What I’ll Remember About the Films of 1982: A Love Letter

Posts in the What I’ll Remember tag:
 1925, 1930, 1943, 1958, 1965, 1978, 1992, 2012, 2013, 2014

The following may seem exhaustive, but trust me, it’s not! At the beginning of any year I take on I tend to be more detailed at noting things. Then, as time passes, momentum inevitably downshifts. So that partly explains why some films are documented more than others here (why so much Diner? I didn’t even really like Diner!), regardless of quality. But I tried my best to represent the last 10 months of working through my 1982 Watchlist. This is the last post I will be doing for 1982. I will be tweeting out my honorable mentions and my Top Ten By Year: 1982 next week and then getting started on my next year: 1969!

Enjoy! At the bottom of the page I’ve put a sampling of some of my favorite shots of 1982. I have many many more highlighted on twitter (@cinephile24)

Share your favorite bits from 1982 films in the comments!


1982: Geeky. Sleazy. Bleak.

Main takeaway from 1982: it really does feel like the last half of Boogie Nights

Have I mentioned that 1982 is bleak? Because it’s pretty damn bleak (The Snowman, White Dog, The Thing, The Plague Dogs, The Last American Virgin, Shoot the Moon, Missing, The World According to Garp, Halloween III: Season of the Witch, Class of 1984, The Thing, hey good lookin’, Smithereens, Liquid Sky, Veronika Voss, Woman of Fire 82, The Border, Der Fan, Xtro, E.T. The Extra-terrestrial (resolved ending aside)

Have I mentioned that 1982 is sleazy? Because it’s pretty damn sleazy (Eating Raoul, Class of 1984, The Last American Virgin, Vice Squad, Visiting Hours, The Last Horror Film, Night Warning, Smithereens, Class of 1984, Liquid Sky, Tenebre, Xtro, Woman of Fire 82, Night Shift, hey good lookin’, Querelle, Q: The Winged Serpent)

Catching NYC in its waning punk days. Desperation, destruction, and lots of squatting  (Liquid Sky & Smithereens)

The first year featuring computer graphics in film (Tron, Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan)

1982: The Year that Scarred Children Forever  (E.T The Extra-Terrestrial, The Secret of NIMH, The Plague Dogs, The Dark Crystal, Poltergeist, Annie)

RIP: John Belushi, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Grace Kelly, Henry Fonda, Ingrid Bergman, Jacques Tati, Romy Schneider

summer-lovers-10I love subversive happy endings, especially the one in Summer Lovers, an exuberant statement on the fearless feasibility of unconventional relationships. The film gleefully, and admirably, commits to dodging expected threats of conflict at every turn. It does this at the sacrifice of effective storytelling, which, weirdly enough, I’d argue is worth the trade-off.

Speaking of romantic subversiveness, the indelible small-town warmth and charms of Who Am I This Time? Love discovered in fiction through fiction.

Pleasant surprises (movies I wasn’t expecting to get as much out of as I did): The World According to Garp, Summer Lovers, Rocky III

Disappointments: Fitzcarraldo, Une Chambre en ville, Tempest, The Plague Dogs, Night Warning, Still of the Night, Diner, Victor/Victoria, Cat People, rewatch of My Favorite Year, Identification of a Woman, Woman of Fire 82, Le Beau Mariage

Huge year for the basic presence and acknowledgement and/or tackling of LGBTQ content (wide spectrum of quality represented aside) (Personal Best, By Design, Come Back to the Five and Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, Victor/Victoria, Liquid Sky, Labyrinth of Passion, Making Love, La Truite, Tenebre, Deathtrap, Tootsie, Eating Raoul, The World According to Garp, Querelle, La Truite, Another Way, Starstruck, Vice Squad, Summer Lovers, Toute une nuit)

Watching E.T for the first time since its 2002 theatrical re-release. The most emotionally draining movie-watching experience I’ve had in years (that says a lot; I’m a big crier). It left me shaken for days afterwards. It also confirmed the long-established fact that I have a very difficult time with stories where a creature and/or animal is befriended but the threat of man/government and their laboratories jeopardize everything! (I’m looking at you, The Plague Dogs) (see also: The Iron Giant, Splash)

FEATURE FILM DEBUTS: Eddie Murphy (48 Hrs.) Glenn Close (The World According to Garp), Kevin Kline (Sophie’s Choice), Phoebe Cates (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Paradise) Antonio Banderas (Labyrinth of Passion), Geena Davis (Tootsie), Molly Ringwald (Tempest), Kirstie Alley (Wrath of Khan), Angelina Jolie (Lookin’ to Get Out), Ellen Barkin (Diner), Linda Hamilton (Tag: The Assassination Game), Eric Stoltz (Fast Times at Ridgemont High), Nicolas Cage (Fast Times at Ridgemont High), Forest Whitaker (Fast Times at Ridgemont High)

STAR-MAKING ROLES:  Eddie Murphy (48 Hrs) , Drew Barrymore (E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial), Michael Keaton (Night Shift), Michelle Pfeiffer (Grease 2), Glenn Close (The World According to Garp), Phoebe Cates (Fast Times at Ridgemont High)

The immediacy of the destructive tactile touch in Dimensions of Dialogue. While the inanimate crumbles to dust via constant iterations, order & logic fall out of sync through repetition.

Dario Argento’s ability in Tenebre (and Deep Red) to pinpoint the scariest possible thing as that little detail lingering in your memory all along

The overwhelming transference of a nervous breakdown, the present existing on top of the present in Five-Year Diary, reel 23

shades-of-lavender-in-the-movie-tootsietootsie-2tootsieThe use of creamy purples and pink interiors that promote the unfamiliar (for Michael) comfort of feminine spaces (Tootsie)

(In part) Meta-films about writers that exist in the kinds of stories they write
(Tenebre, Deathtrap, The World According to Garp)

Every time you think you’ve seen the standout sequence in Tenebre, just wait because there’s another one coming up

Teen sex = teen pregnancy = abortion (The Last American Virgin & Fast Times at Ridgemont High)

You can quote me on this: Fast Times at Ridgemont High features the greatest young ensemble film has to offer. Eat my shorts, Dazed and Confused.

personal-best-7The radical vision of female athletic bodies in motion (Personal Best)

Winner of the Weirdest Movie of 1982 is…..Human Highway!

My well-documented (via Instagram) state of shock over the insanity of the last 30 minutes of The World According to Garp

Movies driven by New Wave and/or punk music in soundtrack and content (Der Fan, Starstruck, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains, Smithereens, Urgh! A Music War)

As a rule I see films through to the end, but I could not for the life of me get through Tempest. by the time Raul Julia says “I want to balanga you with my ‘bonijoni'” to a 14-year old Molly Ringwald, that was the sign to peace out.

The dancing encounters in Toute une nuit

The beautiful wallpapers and interiors of Une chambre en ville

Post Jodie Foster/John Brinkley lingerings (The Last Horror Film, Der Fan)

Actors featured in 1982 films I consider ‘my people’ (we all have them: performers we, for lack of more specific articulation, feel special connections with, seek out and/or look forward to seeing more than most): (Queen) Isabelle Huppert, (Queen) Michelle Pfeiffer, Patty Duke, Kristy McNichol, Sandy Dennis, Nastassja Kinski, Laura Dern, Mariel Hemingway, Jack Nicholson, Raul Julia, Brad Davis, Michael Ironside, Jessica Harper

The spectre of father in Fanny and Alexander

Fashion shows! (By Design and Liquid Sky)

Being in awe of everything Julie Dash is able to say in 35 minutes with Illusions, in which two black women navigate and question 1940s Hollywood and its purpose

Lookin’ to Get Out = Hal Ashby’s Dumb and Dumber 

The bizarre and often incomprehensible shorthand friendship between Jon Voight and Burt Young in Lookin’ to Get Out. See also: above line.

The perfect synthesis of storytelling through formal hyper-stylized artificiality in One from the Heart

Tend to loathe jam sessions but I’ll never forget when Human Highway halts for a ten minute jam session dream sequence of Devo & Neil Young performing “My My Hey Hey (Into the Black)”

Speaking of Raul Julia….we didn’t deserve Raul Julia, and apparently neither did Teri Garr! (One from the Heart)

The unmatched grotesquery of the practical and/or creature effects work in The Thing. You’d think I was watching Singin’ in the Rain if you saw my face during these scenes

In regards to both character and performance, I cannot figure out if I love Mariel Hemingway or hate Mariel Hemingway in Personal Best

Everyone go watch Visiting Hours for Michael Ironside’s rivetingly internalized & brutal portrait of a killer. His best work?

“Coo-oo-oo-ool riiiider” and the song ending with Queen Pfieffer singing & dancing off into oblivion as the music follows her, hilariously fading out as she gets father away (Grease 2)

Ray (Raul Julia) getting fired in One from the Heart. One-take comic gold

Tom Atkins, my imaginary mortal enemy, playing a doctor of all things, and one that, of course, gropes and sleeps with all the ladies (Halloween III: Season of the Witch)

972769f26f0b3de27a4e4c40d2b76891The look of heartbreak on Jeff’s face as Mr. Hand eats his pizza (Fast Times at Ridgemont High)

It’s a Kinski kind of year (Nastassja in One from the Heart & Cat People; Klaus in Fitzcarraldo, Burden of Dreams, Android, The Soldier)

Speaking of: Nastassja Kinski, where have you been all my life???? (One from the Heart, Cat People)

Dennis Hopper at his most authentically unhinged in Human Highway

Deeply unsatisfying and discomfiting virginity loss scenes in The Last American Virgin and Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Those red pumps in Tenebre 

When I had to write a screenplay for a class, I covered it in songs off of “Crazy Rhythms” by The Feelies, one of my very favorite albums. So it was a dream come true discovering  that a film, a great film no less, already exists that employs “Crazy Rhythms” as a major component of its DNA (Smithereens)

The literal dick-measuring contest set to “Whip It” in The Last American Virgin. I am still trying to convince my eyes that yes, they did in fact see this.

The bottomless sleaze of NY & LA, where nobody takes notice when people go missing (Q, Eating Raoul)

Animal testing in animated movies! Avert your eyes! (The Secret of NIMH, The Plague Dogs)

Slashers move from masked killers to killers with faces, faces of white male rage (Slumber Party Massacre, Visiting Hours, The Last Horror Film, Vice Squad)

Every single second Kimmy Robertson is onscreen in The Last American Virgin

Come Back to the Five and Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean being the moment I realized that I will eventually see every single thing Sandy Dennis ever appeared in. Is she my next Patty Duke? Stay tuned….

The warped slow-motion soundscape hell of Linda’s bathroom escape in Next of Kin 

Color palettes fit for the gods in Querelle and One from the Heart

The Rambo crying scene in First Blood cuts deep, man. Cuts real deep.

The tongue-in-cheek cut that transforms ‘mother’ into ‘whore’ (Vice Squad)

diner-2Mickey Rourke’s hair and general physical beauty in Diner

The scene between Paul and a prostitute in his van in Smithereens. For some reason it’s the scene that resonates most

Crystal Gayle’s voice is what I hear every time a garbage Christmas cover comes on the radio (One from the Heart)

The terrible ‘cutting edge’ synth scores of Android and Xtro

Collective murder in the boutique (A Question of Silence)

Pair Shoot the Moon with The Squid and the Whale for a no-holds-barred double feature about the ugliness of divorce and the ways children get nudged into the crosshairs

May I henceforth be known as the girl who never stops yammering on about The Last American Virgin

The performance of 1982 for me: Karen Black in Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean. The perfect confluence of a. Black’s nuance and expression of the minutiae of Joanne’s interiority and b. Altman’s camera watching her like a hawk in hiding, prioritizing her perspective with a sensitivity and nuance rarely seen. A significant and layered trans woman character in *1982*.

I didn’t think I ever needed to see another movie about horny boys again but somehow The Last American Virgin‘s unique combination of unapologetic crassness with streaks of fear and ambivalence proved me wrong. An essential case study on the “nice guy”

“Me and my rhythm box! Me and my rhythm box!” (Liquid Sky)

Wishing cult actress Paula E. Sheppard had appeared in more than two films (Liquid Sky and Alice, Sweet Alice from 1976) because her Adrian in Liquid Sky is the most distressing element of a distressing film. Somehow, I see shades of Elizabeth Berkley’s performance in Showgirls?

Hot Guys of 1982: Maxwell Caulfield in Grease 2, Steve Antin in The Last American Virgin, Mickey Rourke in Diner, Brad Davis in Querelle, Kurt Russell in The Thing, Christopher Reeve in Deathtrap, Harrison Ford in Blade Runner, Raul Julia in One from the Heart, Peter Weller in Shoot the Moon, Peter Gallagher in Summer Lovers, Sean Penn in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Christopher Walken in Who Am I This Time?

Embracing the fantasy and theatricality of the movie set (One from the Heart, Come Back from the Five and Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, Querelle)

The year Cher begins her career as a serious actress (Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean)

Can we bring back the Savage Cuts-Like-A-Knife Freeze Frame Ending? (Shoot the Moon & Smithereens)

Steve Martin pouring the “java” in Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid

The end of The Snowman, and what it must have communicated to 3 year old me.

The best dumb thing I saw in the films of 1982: the underwater animated musical sequence in The Pirate Movie (clip available on my instagram)

        Coups in transparently unnamed countries (Missing & The Year of Living Dangerously)

Being so unprepared for the raunchy and joyous Tab Hunter-led “Reproduction” number in Grease 2

Every single thing Isabelle Huppert wears in La Truite, but particularly her sweater with “Peut-etre” on the front and “Jamais” on the back. Iconic.

The sexy lived-in marriage between Craig T. Nelson & Jobeth Williams in Poltergeist

One from the Heart: Worth going bankrupt for

All the cutting-edge montage editing in Rocky III, especially anything involving Rocky & Apollo training together (obviously)

Rewatching Blade Runner and remembering that oh yeahhhh, the replicants are the ones we care about

Sorry not sorry but I don’t care for: Sophie’s Choice, The Wall, Fitzcarraldo, My Favorite Year, The Plague Dogs, The Dark Crystal, Identification of a Woman, Une chambre en ville, Passion, Le beau mariage

Sara’s outburst at her husband late in Losing Ground (“Don’t fuck around then!!!!! Don’t take your dick out like it was art-ist-ic, like it’s some goddamn paintbrush. Maybe that’s what’s uneven, that I got nothin’ to take out.”)

The smart, direct, and sometimes surprising scene transitions in Tootsie

Jessica Harper trying to tell a joke in My Favorite Year

Given my lifelong ambivalence towards Diane Keaton, her shattering work in Shoot the Moon is doubly something to behold

White Dog. I don’t even have a specific thing to say about it except my God, White Dog.

