July 17, 2005

The ninth 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 snobby blue state gourmands sneer at salt water taffy and chili-cheese fries

1980s, group 9

  1. The Right Stuff (1983)
  2. Risky Business (1983)
  3. Sans soleil (1983)
  4. Scarface (1983)
  5. Silkwood (1983)
  6. Sleepaway Camp (1983)
  7. Star 80 (1983)
  8. Stranger Than Paradise (1983)
  9. The Survivors (1983)
  10. Tender Mercies (1983)
  11. Testament (1983)
  12. Trading Places (1983)
  13. Twilight Zone:  The Movie (1983)
  14. Under Fire (1983)
  15. Vacation (1983)
  16. Valley Girl (1983)
  17. Videodrome (1983)
  18. The Fourth Man (1983)
  19. WarGames (1983)
  20. Zelig (1983)


A slew of underappreciated gems on this list—from coming-of-age classics like Risky Business and Valley Girl to great cult flicks like Cronenberg’s Videodrome and Paul Verhoeven’s The Fourth Man.  Not to mention personal favorites Vacation and WarGames—each of which I’m sure I’ve seen more than fifty times.  And for a reminder of Eric Roberts’ early promise, Bob Fosse’s Star 80 is a real eye opener.

Posted by Jeff G. @ 8:03pm

Comments (32)

  1. This might be your single best movie post yet.  A veritable feast.

    BTW, any man who doesn’t have his hay fever act up in the scene between John Glenn (Ed Harris) and his wife in The Right Stuff – you know the one I’m talking about – they are damn liars, all of ‘em.

  2. Sleepaway Camp? What are you, nuts?

  3. Vacation—Wow, Chevy Chase was actually moderately funny once.  The Ally McBeal chick will probably never live down the “french kissing” line. 

    Twilight Zone—Was kind of creepy to watch after the whole Vic Morrow thing. 

    Wargames—One of my favorites, too.  Barry Corbin as Gen Berringer is one of my favorite performances by an actor. 

    Valley Girl—Nothing to say, except silly 80s movies make the world go around.

  4. Remember, Roger – these are films that you need to see in order to stay culturally conversant, not necessarily because they’re great films. In the case of Sleepaway Camp, a bad film is made notorious by it’s final scene.  But it’s a final scene that everyone needs to see at least once.

  5. Valley Girl was pretty cool. Watching it now, well, you can see that it’s kinda dopey. But if you were a teenager back then, it was great.

    The two most memorable things about the movie to me – the song “Million Miles Away” by The Plimsouls and the wonderful breastisis of E. G. Daily.

  6. The Survivors had some really interesting moments.  I’ve always thought that putting Matthau, Williams and Reed together was great casting.

    Living in the San Fernando Valley a few miles from The Galleria during the Valley Girl era was bizarre because the kids felt so frickin’ validated by the movie.  Fortunately the phenomenon of Encino Man was pretty much a non-event. <shudders at the memory>

  7. Sleepaway Camp!

    I was hoping you would mention this one when you got to the appropriate year. A friend of mine and me rented this flick back when we were twelve or so looking for a typical slasher movie.

    Hoo-BOY, were we unprepared for the ending.

    Seriously. Incredibly disturbing and cheesily hilarious at once.

  8. I was just checking out iMDB—what bastards.  They gave Hamburger, The Motion Picture 3.5 out of 10?

    How dare they dog the movie that gave us “Put those cookies back, m******f*****?” Philistines, I tell you.

  9. Yay to The Right Stuff, Silkwood, and Tender Mercies. But if you don’t my moveable beasts to stomp on you, how about Z , American History X, Hearts and Minds, and for political content, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.

  10. Sure, Peggy.  But we’re doing the 80s right now, and I’m going at them by year.  Haven’t made it to ‘85 yet. 

    As for Z—decent political thriller.  And speaking of Costa-Gavras, I watched his Missing last evening, which you will find on one of my lists.

    Hearts and Minds is a bit too heavy on the propaganda for my tastes.  Good movie, though—and definitely worth checking out.

  11. Jeff,

    Have you listed “The Fourth Protocol” yet?

  12. Not yet.  Michael Caine, Pierce Brosnan?  That’s later on in the decade, I think, right?

  13. Since you included The Man From Snowy River (chock-full of “Banjo” Patterson-fu, as Joe Bob Briggs would put it) in an earlier list, any chance of Gallipoli or The Lighthorsemen for Eighties Ozzie film-goodness?

