The year is 1983; the Washington Redskins win the Superbowl, “Faithfully” by Journey hits its peak on the charts at #12, and some of the greatest movies of the decade are released in a torrent of brilliant cinema.
If you didn’t feel old before, remember where you were the first time you watched these movie classics:
Our young friend, Ralphie, is on a mission to convince everyone that the Red Ryder BB gun he wants is the perfect gift for the holidays. Throughout the film he is told he will “shoot his eye out”, however Ralphie will do whatever it takes to get his coveted item. Run-ins with bullies, teachers, frozen flag poles and a Christmas dinner at a Chinese place make this flick a consistently viewed holiday classic.
“The Outsiders”is one of three movies released in 1983 featuring Scientology mascot, Tom Cruise. Along with a cast of talented stars, this movie explores the pitfalls of gang life in mid-1960′s Tulsa, Oklahoma. Messages abound in the stirring film that expanded the careers of the young actors and helped pave the way for the ‘Brat Pack’ genre of the 1980′s.
“National Lampoon’s Vacation” is widely regarded as the best of the “Vacation” films for obvious reasons. Stellar performances by Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, John Candy and a slew of others turned this John Hughes written screen play into a comedic juggernaut. We’ll never forget how what seems like a simple drive to Wally World for family fun turns into a trip filled with supermodels, dead dogs and grandma’s, and non-stop hi-jinx along the way.
Oliver Stone’s “Scarface” is a movie that captivated audiences with it’s brutal depiction of Cuban immigrant, Tony Montana, and his rise to power as a drug kingpin in 1980 Miami. The film was initially given an ‘X’ rating for extreme violence before finally cutting out a few scenes and garnering the ‘R’ label. Although indeed violent (see chainsaw scene), this movie has endured over the last 30 years and recently the American Film Institute ranked “Scarface” #10 in the ‘Top Ten Gangster Movies’ category.
The same year that President Regan introduced the Star Wars program, George Lucas released the third installment of the initial Star Wars episodes. “Return Of The Jedi” brought us all back to our friends Luke, Leia and Chewy as they battle to bring down the Empire, convert Darth Vader back from the Dark Side and destroy the Death Star one more time. Worldwide, the movie grossed $475 million and yet is considered to be the lesser of the first three films. Fans and super-fans alike are all anticipating the release of “Episode VII”, directed by J.J. Abrams, sometime in 2015.
“Trading Places” is a hilarious movie about a homeless con-man that is used as a pawn for a rich man’s game. The wealthy Duke brothers will do anything to win their $1 bet to see if their colleague, Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd), will succumb to a life on the streets while at the same time turning a street hustler (Eddie Murphy) into a well-to-do socialite. In 2010, the movie actually became a part of new legislation regarding insider trading. Commodity Futures Trading chief Gary Gensler stated, “We have recommended banning using misappropriated government information to trade in the commodity markets. In the movie Trading Places, starring Eddie Murphy, the Duke brothers intended to profit from trades in frozen concentrated orange juice futures contracts using an illicitly obtained and not yet public Department of Agriculture orange crop report.” This rule later became known as “The Eddie Murphy Rule”.
The eighth top-grossing film of the year 1983 was “Staying Alive”. The title comes directly from the song “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees and was used as the theme for the movie. The sequel to “Saturday night Fever” features Tony Manero (John Travolta) maturing as a dancer and overall as a human being. We watch as Tony strives to overcome conflicts with his girlfriend, his family, a snobby lead dancer, and , of course, himself to eventually reach new heights in the dancing world.
“What a feelin’, bein’s believin’!” are lyrics we are all familiar with (perhaps singing in the shower?). The year 1983 also saw the emergence of Alex Owens (Jennifer Beals), an 18 year old dancer from Pittsburgh trying to escape her steel mill working, cabaret dancing lifestyle and make it to the big time. Songs like “Flashdance… What a Feeling” and “Maniac” round out a soundtrack that spawned several hits. The invention of MTV is often credited in part with some of the success of the music-video style film.