The Cannes montage in The Last Horror Film: billboards, beaches and boobs (clip available on my instagram)

I like The Thing, quite a bit, but I’ve seen it five times and just have to accept that there will always be this weird barrier between me and it

The breakthrough mainstream feminist film of the year is….about a man (Tootsie) (PS; love you Tootsie) (yes, I know this is reductive but just go with it)

Constant roving lights, suffocated by crowds & the city, never alone but always alone in Blade Runner

The fantasy of Vice Squad, a world where bringing justice to the murder of sex workers is a top priority of law enforcement

dana_freelingDominque Dunne’s elaborately rad bird-flipping moment in Poltergeist 

Alright. I’ll say it: Zelda Rubenstein’s scenes are the weakest part of Poltergeist

Most Thankless Roles and/or Performances: William Shatner – Visiting Hours, Richard Roundtree – Q, Harvey Keitel – The Border, Dyan Cannon – Deathtrap, Claudia CardinaleFitzcarraldo, Mr. T – Rocky III, Jeanne Moreau – La Truite, Didi Conn – Grease 2

The genius bit part of the construction worker in Q: The Winged Serpent: “You sons of bitches, if anyone ate that sandwich, I’m going to shove the thermos up your asses one at a time” (clip available on my instagram)

Jack Nicholson’s delivery of “I married a banana. I married a fuckin’ banana” (The Border) (clip available on my instagram)

The wonders Christine Lahti does with her TV interview scene in Ladies & Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains

Ellen Barkin’s heartbreaking delivery of “I did something. I did something wrong” in Diner

nicholdnJack Nicholson giving what is possibly his best performance in The Border. Such keenly interior work, the antithesis of what we think of when we think of A Jack Nicholson Performance

Sean Penn’s delivery of “Hey, you’re ripping my card!” in Fast Times at Ridgemont High

“You never mean tehhhhhhhhhh” (Friday the 13th: Part 3) (clip available on my instagram)

Kevin Bacon’s delivery and elation over “I’ve been waiting to use that ketchup bottle for WEEKS! For WEEKS!” in Diner

Lesley Ann Warren’s delivery and elation (“YAAAAAAAAY!!!”) over the “reveal” that Victoria is Victor in Victor Victoria

Assault; it’s everywhere, even if a few of the films themselves won’t acknowledge it (Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, Diner, Victor/Victoria, Visiting Hours, Eating Raoul, Blade Runner (?), The World According to Garp, Vice Squad, Class of 1984, Liquid Sky, Xtro)

Anne Carlisle. Anne Carlisle. Anne Carlisle. (Liquid Sky)

Favorite Characters:
Joanne (Karen Black; Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean), Rose (Kimmy Robertson; The Last American Virgin), Corinne Burns (Diane Lane; Ladies & Gentlemen the Fabulous Stains), Billy Kwan (Linda Hunt; The Year of Living Dangerously), Margaret (Anne Carlisle; Liquid Sky), Dorothy Michaels (Dustin Hoffman; Tootsie), Brad Hamilton & Jeff Spicoli (Judge Reinhold & Sean Penn in Fast Times at Ridgemont High), Peter Stegman (Timothy Van Patten, Class of 1984), Doris the Dominatrix (Susan Saiger; Eating Raoul), Pooh Percy (The World According to Garp), the Skeksis (The Dark Crystal), Pris (Daryl Hannah; Blade Runner)

Least Favorite Characters:
Terry (Saul Rubinek, By Design), Benjy Stone (Mark Linn-Baker; My Favorite Year), Karen (Diane Franklin; The Last American Virgin), Adrienne Barbeau, Creepshow), Jen (Jim Henson; The Dark Crystal), Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman; Tootsie) Eddie (Steve Guttenberg; Diner), Angus (Ross O’Donovan; Starstruck), Jeremy (voiced by Dom DeLuise; The Secret of NIMH), Peter Stegman (Timothy Van Patten, Class of 1984), Vinnie Durand (Joe Spinell; The Last Horror Film) everybody in Hey good lookin, Paulie (Burt Young; Rocky III), Sabine (Béatrice Romand; Le Beau Marriage), Victor (Bill Gunn; Losing Ground)

Favorite Performances:
Karen Black (Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean Jimmy Dean), Henry Thomas (E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial), Anne Carlisle (Liquid Sky), Jack Nicholson (The Border), Diane Lane (Ladies and Gentlemen the Fabulous Stains), Linda Hunt (The Year of Living Dangerously), Diane Keaton (Shoot the Moon), Jon Voight (Lookin to Get Out), Sandy Dennis (Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean), Dana Hill (Shoot the Moon), Michael Ironside (Visiting Hours), Michael Moriarty (Q), Kimmy Robertson (The Last American Virgin), Winifred Freedman (The Last American Virgin), Robin Williams (The World According to Garp), Lawrence Monoson (The Last American Virgin), Ellen Barkin (Diner), Christopher Reeve (Deathtrap), Jack Lemmon (Missing), Lesley Ann Warren (Victor Victoria), Michael Keaton (Night Shift), Sylvester Stallone (First Blood), Raul Julia (One from the Heart), Christopher Walken (Who Am I This Time?)


liquid-sky-11(Liquid Sky)

“You know how to dial, don’t you? You just put your finger in the hole, and make tiny little circles” (Rachel Ward in Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid)

“The promise of Hollywood is not action, but illusion” (Illusions)

Peter Stegman: Face the music… teacher teacher.
Mr. Norris: Wait a minute, you’re in this class. Sit down.
Peter Stegman: [gives him the finger] Sit on this, motherfucker.
Andrew Norris: What’s the matter with you?
Peter Stegman: What’s the matter with you? What’s the matter with me? What’s the matter with matter?
(Class of 1984)

(Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains)

George: You played a tomato for 30 seconds – they went half a day over schedule because you wouldn’t sit down.
Michael: Of course. It was illogical.
George: YOU WERE A TOMATO! A tomato doesn’t have logic. A tomato can’t move.
Michael: That’s what I said. So if he can’t move, how’s he going to sit down, George?
(Sydney Pollack and Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie)

“You know you have an amazing knack for holding onto the thread of a conversation”
(Victor to his wife Sara in Losing Ground)

“You must be dead, because I don’t know how to feel. I can’t feel anything anymore.”(Henry Thomas, E.T)

“You always remember the wrong things”
(Shoot the Moon)

“I realize it’s best to live through stories before creating them”
(Godard’s Passion)

“Making love to your daddy is a rare and beautiful thing”
(Shoot the Moon)

Jeff Spicoli: No shirt, no shoes…
Jeff and Stoner Buds: No dice! Ohhhh.
Brad Hamilton: Right. Learn it. Know it. Live it.
(Fast Times at Ridgemont High)

“I think Dorothy is smarter than I am”
(Michael (Dustin Hoffman) in Tootsie)

“Why are you pushing me?”
(Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) in First Blood)

“You know, if you’re in a jam he’s probably the best guy to have around. Even though he probably put you in the jam to begin with”
Burt Young talking about Jon Voight in Lookin to Get Out

(A Question of Silence)

Boogie: What’s your name?
Jane: Jane Chisolm, as in the Chisolm Trail? (rides off on horse)
Boogie: What fucking Chisolm Trail?
Fenwick: You ever get the feeling there’s something going on we don’t know about?

“He made fun of me in front of everybody, including myself”

“We have to articulate ourselves, otherwise we would be cows in the field”
(Werner Herzog, Burden of Dreams)

“I just killed Mr. Leech, you know, Mr. Leech from the bank!”
“Yeah well I just stepped on Mr. Snail from the garden”
(Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov in Eating Raoul)

25 Favorite Images of 1982 Films:
(no order; most function as still images I love, but unsurprisingly many are served better within the context of the film and/or movement)

Blade Runner
Losing Ground
The Last American Virgin
The World According to Garp
Der Fan (Trance)
White Dog
Identification of a Woman
One from the Heart
Toute une nuit
Tenebre (the motion of this shot is critical to its greatness)
One from the Heart
Godard’s Passion
Godard’s Passion
Time Masters
The Last Horror Film
Shoot the Moon
Rocky III
Personal Best
Next of Kin
Liquid Sky
La Truite
Friday the 13th Part 3
Five Element Ninjas
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains

Top Ten By Year: 1982 Poll Results


Previous Top Ten By Year Polls: 1925, 1958, 1978, 1992, 1930

Poll Rule Reminders: Participants could vote for up to 10 films; no more, but certainly less. Order was not required since it had no bearing on the results.)

Note: If you voted for The King of Comedy, Koyaanisqatsi, Le pont du nord, Road Warrior, Pennies from Heaven, The Entity, Stalker, or Das Boot, those votes did not count towards the final tally. To keep consistency with awkward titles that have two years associated with it, I disqualified them here (though they still appear in your individual ballots) because I consider them to be from other years.

I am slowly wading my way through 1982, which is rewarding but also exhausting in how relentlessly downbeat the year is as a whole. Saving the films I’m most excited to see for last is, in hindsight, a terrible plan. I should spread those out, right? Right.

With about 60% of the 1982 watchlist left to go, I decided to enact the (film twitter) famous poll. Seeing everyone’s votes is both an opportunity for me to make any final additions or deletions to my watchlist, and to use the enthusiasm with which people represent their favorites as fuel moving forward.

First off, thank you so much to everyone who voted! 1982 has the late 20th century reputation of 1939, considered this high water mark in cinema (a reputation I’m personally at odds with). Unsurprisingly, the number of participants in this poll far exceeded the others. 210 people voted for 194 different films! The invigorating thing about 1982 is the spectrum found within the individual ballots. More than any other year I’ve done, or may ever do, 1982 exemplifies a precise moment in history where several key genres (mainly sci-fi, fantasy, teen movie, slashers) are operating at peak exposure. And they are surrounded by all manner of other films, most prominently late-career oddities and/or extravagant projects from auteurs. I really thought it would be a much tighter race between E.T, Blade Runner, and The Thing. But The Thing proved to be the film that transcends all taste and preferences.

Taking into account the Internet oversaturation of lists/listicles, I hope it’s clear that this project is anything but tossed off. The Top Ten By Year Project is an effort to reclaim what I love about lists in the first place. Seeing what makes the collective top ten is a lot of fun, but may I direct your attention to the full breakdown of votes and the individual ballots? My hope with these polls is that, in addition to planting seeds of anticipation for the related posts to come (What I’ll Remember About the Films of 1982: A Love Letter, Favorite Shots, and the Top Ten. Poster Highlights for 1982 can be found here), they mainly serve as a resource for anyone looking for new films to watch whether it’s from seeing:

a. what ‘Film Twitter’ collectively loves
b. more importantly, the films towards the bottom of the list, the ones you’ve never heard of that are begging for (re)discovery.
c. the individual ballots from people whose taste and knowledge you value

Surprises? Disappointments? General thoughts? Leave your thoughts on the poll in the comments section! (“oh hey, people voted for Shoot the Moon. What’s that?”)


POLL RESULTS – Top Ten By Year: 1982

1. The Thing (Carpenter / US) – 138 votes
2. Blade Runner (Scott / US)- 122 votes
3. E.T. The Extra-terrestrial (Spielberg / US) – 88 votes
4. Tootsie 
(Pollack / US) – 65 votes
5. Fanny and Alexander (Bergman / Sweden) – 64 votes
6. Fitzcarraldo (West Germany / Herzog)- 61 votes
7. Poltergeist (Hooper / US) – 56 votes
8. The Verdict (Lumet / US) – 53 votes
9. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (Heckerling / US) – 47 votes
10. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Meyer / US) – 39 votes


35 votes:  White Dog
32 votes: Diner 
30 votes: Tenebrae
26 votes: Veronika Voss
24 votes: First Blood, Tron 
23 votes: Victor/Victoria, 48 Hrs., Burden of Dreams, The Dark Crystal
22 votes: Missing 
21 votes: My Favorite Year, The Secret of NIMH
20 votes: Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean
18 votes: Querelle, One from the Heart
17 votes: Halloween III: Season of the Witch, Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains, Conan the Barbarian
16 votes: Sophie’s Choice, Gandhi, Creepshow, Pink Floyd: The Wall
15 votes: Rocky III
12 votes: Eating Raoul, Toute une nuit, The Draughtsman’s Contract, Passion
11 votes: Cat People, The Atomic Cafe, Moonlighting
10 votes: Shoot the Moon, The World According to Garp, An Officer and a Gentlemen
9 votes: Frances, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, Night Shift, Le beau mariage, Identification of a Woman, Q: The Winged Serpent, Deathtrap
8 votes: The Last Unicorn, Made in Britain, The Snowman, Liquid Sky
7 votes: Basket Case, Chan is Missing, Une chambre en ville, Annie, Losing Ground
6 votes: Grease 2, Boat People, Night of the Shooting Stars, The State of Things, Smithereens, The Year of Living Dangerously
5 votes: Too Early / Too Late (Trop tôt/Trop tard), Starstruck, On Top of the Whale, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Ashes & Embers, Airplane II: The Sequel, Honkytonk Man, The Plague Dogs, Pieces, Yol
4 votes:  A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy, New York Ripper, Class of 1984, Britannia Hospital, Time Masters, L’ange, Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip
3 votesIllusions, Vice Squad, Five Element Ninjas, Personal Best, Legandary Weapons of China, Hammett, Labyrinth of Passion, Slumber Party Massacre, Living Dead Girl
2 votes: The Last American Virgin, Megaforce, Evil Under the Sun, Friday the 13th Part 3, Beastmaster, Zapped, Angel, Ana, A Question of Silence, Time Stands Still, Tex, Human Highway,  Trance (Der Fan), Thunder, Gauche the Cellist, Nomad, The Border, The Sword and the Sorcerer, Porky’s, The Green, Green Grass of Home, Barbarosa, The Return of Martin Guerre, Swamp Thing
1 vote: Madman, Brimstone & Treacle, Death Wish II, Bonjour, Mr. Lewis, La nuit de Varennes, Fall Guy, Firefox, One Man’s War, Carry On Pickpocket, Gold, Silver Death, Bad Blood, The Worthlessm Arcadia of My Youth , The Issa Valley, Humongous, Wend Kuuni, Dimensions of Dialogue, The Man from Snowy River, Macbeth, The Miracle Fighters, Austeria, Ninja in the Dragon’s Den, Tempest, Urgh! A Music War, The Toy, Peel:, An Exercise in Discipline, The Adventures of Monica’s Gang, Il diaglo di Roma (Roman Dialogue), An Egyptian Story, Parsifal, Le Père Noël est une ordure (Santa Claus is a Stinker), 66 Scenes from America, Who Am I This Time?, Unconscious London Strata, The Outsider, Reassemblage, I, the Jury , The Who at Shea Stadium doc, Shift, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Room 666, De beeldenstorm, Visiting Hours, Scénario du film Passion, Jinxed!, P’tang, Yang, Kipperbang, Vincent, Le bête lumineuse, Fighting Back, Five Year Diary / Going Crazy, Amityville II: The Possession, Vernon, Florida, Sorceress, Inchon, Monkey Grip, Block H (Caged Women), Radio Adios, We of the, Never Never, Once There was a Dog, 1900: The Bronx Warriors, Banana Joe, Night Warning, The Simple-Minded Murderer, A Man When he is a Man, En rachâchant, Family Business, Invocation, Interrogation, Making Love, Space Adventure Cobra, The Beehive, The Dreamers (fragments), Visita ou Memórias e Confissões, The Chorus, Silent Rage, Himala, The Grey Fox, Android, The Escape Artist


@notjustmovies (Jake Cole of Not Just Movies, Movie Mezzanine, Slant, etc.):
1. Blade Runner 2. The Thing 3. Fanny and Alexander 4. Tenebre 5. Scénario du film Passion 6. Fitzcarraldo 7. Passion 8. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains 9. The Wrath of Khan 10. Halloween III

Fall Guy, White Dog, Veronika Voss, Querelle, Toute une nuit, The Thing, The King of Comedy (does not count), Cat People, Nomad, Thunder, Boat People

The Thing, Blade Runner, Fabulous Stains, Eating Raoul, Come Back 5/Dime, Fitzcarraldo, Android, Basket Case, Veronika Voss, Koyannisqatsi (does not count)

Une Chambre en Ville and Fast Times at Ridgemont High

1. ET 2. Fast Times 3. Verdict 4. Poltergeist 5. Dark Crystal

The Thing, Missing, Blade Runner, King of Comedy (does not count), Fitzcarraldo, Burden of Dreams, Poltergeist, Fanny & Alexander, Gandhi, Verdict

@timothyeraw (Tim Evans of Verite, CineOutsider and Grolsch Film Works):
1. The Thing 2. The King of Comedy (does not count) 3. Come Back to the Five & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean 4. Das Boot (does not count) 5. A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy 6. Cat People 7. Conan the Barbarian 8. The Border 9. Sophie’s Choice 10. Diner

Diner, Fast Times, Tootsie, Pennies f Heaven (does not count), My Favorite Year, Missing, Fanny & Alexander, Personal Best, Verdict, Year of Living Dangerously


@crolinss (Caroline Madden)
The Thing, E.T., Tootsie, An Officer and a Gentleman, Diner, King of Comedy (does not count), Poltergeist, The Secret of Nimh, 48 Hrs., Sophie’s Choice

The Last Unicorn, E.T, Tootsie, An Officer and a Gentleman, The Secret of NIMH, Pennies from Heaven (does not count), Poltergeist, Conan the Barbarian, My Favorite Year, Deathtrap

Fanny & Alexander, Victor/Victoria, The Verdict, ET, Tootsie, Blade Runner, Missing, Death Trap, Sophie’s Choice, Fast Times

1. Fanny and Alexander 2. Das Boot (does not count) 3. Tootsie 4. An Officer and a Gentleman 5. Victor/Victoria 6. Frances 7. Sophie’s Choice 8. Annie 9. Gandhi 10. Tron

Tenebre, The Thing, Blade Runner, The Living Dead Girl, Halloween III, Cat People, Smithereens, Veronika Voss, Losing Ground, The New York Ripper

Blade Runner, Too Early/Too Late, Le pont du nord (does not count), The Thing, The King of Comedy (does not count), Koyaanisqatsi (does not count)

@HouseofSparrows (David Robson)
Creepshow, The Dreamers (fragments), Identification of a Woman, My Favorite Year, Querelle, The State of Things, Tempest, Tenebre, Urgh! A Music War, White Dog

Blade Runner/Come Back to the 5& Dime/The Thing/Fitzcarraldo/Eating Raoul/Le Beau Mariage/Tenebre/Veronika Voss/Starstruck/Moonlighting

Blade Runner, Conan the Barbarian, E.T., Gandhi, Missing, My Favorite Year, Pink Floyd The Wall, The Thing, Tootsie, The Verdict

Deathtrap, Silent Rage, Mad Max 2 (does not count), Poltergeist, Blade Runner, The Thing, World According to Garp, My Favorite Year, Halloween 3, Tenebre

