Thursday List – Born Into Film: 1983 – Dan Stephens
The series that will not die continues, this week good friend of mine Daniel Stephens, prolific editor of Top 10 Film has a stab at 1983
For the first time readers of this series, here is the low down.
The ‘Born Into Film’ series of lists is the brainchild of Mike P Williams, staff writer here at FRC. The idea is simple -
List a group of films that were released on the year you were born that you would still like to watching today. No rules on list length, it is up to you. As a bonus, list 3 people or so that were born the same year as you that you admire, either because of their acting / directing / writing skills, or even just because they are hot.
The previous weeks can be found here…
Here is Dan’s version of 1983
The eighties. The era of excess, materialism, cocaine and big budget high concept movies. The directors – from Scorsese, Friedkin and Coppola to Lucas, Spielberg, Ashby and Altman – had ruled Hollywood during the previous decade but now it was the time of the Power Producer. The likes of Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer were plotting (usually in twenty-five words or less) how to dominate the box office with films that could be sold not only in theatres but in merchandise shops as t-shirts and toys and the fast-food outlets as Happy Meals and branded food. By 1983, with sequels like Superman III and Staying Alive, and attention-grabbing fads like Jaws 3D, the auteur seventies had officially given way to the big business eighties.
The King of Comedy
Some see the eighties as being Scorsese’s lean period but he made two of my favourites during the decade. Joining Griffin Dunne and his After Hours entertaining is Robert De Niro in The King of Comedy Here he plays an obsessed fan of a talk show host and comedian. His obsession eventually leads to kidnap but Scorsese, in a rare diversion into black comedy and genuine levity plays much of it for laughs. De Niro is brilliant – acknowledging the comedy without parodying himself, and bringing a tragic edge to this sorry soul.
The perfect film to example America’s political and social standing during the early part of the 1980s. A great cast including Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Ameche, Ralph Bellamy and Denholm Elliot add refinement to director John Landis’ brilliant comedy about the trials and tribulations of unscrupulous big business and the rich/poor divide.
National Lampoon’s Vacation
Easily one of the most iconic comedy characters of the 1980s, Chevy Chase’s Clark W. Griswold is a comedy writer’s dream. The bumbling but loving father can’t quite do anything right despite his best intentions during a hilarious family road trip across America.
Based on the stage play by Willy Russell (who wrote the film’s screenplay) Educating Rita sees a disgruntled, oft-drunk Michael Caine squaring off to feature film debutant Julie Walters and her idealistic working class gal-make-good. This culture clash comedy that focuses on class division and trying to better oneself through education is beautifully written. It is also perfectly performed by Caine and Walters.
Not as good as number two, and nowhere near as good as number one, Superman III still has plenty to offer; not least its poster which features Christopher Reeve as Superman carrying a mystified Richard Pryor. Pryor’s mere existence in the film is cause for both concern and entertainment while Annie Ross as unscrupulous bad-girl Vera Webster transforms into one of the most hideous and frightening monsters to ever grace a children’s film.
Honourable mentions: Monty Python’s Meaning of Life (for the sex education scene), Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi (because its part of the great original Star Wars trilogy), and Twilight Zone: The Movie (for the brilliant opening scene featuring one of my favourite quotes from Dan Aykroyd – “Do you want to see something really scary?”).
Did you enjoy Dan’s version of 1983? What would you change? Want to submit a year? Comment below…