Sunday, May 7, 2017



Jerry Lewis and Robert De Niro in The King of Comedy
When Martin Scorsese's The King of Comedy, a story about  a would be comic trying to become famous by whatever means necessary came out, it disappeared quickly from theaters. I caught it when it came on cable and liked it very much. Robert De Niro (as the wonderfully named Ruppert Pupkin) played a part so different than Travis Bickle or Jake La Motta, that he is almost unrecognizable. Jerry Lewis plays a Johnny Carson-like talk show host whose life Pupkin invades. Truly a movie ahead of its time and says a lot about getting your fifteen minutes of fame by any means necessary. I'm glad this made this made the 1001 book alongside of the better known Scorsese films.

The Ballad of Narayama
The 1983 version of The Ballad of Narayama is a more cinematic upgrade of the 1958 film of the same name about a 19th century Japanese village in which the tradition of taking those approaching their 70th birthday to a remote mountain to live out their life is the centerpiece of the plot. More fleshed out and darker in some of the way the subplots are handled than in the original, I think watching both versions back to back is good approach to viewing these films.


I have seen a lot of films released in 1983 that didn't make the 1001 list. Here are twenty-five.

1. The Dead Zone-One of the best adaptations to screen of a Stephen King book features the especially interesting supporting character of Greg Stillson, a charismatic but destructive politician who is only undone by the sacrifices of the psychic main character.

The Dead Zone
2. Brainstorm-Another Christopher Walken movie, remembered mostly as the film that Natalie Wood died during the filming of.

3. All the Right Moves-What do I remember about this movie? Small mill-town, Tom Cruise trying to get out of, the title song by Jennifer Warnes and (I have to confess) Lea Thompson topless.

4. Doctor Detroit-I remember this Dan Aykroyd film as being a bit of disappointment. I did go back and watch Devo's video of the title song from the movie...that video was at least fun!

5. Flashdance-I'm not a big fan of Flashdance, but I think you could make a case that this movie seemed like such a big deal in 1983, that you could make a case for inclusion in the 1001 book..or not. I'm easy!


6. Easy Money-If you like Rodney Dangerfield (and I do), this was a good vehicle for him.

7. Jaws 3-D-I think the challenge for Paramount studios was to continue to make the Jaws sequels progressively worse.

8.Liquid Sky-When I first got a VCR, I wanted to check out some off-beat things you couldn't easily watch elsewhere. So what better film to fit that criteria to fit this bill than a low-budget movie about lesbian space aliens and heroin addiction! Freaky, man!

9. National Lampoon's Vacation-Certainly one of the better Chevy Chase comedies from the 80's. Still think about the Wally World parking scene whenever I have to park far away from something.

10. Krull-I've got to be honest. I can't remember if I actually saw this space/fantasy film. I do remember having Marvel's comic book adaptation!

Krull: The Comic Book

11. Never Say Never Again/Octopussy-That year when the Sean Connery James Bond went head-to-head with the Roger Moore James Bond. I think Moore won this particular battle.

12. Psycho II-Psycho had to be a tough film to make a sequel to twenty years later to, but I think the story works and it was great to see Anthony Perkins as Norman again.

13. Reuben, Reuben-One of my favorite movie endings and maybe my favorite involving a dog.*

*Comment written before I saw Umberto D.

14. Silkwood-Good psychological/true life/ thriller drama and a must-see for Cher completists.

15. The Man With Two Brains-One of Steve Martin's funniest, if not pretty silly at the same time. But how can you not love a movie with Merv Griffin as a serial killer?

The Man With Two Brains

16. The Twilight Zone Movie-You want to see something really scary? Some nice updates of some classic TZ segments, including George Miller's update of Nightmare at 20,00 Feet!

17. Stayin' Alive-Sylvester Stallone's sequel to Stayin' Alive is

18. Strange Brew-Love SCTV, love Bob and Doug Mckenize, but not so sure about it as a full-length feature. No liking this more makes me feel like a hoser.

19. Superman III-This series definitely peeked with Superman II.

Star '80-I thought Bob Fosse's film about the tragic life of Playboy centerfold Dorothy Stratten was very gripping. I always liked the way Fosse put together a movie...Too bad his career film output was so sparse.

Star '80

21. Testament-Strong drama about dealing with nuclear winter that I actually first saw on PBS!

22. To Be or Not to Be-I'm not sure this Mel Brooks remake of the Lubitsch classic was a good idea.

23. War Games-I wasn't as wowed by this video game/nuclear disaster warhead movie as much as others seemed to be at the time. Might be worth another look.

24 Yentl-I'm not a big Barbara Streisand fan. And when I first saw clips of her posing as a boy, I agreed with David Letterman's joke about her looking like "David Brenner's nephew." But once I saw the film, I have to admit it's pretty moving.

25, Zelig-One of Woody Allen's films you may have missed because it seem to blend in with some his other better known films.


I wouldn't call 1983 a total Thriller, and you may beat it with other years.
But it wasn't all bad. Not everything is black and white, you know! Guess
it's just human nature to think so. Until next time...

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