@DavidBlakslee (David Blakslee of Criterion Reflections, Criterion Cast):
Atomic Cafe, Blade Runner, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, Fanny & Alexander, Fitzcarraldo, Ghandi, Koyaanisqatsi (does not count), Pink Floyd: The Wall, Tron and World According to Garp

Blade Runner, Frances, Labyrinth of Passion, Missing, Poltergeist, Querelle, Sophie’s Choice, Tootsie, Tron, Victor/Victoria

ET, Poltergeist, Verdict, Live on the Sunset Strip, Blade Runner, The Thing, Night Shift, My Favorite Year, Creepshow, 48hrs

TOOTSIE, Sophie’s Choice, E.T. the Extraterrestrial, An Officer and a Gentleman, Gandhi


ET, Tootsie, The Thing, Shoot the Moon, Victor/Victoria, Poltergeist, Creepshow, Night Shift, Deathtrap, Last American Virgin

@jslaterwilliams (Josh Slater-Williams, writer for Little White Lies, Vague Visages, etc)
Blade Runner, Cat People, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, The Draughtsman’s Contract, Halloween III: Season of the Witch, Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains, One from the Heart, Secret of NIMH, Shoot the Moon, The Thing

Vice Squad, The Last Unicorn, The Verdict, Space Adventure Cobra, Rocky 3, Arcadia of My Youth, Class of 1984
, 48 Hrs, Halloween III, I, The Jury

Eric Backer (Facebook user)
, Blade Runner, Pink Floyd The Wall, Tootsie, The Thing , The King of Comedy (does not count), Missing, The Verdict, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The World According to Garp

Salim Garami (facebook)
Blade Runner, Koyaanisqatsi (does not count), The Thing, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Fanny and Alexander, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Fitzcarraldo, Burden of Dreams, Conan the Barbarian, Fast Times at Ridgmont High


@theangrymick (Donald G. Carder)
The Atomic Cafe, Barbarosa, The Beehive, The Grey Fox, Night of the Shooting Stars, The Return of Martin Guerre, Shoot the Moon, The Sword and the Sorcerer, White Dog, We of the Never Never

recollective (tumblr user)
E.T., On Golden Pond (does not count), Tootsie

Cinematicgestures (tumblr user)
Pennies From Heaven (does not count); The Verdict; Tootsie; Koyaanisqatsi (does not count), E.T.; The Thing; Tron; The Secret of NIMH; Fast Times at Ridgemont High; Blade Runner

First Blood, E.T, The King of Comedy (does not count), A Man When he is a Man, The Thing, The Green, Green Grass of Home

Victor/Victoria, Deathtrap, Tootsie, Evil Under The Sun, Friday the 13th 3

Querelle, blade runner, the thing, victor/victoria, veronika voss, tenebre, labyrinth of passion, un chambre en ville, tootsie, e.t

Rocky III, Poltergeist, ET, Blade Runner, The Thing, The Verdict

Creepshow, Poltergeist, Pink Floyd – The Wall, The Thing, First Blood, Conan the Barbarian, Rocky III, Blade Runner, Tron, E.T.

Fanny and Alexander, The Thing, E.T., Blade Runner, Diner, Poltergeist, Missing, 48 Hours, Conan the Barbarian, Eating Raoul

1) E.T., 2) STALKER (u.s. release) (does not count) 3) BLADE RUNNER, 4)ROAD WARRIOR (does not count) 5)THE THING, 6)BURDEN OF DREAMS, 7)FITZCARRALDO, 8)MISSING

The Draughtsman’s Contract, Fitzcarraldo, Toute une nuit, La Notte di San Lorenzo (Night of the Shooting Stars), Les Maitres du temps (Time Masters), Plague Dogs, Tenebre, The Thing, Tootsie, White Dog

Blade Runner, Wrath of Khan, The Thing, Secret of NIMH, Rocky 3, Gandhi, Tron, Dark Crystal, King of Comedy (does not count), Plague Dogs

Poltergeist, E.T., Blade Runner, The Thing, The Secret of NIMH, Tootsie, Ladies and Gentleman, the Fabulous Stains
, Burden of Dreams, Victor/Victoria, White Dog

Tootsie, The Thing, The Verdict, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Blade Runner


Poltergeist; 48 Hours; Tootsie; State of Things; Wrath of Khan; Hammett; Verdict; ET; Fanny & Alexander; Road Warrior (does not count)

Jinxed!, White Dog, Bonjour Mr Lewis, En rachâchant, Querelle, Made in Britain, Visita ou Memorias…, King of Comedy (does not count), Tenebre

Swamp Thing, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Chan is Missing, The Thing, Fitzcarraldo, Tenebre, Poltergeist, Fanny & Alexander

Swamp Thing, Porky’s, Megaforce, Zapped, The Beastmaster, Q, Amityville 2, Grease 2, Sorceress, Inchon


The Verdict, 48 Hours, Fitzcarraldo, The Entity (does not count), Das Boot (does not count), Road Warrior (does not count), The Thing, Officer & A Gentleman, Fast Times, Tootsie

Blade Runner, The Thing, Boat People, Yol, King of comedy (does not count), The Simple-Minded Murderer, Made in Britain, Himala, Pink Floyd: the Wall

Koyaanisqatsi (does not count), The Draughtsman’s Contract, Liquid Sky, Blade Runner, Beastmaster, Halloween III, Fitzcarraldo

Too Early, Too Late, Passion, Identification of a Woman, Le beau mariage (A Good Marriage), The Thing The King of Comedy (does not count) Querelle, Fanny & Alexander

The Thing, Blade Runner, Tootsie, Koyaanisqatsi (does not count), Identification of a Woman, Veronika Voss, The Verdict, My Favorite Year, Diner

Blade Runner, The Thing, 48 Hrs, The Verdict, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, Draughtsman’s Contract, Angel, Tootsie, Q, Diner

Blade Runner, Tootsie

Victor Victoria, Honkytonk Man, Fast Times at Ridgemont, Night of Shooting Stars, Passion, Blade Runner, Green Grass of Home

@armenioja (Joe Armenio)
The King of Comedy (does not count); The Verdict; Family Business (Tom Cohen); The Thing; Une chambre en ville; Koyaanisqatsi (does not count), Too Early, Too Late; The Draughtsman’s Contract; Fitzcarraldo; Veronika Voss

King of Comedy (does not count), The Thing, Radio Adios, ID of a Woman, Querelle, Der Fan, Block H (Caged Women), One from the Heart, White Dog, Tenebre

@selfstyledsiren (Farran Nehme, the Self-Styled Siren of Film Comment, NY Post, author of Missing Reels):
Fanny & Alexander, Shoot the Moon, Tootsie, Diner, ET, Victor/Victoria, My Favorite Year, Evil Under the Sun, Moonlighting & Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean

@paolocase (Paolo Kagaoan)

Basket Case, Blade Runner, Creepshow, The Dark Crystal, Eating Raoul, First Blood, Fitzcarraldo, Poltergeist, Tenebrae, The Thing

@toro913 (Milan Terzic)
blade runner, fanny and alexander, koyaanisqatsi (does not count), fitzcarraldo, missing, moonlighting, thing, e.t. Diner, tootsie

Blade Runner, Eating Raoul, Fanny & Alexander, The New York Ripper, Night Warning, Pieces, Q, Tenebre, The Thing, Veronika Voss

E.T., Blade Runner, The Thing, Creepshow, Tootsie, Fanny & Alexander, The Dark Crystal, Fitzcarraldo, Star Trek II, Fast Times

@bwestcineaste (Alex Heeney, writer for Seventh Row)
Gandhi, Missing

@tmibugbee (Teo Bugbee, writer for MTV News)
Koyaanisqatsi (does not count), Burden of Dreams, Fitzcarraldo, One from the Heart, The Atomic Café, Grease 2, Poltergeist, Frances, Querelle, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid

@sarahnwondrland (Aunt!)
my favorite year, ladies and gentlemen, the fabulous stains, fast times at ridgemont high, blade runner, making love, veronika Voss, dark crystal, diner, poltergeist, night shift

@suspirialex (Alex Heller-Nicholas, writer, editor at Senses of Cinema, author of Rape-Revenge Films: A Critical Study and more)
Tenebre, The Draughtsman’s Contract, The Living Dead Girl, White Dog, Pieces, Querelle, Veronika Voss, Monkey Grip, Identification of a Woman, Le beau mariage, First Blood

@SabinaStent (Sabina Stent, of sabinastent.com, author of The Hollywood Surreal)
Come Back to the Five & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, Tootsie, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy, The Snowman, Diner, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The Dark Crystal, Tenebre, Frances

Markusmaria (WordPress user)
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Blade Runner, Fanny & Alexander, Conan the Barbarian, The Verdict, The Thing, The Last Unicorn, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, 48 Hrs., The Secret of NIMH

Theo (WordPress user)
Fanny and Alexander, My Favorite Year, Yol, Diner, Tootsie, Blade Runner, Shoot the Moon, Liquid Sky, Toute Une Nuit, The Night of the Shooting Stars

randomyriad (WordPress user)
Blade Runner, Pennies from Heaven (does not count), The Dark Crystal, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, The Verdict, Hammett, Fanny and Alexander, Fitzcarraldo, Annie

The Thing/Blade Runner/Fast Times At Ridgemont High/Fitzcarraldo/Veronica Voss/Secret of Nimh/

Sue Cyr (Mom):
My Favorite Year, The Snowman

@cinementalist (Kyle Stevens, Film professor, editor of New Review of Film and Television Studies)
Victor/Victoria, Querelle, Labryinth of Passion, Deathtrap, King of Comedy (does not count), Sophie’s Choice, Fanny and Alexander, Koyaanisqatsi (does not count), Veronika Voss, Tootsie

@ohrachelleigh (Rachel Leigh of ohrachelleigh.com):
Blade Runner, Gandhi, Sophie’s Choice, Fanny and Alexander, Victor/Victoria, Cat People, E.T., Pink Floyd: The Wall, An Officer & a Gentlemen, Britannia Hospital

@Jee_vuh (Jeva Lange)
Smithereens, The Last Unicorn

ghostof82 (wordpress)
1. Blade Runner 2. The Thing 3. Conan the Barbarian 4. First Blood

@adam_the_k (Adam Kuntavanish, director of Special Features and Sr. Staff Critic at Next Projection):
Blade Runner, Burden of Dreams, Chan is Missing, Diner, Eating Raoul, Ladies & Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains, Moonlighting, Poltergeist, The Thing, White Dog

@cruyffbedroom (of the They Shot Pictures podcast and The Next Thing):

Blade Runner, Fanny and Alexander, E.T., The Thing, The King of Comedy (does not count), The Snowman, Star Trek II, The Dark Crystal, Fitzcarraldo & Tenebre

@alexyoungen (Alex Youngen):
The Who at Shea Stadium doc, Blade Runner, The Thing, Wrath Of Khan, Veronika Voss, 66 Scenes of America, Burden Of Dreams, Koyaanisqatsi (does not count), Death Wish II, The Verdict

Blade Runner, Conan the Barbarian, Das Boot (does not count), Diner, Poltergeist, The Road Warrior (does not count), Star Trek II, The Thing, Tootsie, Victor / Victoria

Matt (BFF):
E.T, The Thing, Blade Runner, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Poltergeist, Halloween III, Creepshow, Airplane 2, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains, The Snowman

theapplauseofbones (tumblr user)

@olivia8K (Alice Reilly-Gold)
Fanny and Alexander, Blade Runner, The Verdict, My Favorite Year, The Last Unicorn, The Secret of NIMH, The Thing, Deathtrap, Passion, Victor/Victoria

Dark Crystal, The Last Unicorn, E.T., Wrath of Khan, Poltergeist, The Thing, Blade Runner, Tron, Fast Times at Ridgemont High

_K_Kriheli (Kenneth Kriheli)
1) Fanny&Alexander 2) The Thing 3) ET 4) White Dog 5) Fast Times at Ridgemont High 6) Sweeney Todd 7) A Midsummer Nights Sex Comedy 8) Poltergeist 9) Room 666 10) Frances

Blade Runner, Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, Fanny and Alexander, Fitzcarraldo, Identification of a Woman, Querelle, Tenebre, The Thing, White Dog, Yol

The Verdict, Diner, Tootsie, Gandhi, Shoot the Moon, Missing, Blade Runner, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, My Favorite Year, Frances

Fitzcarraldo, The Thing, Poltergeist, E.T., Blade Runner, White Dog, Halloween III, Tenebre, Ladies & Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains, Q: The Winged Serpent

Boat People

Blade Runner, The Thing, Missing, Sophie’s Choice, Moonlighting, The Year of Living Dangerously, Dark Crystal, Interrogation, King Of Comedy (does not count), Victor Victoria

@soft_dread (Madeline)
Illusions (Dash), Invocation (Halpern), Tenebre, Living Dead Girl, The Chorus (Kiarostami), The Thing, Ashes and Embers, Draughtsman’s Contract, The Entity (does not count), Blade Runner (good year for shorts)

@rachel_is_here (Rachel West)
The Thing, Poltergeist, E.T, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The Secret of NIMH, Blade Runner, Fitzcarraldo, Sophie’s Choice, The Last Unicorn, Gandhi

E.T., The Thing, Gandhi, Pink Floyd: The Wall, Creepshow & lesser choices Fast Times, Rocky III, Blade Runner & Tootsie

@BimboMovieBash (Charlotte)
The Dark Crystal, ET, The Thing, The world according to garp, Brimstone and Treacle, Tron, Basket Case

Poltergeist, Tootsie, The Thing, Sophie’s Choice, Victor/Victoria, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, Frances, Bladerunner, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid & ET

Le Beau Mariage, Come Back to the Five & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, Deathtrap, ET, Fast Times, Fitzcarraldo, Burden of Dreams, Officer and a Gentleman, Tootsie, The Verdict

Night of the Shooting Stars, Burden of Dreams, Pieces, The Thing, Five Elements Ninja, Losing Ground, Fitzcarraldo, L’Ange, Koyaanisqatsi (does not count)

@mhcovill (Max Covill)
Blade Runner, E.T, Fanny and Alexander, Koyaanisqatsi (does not count), The Thing, Poltergeist, Wrath of Khan, Gandhi, Tron, Road Warrior (does not count)

@Cinematic_Life (of This Cinematic Life):
E.T., Tootsie, Secret of NIMH, Fanny & Alexander, Missing

1 Blade Runner 2. The Thing 3. Wrath of Khan 4. E.T 5. Fanny and Alexander 6. The Verdict 7. Gandhi 8. 48 Hrs 9. Poltergeist 10. First Blood

The Thing, The Verdict, 48 Hours, Rocky III, Missing, Eating Raoul, Airplane II, Tootsie, Bladerunner, Atomic Café

48 Hrs, Zapped, The World According to Garp, Night Shift, Angel, First Blood, Das Boot (does not count), Diva (does not count), Diner, The Verdict

@ScribeHard (Michael Nazarewycz)
E.T., Fast Times at Ridgemont High, First Blood, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains, The Last American Virgin, Night Shift, An Officer and a Gentleman, 48 Hrs.

