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"1981: Has It Really Been 20 Years?!"?
By Teddy Durgin
I'm gonna make some of you feel real old with this column.
1981 WAS 20 FRIGGIN' YEARS AGO! Ugh!
Can you believe that?
Can you believe that it has been two decades since
Indiana Jones first cracked his whip on the big screen?
It boggles the mind.
So, where were you in 1981? Some of you were probably like me.
A kid. I turned 11 years old that year. Some of you were
already adults, having just made the choice between Reagan or
And I'm sure many of you weren't even a nasty thought in
your father's mind yet.
Regardless of your age, there's no denying that 1981 was a
special one for movies. So, before we reach the end of this
year, I thought I'd take a fond look back at some of the films of
yesteryear. Twenty yesteryears ago to be exact. All of the
films below are currently celebrating their 20th anniversary.
And all have a special place in my heart for one reason or
"Raiders of the Lost Ark"-Behind the original "Star Wars," this
is my second favorite movie of all time. "Raiders" is just the
perfect adventure, filled with evil Nazis, dangerous savages, and
pitfalls galore. Boulders, booby traps, snakes, and spiders. It
has a damsel in distress, a loyal sidekick, and a hero who is
larger than life. It's got one of the greatest chase scenes ever
recorded on film. Best of all, it has Harrison Ford in his
prime, before he took to reading all of his lines in monotone and
cutting his hair like an insane man. Today, the film holds up
remarkably well and has earned its classic status.
"Superman II"- If the words "Kneel before Zod!" don't put a smile
on your face, you probably take your movies a little too
seriously. "Superman II" is one of the greatest sequels ever
made, but it was also one of the most difficult to complete.
It's a little known fact that the first "Superman" and the second
one were filmed simultaneously. Due to a behind-the-scenes power
struggle, original director Richard Donner was ousted in favor of
"Three Musketeers" helmsman Richard Lester. Amazingly, this
sequel didn't miss a beat. Yeah, it's sad to see Christopher
Reeve walking around. Yeah, it's sad to see Supes flying across
a New York cityscape that still has the World Trade Center. No,
it doesn't affect my enjoyment of the film each and every time I
pop it into my DVD player.
"Arthur"-This was the film that got Sir John Gielgud a Best
Supporting Actor Academy Award at age 78 for his hilarious turn
as Hobson, butler to the world's most lovable alcoholic.
Remember when we weren't so darn sensitive and politically
correct, and we could laugh at a childish millionaire who went
through every moment of his life hammered on expensive liquor?
Remember before there were music videos, singers who looked like
Christopher Cross and Joe Jackson could actually get women?
Remember when we all must have been drunk and thought Liza
Minnelli was hot. 1981 is starting to seem like a long,
lo-o-o-ng time ago, isn't it?! The reason "Arthur" still works
today is that Dudley Moore's constantly inebriated title
character has such a wonderful foil in Gielgud's Hobson. Classic
exchange--Arthur: "I think I'll take a bath." Hobson: "I'll
alert the media."
"Stripes"-Why don't they make comedies like this anymore? That's
too big a question. Let me tone it down. Why don't Bill Murray
and director Ivan Reitman make comedies like this anymore?
"Stripes" is still hysterical, with Murray at his droll best
thumbing his nose at Army life. So many classic bits. "Dat's
the fact, Jack!" John Candy wrestling women. The Army's new
secret weapon masquerading as an RV. Great cast, too. In
addition to Murray and Candy, "Stripes" features Harold Ramis (in
his screen debut), Judge Reinhold, Sean Young, and John
Larroquette. And let's not forget the great Warren Oates as
Sergeant Hulka, the perfect nemesis for Murray's largely
THE OSCAR WINNERS:
"Chariots of Fire"-I didn't appreciate this movie until many
years after it came out. I remember just sitting in the theater
as a little boy and having a yawning fit. I wanted to run from
my seat, the way those Olympic runners were sprinting in the
film. Fortunately, my tastes have changed. Still, at this point
in movie history, the music score by Vangelis is probably better
known than the film. Do they even re-run it anymore? And where
the Hell is Ben Cross? Come to think of it, how did "Chariots of
Fire" beat out "Raiders" and "On Golden Pond" for Best Picture
that year?! I mean it was good, but not that good.
"On Golden Pond"-The phrase "sucking face" never did quite catch
on, but this movie sure did. Earlier this year, Julie Andrews
and Christopher Plummer performed a live version of the film on
CBS, and the ratings were solid. But they were hard-pressed to
make audiences forget the excellent chemistry of Henry Fonda and
Katherine Hepburn. I kind of grew up a little with this film.
"Under the Rainbow"-I grew up even more with this one. Don't
remember it? Don't worry. It probably only holds special
meaning to me. That's because "Under the Rainbow" was the first
film that little Teddy actually got to see nudity! Breasts! OK,
I got to see 'em for a few brief fleeting moments, as dozens of
midgets ran through a women's shower room. But in those brief
fleeting moments, a great journey began. Call it a quest, an
unending search for the wonders of ... er, never mind. So, what
was the movie about? Best I can remember it was a riff on "The
Wizard of Oz" about the actors who played Munchkins getting into
all sorts of trouble at a hotel across the street from MGM
"Cannonball Run"-It's like watching a 90-minute cocktail party.
Half the cast is obviously loaded. The other half don't even
belong in a movie (I mean, come on! Mel Tillis, Terry Bradshaw,
Bert Convy, Jamie Farr, Jimmy the Greek?!). But I can't help
myself. I love this terrible piece of idiocy about an illegal
cross-country race. I lose brain cells every time I watch
"Cannonball Run." But if it's on cable, or broadcast TV, or I
have the nerve to put it in my DVD player, I just get stupid for
it all over again. This was one of the first films to include a
blooper reel over the closing credits. It also has Roger Moore
in his prime spoofing 007; Burt Reynolds killing his career right
before our eyes; and Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr., downing
their own personal anti-freeze and taking to the road dressed as
priests in a souped-up Italian sports car. Other memorable bits.
The haunted house music that plays every time
Jack Elam pops his creepy head out from the back
of the van.
Captain Chaos. Adrienne Barbeau's cleavage.
OK, I'm coming clean.
I have probably logged an entire day of my life watching this
movie. Please don't unsubscribe.
OTHER MEMORABLE FLICKS:
"Atlantic City"-This is kind of the forgotten great film from
1981. A must-see for Burt Lancaster fans.
"Escape From New York"-Snake Plissken rocks!
And even better Adrienne Barbeau cleavage than in
Notice a theme developing here?
"For Your Eyes Only"-James Bond went back to basics with this
one, and Roger Moore turned in his best performance in the role.
"The Great Muppet Caper"-My favorite Jim Henson film. Gielgud
stole Animal's Oscar!
"Mommie Dearest"-One of the all-time great diva films.
"Reds"-Have yet to sit through the whole thing. Sorry.
By Teddy Durgin
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