June 7, 2005

The fifth set of 20 films that if you haven’t seen you should see immediately or risk having protein wisdom sneer at you like certain embarrassingly reactionary rightwing blogs sneer at homosexuals and minorities of all stripes

1980s, group 5

  1. The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981)
  2. Prince of the City (1981)
  3. Private Lessons (1981)
  4. Le Professionnel (1981)
  5. The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper (1981)
  6. Raggedy Man (1981)
  7. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
  8. Reds (1981)
  9. Roadgames (1981)
  10. Scanners (1981)
  11. Sharky’s Machine (1981)
  12. Southern Comfort (1981)
  13. Stripes (1981)
  14. Tattoo (1981)
  15. Thief (1981)
  16. Time Bandits (1981)
  17. Whose Life Is It Anyway? (1981)
  18. 48 Hours (1982)
  19. Blade Runner (1982)
  20. The Border (1982)


Loads of underrated and underseen gems on this list.  First, Sidney Lumet’s Prince of the City, which ranks in the top 10 police films ever made and is an absolute must see (criminally not available on DVD).  Similarly, Burt Reynolds’ highly underrated Sharky’s Machine makes the list, along with Michael Mann’s brilliant Thief and Tony Richardson’s very 70s-like The Border, with Jack Nicholson, Warren Oates, and Harvey Keitel.  Bruce Dern is at his creepy best in the critically panned (but ultra-disturbing) Tattoo; and Nicholson and Jessica Lange are great in Bob Rafelson’s very underrated remake of The Postman Always Rings Twice. For cult fun, try Roadgames with Jamie Lee Curtis and Stacy Keach.

Incidentally, by request I’ve added a category under “greatest hits” for these lists. 

Posted by Jeff G. @ 6:08pm

Comments (26)

  1. This is my favorite list of yours so far Jeff.

    Time Bandits– “‘ello, I’m Hood.”

    Raiders– “Asps. Very Dangerous. Indy, you go first.”

    Stripes-“We’re soldiers, but we’re American soldiers! We’ve been kicking ass for 200 years! We’re 10-and-1!”

    48 Hours– “Alright, listen up! I don’t like white people. I hate rednecks. You people are rednecks. That means I’m enjoyin’ this shit.”

    Great list Jeff…..

  2. I know I’m jumping the gun here, but I hope (and expect) that Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)—the definitive teen movie—is going to appear on the next list.

  3. Fast Times makes my all-time Top 20.  It’s as movie that gets better on subsequent viewings.

  4. Definitely my highest-percentage list yet.

    It’s embarassing to admit how much I like Stripes…

  5. I always thought my college girlfriend looked just like P.J. Soles in Stripes. If you ever read this, Michelle Mack, you’re welcome.

  6. There’s a decided lack of Chop-Sockey and Soft Core porn in these lists.

    Force: Five is a good film in its own right.

    GymKata is due up in a circa 1985 list.  If Sharky’s Machine makes the grade, I’m sure Kurt Thomas’s masterpiece will be represented.  Then again, Jeff might have a thing for Burt and ‘Stroker Ace’ will be on the list.

    On the Soft Core side –

    Hot Dog:  The Movie could make the cut.

    The Lonely Lady – could — no, that was the worst movie ever made.

    Video Drome – more than soft-core, but not much.

  7. Have you failed to mention 1979’s “The Great Santini?” We can disagree and even overreact on judges and filibusters and allegations of nasty leftie blogger suck-up … but this cinematic omission (if indeed it occurred, as it seems to have) would destroy all bonds of comradeship.

  8. I think I did, even though I have it on DVD.  For some reason, I thought it was an early 80s flick.

    Though I did list Tomorrow, which is a Duvall film most people haven’t seen.  That should buy me a little slack…

  9. Tattoo??  Is that the movie adaptation of Hervé Villechaize’s autobiography?

  10. Best Hot Dog: The Movie quote:

    “You can kiss my ass. Not on zis side, not on zat side, but right in ze middle!”

  11. What? No love in the comments for the visual and atmospheric masterpiece that is Blade Runner?

    Heathens, the lot o’ ya.

    Combined with the acting, depth of world, the inherent coolness of Rutger Hauer hunting a man long before he would hunt Ice-T, and Vangelis’ majestic score—you have one of the greatest movies ever made. (I’m talking Director’s Cut here, by the way.)

    It’s in my top 5, along with previous ‘70s favorites Chinatown and Airplane!

  12. 20 for 20 on this one.

    There’s one degree of separation between Southen Comfort and 48 Hours. Can you name the actor/actress?

  13. …my college girlfriend looked just like P.J. Soles in Stripes…

    What happened?  You dig the Sean Young type a little more?

    Which ain’t bad, no matter how it ended up…

  14. Oh, yeah.  Was in Bladerunner too.

  15. And Postman Always Rings Twice.

    The great, lamented Brion James.

  16. There’s a little bit of chop-socky action in “Sharky’s Machine:” that’s Dan Inosanto doing a number on Burt Reynolds’ fingers.

  17. Thief and Bladerunner just leave all the rest in the dust.  Order of magnitude difference in quality.

  18. There’s a little bit of chop-socky action in “Sharky’s Machine:” that’s Dan Inosanto doing a number on Burt Reynolds’ fingers.

    speaking of ‘doing a number on fingers’ – “Spies Like Us” 1985 – if ever an underrated film there was, this is it – has a ‘finger in peril’ scene.

    That scene contains perhaps the last funny line uttered by Chevy Chase in a movie:

    Soviet Guard:  “If you do not tell me where they are, I cut off finger”

    Chevy Chase:  “Your finger or mine?”

    SG:  Yours

  19. Spies Like Us is much better than its reputation.  The scene in which Chase and Ackroyd are trying to pass their service exam is hysterical.

    And Robin, Prince of the City ranks right up there…

  20. If there’s a king of unwitting self-satire, it’s Michael Mann, and Thief is the Rosetta Stone to his body of work.

  21. REDS, another of my all time favorites.  Jack Nicholson didn’t get much time in it, but what he had was great.

  22. Spies Like Us is a film I’d stick sharp needles in my eyes to avoid seeing again.

  23. Whohah,

    We were generally praising Bladerunner before we ever got out of the 70s lists…

    Roy Batty: I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die…

    Nothing like it before.. nothing like it since.

  24. Ah, “Private Lessons”. Sylvia Kristol as delicious bait for the wicked plotting of Howard Hesseman. Rockin’ soundtrack, too. Thanks for the memories. Along with “Summer Lovers”, the reason I paid premium cable prices in the early 80s. Soft-core with real plots, what a novel idea.

    Turing word: progress. As in, there has not been any progress in cable teevee offerings since then.

  25. “I am Santini, the GREAT SANTINI! I come at night , from behind a cloud…”

    And Blythe Danner to boot. What’s not to like?

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