The Thing, ET, Poltergeist, First Blood, Tootsie, Koyaanisqatsi (does not count), White Dog, Eating Raoul, Star Trek II and (fuck it) Airplane 2

Fitzcarraldo, Fanny and Alexander, The King of Comedy, White Dog, Burden of Dreams, The Thing, Passion, Veronika Voss, The Outsider

Hivesofbees (tumblr username)
poltergeist, la nuit de varennes, diner, fitzcarraldo, une chambre en ville, veronika voss, come back to the five and dime jimmy dean jimmy dean, fanny & Alexander

Blade Runner, Das Boot (does not count), E.T., The Escape Artist, A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy, Poltergeist, Star Trek 2, The Thing, Tron, The Verdict


@UnpluggedCrazy (Arlo J. Wiley of the Gobbledygeek podcast):
Fanny & Alexander, ET, Diner, The Thing, Sophie’s Choice, The Verdict, Chan Is Missing, Tootsie, Fast Times, King of Comedy (does not count)

MM: Road Warrior (does not count), Atomic Cafe, ET, Koyaanisqatsi (does not count), Blade Runner, The Verdict, Gandhi, Dark Crystal, Fanny & Alexander, Tootsie

Blade Runner, Diner, Fast Times at Ridgemont, King of Comedy (does not count), Veronika Voss, Ragtime (does not count), Koyannisqatsi (does not count), Night Shift, ST2-Khan, The Thing

1) Veronika Voss 2) ET 3) The King of Comedy (does not count) 4) The Thing 5) Fitzcarraldo 6) One from the Heart 7) Diner 8) Blade Runner 9) An Officer and a Gentleman 10) White Dog

The Thing, ET, Blade Runner, Fast Times at Ridgemont, First Blood, Rocky III, Fitzcarraldo, The Verdict, Diner, King of Comedy (does not count)

1. P’tang, Yang, Kipperbang 2. Fanny and Alexander 3. Koyaanisqatsi (does not count) 4. Blade Runner 5. The Thing 6. E.T 7. Fitzcarraldo 8. Made in Britain 9. The Verdict 10. Liquid Sky

@BuddyBoyBaxter (Mason Daniel)
1. Blade Runner 2. The Snowman 3. Koyaanisqatsi (does not count) 4. The Thing 5. The King of Comedy (does not count) 6. Fitzcarraldo 7. The Dark Crystal 8. Tootsie 9. E.T 10. Vincent

@jaimegrijalba (Jaime Grijalba):
Atomic Café, Creepshow, Eating Raoul, E.T., Fitzcarraldo, King of Comedy (does not count), Passion, The Thing, Tootsie, On Top of the Whale

@E_Film_Blog (Michael Ewins):
1. Toute une nuit 2. Fitzcarraldo 3. Blade Runner 4. Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean 5. White Dog 6. The King of Comedy (does not count) 7. The Thing 8. Basket Case 9. Fast Times at Ridgemont High 10. The New York Ripper

the thing / the king of comedy (does not count) / blade runner / halloween III / the slumber party massacre

@Kza (Kent. M. Beeson):

BLADE RUNNER, KOYAANSIQATSI (does not count), and ET

The Thing, Koyaanisqatsi (does not count), Une Chambre en ville, Blade Runner, Fanny &Alexander, White Dog, Peel: An Exercise in Discipline

1. E.T 2. Blade Runner 3. The Thing 4. The Secret of NIMH 5. Star Trek II 6. Fitzcarraldo 7. The Verdict 8. Road Warrior (does not count) 9. Rocky III 10. Burden of Dreams

@flipyourface (Jim Gabriel)
Diner, Fanny and Alexander, 5 and Dime, Made in Britain, Moonlighting, Shoot the Moon, Time Stands Still, Tootsie, Personal Best, Querelle

Starstruck, Halloween III, Liquid Sky, Tenebrae, Poltergeist, The Thing, Pieces, Cat People, The Entity (does not count), Class of 1984

@SchmanthonyP (Brian Schmid!):
1. Fanny and Alexander 2. The Draughtsman’s Contract 3. The Snowman 4. Gandhi 5. Toute une nuit 6. Tootsie 7. Poltergeist 8. An Egyptian Story 9. My Favorite Year 10. The Wall

the thing, tenebre, veronika voss, on top of the whale, fitzcarraldo, fanny & alexander, smithereens, q, cat people, une chambre en ville

@ME_Says (Murtada of ME Says):
Tootsie, Victor/Victoria, Officer/Gentleman, Diner, Blade Runner, Porky’s, Year of Living Dangerously, Querelle

@BarnesOnFilm (Daniel Barnes of Sacramento News and Review):
1. One from the Heart 2. Fitzcarraldo 3. E.T 4. The Thing 5. Rocky III 6. The Verdict 7. Tootsie 8. Poltergeist 9. Burden of Dreams 10. Fast Times

@FernandoFCroce (Fernando F. Croce of CinePassion):
Passion, Toute une Nuit, The Thing, One from the Heart, Honkytonk Man, White Dog, Q, On Top of the Whale, Parsifal, Yol


1. Koyaanisqatsi (does not count) 2. The Thing 3. Blade Runner 4. The Entity (does not count) 5. E.T 6. Mad Max 2: Road Warrior (does not count) 7. Tootsie 8. Fast Times at Ridgemont High 9. Poltergeist 10. Tenebre

Amanda (BFF!)
Blade Runner, E.T, The Dark Crystal, The Snowman, Losing Ground

Adam (irl friend!)
Fanny and Alexander, Tootsie, Poltergeist, Fitzcarraldo

E.T., Poltergiest, Grease 2, Blade Runner, Star Trek II, Annie

@labuzamovies (Peter Labuza, Author of Approaching the End, host of The Cinephiliacs. Critic for Variety, Village Voice, etc):
1. Five Year Diary/Going Crazy 2. E.T 3. Shift 4. The Thing 5. Illusions 6. Yol 7. Come Back to the Five & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean 8. On Top of the Whale 9. One from the Heart 10. The World According to Garp

@alexkittle (Alex Kittle of alexkittle.com and 366 Weird Movies):
Eating Raoul, Grease 2, Halloween III, King of Comedy (does not count), Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains, Liquid Sky, Poltergeist, Smithereens, Starstruck, The Thing

@48ONIRAM (Brian!)
Blade Runner, Fitzcarraldo, The Thing, Tron, The Dark Crystal, Creepshow, Basket Case, My Favorite Year, The State of Things, The Verdict

@dallasshaldune (TJ Duane):
1. Fanny & Alexander 2. Fitzcarraldo / Burden of Dreams 3. Blade Runner 4. Missing 5. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial 6. The Thing 7. Identification of a Woman 8. Veronika Voss 9. Sophie’s Choice 10. Tootsie

@derek_g (Derek Godin):
The Thing, Blade Runner, King of Comedy (does not count), Fitzcarraldo, Koyaanisqatsi (does not count), White Dog, Legendary Weapons of China, First Blood, Time Masters, My Favorite Year

@thefilmtemple (Max B. O’Connell of The Film Temple, Indiewire):

1. Who Am I This Time? 2. Fanny & Alexander 3. Losing Ground 4. The World According to Garp 5. Poltergeist 6. The Thing 7. Star Trek Wrath of Kahn 8. White Dog 9. Blade Runner 10. One from the Heart

@BernardoVillela (co-founder of Miller-Villela, writer/director/editor/blogger)
E.T, The Evil Dead (does not count), Honkytonk Man, Fanny and Alexander, Annie, The Adventures of Monica’s Gang, Halloween III, Stalker (does not count), Creepshow, The Toy

@juvie_cinephile (Juvie!!!)
The Thing, Veronika Voss, One from the Heart, Querelle, White Dog, Five & Dime, Fanny & Alexander TV, Ridgemont High, Made In Britain, and Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains

Blade Runner, Fanny & Alexander, Shoot the Moon ,48Hrs, The Thing, One From the Heart, Tootsie, The Verdict, Diner, Sophie’s Choice

10. Fitzcarraldo 9. First Blood 8. Ladies and Gentlemen the Fabulous Stains 7. Boat People 6. Chan is Missing 5. Fanny and Alexander 4. White Dog 3. Ashes and Ember 2. Human Highway 1. The Thing

@PeterAPeel (Peter Avellino)

Blade Runner, The Draughtsman’s Contract, Fanny and Alexander, Human Highway, The Wall, Richard Pryor, Passion, Wrath of Khan, The Thing, Toute une nuit

48 Hrs, Bad Blood (Newell), Eating Raoul, E.T, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Fitzcarraldo, Made in Britain, The Thing, The World According to Garp, The Worthless

@CocoHitsNewYork (Conrado Falco of Coco Hits New York):
Fitzcarraldo, E.T.

@adamhopelies (Adam Batty, Lecturer and founder of Hope Lies At 24 Frames Per Second):
Le Pont du Nord (does not count), Le beau mariage, Passion, One from the Heart, State of Things, Hammett, Halloween III, Time Masters, King of Comedy (does not count), Cat People

@rosstmiller (Ross Miller of Thoughts on Film):
Blade Runner, The Thing, Creepshow, The Verdict, Poltergeist, E.T., Airplane II, Tron, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Missing

@HighStakes92 (Richard Harris)

Blade Runner, The Thing, Poltergeist, ET, Tron, First Blood, Friday the 13th pt 3, Night Shift, Star Trek 2, Megaforce

@DanSchindel (of danschindel.com, Los Angeles Magazine, Movie Mezzanine, etc.):
Fanny and Alexander, Ashes & Embers, First Blood, The Plague Dogs, The Snowman, The Thing, Wrath of Khan, Conan the Barbarian, The Atomic Café, Illusions

@redroomrantings (Justine A. Smith of Vague Visages, Vice Canada, and Globe Arts):
1. Blade Runner 2. Fanny & Alexander 3. Burden of Dreams 4. Le bête lumineuse 5. White Dog 6. Veronika Voss 7. Come Back to the Five & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean 8. Fitzcarraldo 9. The Secret of NIMH 10. The Thing

@bybowes (Danny Bowes of Film School Rejects):
48 Hrs, Blade Runner, Liquid Sky, Querelle, Smithereens, Wrath of Khan, The Thing, Tootsie, The Verdict, The Year of Living Dangerously

@r_emmet (R. Emmet Sweeney of Movie Morlocks):
Moonlighting, Victor/Victoria, Le beau mariage (A Good Marriage), On Top of the Whale, Firefox

Losing Ground/Blade Runner/Made in Britain/Question of Silence/Querelle/Too Early Too Late/Burden of Dreams

@IAmNotTrevor (Trevor Dobbin of Trevor Writes)
1. The Thing 2. Wrath of Khan 3. Blade Runner 4. Toute une nuit 5. Fanny & Alexander 6. The Wall 7. Godard’s Passion 8. Five Element Ninjas 9. Tenebre 10. Halloween III

@PaulBoyne (Paul Boyne of Infinite Crescendo)
1. Wrath of Khan 2. Poltergeist 3. Blade Runner 4. Tootsie 5. The Thing 6. The Draughtsman’s Contract 7. Koyaanisqatsi (does not count) 8. Secret of NIMH 9. Pink Floyd: The Wall 10. The Dark Crystal

@oldfilmsflicker: (Marya Gates of @tcm and @FilmStruck, Cinema Fanatic, creator of #AYearWithWomen & #Noirvember)

1. Blade Runner 2. Fanny and Alexander 3. Fitzcarraldo 4. The Thing 5. Burden of Dreams 6. Koyaanisqatsi (does not count) 7. The Atomic Café 8. First Blood 9. The Verdict 10. E.T

@SilverEmulsion (Will Kouf of Silver Emulsion)
The Thing, E.T, First Blood, Fast Times, Conan the Barbarian, Dark Crystal, White Dog, Madman, Five Element Ninjas, Richard Pryor Sunset Strip

Tootsie, The Thing, Blade Runner, The Secret of NIMH, TRON, First Blood

@sailor_P00N (Ashley! of Pussy goes Grrr)
One from the Heart, The Thing, Visiting Hours, Annie, Halloween III, The Slumber Party Massacre

@Blumez (Alec Blumenthal)
1. Fanny and Alexander 2. Fast Times at Ridgemont High 3. Burden of Dreams 4 .Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip 5. The Plague Dogs 6. Once there was a Dog 7. The King of Comedy (does not count) 8. Blade Runner 9. Vernon, Florida 10. First Blood

@eyeshakingking_ (Keefe Murphy):
1. Trop tôt, trop tard (Too Early / Too Late) 2. Ana 3. Toute une nuit 4. Passion 5. L’ange 6. Reassemblage 7. Unconscious London Strata 8. Il diaglo di Roma 9. De beeldenstorm 10. Identification of a Woman

Tron, The Sword & the Sorcerer, Moonlighting, Britannia Hospital, Last Unicorn, State of Things, Barbarosa, Tex, Fanny & Alexander, The Border

ET, The Thing, Wrath of Khan, Blade Runner, Pink Floyd: The Wall, King of Comedy (does not count), Halloween III, Tron, Poltergeist, First Blood

@SeanMBurns (Sean Burns of Spliced Personality, etc)
1. E.T 2. 48 Hours 3. Blade Runner 4. Star Trek II 5. Fast Times at Ridgemont High 6. Come Back to the Five and Dime 7. Rocky III 8. The Thing 9. Honkytonk Man 10. Poltergeist

Blade Runner, The Thing, First Blood, White Dog, The Verdict, My Favorite Year, Diner, Tenebrae, ET, Fast Times at Ridgemont High 

@milanpaurich (Milan Paurich)
1. E.T. 2. One From the Heart 3. Come Back to the 5 + Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean 4. Diner 5. Sophie’s Choice 6. Time Stands Still 7. Cat People 8. The Thing 9. Poltergeist 10. The Road Warrior (does not count)

@railoftomorrow (Scott Nye, writer and podcast co-host at CriterionCast, etc.):
1. Fanny and Alexander 2. The Thing 3. Blade Runner 4. Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean Jimmy Dean 5. Fitzcarraldo 6. White Dog 7. The Verdict 8. Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan 9. Tootsie 10. Une chambre en ville

Poltergeist, Pink Floyd: The Wall, Shoot the Moon, Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, ET, Grease 2, Halloween 3, Fanny & Alexander, Britannia Hospital, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains

@FCardamenis (Forrest Cardamenis of Forrest in Focus, Spectrum Culture, The Film Stage, and Movie Mezzanine):
Veronika Voss, Losing Ground, The Issa Valley, Macbeth (Tarr), Toute Une Nuit, Austeria (Kawalerowicz), Moonlighting, Fanny & Alexander, Blade Runner, and King of Comedy (does not count)

@jamesblakeewing (James Blake Ewing of Cinema Sights):
Blade Runner, Koyaanisqatsi (does not count), The Thing, Creepshow, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, E.T., Tootsie

@glazomaniac (Sally Jane Black):
a question of silence, dark crystal, personal best, god’s gift (wend kuuni), ashes & embers, starstruck. new york ripper, fanny & alexander, querelle, slumber party massacre

@Honors_Zombie (Scout Tafoya, filmmaker and critic):
The Thing, Fanny and Alexander, Blade Runner, Poltergeist, The Verdict, Identification of a Woman, Diner, Missing, Humongous, Britannia Hospital

@JakeMulligan (Jake Mulligan of Dig Boston and The Boston Globe):
1. The Thing 2. Fitzcarraldo 3. The Entity (does not count) 4. The King of Comedy (does not count) 5. White Dog 6. Mad Max 2 (does not count) 7. E.T 8. Ladies and Gentlemen the Fabulous Stains 9. Come Back to the Five and Dime Jimmy Dean Jimmy Dean 10. Tenebrae 11. Missing (including #11 bc #3, 4, 6 do not count)

@Cinedaze (Paul Anthony Johnson of Film-Philosophy, Popmatters):
Fanny & Alexander, The Thing, Blade Runner, E.T., Creepshow, Moonlighting, Night of the Shooting Stars, Chan is Missing, Star Trek 2, Tenebre

Tron, Blade Runner, The Thing, Victor/Victoria, Missing, The Fan (Der Fan)

@DianaDDrumm (Diana Drumm of Female Film Critics) 
Poltergeist, Tootsie, Annie, My Favorite Year, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, Grease 2, Best Little Whorehouse, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Victor Victoria, King of Comedy (does not count)

@KHAN2705 (Asif Khan)
Fanny and Alexander, Koyaanisqatsi (does not count), Blade Runner, E.T, Fitzcarraldo, Veronika Voss, Sophie’s Choice

@rgodfrey (Ryan Godfrey):
Blade Runner, Fitzcarraldo, E.T, Tootsie, Missing, Verdict, Secret of NIMH, Chan Is Missing, Fanny & Alexander, Year of Living Dangerously

1. Conan the Barbarian 2. Poltergeist 3. Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan 4. Blade Runner 5. The Thing 6. The Secret of NIMH 7. Tron 8. Pink Floyd: The Wall 9. Airplane II: The Sequel 10. The Dark Crystal

1. ET 2. Blade Runner 3. Fanny & Alexander 4. Fitzcarraldo 5. The Thing 6.The Verdict 7. Tootsie 8. White Dog 9. Poltergeist 10. Burden of Dreams

@astoehr (Alice S. of Pussy Goes Grrr, Movie Mezzanine, etc.):
Blade Runner, Fitzcarraldo, Koyaanisqatsi (does not count), One from the Heart, The Plague Dogs, The Secret of NIMH, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, The Thing, Time Masters, White Dog

@erikgregersen (Erik M. Gregersen):
Blade Runner/White Dog/The Thing/Star Trek 2/Tron/Conan Barbarian/Fanny & Alexander/Q/Legendary Weapons of China/The Verdict

@faithx5 (Jandy Hardesty of The Frame):
The Man from Snowy River, Koyaanisqatsi (does not count), Annie, Blade Runner, The Thing, Atomic Cafe, Secret of NIMH

@TheEndofCinema (Sean Gilman of The End of Cinema; The George Sanders Show, and They Shot Pictures podcasts):
1. One from the Heart 2. Nomad 3. Fitzcarraldo 4. White Dog 5. The Miracle Fighters 6. Boat People 7. The Atomic Café 8. A Good Marriage 9. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial 10. Ninja in the Dragon’s Den

@SebastianNebel (contributor to The Film Experience)
Burden of Dreams -Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid -Fitzcarraldo -Poltergeist -ST2 Wrath of Khan -The King of Comedy (does not count) -The Thing –TRON

