Pastel Coke, Bad Hair and Synth Soundtracks: Some Fine 1980's Movies You May Have Forgotby seanmrcondon | created - 07 Oct 2011 | updated - 07 Oct 2011 | Public
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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2. The Morning After (1986)
R | 103 min | Crime, Mystery, Romance
A washed up, alcoholic actress who is prone to blackouts wakes up next to a murdered man. Did she kill him and, if not, is she in danger?
Votes: 5,412 | Gross: $25.15M
3. The Boost (1988)
R | 95 min | Drama, Romance
Lenny Brown moves to California to find his fortune in tax shelter investments. When the federal government changes the tax laws, poor Lenny finds himself $700,000 in hock with nowhere to ... See full summary »
Votes: 1,796 | Gross: $0.78M
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."
4. American Gigolo (1980)
R | 117 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery
A Los Angeles male escort, who mostly caters to an older female clientèle, is accused of a murder which he did not commit.
Votes: 19,394 | Gross: $23.00M
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.
5. Atlantic City (1980)
R | 104 min | Crime, Drama, Romance
In a corrupt city, a small-time gangster and the estranged wife of a pot dealer find themselves thrown together in an escapade of love, money, drugs and danger.
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.
6. Bad Timing (1980)
R | 123 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller
A psychiatrist, living in Vienna, enters a torrid relationship with a married woman. When she ends up in the hospital from an overdose, an inspector becomes set on discovering the demise of their affair.
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.
7. Loulou (1980)
TV-14 | 101 min | Drama, Romance
A bored wife leaves her husband for an unemployed, petty criminal.
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.
8. Melvin and Howard (1980)
R | 95 min | Comedy, Drama
Votes: 4,018 | Gross: $4.31M
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.
9. The Stunt Man (1980)
R | 131 min | Action, Comedy, Drama
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.
Votes: 8,040 | Gross: $7.06M
Just good fun with the dude who played Charles Manson on tv and the dude who played Lawrence of Arabia....on the big screen.
10. Heaven's Gate (1980)
R | 219 min | Adventure, Drama, Western
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.
Votes: 12,330 | Gross: $3.48M
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.
11. 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 »
A killer performance from Klaus Maria Brandauer in a very Faustian tale involving the Nazi's and the theater.
12. 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: 6,432 | Gross: $8.12M
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.
13. 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: 19,220 | Gross: $40.38M
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.
14. 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: 6,537 | Gross: $10.20M
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.
15. 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. À Nos Amours (1983)
R | 99 min | Drama, Romance
An erratic young woman's family desperately tries to prevent her increasingly erotic ways.
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.
17. The Right Stuff (1983)
PG | 193 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama
The story of the original Mercury 7 astronauts and their macho, seat-of-the-pants approach to the space program.
Votes: 52,341 | Gross: $21.50M
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.
18. Silkwood (1983)
R | 131 min | Biography, Drama, History
A worker at a plutonium processing plant is purposefully contaminated, psychologically tortured and possibly murdered to prevent her from exposing worker safety violations at the plant.
Votes: 16,798 | Gross: $35.62M
19. Dance with a Stranger (1985)
R | 96 min | Biography, Crime, Drama
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.
Votes: 2,230 | Gross: $2.17M
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.
20. Plenty (1985)
R | 121 min | Drama
A young Englishwoman spends twenty years to make whatever kind of life for herself, at the expense of others around her, in post-World War II England.
Votes: 2,486 | Gross: $6.15M
21. Something Wild (1986)
R | 114 min | Comedy, Crime, Romance
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.
Votes: 14,673 | Gross: $8.36M
Screen Two (1985–2002)
70 min | Drama
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. However, when this is discussed, the opposing ... See full summary »
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.
23. Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)
PG-13 | 104 min | Comedy, Drama
An ophthalmologist's mistress threatens to reveal their affair to his wife while a married documentary filmmaker is infatuated with another woman.
Votes: 50,626 | Gross: $18.25M
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.
24. Dead Calm (1989)
R | 96 min | Horror, Thriller
After a tragedy, John Ingram and his wife Rae are spending some time isolated at sea, when they come across a stranger who has abandoned a sinking ship.
Votes: 34,165 | Gross: $7.83M
25. The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989)
R | 114 min | Comedy, Drama, Music
The lives of two struggling musicians, who happen to be brothers, inevitably change when they team up with a beautiful, up-and-coming singer.
Votes: 20,357 | Gross: $18.10M
26. Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989)
R | 100 min | Drama
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.
Votes: 44,956 | Gross: $24.74M
Steven Soderbergh's masterful, and legendary debut.
27. Four Friends (1981)
R | 114 min | Comedy, Drama
This story of four working-class kids in a small industrial town--who go their separate ways after high school in the innocence of 1961 and come together again at the end of the turbulent ... See full summary »
Arthur Penn's last good film.
29. Smash Palace (1981)
Not Rated | 108 min | Drama, Thriller
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 »
30. Missing (1982)
PG | 122 min | Biography, Drama, History
When an idealistic American writer disappears during the Chilean coup d'état in September 1973, his wife and father try to find him.
Votes: 16,690 | Gross: $14.00M
31. Broadway Danny Rose (1984)
PG | 84 min | Comedy
In his attempts to reconcile a lounge singer with his mistress, a hapless talent agent is mistaken as her lover by a jealous gangster.
Votes: 22,044 | Gross: $10.60M
34. Chocolat (1988)
PG-13 | 105 min | Drama
A young French woman returns to the vast silence of West Africa to contemplate her childhood days in a colonial outpost in Cameroon. Her strongest memories are of the family's houseboy, ... See full summary »
Votes: 2,505 | Gross: $2.32M
35. Enemies: A Love Story (1989)
R | 119 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
A ghostwriter finds himself romantically involved with his current wife, a married woman and his long-vanished wife.
Votes: 1,824 | Gross: $7.75M