“Greetings, Starfighter. You have been recruited by the Star League to defend the frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan armada.”
Last year for about five months, I wrote a weekly post for Fogs Movie Reviews, under the title “Movies I Want Everyone to See“. I had a lot of fun doing so, but the site folded and I was left with a list of films I still wanted to talk about and had not yet had the chance. “The Last Starfighter” is one of those movies. It has a great concept, groundbreaking special effects, a wonderful script and a cast that includes a couple of old school actors, hamming it up and having a great time. Lucky for me this movie came out in 1984, at this particular time. I now get to cross it off of my list of movies I want to do a post on and have not, and it is a great palate cleanser for the three losers that preceded it on this project.
I have a very vivid memory of the first time I saw this. It was actually a week before it opened in a sneak preview screening that followed a return visit to the Enterprise and “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock“. In the 1980s, a lot of films gave out promotional pinback buttons with artwork from the poster or the movie. I have three or four from this screening in a box in the garage from that sneak preview. Continue reading →
That is the teaser that appeared at the end of the VHS copy of Raiders, promoting the next Indiana Jones film. It also played in theaters, told you almost nothing about the movie, but whetted your appetite so much that you wanted to stay and watch it again, at least I did. For me, this was the most highly anticipated film of 1984 and it lived up to my expectations. Many have criticized it, some have suggested that it is not worthy, but I am willing to defend it to the end and strongly endorse everyone over the age of 13 seeing it. OK, most of those under 13 as well.
As I write this post, I look out the door of my office and I see hanging on the wall the posters from the Indiana Jones series. This one is a personal favorite. The heroic Dr. Jones, standing in the archway, back lit by flames, with his whip and a machete in his hands. This kicks ass! This movie is important for a number of reasons, and had time not intervened, it could have been possible for the Indiana Jones stories to have careened forward and backwards like the first three did. I have great memories of the movie as well and some of them are a little cool. Continue reading →
The first weekend of May is now the official start of the summer movie season. Back in 1996, Twister and Mission Impossible managed to move up the crowded summer release schedule by almost three weeks. In 1984, the summer blockbusters still waited until the end of the month. Dramas and comedies dominated the box office until the big budget spectacles arrived Memorial Day weekend. “The Bounty” is a prestige piece that originated in the minds of Sir David Lean and his longtime collaborator Robert Bolt. The team that gave us “Lawrence of Arabia”, “Doctor Zhivago” and “Ryan’s Daughter” had imagined a two part film to rival those impressive predecessors. Those plans were too great for the studio that was backing the project and their film fell through, although the star cast as William Bligh stayed attached to the picture and was eventually cast in this version.
Casting is one of the attractions of this film from thirty years ago. Two future Academy Award winners are prominently featured in the movie, as were two future box office titans. It was also one of the last feature films to star the legendary Lawrence Olivier, himself an Oscar winner and a figure from the glory days of old Hollywood and British Theater. With so much going for it, there is plenty of reason to ask why it was a disappointment. It was not remembered at the end of the year and it was a flop when it comes to getting a return on investment. It is however a very effective telling of the well known mutiny story. Continue reading →
Four of the top ten box office hits of 1984 opened in the winter or very early spring of that year. That should give you a pretty good idea of how the marketing and release of films has changed. Last year only one film in the top ten opened in March and it just made it in as the number ten film on the list. If you were interested, in 1984, there were good movies opening almost every week. “Romancing the Stone” represents one of those early in the year releases that managed to make an impression and it ran most of the way through the first half of summer.