@nathanielr (Nathaniel Rogers of The Film Experience)

1. Duel to the Death (does not count) 2. Ana 3. L’Ange 4. Fehérlófia (does not count) 5. Gold, Silver, Death 6. Boat People 7. Thunder 8. Gauche the Cellist 9. Dimensions of Dialogue 10. One Man’s War

@BohemiaStable (Neil Young of Neil Young’s Film Lounge):
1. Veronika Voss 2. The Thing 3. L’ange 4. Tenebrae 5. Moonlighting 6. Basket Case 7. Fitzcarraldo 8. Ladies and Gentlemen the Fabulous Stains

@Serious_Film (Michael Cusumano of Serious Film):
1. Fitzcarraldo 2. The Verdict 3. Tootsie 4. E.T 5. Blade Runner 6. The Thing 7. Fanny and Alexander 8. Diner 9. Veronika Voss 10. 48 Hours

@Doug_Tilley (Boner Vivant of No Budget Nightmares podcast)
The Thing, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, 48 Hours, Q, Tootsie, Blade Runner, Conan, First Blood, Fitzcarraldo, Legendary Weapons of China

@dominicpink (Dominic Pink of A Fistful of Culture)
1. Blade Runner 2. The Thing 3. The King of Comedy (does not count) 4. Fitzcarraldo 5. Koyaanisqatsi (does not count) 6. Burden of Dreams 7. E.T 8. The Verdict 9. Wrath of Khan 10. Poltergeist

The Thing / Burden of Dreams / Cat People / Class of 1984 / The State of Things / White Dog / Veronika Voss / The Verdict / Year of Living Dangerously / Come Back to the Five & Dime Jimmy Dean Jimmy Dean

@bmrow (Bront Morrow):
Come Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, The King of Comedy (does not count), Le Beau Mariage, White Dog, The Thing

@ForgottenFilmz (of Forgotten Films and podcasts Forgotten Filmcast and Walt Sent Me)
The Thing, Star Trek II, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Dark Crystal, ET, Poltergeist, Road Warrior (does not count), First Blood, Rocky III, Tootsie

@MovieNut14 (Anna of Defiant Success)
Shoot the Moon, Victor Victoria, Missing, Diner, The Verdict, My Favorite Year, Frances, The Thing, Blade Runner, Tootsie

@danheaton (Dan Heaton of Public Transportation Snob)
The Thing, Blade Runner, Star Trek II: The Wrath of KHANNNN!!!, Fitzcarraldo, E.T., TRON, The Dark Crystal, Rocky III

@willow_catelyn (of Curtsies and Hand Grenades):
1. The Thing 2. Come Back to the Five & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean 3. Blade Runner 4. Toute une nuit 5. Fast Times at Ridgemont High 6. White Dog 7. Tenebre 8. Fanny and Alexander 9. Conan the Barbarian 10. Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan

@whynotanna (of Start Focus End):
The Thing, Poltergeist, Tron, Rocky III, Creepshow, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Eating Raoul, Night Shift, Pieces, Tenebre

@KinetoscopeFilm (Kinetoscope) 
The Thing, The King of Comedy (doesn’t count), Blade Runner, Creepshow, E.T, Fitzcarraldo, Burden of Dreams, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Class of 1984, Veronika Voss


Vote in the Top Ten By Year: 1982 Poll!


It’s that time again! I’m still less than halfway done with my Top Ten By Year: 1982 research, but I thought it would be a good time to do this. I’ve conducted polls with all you fellow film lovers for some previous years of the Top Ten By Year Project; 1925, 1992, 1958, 1978 and 1930. They have been such a success, and are now an integral part of this project and its traditions.

So tell me (leave your ballots in the comments); what are your favorite films of 1982?

Order doesn’t factor in for results, but you are more than welcome submit them that way. I only want ballots with films you consider favorites. If that means it’s only 1 or 2, that’s perfectly fine!

Films that do not count: The King of Comedy, Koyaanisqatsi, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, The Entity, Diva, Le pont du nord. You are more than welcome to include them on your individual ballots and they’ll appear there, but they won’t be included in the final tally. I consider these films either 1981 or 1983.

I repeat: I don’t want 10 for the sake of 10 or even 5 for the sake of 5. Only the ones you love.

You have a week to vote. Results will go up Monday or Tuesday night. The post will contain, as always, a breakdown of all votes by numbers and individuals. The top ten is always the least interesting part of the poll. Seeing what’s below, discovering films that have there of four votes, seeing what everyone voted for as an individual, that is where the worth of the poll comes in. The poll breakdowns are excellent resources for learning about new-to-you films.

Movie Poster Highlights: 1982

Previous Movie Poster Highlights: 1925, 19301978

Main sources: Film on Paper, Terry-posters, Chisholm-Larsson Gallery, Emovieposter, Wrong Side of the Art

It’s that time again! The content of my year-specific posts deem that they must come after I’ve watched everything planned for any given year. But two of the traditional Top Ten By Year posts can go up any time: Poster Highlights, and the Poll. I’ve taken to putting up the Poster Highlights when I’m a fourth of the way done with my watchlist, while the Poll goes into effect at the halfway mark. And guess what? I’m 25% done with 1982!

It is so very hard to track down the full range of posters from any given year. There are so many different sites, none of them all-encompassing. Then there’s tracking down the artists. Some of these sites have done a great job doing what they can and crediting artists when possible. Every credit given to an artist in this post comes from having seen the name attributed from one of the above sites. About half of these don’t have credited artists (at least that I was able to find).

So these are my favorite posters for 1982 films. I kept it limited to posters made from the time of release. In the case of the Eastern European posters, many of these were made in the mid -to-late 80’s, and I obviously kept them. But in general I stay away from recently made posters for older films, at least for these posts, because I like to concentrate on poster art from the era itself, seeing how films were being advertised in their day, etc.

So many stand-out posters that aren’t represented, because this is simply a collection of my favorites.

(Disclaimer: the accents are missing from credited names, as it wasn’t possible to copy and paste names into the captions)

I’ll go through these based on the groupings I came up with. The first is posters with the COLORS OF THE RAINBOW, a trend that largely crops up when it comes to sci-fi/fantasy fare.

US poster for The Sword and the Sorcerer. Artist: Brian Bysouth
E. Carugati
US poster for Sorceress. Artist: E. Carugati
German poster for The Dark Crystal. Artist unknown. This is the US poster illustration but I was particularly taken with the way the border fits with the content in this one over other versions.
Thai poster for Q: The Winged Serpent. Artist unknown.
tongdee panumas
Thai poster for Tron. Artist: Tongdee Panumas
unknown el cepo
Poster for El Cepo. Artist unknown
US poster for The Last American Virgin. Artist unknown
italian jimmy_bazilli
Italian poster for Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean. Artist: Bazilli.
Japanese poster for Poltergeist 

Speaking of Poltergeist, the now-iconic image of Heather O’Rourke in front of the TV set was very smartly the at its marketing center.


I absolutely love the purple/pink color schemes I found on so many posters for 1982 films. This seems to be a trend in movie posters of the 1980’s. The purple/pink color scheme is applied across many genres, particularly horror.

murder_by_phone unknown
US poster for Murder by Phone. Artist unknown. 
US poster for Night Warning. Artist unknown. Love that this looks like a dollar paperback cover. 
US VHS art for Runaway Nightmare. Designer unknown. 

Here are a trio of posters from the film Android. Two of them incorporate the purple/pink scheme. The other one is just rad.

android_ver2 ernster
US poster for Android. Saw credited to Ernster but found no other info
US poster for Android. Credited to Joann but found no other info
Android_Hungarian_Andras Felvideki
Hungarian poster for Android. Artist: Andras Felvideki

This poster for The Empire Strikes Back was made specifically for the 1982 re-release so I’m counting it:

tom jung_US rerelease
US poster for the re-release of The Empire Strikes Back. Artist: Tom Jung

Last but not least, this 48 Hrs. poster segues nicely into my next grouping:

Brian Bysouth
US poster for 48 Hrs. Artist: Brian Bysouth.


This would phase out later in the 1980’s, replaced by the photogenic faces populating the movie star resurgence, but I suspect that the combination of high-fantasy, sci-fi, chaotic comedies, and teen flicks (not to mention the muscle-bound hero with a scantily clad woman at his side trope) from the era kept this going a bit longer.

richard hescox
US poster for Swamp Thing. Artist: Richard Hescox
creepshow_jack kamen
US poster for Creepshow. Artist: Jack Kamen
US poster for Class of 1984. Artist unknown. 
US poster for Class of 1984. Artist unknown
fast times_UK unknwon
UK poster for Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Artist unknown. 
fast_rod dyer_tie-in poster
Tie-in US poster for Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Artist: Rod Dyer
US poster for Megaforce. Artist unknown.
NightShift_Mike Hobson_US
US poster for Night Shift. Artist: Mike Hobson
US poster for Pink Motel. Artist unknown
eye_of_the_evil_dead_luiz dominguez
US poster for Manhattan Baby (aka Eye of the Evil Dead). Artist: Luiz Dominguez


Next up are posters that incorporate photography or stills in some way, either on their own or with other illustrative poster design techniques.

benjamin baltimore
Poster for Identification of a Woman. Design by Benjamin Baltimore
US poster for By Design. Artist/designer unknown
Dora-Doralina-cartaz José Luiz Benicio Brazil
Brazilian poster for Dora Doralina. Artist: Jose Luiz Benicio. This is my favorite poster of the entire post. 

US poster for I’m dancing as fast as I can. Artist/designer unknown
italian_miss right
Italian poster for Miss Right. Designer unknown
UK poster for The Draughtsman’s Contract. Artist/Designer: Kruddart
German poster for Querelle. Artist: Andy Warhol


Turns out that posters for nudies are some of the greatest things in existence.

COnsenting Adults_unknown
US poster for Consenting Adults. Artist unknown
US poster for Scoundrels. Artist/designer unknown
US poster for The Playgirl. Artist unknown. 

These next two posters were done by Tom Tierney. He’s the man credited with making the paper doll famous! Later in life it seems that he made a good amount of posters for X-rated fare. His work makes up some of my favorite posters ever. The Wanda Whips Wall Street poster is my other favorite in this post, and it’s something I’m determined to own and have on my wall as a proper adult.

US poster for The Playgirl. Artist: Tom Tierney
Wanda_Tom Tierney
US poster for Wanda Whips Wall Street. Artist: Tom Tierney


As is well known, the Czech and the Polish have a near monopoly on incredible, bizarre, head-turning poster art. Here are some of my favorites.

Jan Jiskra_Czech
Czech poster for Frances. Artist: Jan Jiskra
Jan Tomanek_Czech
Czech poster for Fanny and Alexander. Artist: Jan Tomanek
Stanislav Duda_Czech
Czech poster for Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid. Artist: Stanislav Duda
Czech poster for Still of the Night. Artist: Zdenek Vlach


alicja_polish_Andrzej Pagowski
Polish poster for Alicja. Artist: Andrzej Pagowski
Andrzej Pagowski_Polish
Polish poster for Missing. Artist: Andrzej Pagowski 
Jakub Erol_Polish
Polish poster for E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial  Artist: Jakub Erol. I love that E.T. looks like a pervert in this one. 
Lech Majewski_ Marathon Family_Polish
Polish poster for Marathon Family. Artist: Lech Majewski
Ševčík, Vratislav The Racket Polish
Polish poster for The Racket. Artist: Vratislav Sevcik. 
Wieslaw Walkuski_Polish
Polish poster for Spiewy po rosie. Artist: Wieslaw Walkuski 
Wieslaw Walkuski_Polish
Polish poster for Tootsie. Artist: Wieslaw Walkuski
Wlodzimierz Terechowicz_Polish
Polish poster for The Border. Artist: Wlodzimierz Terechowicz


dolinski_bucharest identity card_polish
Polish poster for Bucharest Identity Card. Artist: Dolinski
Hungarian poster for Veronika Voss. Artist: Farang
Ševčík, Vratislav
Polish poster for Veronika Voss. Artist: Vratislav Sevcik
US poster for Veronika Voss. Artist: Vincent Topazio


US poster for Parasite. Artist unknown
US poster for Satan’s Mistress. Artist unknown
tenebre_cesaro don't quote me
Poster for Tenebre. Saw credited to Antonio Cesaro on one site but cannot confirm from more established sources
The Sender_unknown
US poster for The Sender. Artist unknown
Poster for The Draughtsman’s Contract. Artist: Sparacio 
russian for kaamchor_unknown
Russian poster for Kaamchor. Artist unknown. 
smithereens_german_brumm bar
German poster for Smithereens. Artist: Brumm Bar

1982 Watchlist


RW = Rewatch
Added but now shown:
Xtro, Pieces, Friday the 13th Part 3

Top Ten By Year: 1982. I know, I know. 1982? The year everyone, fanboys and cinephiles alike, drool over time and time again. 1982? The year of supposed near-countless riches? Isn’t the whole point of this project to pick what could very broadly and artificially be classified as under-the-radar years? Years I haven’t seen much from, that haven’t been as poked and prodded by the words of others? Well, yes. But there’s another important half to why I choose the years I do, and that is; what films do I want to see, and where do they reside? As it turns out, 1982 lays claim to a significant chunk of films I want to see more than anything else out there, films I’ve been meaning to see for years but haven’t gotten around to. Films like Cat People, One from the Heart, Der Fan, Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, Losing Ground, Smithereens, Personal Best, Starstruck, and Deathtrap. So why not kill nine flies with one slap and then some? So that’s how I arrived in 1982; because it has more films I’ve been itching to see than any other eighties year.

This watchlist is fluid. There’s obviously overlap in the fun-for-me categories, films that could be combined differently or put in other categories. I love categorizing things (while being conscious of the critical difference between categorizing and defining), and these groups help me organize my viewing plans. I don’t watch everything in a category with each other, but I do watch them together. Confused? For example, on Thursday I watched Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid. When I get home from work tonight I plan on watching Diner.

You’ll see some biggies not on here. I have my reasons. Some I’ve seen, some I haven’t and don’t feel obligated to, at least for this project. I’ll drop some of these films along the way. At the beginning, everything seems essential. Right now you’d have to pry The Pirate Movie from my cold dead hands. Three months into this I might feel the opposite. Top Ten By Year: 1982 will undoubtedly take up the rest of 2016. Let the journey begin.

Top Ten By Year: 1930

From In the Picture: Production Stills from the TCM Archives

Previous Top Ten By Year Entries: 
1935, 1983, 1965, 1943, 1992, 1978, 1925, 2005

1930 Coverage:
What I’ll Remember About the Films of 1930: A Love Letter
Top Ten By Year: 1930 – Poll Results 
Movie Poster Highlights: 1930 
100 Images from the Films of 1930 
Favorite Fashion in 1930 Film

A Song in the Dark: The Birth of the Musical Film – Richard Barrios
The Speed of Sound: Hollywood and the Talkie Revolution: 1926-1930 – Scott Eyman
From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies – Molly Haskell

For those unaware of my Top Ten By Year project:
The majority of my viewing habits have been dictated by this project since September 2013. Jumping to a different decade each time, I pick weak years for me re: quantity of films seen and/or quality of films seen in comparison to other years from said decade. I use list-making to see more films and revisit others in a structured and project-driven way. And I always make sure to point out that my lists are based on personal ‘favorites’ not any notion of an objective ‘best’.

Reel talk: 1930, seminal touchstones notwithstanding, is seen as one of the weaker years in cinema. At the very least nobody really talks about it. I like to get feedback on what my followers are interested in seeing, so while debating my next year for this project I presented Twitter with a choice between 1930 and 1934. Only a handful chose 1930. The further 1934 pulled away with the win, the less interested I was in choosing it. And there are no regrets; I’ve learned more about film from 1930 than any other year within the Top Ten By Year Project.

Before settling into what turned out to be six months of 1930 film hibernation, I’d never truly grasped why the resistance to talkies at the time was so staunchly uniform, seen and experienced by the industry as a cultural apocalypse. I’d never fully grasped why so many couldn’t see the possibilities of a revolutionary technology in its infancy. Well, of course the transition would be rough, with many new adjustments, restrictions, and considerations in the mix. But didn’t they see it’d be worth it? Didn’t they see it was the obvious next step in the evolution of cinema?

Richard Barrios writes in his book A Song in the Dark: The Birth of the Musical Film that “the face of hindsight can, quite often, wear an unpleasant sneer”(59). As I sank deeper into hibernation, the patronizing remnants afforded by that cocky over-the-shoulder perspective from the future slipped away. Now I’m quite amazed anyone had the foresight (I’m looking at you Sam Warner) to see sound’s potential and the positive ways it could and would transform product and industry.

