Monday, June 23, 2014

A Reel 30: Remembering 1984

Back in May, Reel Speak celebrated the 30th anniversary of Steven Spielberg’s INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM; the second installment of the INDIANA JONES franchise which also served as a prequel. The film would be the third highest domestic money-maker that year, behind GHOSTBUSTERS and BEVERLY HILLS COP. But a closer look at 1984 shows us that summer gave our favorite archeologist some very good and historic company.

At this very moment in 1984, this magnificent group of films were all in theatres; TEMPLE OF DOOM, GREMLINS, GHOSTBUSTERS, POLICE ACADEMY, THE NATURAL, STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK, and THE KARATE KID. If you walked into a theatre in June of 1984, all of these films would be your options.

And that was only the beginning. The Summer Movie Season of that year would eventually include a young Tom Hanks in BACHELOR PARTY, along with THE LAST STARFIGHTER, THE MUPPETS TAKE MANHATTAN, REVENGE OF THE NERDS, PURPLE RAIN, RED DAWN, eventual cult-favorite BUCKAROO BANZAI ACROSS THE 8TH DIMENSION, and Sergio Leone’s ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA.

The packed Summer season was only a prelude to a Fall Season which would unspool A SOLDIER’S STORY, James Cameron’s THE TERMINATOR, Freddy Krueger’s debut in A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, DUNE, STARMAN, and the eventual Best Picture winner…AMADEUS.

To further the case of 1984’s place in history, the year also saw the film debuts of Jennifer Connelly, Johnny Depp, Colin Firth, Val Kilmer, John Malkovich, Frances McDormand, Lou Diamond Phillips, Tim Roth, Charlie Sheen, Marisa Tomei, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Ken Watanbe.

But back to June 1984…that month was not only packed with big money makers, but with films which were destined to become pillars of pop culture. Thirty years later, their lines would be often quoted, their characters fondly remembered, and their cast members worshipped at nearly every convention they appear. It was a time where studios didn’t seem to be very fearful of releasing their movies up against the competition…a sure sign of confidence. Compare that to this year where the major blockbuster-tailored films like X-MEN and TRANSFORMERS are scheduled months apart, and the industry in general where studios circle each other like gunfighters…watching each other’s every move and waiting to see who flinches first.

What it all comes down to is that 1984 is a year which should not only be remembered for its boldness, but for its overall impact on our cinematic minds. A true movie buff probably doesn’t go a day without at least of one of these films emerging from the sub-conscious, and even the most casual movie-goer can recognize the titles, characters, and quotes. At this very moment in 1984 we were being introduced to Mogwai, slime, rookie cops, middle-aged baseball rookies, resurrected Vulcans, bonsai trees, and fortune and glory…and we haven’t been the same since.




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