by John Walters

Five Films: 1981

  1. Raiders Of The Lost Ark: Now that’s an adventure! From the jungles of South America to a college classroom to D.C. to Nepal to Cairo, Indiana Jones takes us on a rollicking ride. His mission: to prevent the Ark of the Covenant from falling into the hands of the Nazis. No small stakes there. 2. Das Boot: U-boat thriller. The ending. Wow! 3. Gallipoli: Aussie war movie about two young sprinters who are sent to fight in the Gallipoli campaign in World War I in Turkey. Another Wow! final scene, masterfully filmed. 4. Atlantic City: Yet another film title that would later become a Bruce Springsteen song, like “Thunder Road” and “Badlands” , etc. Burt Lancaster wasn’t the only aging Hollywood great (Henry Fonda) to be nominated for Best Actor this year. 5. (and don’t ask me to include On Golden Pond….please) Chariots of Fire: Runners of different religious persuasions competing at the 1924 Olympics and that lush score from Vangelis as they strike along the beach.

One thought on “IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

  1. I’ve never seen Atlantic City but the rest of your list is A+. I can remember sitting in the theatre watching Raiders for the 1st time & being blown away from the ADVENTURE & FUN & EVIL NAZIS & I kept pinching myself that I hadn’t gone back in time to Hollywood’s “golden era”. Raiders is one of those movies for me that if a person I meet/know tells me they’re not a fan, I DITCH them quick!

    Chariots of Fire – can you NOT immediately hum that score when thinking about the runners on the beach?

    And speaking of a film’s musical score – I didn’t see Gallipoli until on TV in the late 80s & bawled my eyes out at the end. To this day, Albionini’s “Adagio in G Minor” prompts memories of the final scene & overwhelming sadness & anger at the idiocy, tragedy & waste of war.

    And yet MORE movie music – I also liked The Four Seasons starring Alan Alda, Carol Burnett (among others )AND Vivaldi. 🙂

    Other 1981 movies I liked or loved :

    Arthur – starring Dudley Moore, Liza Minelli & John “I’ll alert the media” Gielguld. I HATE being around drunks in real life & don’t find them funny on TV or on film, but I have a soft spot for this one. Perhaps it was the theme song by Christopher Cross.

    Escape from New York – with the lead character named Snake Plissken & a long haired, muscled-up Kurt Russell playing him, I was in line on opening day. Perhaps seeing Manhattan (your current home of 3 decades) as a future giant maximum security prison is why it’s not on your list? 🙂

    Taps – starring Timothy Hutton, George C. Scott & film newbies Tom Cruise & Sean Penn.

    Absence of Malice – starring Paul Newman & Sally Field. Not on your list because it shows the damage that “journalism” can inflict?

    Stripes – the most surprising omission on YOUR list. I would have sworn you’d include this comedy starring Bill Murray, Harold Ramis & John Candy.

    Two notable movies in 1981 that did NOT thrill or impress me : Mommie Dearest (although the makeup & transformation of Faye Dunaway was impressive) & REDS, starring Warren Beatty & Diane Keaton. I’ve never been a fan of Beatty & only went to this movie as part of a group. It did have one lasting takeaway – I don’t know how anyone can watch that movie & have a favorable opinion of the Bolsheviks &/or communism.

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