This foresight/hindsight angle relates to books that I read about the dawn of sound period (1926-1930), legitimately rocky years that qualify as “one of the most chaotic times in American culture…a time of immense upheaval, enormous change, and a quite singular mix of uncertainty and confidence”(Eyman, 4). Uncertainty because the studios didn’t really consider what sound meant for artistic parameters regarding the technology’s initial suffocating limitations. After Warner Brothers opened the gates to a new frontier, everything was turned upside down as studios rat raced through a “brutal crude transplantation”(Eyman). The process of filmmaking was now made up of “physical claustrophobia, narrative obfuscation, and an unimaginably confusing technical nightmare of crossed cables and purposes”(Eyman). The name of the game became Dialogue, Dialogue, Dialogue. It doesn’t matter what they say, just make the stars say it!

While sound men enjoyed their short reign as set Kings, actors braced themselves for make-it-or-break-it performance reviews in the form of sound tests. It didn’t matter who you were, veteran star or bit player; your entire career was uncertain until pass/fail tested for sound by your studio. Suffice it to say, fear ran rampant. William Haines described this period as “the night of the Titanic all over again” (Barrios, 75). And this from an MGM star! MGM was the most apprehensive studio when it came to sound, and that extra time presumably provided them with a slightly less chaotic stretch than most. Star personas had to be reconfigured and reestablished. Many couldn’t successfully make the leap, most famously John Gilbert, whose catastrophic fall from grace came from being unceremoniously hung out to dry by hackneyed dialogue and poor direction (I’m looking at you Lionel Barrymore). The ever-savvy MGM may have botched Gilbert, but they also made genius publicity out of the ‘what do the stars sound like’ craze, making “Garbo Talks!” the movie event of 1930. While the star machine had a great fall, and tried to put itself back together again, countless young Broadway performers were flown out and audience tested via shorts and features, largely primed for failed movie stardom.

The Movie Musical, the only genre made entirely possible by sound technology, is the industry’s key microcosm from this time. Skipping ahead to 1929, the success of The Broadway Melody spawned a riot (we’re talking endless, folks) of imitators, with little to no creative expansion, quality control, or narrative variety. Stage musicals were adapted left and right with most of the hit songs inexplicably dumped and replaced with forgettable warblings. Song and/or dance scenes remained stuffy and square. There was no frame of reference for putting song and dance on film. Within twelve months, save for a few smash successes like The Love Parade and Rio Rita, musicals went from being the genre du jour to enough already! Now, this sort of thing happens all the time. The rush for product and for more of the successful same. But with a new technology, with musicals that were “obviously conceived in panic and manufactured in ignorance”, this cash sprint re: musicals can be more broadly applied to this brief unsure era (Barrios).

All of this context is to say that 1930 is the year Hollywood shook itself off and regained its footing. By this time, film rhythm and consistency was illustrating that, for all their troubles, Hollywood was on the other side of the sound barrier. The year saw a record film attendance of 110 million (compare that to 65 million in 1928 and 60 million in 1932) (Barrios). Blimps had been developed that allowed cameras to be more mobile, free of their initial soundproof booths. The studios were well on their way towards working with sound-on-film technology as opposed to the cumbersome sync-sound. New film stocks made the monochrome spectrum wider. Formal freedom was still coming around but there was a wild sense of trial-and-error experimentation. In 1930, nearly every musical incorporated Two-color Technicolor to some degree. Some studios were trying out inventions that would live and die within 1930, such as 65-70 mm formats like Magnafilm and Grandeur. Sound films began to step out on the streets and into the wilderness. Genre was like a stacked buffet plate, a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Sci-fi, horror, mystery, and gangster films (The Doorway to Hell really established this one, though the films of 1931 get the credit) were just around the corner, but they crop up in the unlikeliest of places in 1930. Pre-Code hit the salacious stride it continued until the Code’s enforcement four years later. Directors in the US and overseas, such as Hitchcock, Hawks, Grémillon were already experimenting with sound in ways covert and overt. International film industries were catching up, beginning to make their transitions from silent to sound.

Sure, some films from 1930 come across as quaint and static in their awkwardness, but far less than you’d think. Editing rhythms and camera set-ups had loosened up considerably by this time, and it’s easy to see sound film finding its own groove thanks to filmmakers committed to making improvements and trying things out. I’ve learned that stilted is the misguided adjective of choice when it comes to present-day reviews of 1930 films. When films like The Bat Whispers and The Divorcee are described as such, it’s unfortunate and downright perplexing, not just for its falsehood, but because there’s a world of difference between what ‘stilted’ means to modern day cinephiles and what it actually means within the scope of 1930 releases. Watch Let Us Be Gay and then get back to me (whether you’re a fan of this one or not, it’s an excellent encapsulation of what 1930 ‘stilted’ actually looks and feels like).

Time and time again I was beside myself by visual flourishes and caution-to-the-wind spiritedness. Cinematographers were finding ways to navigate and convey exterior worlds. Directors were finding ways to communicate interior worlds. Screenwriters were figuring out how to inject nuance and quality over quantity. Actors were adjusting to the modern and getting at core truths. On their own, many of these films stand tall and proud, but collectively, they lift each other up.

With the advent of sound, many thought something had been irretrievably lost. Perhaps rightly so. Sensuality, fantasy, and the translucent magic of silent cinema needed to be redefined from the ground up. And the films of 1930 begin to show what that would look and sound like for the decades to come.

Nitrate Diva wrote a great piece on 1930, which, I’m honored to say, was inspired by this project! She also includes her 10 picks! It’s a beautifully written portrait of the undiscovered riches of the year. Her prose capabilities are far beyond mine, so please do yourself a favor and check it out!

Biggest Disappointments:
Anybody’s Woman
Her Man
Just Imagine
A Notorious Affair
Not So Dumb

The Five Worst 1930 Films I Watched:
1. Golden Dawn
2. Feet First
3. Romance
4. Free and Easy
5. A Notorious Affair

(bold = first-time viewing, italic =  re-watch)
10 Minuten Mozart (short) Aimless Walk (short),
All Quiet on the Western Front, Animal Crackers, A Notorious Affair, Anybody’s Woman, Au bonheur des dames, The Bat Whispers, The Big House, The Big Trail, Blood of a Poet, The Blue Angel, Borderline, City Girl, Dance of Her Hands (short), The Dawn Patrol, The Divorcee, Die drei von der Tankstelle, The Doorway to Hell, Fast and Loose, Feet First, Follow Thru, For the Defense, Free and Easy, Golden Dawn, Hell’s Angels, Her Man, Just Imagine, King of Jazz, L’age d’Or, Ladies of Leisure, Laughter, Let Us Be Gay, Light Rhythms (short), Liliom, Madam Satan, Mechanical Principles (short), Min and Bill, Monte Carlo, Morocco, Murder!, Mysterious Mose (short), Not So Dumb, Our Blushing Brides, Outward Bound, Paid, La petite Lise, People on Sunday, Prix de beaute, Romance, Street of Chance, Swing You Sinners! (short), The Tale of the Fox, Tomatoes Another Day (short), Under the Roofs of Paris, Way for a Sailor

Honorable Mentions: The Big House, Blood of a Poet, Animal Crackers, Monte Carlo, The Divorcee, Follow Thru, The Dawn Patrol, Morocco, Our Blushing Brides (I have such a fondness for each of these films, it must be said)

RW = Rewatch
FTV = First-time Viewing

au bonheur 444

10. Au bonheur des dames (France/Le Film d’Art/Duvivier) (FTV)
With its go-for-broke commitment to evoking the rhythms of modern Paris, watching Au bonheur des dames feels a little like skydiving without a parachute. Silent film is nearly extinct, the bottom has dropped out, and Julien Duvivier is using everything in his arsenal to send it off in style. I watched this after consuming nearly three dozen 1930 talkies. Though sound films of the year are far less collectively creaky than history gives them credit for, it was still a considerable jolt to be unclipped from the technological constraints of fuzzy sounds and rational worlds.

A minute into ‘Au bonheur’, Denise (Dita Parlo), an orphan arriving in Paris to work for her uncle, is immediately swallowed up by Capital-C Capitalism. A train rushes into the station while feet scurry in all directions, a symphony of urban life’s hurried routine. Denise’s eyes dart everywhere, trying to take it all in as she’s shuffled to and fro, smothered by the crowd of people and superimposed images. The second she exits the station, she notices a plane flying overhead. Flyers are dropped like confetti. She grabs one out of the sky, reads it, and smiles as if she’s just found one of Wonka’s Golden Tickets. It says “Everything You Want at ‘Au bonheur des dames'”. It’s an advertisement for the behemoth department store across the street from her uncle’s failing dilapidated shop. Capitalism is relentless, and giving in makes you feel good.

Lively Soviet montage and overt expressionism coincide with blinking electric lights and aggressive razzmatazz to show “progress” as pervasive. Duvivier utilizes the accumulation of silent cinema stylings for an inadvertent send-off to the now obsolete era. ‘Au bonheur’ is alive and immediate, building to an impossible-to-shake feverish crescendo that thankfully obscures the cop-out ending to follow.

liliom 2

9. Liliom (US/Fox/Borzage) (FTV)
Available on youtube

There are two kinds of spaces in Liliom. The first is inside the carnival. That mockup hallucinatory carnival made of miniatures, dazzling lights, and bustling sounds. It’s a magical space where anything can happen, but only if you keep up. The second is anything outside the carnival, most notably domestic spaces. The carnival is always visible from the outside but the outside is never visible from within. The interiors are spacious, barren, minimalist, surrounded by gaps of frustrated silence. There is a clear delineation between the two. All this to say that Frank Borzage and his collaborators at Fox go to great length to make theatricality modern, presenting a weird vision of fantastical artificiality that easily transitions into the equally weird metaphysical final act. (Let me also take this moment to say that I am a huge fan of early cinematic depictions of the afterlife. By far the most alluring period for this kind of story.)

At the end of Liliom, the Chief Magistrate (H.B. Warner) says this of what he has witnessed: “It’s touching. It’s mysterious”. Simply and succinctly, that’s also Liliom. This is a story about two people who should not be together, but can’t not be together. This is a film that ends with a speech about, to put it bluntly and without context, domestic abuse being okay if it comes from the person you love. But the tragedy of that, and it, are so genuinely and oddly moving. Because this decree of sorts is true for Julie. Liliom is told through a romantically fatalistic lens. Fatalism in the apparent wrongness of the couple. Julie’s (Rose Hobart) only other romantic option is a carpenter named Carpenter who speaks in monosyllabic monotone. He is seemingly alive for the sole purpose of asking Julie (for years and years mind you) if she is free and interested (“No, Carpenter”). This is also a film that resolves with this statement; “The memory of you makes them much happier than you ever could”. Talk about brutal. But Liliom is about the messy complexities of individual truths. The unchangable and unswayable.

The technical achievement and formal ambition of Liliom are two of its defining characteristics. This was the first film to use rear projection, and its use of miniatures is woozily magical. Borzage uses space so well, in part by utilizing blocking and emphasizing body language. The camera has the mobility of a sophisticated silent. Take the feverish moment where Julie and Marie (Mildred Van Dorn) first enter the carnival. The camera actually deserts them, so eager it is to explore the place itself.

Full review here

Laughter 17
8. Laughter (US/Paramount/d’Arrast) (FTV)
Very poor quality version available on youtube

Halfway through Laughter, pals Paul (Fredric March) and Peggy (Nancy Carroll) (the newly married ‘one-that-got-away’) are out and about on a daytime drive (in this scene, Paul impulsively kisses the back of Peggy’s neck while driving and it’s one of the sexiest gestures ever committed to film). Their car suddenly breaks down and, of course, an impromptu rainstorm follows. They seek shelter by breaking and entering, where they promptly begin to roleplay marriage as the ‘Smiths’ (Why? Because why not?). They trade traditional gender roles, with ‘Mr. Smith’ dutifully offering ‘Mrs. Smith’ her slippers and pipe, adding that he baked a strawberry pie for dinner. The pair is oh-so-pleased with their flirtation-as-evasion repartee, but somehow it’s not cloying. Instead, it’s goddamn charming. Eventually, the sequence takes a turn for the weird as Peggy puts on a black bearskin rug from the living room floor (Why? Because why not?), crawling and growling around in circles. Paul, highly amused, quickly joins in by putting on the other bearskin rug (this one white) across the room. Our romantic leads have gone from one kind of pretend to another. This is all part of what is perhaps Laughter‘s most memorable sequence, and it’s indicative of how the film operates as a whole.

Laughter is made up of characters vibing off each other, transforming and controlling (or failing to control) the interior spaces around them. The sequence described above illustrates this. Paul and Peggy take over a foreign space and use it for their make-believes, becoming spouses and wild animals. They drape their wet clothes all over the furniture, and drink coffee in the kitchen while they lounge in their bearskins.

Long-shot dependence tends to indicate stagnancy by 1930 film standards, but in Laughter they are critical, used to establish the importance of spaces in relation to character. Towering Art Deco rooms threaten to isolate characters with lonely wonder until Paul comes in and livens up the joint. Sterile business offices echo with the dependable sound of typewriters. A spacious apartment above a club is overrun with clutter, accompanied by the far-off boozy drawl of horn instruments.

There is an uncommonly natural touch to everything in Laughter. Plot shows its face when summoned, but the characters refuse to be tethered to it. They lead the way, sometimes with spunk, sometimes with somber resignation.


7. Prix de Beauté (France/Sofar-Film/Genina) (RW)
I simply cannot deny Louise. Prix de Beauté is the last European hurrah for my all-time favorite screen presence. After this she’d return to Hollywood, land of bit parts and bankruptcy. She led a long life post-Prix de Beauté, but this is the film that siphons off her celluloid legend. If Louise fills the frame, if the film knows how to showcase her effortless and unaffected mythic energy, down-to-earth and beyond us all with that irrepressible glow, does the film itself matter?

I happen to enjoy the by-turns awkward and arresting Prix de Beauté very much. One of the first sound films made in France (it also has a 1929 silent version), it resembles a rough cut in that, though there’s vision in its organic images, nothing, except Brooks, is completely locked into place. It’s a talkie with an entirely silent sensibility, made possible by the fact that the sound, including dialogue, took place during post-production. This frees up the camera for rambunctious mobility at every turn, and it’s supported by the zeal that drives Lucienne toward her dreams. She wants to participate in a beauty contest, but her boyfriend won’t allow it. With a choice of being owned by her beau or worshiped by the public, she deserves more than both but achieves neither. The famous final sequence, dizzying in its flickering destruction, strikes Lucienne down just as her (screen) life begins. As sound ushers in, Louise Brooks is ushered out, her physical body left behind for something incorporeal, an eerily fitting finale to her immortal image.

Ladies of Leisure 4

6. Ladies of Leisure (US/Columbia/Capra) (FTV)
Available on youtube

Ladies of Leisure features Barbara Stanwyck in her star-making role, the first of several collaborations with Frank Capra. It also happens to be some of her best work and in one of her best films. I’m not used to seeing her this vulnerable, yet this is how the country at large became acquainted with her. Barbara Stanwyck is down-to-earth glamour. Relatable glamour. Even at this very early stage it’s impossible to miss that she is in stark contrast with other actors from her time. This is a woman performing in the ‘now’. Her body language isn’t practiced. She breaks through the conventional with seeming spontaneity. She’s the perfect person for Frank Capra to direct, because in Ladies of Leisure he not only gives her plenty of backlit close-ups defying audiences not to fall in love with her, but devotes an uncommon (for 1930) length of time lingering on confidential and intimate moments that map out Kay’s internal longing.

Despite being based on a play, Frank Capra already shows an adept hand at visual storytelling in addition to fluid pacing. Bypassing sluggishness, even as the film nosedives into the saccharine, there is a clarity and distinct visual perspective supporting Kay’s story.

Take the erotically charged rainy night sleepover that comes mid-film. It’s erotically charged in the silences, in what isn’t happening, in what Kay wants to happen, in what could happen. The pace of this sequence is different than the rest. The situation slowly develops, as Kay gradually allows herself to believe in the possible. It builds to a simple act of kindness that produces the film’s most telling and heartfelt moment. A lone doorknob turns. Footsteps reveal that Jerry the painter (Ralph Graves) has left his room in the middle of the night. He slowly approaches Kay’s bed. In another film the scene would be eerie, bad intentions assumed. Kay is sleeping. Jerry lays a blanket over her and heads back to bed. Close-up on Kay. She wasn’t asleep at all. The camera lingers on her face and closes in further, tears glistening. She pulls the blanket to her mouth. Everything we need to know about Kay occurs in this moment. This simple act of kindness means the world to her, and it has left her shaking and crying with joy.

Critically, Capra foregrounds Kay’s (Stanwyck) love as a character-driven arc rooted in class, lifelong struggle, and hope. You don’t have to buy into Kay and Jerry (and you won’t) to buy into the film. Forget the lame egg basket in whom Kay places said hopes and dreams. Just focus on witnessing a downtrodden woman who, for the first time in her life, experiences what happiness is, what it can mean, and its potential in her own life. The fortuitous union of Barbara Stanwyck’s startling modernism (I still can’t imagine how jarring her vivid physicality must have played for 1930 audiences) and Frank Capra’s intuitive prioritization of the inner life.