    And, in keeping with the Commonwealth theme, how about Russian Roulette (1975)for a uniquely Canadian take on the espionage/thriller genre?

  14. I’ve heard good things about Gallipoli, but haven’t seen it, to my everlasting shame. Ditto the other two you mention. 

    If they’re available in DVD I shall seek them out.  And put them on my Amazon to-buy list.

  15. Oops, ok Jeff, got the time line thing now. (your other lists are cool)

    When I try to ‘jump’ to other 80’s movies that were/are cool I draw a blank, but that’s probably just the ‘05 in me talking.

    ..oh yeah, hey, Paris, Texas.

  16. Wow.  Sleepaway Camp.  I got through two decades without giving that movie the slightest thought.  Now, in the course of a couple months, Robot Chicken does a bit about it, Sleepaway Camp 2 is all over Showtime for some reason, and now Jeff lists it as a must-see.

    Hey, since Robot Chicken also gave a shout out to Midnight Madness, are we gonna have that one here?

  17. Talk about the stars aligning:  I pulled Paris, Texas to watch this week sometime (I’m going to watch Eyes Wide Shut this evening).

    AT—don’t really recall Midnight Madness all that well, but I’ll check it out.  I seem to vaguely remember a young Michael J Fox.

  18. I actually was in number twelve. See that mass of people standing around the trading pit at the endish part?

    Yep. I’m in there. And Murphy still owes me a c-note for the “lunch.”

  19. Ah, Vacation.  One of the wife’s all-time favs.  The third to last gasp of Chevy Chase’s talent.  And yes, readers, he used to have some, back before he was reduced to doing ads for a Turkish soft drink, and making lame jokes about the intelligence of Republican presidents. 

    My other favorites on the list include:

    The Right Stuff. When I first saw this film, I was convinced that Dennis Quaid was destined to become a much bigger star than he is now, or ever was.

    Tender Mercies.  It’s hard to go wrong with Robert Duvall.

    Wargames. I remember seeing this and thinking, “Wait–you can hook a computer up to a phone line, and make it talk to other computers, and even almost start a war?  Amazing.  But imagine if you could use your computer to access porn.  That would really be something.

    <i>Risky Business</i>.  Loved this movie at the time.  Still do, though it took a little of the air out of it when I heard the writer say that it was initially supposed to be a cautionary tale about the evils of capitalism, and that in the original script, Tom Cruise got in a lot of trouble at the end, and didn’t get into Princeton.  But man, Rebecca DeMornay was <i>hot</i>.

    Trading Places.  Best thing Eddie Murphy ever did.  I was going to say that he and Dan Aykroyd should have been shot right after this movie, but they both did a couple of decent flicks afterwards, so that may be kind of harsh.  Should’ve maybe wounded them, though.

    And I have only the vaguest memory of Zelig, so maybe I shouldn’t say this, but on the whole, Woody Allen’s films haven’t aged all that well.

    But I do agree with Jeff that one needs to see these films in order to be culturally conversant.

  20. -Oops, ok Jeff, got the time line thing now.- Peggy

    Ditto.  And thanks for the hard work on creating those imdb links, too.

  21. The Right Stuff: a great movie, but I still hate the way they treated Gus Grissom. For me, it ruined what was otherwise a stellar flick.

    The Survivors: I got to visit the set when I was a little kid. My dad was involved in making the snow for the movie, and we got to watch them shoot a couple scenes. Robin Williams was just as funny off-screen, if not funnier.

  22. Was that your first time watching Eyes Wide Shut? It simply boggles that anyone could make so much sex and naked Kidman into such a snoozer.

  23. Yeah, first time.  I actually quite liked it.

  24. Re: Trading Places.

    It’s cool when Dan Ackroyd’s character introduces the New York Stock Exchange as “the last great bastion of unfettered capitalism in the world” and clearly means it as a positive.

  25. Jeff, you NEED to see “Gallipoli”.  “The Lighthorsemen” is a good movie as well, but “Gallipoli” is right up there with “Breaker Morant” and “The Road Warrior” in pure Aussie goodness.

    PS – I can’t believe that you haven’t gotten any “Zay ‘ello to my little friend” or “All Hail the New Flesh” references yet.  Good job outta you with the list, excellent as always.

  26. Breaker Morant = Kick. Ass.  Nice pull, Russ.

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