Wow, the top box office earners from 1983 (credit to BoxOfficeMojo for the information) caused quite the smile from me when seeing some of these titles. First off, Return of the Jedi won the box office that year with over twice the business of its next closest competitor. Surprise anyone? Me neither. (Can we move on? I have plenty I can write about Star Wars movies in future posts).
Numbers 8-11. Quite the list.
Staying Alive. For those who don’t know, this is the sequel to Saturday Night Fever (1977). The significance to me is that it was written and directed by Sylvester Stallone? Why? I have no idea, but he did it.
Mr. Mom. It’s fair to say I was a bit obsessed with this movie as a kid. Probably because of cable TV and just the pure frequency with which it was on. And that’s true. But, many years later I realized another reason: it was written by John Hughes. Are you kidding me? Michael Keaton and Teri Garr portray a middle-class couple who flip-flop roles and if you haven’t seen Michael Keaton cook a grilled cheese sandwich for his kid with a clothing iron, well you’re just missing some great comedy. This was way ahead of its time. One of my favorites ever.
Risky Business. Mr. Tom Cruise, please step forward and become a star. That’s what happened for this guy in 1983. (More on that farther down the list). The dancing in his underwear scene is what everyone remembers, of course, but the conflict in this plot just pulls you in and doesn’t let go. Bonus for Joe Pantoliano showing up.
National Lampoon’s Vacation. Six words: Harold Ramis John Hughes Chevy Chase. Hughes based this movie on his own family’s trip to Disneyland when he was a kid. Especially timely to think about with the remake (re-boot, remake, whatever) coming up in a couple of weeks. If this isn’t in your list of comedy classics then please rethink your list. Seriously. (Bonus for it being Harold Ramis’s follow-up to Caddyshack).
The Big Chill. Lawrence Kasdan wrote and directed this. I remember reading an interview with him about the movie and he said something like this: “nobody wanted to finance a movie where a bunch of adults just sat around and talked.” Fantastic cast and maybe one of the top three movie soundtracks you will ever hear. I really didn’t appreciate it until my late 20s, and it’s probably worth another look now. I’ll likely appreciate even more about it. Bonus for Kevin Costner playing a corpse.
Holy freakin’ crap number 28: The Outsiders. The best GenX movie cast ever. (I almost ended that sentence with a question mark. Silly me). Patrick Swayze. Ralph Macchio. Rob Lowe. Emilio Estevez. Tom Cruise. C. Thomas Howell. Matt Dillon. Leif Garrett (yeah, him). Tom Waits (yeah, him). Oh, and drumroll please…Diane Lane playing Cherry Valance. Francis Ford Coppolla directed. Do I need to keep on? Just watch this movie. Bonus for Tom Cruise hit movie number two in 1983.
Quick aside for Stephen King fans. Cujo, Christine, and The Dead Zone all debuted in 1983.
Quick aside number two for Burt Reynolds fans. Stroker Ace came out this year. Burt will definitely have his own posts from me at a later date.
Quick aside number three for comedy fans. Richard Pryor: Here and Now, Cheech and Chong Still Smokin’ and Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life all came out this year.
Now time for the strong finish.
All the Right Moves. Tom Cruise hit movie number three for 1983. Do you like football movies where they actually look like they are playing football? Where the coaches actually sound like they know what they are talking about? Where the band, cheerleaders, fans, families and players all actually look/act/talk/ like they are part of an actual high school football season? Then this one is for you. (if you think Varsity Blues provided those things then perhaps this isn’t the blog for you. I kid.) Craig T. Nelson plays the coach and Lea Thompson plays the girlfriend. Don’t ask me why I love this movie. I just do. Bonus for Chris Penn playing the best friend.
D.C. Cab. Gary Busey. Mr. T. Don’t ask questions, just find this movie and watch it. You’ll find out what actually happened to Bruce Lee and also why nobody should work on January the 8th. A classic for me and my friends.
I feel like the final one should have some kind of better introduction, but I’ll just say the 39th movie of 1983 obviously wasn’t appreciated by 1983 audiences. But cable watchers, they did it justice over the years. Maybe you’re sick of it, or maybe it’s an all-time classic for you…
A Christmas Story. Boom!