50 movies from 1981 worth watchingby runefromnorway | created - 18 Sep 2011 | updated - 19 Jul 2016 | Public
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1. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
PG | 115 min | Action, Adventure
Archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones is hired by the U.S. government to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis.
Votes: 738,090 | Gross: $248.16M
3. Reds (1981)
PG | 195 min | Biography, Drama, History
A radical American journalist becomes involved with the Communist revolution in Russia, and hopes to bring its spirit and idealism to the United States.
Votes: 17,891 | Gross: $40.38M
6. Diva (1981)
R | 117 min | Thriller
Two tapes, two Parisian mob killers, one corrupt policeman, an opera fan, a teenage thief, and the coolest philosopher ever filmed. All these characters twist their way through an intricate and stylish French language thriller.
Votes: 10,096 | Gross: $0.11M
7. The Road Warrior (1981)
R | 94 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
In the post-apocalyptic Australian wasteland, a cynical drifter agrees to help a small, gasoline rich, community escape a band of bandits.
Votes: 145,838 | Gross: $12.47M
8. Gallipoli (1981)
PG | 110 min | Adventure, Drama, History
Two Australian sprinters face the brutal realities of war when they are sent to fight in the Gallipoli campaign in Turkey during World War I.
Votes: 32,100 | Gross: $5.73M
9. Mephisto (1981)
Unrated | 144 min | Drama
A German stage actor finds unexpected success and mixed blessings in the popularity of his performance in a Faustian play as the Nazis take power in pre-WWII Germany. As his associates and ... See full summary »
10. Man of Iron (1981)
PG | 156 min | Drama, History
A worker becomes a "man of iron" forged by experience, a son comes to terms with his father, a couple fall in love, a reporter searches for courage, and a nation undergoes historic change. ... See full summary »
11. Prince of the City (1981)
R | 167 min | Crime, Drama
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.
Votes: 5,790 | Gross: $8.12M
12. On Golden Pond (1981)
PG | 109 min | Drama
Norman is a curmudgeon with an estranged relationship with his daughter Chelsea. At Golden Pond, he and his wife nevertheless agree to care for Billy, the son of Chelsea's new boyfriend, and a most unexpected relationship blooms.
Votes: 23,449 | Gross: $119.29M
13. Body Heat (1981)
R | 113 min | Crime, Drama, Romance
In the midst of a searing Florida heat wave, a woman persuades her lover, a small-town lawyer, to murder her rich husband.
Votes: 25,544 | Gross: $24.06M
14. Lola (1981)
R | 115 min | Drama, Romance
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.
16. An American Werewolf in London (1981)
R | 97 min | Comedy, Horror
Two American college students on a walking tour of Britain are attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will admit exists.
Votes: 74,930 | Gross: $30.57M
17. My Dinner with Andre (1981)
PG | 110 min | Biography, Comedy, Drama
Two old friends meet for dinner; as one tells anecdotes detailing his experiences, the other notices their differing worldviews.
Votes: 13,797 | Gross: $5.25M
20. The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981)
R | 124 min | Drama, Romance
A film is being made of a story, set in 19th century England, about Charles, a biologist who's engaged to be married, but who falls in love with outcast Sarah, whose melancholy makes her ... See full summary »
Votes: 10,082 | Gross: $22.60M
22. Arthur (1981)
PG | 97 min | Comedy, Romance
Arthur is a happy drunk with no pretensions at any ambition. He is also the heir to a vast fortune which he is told will only be his if he marries Susan. He does not love Susan, but she ... See full summary »
Votes: 22,836 | Gross: $95.46M
23. Time Bandits (1981)
PG | 110 min | Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy
A young boy accidentally joins a band of time travelling dwarves, as they jump from era to era looking for treasure to steal.
Votes: 49,751 | Gross: $42.37M
25. Coup de torchon (1981)
Not Rated | 128 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama
A worn-out, ineffective police chief humiliated by everyone around him decides one day to improve his life, by any means.
26. Absence of Malice (1981)
PG | 116 min | Drama, Romance, Thriller
When a prosecutor leaks a false story that a liquor warehouse owner is involved in the murder of a union head, the man's life begins to unravel.
