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1980s

Steel Magnolias

Some films are meant to be read.  “Steel Magnolias” is one of those films where the dialogue is the lifeblood of the films.  The plot isn’t really interesting and doesn’t go many places.  The spine of the story is this group of close-knit friends and the drama of the good times and bad that bind them.

The drama involves a diabetic daughter and her health issues which drive the story forward.  It’s a true story written by her brother and became a hit broadway play and two film versions.

My Bodyguard

“My Bodyguard” had a first-time director and a cast of unknowns, made $22 million from a $3 million budget, and basically launched the careers of Matt Dillion, Joan Cusack and others.  Ok, Dillion was in Little Darlings that year, too, but this is the showy role that critics saw.  Chris Makepeace, the nerd from “Meatballs” plays the nerd here, too.  Martin Mull and Ruth Gordon add their schtick, but Makepeace and Dillon really make this film shine.

Parenthood

Ron Howard was best known as a television actor in “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Happy Days” but his resume as a director is second to no one.  In 2018, he was called in to helm the Star Wars movie “Solo.”  He directed the “Da Vinci Code” trilogy along with some other favorites of mine:  “Apollo 13”, “Far and Away”, “Ransom”, “Frost/Nixon” and “A Beautiful Mind”.

My favorite will probably always be “Parenthood.”

An American Werewolf in London

I don’t think John Landis can do straight horror, but this is probably the closest he ever came to doing so.  “An American Werewolf in London” brought scenes of comedy mixed with the macabre.  Heck, some of the scenes are so hyperviolent I’m surprised they passed MPAA scrutiny, and several were cut to make the movie that made the theaters.

But the film is all about Rick Baker, the now-famous makeup artist who secretly played King Kong in the 1976 remake and created the suit he wore.

Trading Places

A staple of American comedy since the 1970s has been the “Saturday Night Live” film where cast members from the famed sketch comedy show hit the big screen with varying success levels.  The early cast members had two names involved:  Ivan Reitman, who generally stayed with Bill Murray movies, and John Landis.  Landis directed “Animal House” and made John Belushi the hottest star at the time.  He directed “The Blues Brothers” with Belushi and Dan Aykroyd (who was supposed to be in “Animal House with Chevy Chase” but that’s another story).   Animal House was the biggest mone

Caddyshack

The funny thing about comedies is how hard it is to be funny in a film.

There isn’t really a designed method to it.  There really aren’t rules.  In the early days of sound films, the Marx Brothers would basically take a show on the road, find out what got laughs and what didn’t, fine tune it to a fever pitch, and bam – you have a film comedy.

Hoosiers

Some sports movies work even if you don’t like the sport.  You don’t have to be a boxing fan to like Rocky, and you certainly don’t have to like basketball to love “Hoosiers.”

“Hoosiers” is a sport movie that really isn’t about sports, or even about basketball specifically.  The same type of movie could’ve been about baseball, hockey, football or soccer.

Wall Street

Oliver Stone make personal films.  He fought in Vietnam, so he makes “Platoon,” “JFK,” and “Nixon.”  His father was a stock broker, so “Wall Street” shouldn’t have surprised anyone.

I must confess an affinity for business movies and that has stayed with me through the years.  “Wall Street” was really my first.