary people and money. It's a terrific movie, possibly Harold Becker's best and it contains two great lead performances from James Woods and Sean Young (remember Crazy Sean Young?). My favourite moment is on the commentary track (Woods & Becker) when Woods describes a late-night swim'n sex pool scene with Young as "one of those times an actor lives for." ” - seanmrcondon
 
4.
American Gigolo (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
A Los Angeles male escort, who mostly caters to an older female clientèle, is accused of a murder which he did not commit. (117 mins.)
Director: Paul Schrader
“ More celebrated for its style and the emergence of Richard Gere as a bona fide star than for anything to do with the story (can anybody remember the plot?) Gigolo was nonetheless early evidence of super screenwriter Paul Schrader's ability to direct. For me, Schrader has never really blossomed as a director- his films are often too stagy and stiff, as if he were running acting workouts, but he's still one of my favourites and I loved the book Scrader on Schrader. ” - seanmrcondon
 
5.
Atlantic City (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
In a corrupt city, a small-time gangster and the estranged wife of a pot dealer finds themselves thrown together in an escapade of love, money, drugs, and danger. (104 mins.)
Director: Louis Malle
“ It's Louis Malle and Burt Lancaster - what more do I have to say? Burt was nominated -justly- for this role about a small-time chancer looking for that one big score in an Atlantic City that's eight years more decayed than it was in The King of Marvin Gardens. That being said, this is a movie that reeks of being Canadian. Check that supporting cast of Canucks. ” - seanmrcondon
 
6.
Bad Timing (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
The setting is Vienna. A young American woman is brought to a hospital after overdosing on pills, apparently in a suicide attempt... (123 mins.)
Director: Nicolas Roeg
“ Forget Performance, The Man Who Fell To Earth, Don't Look Now and Walkabout: THIS is Nic Roeg's masterwork. A heartbreaking tale of sexual obsession set in wonderful Venice and containing what should have been an Oscar nominated performance by Theresa Russell. ” - seanmrcondon
 
7.
Loulou (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
Maurice Pialat's portrait of contemporary France mocks prosperity as a substitute for social and sexual revolution... (110 mins.)
Director: Maurice Pialat
“ Are you kidding me? Maurice Pialat, Isabelle Huppert and Gerard Depardieu in a delicious movie that Guardian critic Peter Bradshaw described as "effortlessly watchable". If you have never seen a Maurice Pialat film, do yourself a favour. They called him the French Cassavetes, but don't believe it - he was much, much better than that. ” - seanmrcondon
 
8.
Melvin and Howard (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
The story of hard-luck Melvin Dummar, who claimed to have received a will naming him an heir to the fortune of Howard Hughes. (95 mins.)
Director: Jonathan Demme
“ A charming slice of what Jonathan Demme was capable of eleven years before he helmed arguably the greatest thriller ever made. Deserved Oscars were copped by Mrs.Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen, and screenwriter Bo Goldman, but the real thrill for me was seeing the "Can't Say No Girl", the great, GREAT Gloria Grahame (Bogey's near saviour in In A Lonely Place and an Oscar winner herself) in one of her last roles. ” - seanmrcondon
 
9.
The Stunt Man (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A fugitive stumbles on a movie set just when they need a new stunt man, takes the job as a way to hide out, and falls for the leading lady. (131 mins.)
Director: Richard Rush
“ Just good fun with the dude who played Charles Manson on tv and the dude who played Lawrence of Arabia....on the big screen. ” - seanmrcondon
 
10.
Heaven's Gate (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
A dramatization of the real-life Johnson County War in 1890 Wyoming, in which a sheriff born into wealth attempts to protect immigrant farmers from rich cattle interests. (325 mins.)
Director: Michael Cimino
“ Please give this another chance. Grab the director's cut dvd (cheap, and the only version you are likely to find) and marvel at the epic sweep of Crazy Michael Cimino's vision. The cinematography and music are *beep* epic.......you could watch a thousand films and not come across such a perfect marriage of the two. Kristofferson, Chris Walken and Isabelle Huppert form the central triangle. Jeff Bridges, John Hurt, Sam Waterston, Brad Dourif, Joseph Cotten, Richard Masur and Mickey Rourke, among others, round out a stellar cast. The book, Final Cut, and the documentary (available on youtube, but not dvd) both make significant additions to the story, a little bit like a homemade Criterion release.....what we'll have to do with until the CC actually gets around to releasing this neglected MASTERPIECE. ” - seanmrcondon
 