5. City Girl (US/Fox/Murnau) (FTV)
Available on youtube 

I’m going to let a couple of paragraphs from Daniel Kasman’s MUBI piece speak for my love of City Girl. Suffice it to say that it is every bit as great as Sunrise, and may just be my personal preference:

“Murnau is realism + poetry, and slimming down his materials to such a leanness as inCity Girl lets his hand water, flower, and blossom every element at his disposal.  You have never seen a city diner in American film, felt its heat, its hubbub, its routine, its turnover, its charm, its tedium and its spunk until you have seen City Girl and you see how Farrel casually meets and unconsciously courts Duncan at the diner counter.  You have never seen the loneliness of life in the city until you see the light of a passing elevated train sputter across Duncan’s face and her tiny potted plant in her cramped apartment. The enchantment of a farm has never been put on film—and perhaps has never been found again—until Ernest Palmer’s camera follows with expressionist joy the gleeful run of the young married couple across the family’s wheatfield upon their arrival.”

king of jazz 84. King of Jazz (US/Universal/Anderson) (FTV)
Since seeing King of Jazz four months ago, it has been restored and has screened at MOMA for their series Universal Pictures: Restorations and Rediscoveries: 1928-1937. There even a book coming out!

King of Jazz was the first of the revue craze of 1929-mid 1930 to enter the planning stage, and the last of the major efforts to be released. It went hugely over-budget (which is abundantly clear while watching), and was released at the wrong time. By the time it finally hit theaters, audiences were thoroughly ‘revued’ out. I hardly have anything to compare it to, but it is said that King of Jazz stands out from others of its kind in every way. Paul Whiteman and his orchestra are the center from which a series of musical numbers and skits revolve. His nickname, the title of the film, seems ridiculous because it is, but also keep in mind that jazz in this time period has a much broader implication. Think of how ‘pop’ is applied today.

Universal threw everything, and I mean everything, into this project. Surely one of the weirdest movies to come out of the Golden Age of Hollywood, it’s also the most elaborate and audacious spectacle film I’ve seen from the early 30’s. It features the first Technicolor cartoon, a shrunken orchestra marching out of a box, a giant larger-than-life scrapbook, ghost brides, the world’s longest bridal veil, extravagant mobile sets, superimposed images and related special effects, and, in what must be the scariest image in 1930’s cinema, Paul Whiteman as a winking moon in the sky. And the whole thing’s in Two-Strip Technicolor to boot.

The conceptual center of the impressive “Melting Pot” finale is what you might guess; promoting diversity while completely whitewashing a convoluted ‘history of jazz’. The pointed absence of African Americans is unsurprisingly everywhere. The one time African culture makes any kind of appearance is the prologue bit to the “Rhapsody in Blue” number, at once breathtaking and troubling. Dressed in Zulu chief garb, dancer Jacques Cartier stands on an oversized drum for a stage. His projected silhouette is made giant on the wall behind him. He begins to dance with direct ferocity. The eroticism of it is hypnotic, but the sexual nature of the thing reeks of the blanket exoticism so often depicted through ‘Otherness’.

King of Jazz works because the Universal team and director John Murray Anderson (Paul Fejos also contributed at some point before leaving) understand that there are different kinds of spectacle. There’s the special effects spectacle, which comes in all forms throughout here. There is also the music-centric spectacle. An early scene features copious close-ups of — not even musicians playing their instruments but something even more up close and personal; instruments being played. Another scene takes a different approach by capturing the interplay between a band and its components. Without cutting, the camera keeps up with the music by quickly panning over to each soloist. Finally, there is the grand scale production spectacle, and boy does it deliver on that front.

Though his rotund self has a welcoming energy, Paul Whiteman seems quite the random figure to construct a film around. But it falls in line with the early sound period trend of bringing in band leaders as well as talent from vaudeville and theater in order to give them film vehicles. Even when it’s boring, it’s not, if that makes sense (I realize it doesn’t. Maybe one day I can describe this sedate sensation). It moves along at such a clip, and its sheer audaciousness coupled with genuine spark makes this a “seen to be believed” kind of film. It’s also beautifully, and I mean beautifully, photographed (Ray Rennahan, one of the film’s three cinematographers, was an innovator in the development of three-strip Technicolor).

tilly losch

3. Dance of Her Hands (short) (US/Nutshell Pictures/Bel Geddes) (FTV)
Available on youtube

Dance of Her Hands features dancer/choreographer/actress Tilly Losch at the height of her lithe powers. This short stages “The Hand Dance”, a collaborative conception between Losch and Hedy Pfundmayr. At the start, Tilly’s head is behind netting while the titular hands take center frame. Her hands lilt and quiver, they scurry and contort. But most of all there’s a palpable yearning to her movements. We soon meet the rest of her, a witchy puppetmaster that casts spells with her digits. Her performance is further abstracted by the pitch black negative space, a presentation that emphasizes the sensual and dislodges Losch from any kind of concrete reality. The hands lead and her body follows. Self-expression manifests as a delicate ache that can only be resolved through movement.

People on Sunday 9

2. Menschen am Sonntag (People on Sunday) (Germany/FilmStudio Berlin/Siodmak, Siodmak, Ulmer, Zinneman) (RW)
Available on youtube 

Menschen am Sonntag looks far ahead to the French New Wave and Italian neorealism. It also looks ahead to the substantial careers of Billy Wilder, Edgar G. Ulmer, Robert Siodmak, Curt Siodmak, and Fred Zinneman. It incorporates a humanistic and carefree take on the city symphony film while keeping with the signatures of New Objectivity. Menschen am Sonntag is notable for near-countless reasons. These distinctions matter, enormously so, but while watching it, you’re too busy basking in the impermanence of its direct sunlight to intellectualize its images.

There’s a special twinkle to films that capture an immaculate specificity of time and place. In Menschen am Sonntag, 1930 Berlin radiates loud and clear, from roaming streetcars and chaotic intersections to now-immortalized store window displays and sparse graffiti. Individual Berliners get snapshots taken, a moment from their random Sunday saved for posterity as they self-consciously stare into the camera. Berlin hustles and bustles with an energy that carries over into the scenic Nikolassee, suggesting that weekend reprieves must be seized upon with a joie de vivre that suggests not a recreational moment should be wasted. The forcefulness of the sunlight matches the youthful characters scene for scene.

There’s a shrewd perceptiveness to how Menschen am Sonntag hones in on the unspoken that goes on between young men and women. The participants may or may not be aware, but a game made of almost imperceptible moments is always in motion. Anything seems possible. These connections are both monumental and fleeting, a coexistence only possible in youth. Glances are had, love is made, betrayal is imminent. All in the same day, all under the surface. Both extraordinary and just another Sunday.

Every once in a while we check back in with Berlin. Annie sleeps all day, surrounded by pictures of movie stars. People sit on benches and look out their windows. Life being lived, or not, all at the same time. Films didn’t convey this in 1930. They don’t even convey it now, though a handful sure as hell try. Recent attempts to examine the scope of everyday life can be found in the ham-fistedness of the hyperlink film. When these work it’s through the scope. The ‘everyday’ part is substituted with melodrama or a deliberate larger-than-life feel. That doesn’t take away from those films; they just have a different prerogative. Conversely, plenty of films capture the everyday of transitory youth but aren’t aiming for that scope. This rare combination demands flexibility in the nonexistence of story, and by floating back and forth from our frolicking quartet in order to incorporate the character of Berlin, Menschen am Sonntag creates magic in reality.

madam satan 222

1. Madam Satan (US/MGM/DeMille) (RW)
As often happens, I’m at a loss when the time comes to describe my love for #1. The following write-up will probably operate as groundwork for something I wish to eventually expand on.

Cecil B. DeMille also had a film on Top Ten By Year: 1925, the outrageously fun time-travel romance The Road to Yesterday. When DeMille isn’t overtaken by his preachy paradoxes, when he finds his brand of balance within the at-times absurd imbalance of his films, you get something that doesn’t exist anywhere else. In 1928, DeMille signed a three-picture deal with MGM. Madam Satan was the second of these films, with Dynamite and The Squaw Man coming before and after respectively. Unsurprisingly, Madam Satan was a major flop, with MGM posting a 390,000 loss. Even then, audiences had no idea what to make of this thing. What was it? What is it? It’s everything, but is it anything?

Madam Satan tends to be regarded as a cuckoo collectible. Oddity, trainwreck, loony, bonkers, bizarre; you get the gist of attributed adjectives. And, yeah, it’s all of those things. My love for this film often defies logic. Hell, outside of “Low Down” the songs aren’t even good (!), and they certainly aren’t helped by the poor sound quality of the era which renders sopranos incomprehensibly shrill. At times it seems like the film is about to indulge itself into oblivion, so caught up it is in exhausting every aesthetic or tonal thread.

(Sidenote: even fans of Madam Satan tend to universally disregard the supposedly “lethal first hour”, a bedroom farce involving the central four characters. I will never understand this (Barrios)! It’s a zany concoction of shade throwing, false niceties, and lots of physical scrambling. It’s actually my favorite section of the film. It also stands as a perfect example of DeMille’s whim for hitting the reset button halfway through one of his pictures.)

Madam Satan could only exist in 1930;  “in its very derangement, it embodies a distinctive trait of original musicals: they tended to treat the medium as a collage of found objects, jamming the most ordinary conventions alongside some truly lunatic notions” (Barrios, 252). This first wave of movie musicals would soon be extinct. The second wave, which came a couple of years later, emerged with already clear-cut delineations between the real (backstage romance) and the unreal (the insular world of a Berkeley number).

A boudoir sex comedy, a disaster film, a remarriage romance, a momentary tribute to electricity, an Art Deco orgy, a misshapen musical. Madam Satan is all of these (like I said, it’s everything, but is it anything? I say yes). Some of these designations will suddenly disappear, the aforementioned boudoir sex comedy for example, but DeMille goes all-in on each one for the duration of its stay. Madam Satan is a case against cohesion. If DeMille wants the zeppelin to crash, doggone it, that zeppelin is going to crash. If he wants to spend twenty minutes on the grand entrances of Adrian-draped costume-ball attendees with names like “Fish Girl” and “Spider Girl”, he’ll do it. The story will catch up when, or if, there’s a moment to breathe. .

The Art Deco sets and costumes, by Cedric Gibbons and Adrian respectively, are used to unite fantasy and glamour. The iconic look created for Kay Johnson’s alter-ego is a sequined nude-illusion for the gods. As archaic as a lot of Madam Satan‘s sexual politics are, this is the image people remember, this presentation of defiant transformation and reclamation. That entrance, with its unintelligible trilling and costume-reveal-as-magic-act, drips with a hard-earned heroic self-regard. It’s easy to forget that Angela has turned herself into a sex goddess superhero to seduce her philandering and entirely unworthy husband back into the fold. But DeMille, in a radical act for the time, strove to make marriage sexy by “daring to suggest that the married woman was as desirable and exciting as the pubescent party girl” (Haskell, 76). So Madam Satan can also add “domestic fantasy” to its resume.

Madam Satan also stars Lillian Roth, one of my silver screen obsessions. A gifted comedienne with a crinkly nose, dimples for days, and a practiced yet untouched vivacity, her Trixie is a pure delight. Weaponed with a “fleshy impertinence”, she brings a humanity to the “other girl”, but not by hiding her vindictiveness (Barrios). Her unapologetic immaturity becomes attributable to age. She’s as spunky as Angela is supposedly dowdy; in fact, it’s hard not to root for her. The rest of the cast is legitimately great. Kay Johnson conveys her piety with sophistication. Reginald Denny is, against all odds, lovable as a womanizing cad. And Roland Young is an idealized Charles Ruggles; a stammering spacey drunk that doesn’t over-chew the scenery or outstay his welcome, and lands genuine laughs to boot.

Madam Satan is one of the first ‘sincere trash’ movies. I wrote about this a little, and hope to expand on it, in regards to my undying love of Valley of the Dolls. There’s an awful misconception that everything has to work in a movie you love, and if it doesn’t, your love derives from the compartmentalization of what works from what doesn’t. That, if you profess your love of something, you have to answer for all the reasons it may or may not fall short (whether that comes from others, yourself, or both). Statements like “the plot’s ridiculous and the ending is shite, but I don’t care, I love it!” or people asking “well how do you account for this?” in response to hearing that you love something.

Sure, OK, sometimes this is how it works. But just as often, it doesn’t. “I don’t care, I love it”? But I do care! I care about all of it! Madam Satan‘s very identity is dependent on its messiness, good or bad, strong or weak, entertaining or dull. Its very existence excites me, lights me up inside. Its camp qualities and, to quote the great Latrice Royale, its romper-room fuckery, is singular, and I crave films that are singular. But make no mistake. Singular alone doesn’t make for the more interesting products of greatness. Just Imagine, also from this year, is singular, and it also sucks. But this, this is an excessive extravaganza of the best kind; an unironically pleasurable proto-spectacle rendering of Kate Bush’s “Babooshka”. Madam Satan is one of the key ways in which the oft-spoken-of magic-of-the-movies registers for me.

This only scratches the surface of why Madam Satan has become one of my favorite films. These scattered thoughts are meant to work through the basics, so I left the details of its lunacy out, for now. I’ll leave the last words to Richard Barrios, who says that “in one clean sweep, it seems to embody the end of the Jazz Age, the collapse of American prosperity, the death throes of early musicals, and, most literally, the flop of this last baroque grasp of twenties frivolity.”(252). Mic drop.

What I’ll Remember About the Films of 1930: A Love Letter

My What I’ll Remember posts are an ongoing tradition in the Top Ten By Year Project. A logbook of sorts, they pay tribute to all the year-specific viewing I’ve done over the past however many months. It also stresses that, while the Top Ten list is the crux of this whole project, it’s really a means to an end. It goes without saying, but the process and journey of watching and re-watching these films is most important. I’ve recently looked back on previous What I’ll Remember posts and they evoke the feeling of a photo album, flipping through filmic memories of all shapes and sizes. Top Ten By Year: 1930 will be up by the end of the month.

Posts in the What I’ll Remember tag: 1925, 1943, 1958, 1965, 1978, 1992, 2012, 2013, 2014

Top Ten By Year: 1930 Coverage
Top Ten By Year: 1930 – Poll Results 
Movie Poster Highlights: 1930 
100 Images from the Films of 1930 
Favorite Fashion in 1930 Film

1930 aka The Year Garbo Spoke and The Year Lon Chaney Died

The oh-so-brief but oh-so-magical forerunners of the widescreen format, the too ambitious for its time 70mm Fox Grandeur film (The Big Trail, Song o’ My Heartand MAGNAFILM (The Bat Whispers)

As much as anything else, for me 1930 is The Year of Lillian Roth. She is one of my favorite screen presences and esoteric pop culture figures of all time, a gifted comedienne with a crinkly nose and a practiced yet untouched vivacity. Her initial film career only lasted from 1929-1930, and 1933. She only appeared in 13 feature length films across her lifetime. Five of those were in 1930 when she was 20 years old.  They were The Vagabond King, Honey, Paramount on Parade, Madam Satan, Animal Crackers, and Sea Legs.

The bedroom farce that is Madam Satan, the disaster film that is Madam Satan, the awkward musical that is Madam Satan, the outrageous and doomed masquerade party on a zeppelin that is Madam Satan, the rekindled love story that is Madam Satan. In short; Madam Satan

LetUsBeGay11May I Present The Dull As Fuck Leading Man Brigade of 1930: 
Rod la Rocque (Let Us Be Gay), Douglass Montgomery (Paid), Chester Morris (The Divorcee), Clive Brook (Anybody’s Woman), Charles Starrett (Fast and Loose), Gavin Gordon (Romance), Jack Buchanan (Monte Carlo), Ralph Graves (Ladies of Leisure), John Garrick (Just Imagine), Ben Lyon (Hell’s Angels)

Spotting Ann Dvorak, another all-time favorite of mine, as a chorus girl in Free and Easy

(actors in their feature film debut in something more substantial than extra/bit part):
Spencer Tracy (Up the River), James Cagney (Sinners Holiday, The Doorway to Hell), Miriam Hopkins (Fast and Loose), Jean Harlow (Hell’s Angels), Laurence Olivier (The Temporary Widow), Irene Dunne (Leathernecking), Bing Crosby (King of Jazz), Herbert Marshall (Murder!), Una O’Connor (Murder!), Rose Hobart (Liliom), Una Merkel (The Bat Whispers, Abraham Lincoln, etc.)

the big trail 7The American West in The Big Trail 

MGM starlets playing characters named Jerry/Gerry – can we please bring back this trend? (Norma Shearer in The Divorcee, Joan Crawford in Our Blushing Brides)

The sing-song jury meeting scene in Murder!

