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

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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