11.
Mephisto (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A German stage actor finds unexpected success and mixed blessings in the popularity of his performance... (144 mins.)
Director: István Szabó
“ A killer performance from Klaus Maria Brandauer in a very Faustian tale involving the Nazi's and the theater. ” - seanmrcondon
 
12.
Prince of the City (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A New York City narcotics detective reluctantly agrees to cooperate with a special commission investigating police corruption. However, he soon discovers that he's in over his head, and nobody can be trusted. (167 mins.)
Director: Sidney Lumet
“ It's one of Sidney Lumet's triumphs: epic in length, finely detailed and featuring a strong central performance from Treat Williams. It's pretty tough slogging at times, though, as Super Sidney never tired of piling dialogue on top of conversation. If only they had used a few more extras and fleshed out NYC a bit. The only other time I've seen a big city so underpopulated in (a non sci-fi) film was in David Mamet's overrated Homicide where the ten-buck acting budget was split between William H. Macy and Joe Mantegna. ” - seanmrcondon
 
13.
Reds (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A radical American journalist becomes involved with the Communist revolution in Russia and hopes to bring its spirit and idealism to the United States. (195 mins.)
Director: Warren Beatty
“ Ok, you probably haven't forgotten this one. After Warren Beatty had screened his Bolshie epic for a select Hollywood audience one of his waterboys noticed that Paul Schrader had slept through much of the picture. Upon informing the lisping Calvinist that Beatty would be none too pleased with this, reminding PS that Warren had put something like fifty years of his life into the project Schrader retorted by saying that "Yeah, but he's just taken away over three hours of my life and my time is infinitely more important to me than Warren's is." Haha. ” - seanmrcondon
 
14.
True Confessions (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
A worldly ambitious monsignor clashes with his older brother, a cynical Los Angeles homicide detective who is investigating the brutal murder of a young prostitute. (108 mins.)
Director: Ulu Grosbard
“ One of my favourites from the decade. An unjustly neglected film that has absolutely everything going for it. It plays like a precursor to LA Confidential and contains quite possibly the finest Robert Duvall performance on record. A quagmire of corruption in El Lay.....cops, crooks, contractors, hookers......and priests. Charles Durning is menacing, Burgess Meredith is Burgess Meredith and De Niro, well...he's a bit tough to buy as a Catholic priest, but what the hell, it's a great movie. ” - seanmrcondon
 
15.
Lola (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
In post-war West Germany, the charming Von Bohm is appointed a city's new Building Commissioner. His morality is tested when he unknowingly falls in love with a brothel worker, Lola, the paid mistress of a corrupt property developer. (113 mins.)
 
16.
À nos amours (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Suzanne is sixteen and is having sex with many boys, just for fun, but did not manage to really love one of them... (95 mins.)
Director: Maurice Pialat
“ I'm at a loss for words. Maurice Pialat, again, and a fifteen year old colt named Sandrine Bonnaire. That's all you really need to know. ” - seanmrcondon
 
17.
The Right Stuff (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
The story of the original Mercury 7 astronauts and their macho, seat-of-the-pants approach to the space program. (193 mins.)
Director: Philip Kaufman
“ Phil Kaufman's adaptation of Tom Wolfe's terrific book about the space guys was a box office disappointment that remains one of THE very best American films made in the 1980's. Or any other decade for that matter. I don't think that PK made the flyboys heroic enough for the milky-bland tastes of middle America, but I, for one, am glad he didn't. ” - seanmrcondon
 
18.
Silkwood (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
The story of Karen Silkwood, a metallurgy worker at a plutonium processing plant who was purposefully contaminated, psychologically tortured and possibly murdered to prevent her from exposing blatant worker safety violations at the plant. (131 mins.)
Director: Mike Nichols
 
