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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 Carter. 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 another. THE BLOCKBUSTERS: "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. UNFORGETTABLE COMEDIES: "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 improvised sarcasm. 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. GUILTY FAVORITES: "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 Studios. "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. "Two milks!" 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 "Cannonball Run." 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 tedfilm@aol.com -------------------------------------------------------------------- Copyright 2001 by DayTips.com, Inc. All rights reserved.
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