Votes: 10,032 | Gross: $40.72M
27. Mommie Dearest (1981)
R | 129 min | Biography, Drama
Votes: 12,126 | Gross: $19.03M
28. The Chosen (1981)
PG | 108 min | Drama
In 1944, in Brooklyn, two Jewish kids become friends. One is from a very conservative family, and the other is more liberal. The issues of importance of tradition, parental expectations and the formation of Israel cause constant friction.
29. Blow Out (1981)
R | 107 min | Mystery, Thriller
A movie sound recordist accidentally records the evidence that proves that a car accident was actually murder and consequently finds himself in danger.
Votes: 32,508 | Gross: $13.75M
31. Circle of Deceit (1981)
R | 108 min | Drama, War
Laschen, a German journalist, travels to the city of Beirut during the fights between Christians and Palestinians to produce an essay about the situation. Together with his photographer, he... See full summary »
32. True Confessions (1981)
R | 108 min | Crime, Drama
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.
Votes: 5,948 | Gross: $10.20M
33. Excalibur (1981)
PG | 140 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
Merlin the magician helps Arthur Pendragon unite the Britons around the Round Table of Camelot, even as dark forces conspire to tear it apart.
Votes: 50,279 | Gross: $34.97M
35. Whose Life Is It Anyway? (1981)
R | 119 min | Drama
Ken Harrison is an artist who makes sculptures. One day he is involved in a car accident, and is paralyzed from his neck down. All he can do is talk, and he wants to die. In hospital he ... See full summary »
Votes: 2,319 | Gross: $8.21M
36. Pennies from Heaven (1981)
R | 108 min | Drama, Musical, Romance
During the Great Depression, a sheet music salesman seeks to escape his dreary life through popular music and a love affair with an innocent school teacher.
Votes: 4,551 | Gross: $9.18M
37. Ragtime (1981)
PG | 155 min | Drama
A young black pianist becomes embroiled in the lives of an upper-class white family set among the racial tensions, infidelity, violence, and other nostalgic events in early 1900s New York City.
Votes: 7,201 | Gross: $21.02M
38. Modern Romance (1981)
R | 93 min | Comedy, Romance
Albert Brooks directs himself as a successful film editor with far too many issues that affects the relationship between him and his remarkably patient girlfriend.
Votes: 2,401 | Gross: $2.86M
39. Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man (1981)
PG | 116 min | Comedy, Drama
The son of the owner of a large Italian cheese factory is kidnapped, but as the factory is on the verge of bankruptcy the owner hatches a plan to use the ransom money as reinvestment in the... See full summary »
41. Marianne & Juliane (1981)
106 min | Drama
Two sisters both fight for women's rights. Juliane is a journalist and Marianne a terrorist. When Marianne is jailed, Juliane feels obligated to help her despite their differing views on how to live.
42. Smash Palace (1981)
108 min | Drama
Al Shaw's life revolves around motor racing and his back country junkyard, the "Smash Palace". His French wife, Jacqui, doesn't appreciate the lack of attention due to Al's obsession with ... See full summary »
43. Porky's (1981)
R | 94 min | Comedy
In 1954, a group of Florida high schoolers seek out to help their buddy lose his virginity, which leads them to seek revenge on a sleazy nightclub owner and his redneck sheriff brother for harassing them.
Votes: 33,373 | Gross: $111.29M
44. The Four Seasons (1981)
PG | 107 min | Comedy, Drama
Three middle-aged wealthy couples take vacations together in Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Along the way we are treated to mid-life, marital, parental and other crises.
Votes: 3,392 | Gross: $50.43M
48. Escape from New York (1981)
R | 99 min | Action, Sci-Fi
In 1997, when the U.S. president crashes into Manhattan, now a giant maximum security prison, a convicted bank robber is sent in to rescue him.
Votes: 102,504 | Gross: $25.24M
49. Das Boot ist voll (1981)
PG | 101 min | Drama, War
During World War II, Switzerland severely limited refugees: "Our boat is full." A train from Germany halts briefly in an isolated corner of Switzerland. Six people jump off seeking asylum: ... See full summary »
50. Eijanaika (1981)
151 min | Drama
Near the turbulent end of the Edo era, a man returning to Japan after exile in America searches for his wife and becomes swept up in the current of revolution in this incisive period drama from the great Shohei Imamura.