Failed Bids for Sustained or Successful Hollywood Fame
(mostly musical-based careers, not exhaustive):
Marilyn Miller, Lawrence Tibbett, Vivienne Segal, John McCormack, Fanny Brice, Dennis King, Winnie Lightner, Paul Gregory, Zelma O’Neal, Helen Kane, Betty Boyd, Bernice Clare, Sharon Lynn, Jeanette Loff, Alice White, James Hall, The Sisters G, Ona Munson (later character actress), Claudia Dell, Charlotte Greenwood, Norma Terris, Ethelind Terry

The sequence in Follow Thru when Jack Haley and Eugene Pallette sneak into the girls locker room to steal a ring. They come up with hand signals. They pretend to be plumbers. The girls are in various stages of undress. It all builds to a moment of perfect anarchy

The Rise Of:
Marlene Dietrich, Robert Montgomery, Marie Dressler, Wallace Beery, William Powell, Barbara Stanwyck, John Wayne, Kay Francis, Helen Twelvetrees, Ann Harding, Jean Harlow

Two-Strip Technicolor! (Follow Thru, King of Jazz, portion of Hell’s Angels)

The sheer existence of King of Jazz, the most elaborate and audaciously overproduced spectacle film I’ve ever seen from the Golden Age of Hollywood


hell's angels
The privilege of seeing Jean Harlow in color and with natural eyebrows (Hell’s Angels). Also realizing that tomboy Jean Harlow is the most attractive Jean Harlow

The last year before the modern movie genre begins to get in formation, allowing for a final round of bizarre and unrepeatable genre hybrids (Madam Satan, Liliom, The Bat Whispers, King of Jazz, Just Imagine)

Knowingly playing with artificiality (Murder!, Liliom, The Blue Angel)

The unintentional meta symbolism of Louise Brooks’s onscreen death in Prix de Beauté

the big trail 3The eye candy that is John Wayne in The Big Trail 

Movies Interacting with Other Movies:
Joan Crawford in MGM’s Paid going to see MGM’s Let Us Be Gay in the theater, Fast and Loose playing Follow Thru’s “Peach of a Pear” in the background during a scene, King of Jazz giving a shout-out to Universal’s upcoming All Quiet on the Western Front

♫♫”Look out, look out the dumb police are on your trail”♫♫ (Liliom)

♫♫ We’re going somewhere
We’re going nowhere
We’re going everyyyyywhere ♫♫
(Madam Satan)

Meta Moments:
(Murder!, Die drei von der Tankstelle, The Bat Whispers, Free and Easy)

Alfred Hitchcock using Murder! as a platform to blatantly experiment with sound from all conceivable angles

Jean Grémillon using La petite Lise as a platform to inconspicuously experiment with integrating sound as tapestry

Loaded glaring and ample cowardice in The Big House 

Howard Hawks using sound in The Dawn Patrol as a platform for more natural dialogue and an immersion into the communal and isolated male experience of wartime

Realizing I’d much rather see an all-male story over a film that clearly wants to be an all-male story but throws a woman in the mix that it has zero time or respect for
(The Dawn Patrol and All Quiet on the Western Front vs. Hell’s Angels and The Big House

Scary Images of 1930 Cinema:
Chester Morris’s shadowy confrontational glare (The Bat Whispers), Paul Whiteman as a winking moon (King of Jazz), Jack Haley’s spastic eyebrows (Follow Thru), the creepy man-baby (King of Jazz), Emil Jannings: The Humiliated Clown (The Blue Angel), Buster Keaton: The Humiliated Clown (Free and Easy)

Electric fans as plot point! (Anybody’s Woman)

My first wholly depressing experience with Buster Keaton’s trademark bassoon baboon talkie moron in Free and Easy. The humiliations endured by Keaton here are a special level of cruel, not to mention that he’s forced to act in an MGM film within an MGM film

Learning to appreciate Chester Morris when his characters operate outside the confines of the typical romantic lead (The Bat Whispers, The Big House as opposed to The Divorcee)

People on Sunday 2
The four central day-trippers in People on Sunday are great and all but I’m all about Annie (Annie Schreyer), the beautiful lazy loafer who sleeps all weekend

The Dawn Patrol > All Quiet on the Western Front > Hell’s Angels 

Finding eroticism and profundity in rain and simple gestures (Ladies of Leisure)

American sound films that feel refreshingly free from the pressures of plot
(Laughter, The Dawn Patrol, King of Jazz, Animal Crackers)

Ahh Golden Dawn, a movie with bottomless racism and a song (“A Tiger”) that features a woman singing about explicitly wanting a man to straight-up beat her

Getting to watch one of my favorite men, Robert Montgomery, in his early career mode of sexy cad (Our Blushing Brides, The Divorcee, Free and Easy)

That damn car horn in Die drei von der Tankstelle 

One of my favorite niche genres in film: Department Store Gals (Our Blushing Brides, Au bonheur des dames)

That kiss in Morocco

The unforgettable schizophrenic feeling of Borderline 

Uncle hits a breaking point in one of the most unsettling and feverish sequences in silent cinema (Au bonheur des dames)

The Fall Of:
(once major stars declining in popularity or quality of work, either momentarily or permanently)
Clara Bow, John Gilbert, Al Jolson, Corrine Griffith, Norma Talmadge, Charles Farrell, Mary Pickford, Dolores Costello, Buster Keaton, Douglas Fairbanks

the dawn patrol 8Douglas Fairbanks Jr’s adorably playful drunken interaction with the German officer who shot him down in The Dawn Patrol 

The way Kent (Robert Montgomery) is used to subvert audience expectations in The Big House

The radical modernity and spontaneity of Barbara Stanwyck’s performance in Ladies of Leisure

Herbert Marshall looking like a straight-laced Jack Lemmon in Murder!

Everywhere, Everywhere, Miniatures Everywhere:
(including but not limited to Ladies of Leisure, Liliom, Madam Satan, Murder!, The Bat Whispers, Under the Roofs of Paris, Outward Bound)

Haunting child deaths (L’age d’Or, The Doorway to Hell, Blood of a Poet)

Doorway to Hell 6My favorite moment in The Doorway to Hell: Doris (Dorothy Mathews) is talking on the phone to Mileaway (James Cagney) about how lame Louie (Lew Ayres) has become now that he’s removed himself from gangster life. Then Louie comes in wearing the above outfit and says “I’m a fine golfer”

The rigorous tailoring of Marlene Dietrich’s image is born in the short time between filming The Blue Angel and Morocco (though American audiences saw Morocco first)

Marjorie Rambeau playing a kindly pitiful drunk (Her Man) and a wretched pitiful drunk (Min and Bill)

Watching the incredible aerial footage of Hell’s Angels knowing that several pilots died because of Howard Hughes’s unstoppable ambition

The tiresome trend of introducing unrelated low comedy subplots to lighten things up (Min and Bill, The Big Trail, Her Man, Golden Dawn)

The formal rule-breaking of the prison sequence in La Petite Lise

Running through the wheat fields in City Girl

Tale of the Fox (2)
The staggering stop-motion animation of Le Roman de Renard (The Tale of the Fox). Figures, flow, range of expression. Like watching Fantastic Mr. Fox eighty years before the fact

The Claire Denis-esque way that Tilly Losch’s dance and body movements are shot in the short Dance of the Hands 

Great Character Names:
Tripod McMasters (Wallace Beery; Way for a Sailor) Mrs. Bouccy Bouccicault (Marie Dressler; Let Us Be Gay), Amy Jolly (Marlene Dietrich; Morocco), Mileaway (James Cagney; The Doorway to Hell) Pansy Gray (Ruth Chatterton; Anybody’s Woman), Arabella Rittenhouse (Lillian Roth; Animal Crackers), Dulcinea Parker (Marion Davies; Not So Dumb) Countess Olga Balakireff (Kay Francis; A Notorious Affair), Lem Tustine (Charles Farrell; City Girl)

Being hypnotized by the close-up movement of gears in the avant-garde short Mechanical Principles 

Esme Percy’s ‘half-caste’ homosexual drag performer killer in Murder!

The messy but unshakable loyal friendship between Morgan and Butch (Chester Morris and Wallace Beery) in The Big House

Wanting to live in the proto-French New Wave romantic bloom of People on Sunday and its immaculate footage of 1930 Berlin

three good friends 3

The angle of this shot, which takes place during a song, should give you a sense of how sophisticated and ahead of its time Die drei von der Tankstelle is within the context of ‘1930 musical’

Mops/Mopsi; Lilian Harvey’s nickname for her father in Die drei von der Tankstelle

Jean Cocteau’s trademark surrealist special effects, showing us a portal to another world and a statue that clings to its maker in Blood of a Poet 

Being reminded that The Blue Angel disturbs me more than most films

norma9Norma Shearer going full dowdy (Let Us Be Gay)

The bleak ending of Street of Chance, with an unseen level of implied violence that makes way for the much more famous ending of 1931’s The Public Enemy 

Films with a leftover from silents; intertitles
(including Anybody’s Woman, The Big Trail, Liliom, Follow Thru, A Notorious Affair, Not So Dumb)

A Notorious Affair 2Kay Francis giving interior life to her intoxicating Countess vamp in one of the worst films I’ve ever seen (A Notorious Affair). Her work, and the above image, deserve so much better

Sound films that don’t capitalize on dialogue, instead using sound as an extension of silent film (Prix de beaute, L’age d’Or, La petite Lise, The Blue Angel, Blood of a Poet. Basically; the non-American films)

The confirmation that I don’t much care for the two most canonized films of 1930, L’age d’Or and The Blue Angel

nutshellThe Nutshell Pictures Corporation logo, which features an animated dog pissing into a plant (Dance of Her Hands)

Busby Berkeley choreography appears on film for the first time ever in Whoopee!

Discovering the sassy greatness that is Marie Prevost. Once a leading lady, by 1930 (because of weight gain and alcohol abuse) she was relegated to the goofy “best friend” roles which she used to steal every film she appeared in (Paid, Ladies of Leisure, War Nurse

Only in an MGM film would a character have an art deco loft hidden in a tree (Our Blushing Brides)

Josef von Sternberg’s trademark absolute submission to love and desire in The Blue Angel and Morocco. The former filled with despair, the latter with triumph and a dash of hope.

Speaking of, the incredible final scene and shot of Morocco. The radical act of linking up with a group of women following their men into the desert and the unknown

Rooting with all my heart for Lem and Kate (Charles Farrell and Mary Duncan) in City Girl 

Doorway to Hell 51930’s James Cagney is as sexy as sexy gets in case you needed to be reminded (The Doorway to Hell)

Frances Marion dominating the early world of talkie screenwriting with credits for Min and Bill, Anna Christie (adapted by), The Rogue Song, Let Us Be Gay (continuity and dialogue), Good News (scenario), and for being the first woman to win a non-acting Oscar for her work on The Big House.

The use of interior space in Laughter

monte carlo 10Jeanette MacDonald going bonkers and rustling up her precious hair in Monte Carlo

Favorite Characters: Kate (Mary Duncan; City Girl), Douglas Scott (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.; The Dawn Patrol), Lola Lola (Marlene Dietrich; The Blue Angel), Annie (Annie Schreyer; People on Sunday), Paul Lockridge (Fredric March; Laughter), Countess Olga Balakireff (Kay Francis; A Notorious Affair), Trixie (Lillian Roth; Madam Satan), Jimmy Wade (Roland Young; Madam Satan), Dot Lamar (Marie Prevost; Ladies of Leisure)

Least Favorite Characters: Jack Martin (Jack Haley; Follow Thru), Professor Emmanuel Rath (Emil Jannings; The Blue Angel), Andre (Georges Charlia; Prix de beaute), Mr. Tustine (David Torrence; City Girl), Paul Gherardi (Basil Rathbone; A Notorious Affair), everyone in Golden Dawn, Count Rudolph Falliere (Jack Buchanan; Monte Carlo)

Laughter 11Fredric March suddenly kissing Nancy Carroll behind the neck while driving in Laughter, one of the sexiest gestures ever committed to film

The sketchy but catchy “Trimmin’ the Women” song in Monte Carlo 

Proto-screwball comedies (Not So Dumb, Fast and Loose)

The mock-up symbolic hallucinatory carnival in Liliom

The most unintentionally hilarious bit from any 1930 film (Golden Dawn)

The forgotten and incomprehensible mega-fame of El Brendel (Just Imagine, The Big Trail, Her Golden Calf, New Movietone Follies of 1930).

Orgasm from hair treatment in Monte Carlo  

Based on a Play (Paid, Romance, Fast and Loose, The Bat Whispers, Liliom, Ladies of Leisure, Follow Thru, Murder!, A Notorious Affair, Animal Crackers, Her Man (well, kind of), Not So Dumb, Let Us Be Gay, Outward Bound)

paid 4The revelation that Joan Crawford is, at least in Paid, a dead ringer for Sigourney Weaver

The onscreen persona of Wallace Beery amounts to a real-life Baloo the Bear (The Big House, Way for a Sailor, Min and Bill). He manages the impossible by remaining lovable even when talking about his murder rap or domestic abuse. A rare gift that.

 The distinct hilarity Miriam Hopkins wrings out of “I’m sorry” is the epitome of what makes her so great (Fast and Loose)

♫♫ She wanted to take it further
So she arranged a place to go
To see if he
Would fall for her incognito  ♫♫
(Madam Satan & “Babooshka” by Kate Bush)

The wholesome sex comedy is born with Follow Thru 

Marie Dressler beating the piss out of Wallace Beery and tearing apart his room in Min and Bill 

Laughter 16Fredric March casually drinking coffee in a polar bearskin rug in Laughter 

The wordless sequence in which Jerry (Norma Shearer) allows herself to be illicitly seduced by playboy Don (Robert Montgomery) in The Divorcee

The names of the party guests in Madam Satan (Miss Conning Tower! Mr. and Mrs. Hot & Tot! Mr. & Mrs. High Hat! Miss Victory! Miss Movie Fan! Fish Girl!)

The “I Want to Be Bad” number in Follow Thru


“I’ve balanced our accounts”
(Norma Shearer in The Divorcee, talking to her husband about her promiscuity)

“I know now how a man feels about these things”
(Norma Shearer in Let Us Be Gay, talking to her husband about her promiscuity)

“It’s that coin that makes them so sassy Cassidy”

“I’m an orchid and he wants to change me into a lily” (Barbara Stanwyck in Ladies of Leisure)

“I never knew you had pale blue eyes. I hate pale blue eyes. Funny, I never noticed it before” (Kay Francis in A Notorious Affair)

Ted: “Who’s the man?”
Jerry: “Oh, Ted, don’t be conventional!”
(Chester Morris and Norma Shearer in The Divorcee)

“The memory of you makes them much happier than you ever could”
(The Magistrate in Liliom)

“What are you doing with those fingers?”
“Nothing. Yet.”
(Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper in Morocco)

“Wise as a tree full of owls, that’s me”

“Oh, and a cup of coffee”
“Large or small?”
“Do I look like a small cup of coffee?”
(Marie Prevost and a waiter in Ladies of Leisure)

“Well, do you see my flowers here?”
“You’re crushing them”
“Oh, what does it matter? They were born to die”
(yes, this is actual dialogue in Romance)

“Oh baby. Don’t think I’m such a heel just because I am!” (John Gilbert in Way for a Sailor)

Groucho: “Go away. Go away. I’ll be all right in a minute. Left-handed moths ate the painting, eh?”
Chico: “Yeah, it’s a-my own solution.”
Groucho: “I wish you were in it. Left-handed moths ate the painting. You know, I’d buy you a parachute if I thought it wouldn’t open.” (Animal Crackers)

“Press the flesh. Who’d you croak?” (The Big House)

“If you don’t watch your step you’re gonna find a way to treat yourself to a handful of clouds” (The Doorway to Hell)

“When a man begins to talk about inhibitions, it’s time to look at the view.” (Joan Crawford in Our Blushing Brides)

“It already has proved dangerous to wipe yourself off on the furniture”
(Blood of a Poet)

Groucho’s Strange Interlude bit in Animal Crackers, particularly:
“This would be a better world for children, if the parents had to eat the spinach.”

“Oh Mary, don’t be so 1890”

“When does she dunk her body?” (of course this is Eugene Pallette’s way of asking when a woman takes a bath in Follow Thru)

“Four years ago you took my name and replaced with with a number. Now I’ve taken that number and replaced it with your name”
(Joan Crawford in Paid)

Angela: “Here’s the newspaper”
Bob: “Anything new?”
Angela: “Not much. Only that you’re a bigamist” (Madam Satan)

animalMargaret Dumont and Lillian Roth in Animal Crackers (I forget whose tumblr this comes from; I’m very sorry!)