19.
Dance with a Stranger (1985)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A stormy relationship, complicated by the strictures of 1950s social class and gender roles, ends in death. Based on the life of Ruth Ellis, the last woman hanged in Britain. (96 mins.)
Director: Mike Newell
“ The cinematic debut of a force of nature known as Miranda Richardson, in the tragic tale of Ruth Ellis, the last woman hanged in Britain. ” - seanmrcondon
 
20.
Plenty (1985)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
A young Englishwoman spends 20 years to make whatever kind of life for herself at the expense of others around her in post-World War 2 England. (121 mins.)
Director: Fred Schepisi
 
21.
Something Wild (1986)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
A free-spirited woman "kidnaps" a yuppie for a weekend of adventure. But the fun quickly takes a dangerous turn when her ex-convict husband shows up. (114 mins.)
Director: Jonathan Demme
 
22.
Screen Two (1985 TV Series)
Episode: The Firm (1989)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
This is the story of rival "Firms" of football supporters, and how one man has a wish to team them up for the European Championships of 1988...
“ I'm not sure what is going on with that Diana Rigg thumbnail, but The Firm is an Alan Clarke (he of Scum fame) film about middle class football hooligans featuring a young and nasty Gary Oldman. ” - seanmrcondon
 
23.
Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
An ophthalmologist's mistress threatens to reveal their affair to his wife, while a married documentary filmmaker is infatuated by another woman. (104 mins.)
Director: Woody Allen
“ Hardly a forgotten movie; indeed, it's frequently celebrated for being one of the Woodman's mid-period artistic triumphs. The man himself must love it because he virtually re-made it a few years ago with the entertaining, if less well-acted, Match Point. The Alan Alda sequences still make me howl. ” - seanmrcondon
 
24.
Dead Calm (1989)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
After a tragedy, John Ingram and his wife Rae spend some time isolated at sea when they come along a stranger who has abandoned a sinking ship. (96 mins.)
Director: Phillip Noyce
 
25.
The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Frank and Jack Baker are professional musicians who play in small clubs. They perform cover tunes of music standards and have never needed a day job... (114 mins.)
Director: Steve Kloves
 
26.
Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A sexually repressed woman's husband is having an affair with her sister. The arrival of a visitor with a rather unusual fetish changes everything. (100 mins.)
“ Steven Soderbergh's masterful, and legendary debut. ” - seanmrcondon
 
27.
Four Friends (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
This story of four working-class kids in a small industrial town--who go their separate ways after high... (114 mins.)
Director: Arthur Penn
“ Arthur Penn's last good film. ” - seanmrcondon
 
28.
Fitzcarraldo (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
The story of Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald, an extremely determined man who intends to build an opera house in the middle of a jungle. (158 mins.)
Director: Werner Herzog
 
29.
Smash Palace (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Al Shaw's life revolves around motor racing and his back country junkyard, the "Smash Palace". His French wife... (108 mins.)
Director: Roger Donaldson
 
30.
Missing (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
When an idealistic writer disappears during the Right Wing military coup in 1973 Chile, his wife and American businessman father try to find him. (122 mins.)
Director: Costa-Gavras
 
31.
Broadway Danny Rose (1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
In his attempts to reconcile a lounge singer with his mistress, a hapless talent agent is mistaken as her lover by a jealous gangster. (84 mins.)
Director: Woody Allen
 
32.
Tin Men (1987)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
A minor car accident drives two rival aluminum-siding salesmen to the ridiculous extremes of man versus man in 1963 Baltimore. (112 mins.)
Director: Barry Levinson
 
33.
Patty Hearst (1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
The true story of a rich girl who was abducted by American revolutionaries in the 1970's. Her time spent... (108 mins.)
Director: Paul Schrader
 
34.
Chocolat (1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A young French woman returns to the vast silence of West Africa to contemplate her childhood days in a colonial outpost in Cameroon... (105 mins.)
Director: Claire Denis
 
35.
Enemies: A Love Story (1989)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A ghostwriter finds himself romantically involved with his current wife, a married woman and his long-vanished wife. (119 mins.)
Director: Paul Mazursky
 
36.
High Hopes (1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Slice-of-life look at a sweet working-class couple in London, Shirley and Cyril, his mother, who's aging quickly and becoming forgetful... (108 mins.)
Director: Mike Leigh