Rupert Pupkin Speaks: 84-a-THON - Five Underrated Films From 1984 ""

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

84-a-THON - Five Underrated Films From 1984

When my pal Todd Liebenow over at Forgotten Films approached me about being part of this blogathon, I was a bit overwhelmed with where I might go with the idea of celebrating films that came out 30 years ago. What I came up with is a short list of lesser-appreciated films from that year that I felt could still use some recognition. Hope you enjoy!

NOTHING LASTS FOREVER (1984; Tom Schiller)
This is a bit of a cheat, but it is one of the great fantasy comedies of the 1980s that never was. Starring Zach Galligan, and featuring a smorgasboard of comedy giants (Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Imogene Coca, Mort Sahl), this little movie was one of those that truly fell through the proverbial cracks. It was actually postponed just before the time that it was to be initially released so has never really been put out, outside of some TV airings and 35mm revival screenings. This film has been written about a lot for lists on my site. I mentioned it briefly way back on my "Favorite Discoveries of 2010" list years ago:
Beyond that though, some real cool folks have seen it and been compelled to write about it including long time friends of Rupert Pupkin Speaks Lars Nilsen and Zack Carlson. They speak pretty well about the film, and I doubt I can really add much, but suffice it to say that you should seek this one out. The last I heard it was potentially being disentangled legally by the folks at Warner Archive (there's a good deal of footage from other things used within it). 

SECRET HONOR (1984; Robert Altman)
Fans of Paul Thomas Anderson are aware that it is no secret that he is a gigantic fan of Robert Altman. It was that fandom that led him to SECRET HONOR, which led him to cast the great Philip Baker Hall in HARD EIGHT (aka SYDNEY). While Baker Hall is not often given a platform to be in a prominent role in films, he is one of the best actors ever. Watch him in HARD EIGHT and you'll understand this. If that film doesn't convince you, check him out in SECRET HONOR to seal the deal. SECRET HONOR is based on a play and takes place basically in one room. It stars just Philip Baker Hall by himself as Richard Nixon and that's it. He rants and raves for 90 minutes and it is mesmerizing.
The wiki synopsis:

"A disgraced Richard Nixon is restlessly pacing in the study at his New Jersey home, in the late 1970s. Armed with a loaded revolver, a bottle of Scotch Whisky and a running tape recorder, while surrounded by closed circuit television cameras, he spends the next 90 minutes recalling, with rage, suspicion, sadness and disappointment, his controversial life and career in a long monologue."

COMFORT AND JOY (1984; Bill Forsyth)
Bill Forsyth is one of the great underrated directors of the 1980s. From his feature debut in 1979 with THAT SINKING FEELING (which recently arrived on Blu-ray across the pond) through GREGORY'S GIRL, LOCAL HERO and BREAKING IN, he established a very unique low-key comedic voice that was based very much in his characters. I first notied him with LOCAL HERO and later became obsessed when I found BREAKING IN (whilst I was working my way through all the films based on John Sayles' screenplays). COMFORT AND JOY is one of his best. It is basically the story of an everyman type who gets caught up in an ongoing war between two Italian families who both own and operate ice cream vans in Glasgow. Sound silly? It's awesome and hilarious. Quentin Tarantino is a self-proclaimed fan of this as well:

CHOOSE ME (1984; Alan Rudolph)
I was completely unaware of Alan Rudolph until I came across this film in one of Danny Peary's Cult Movies books. I was just starting to become aware of Robert Altman's stock company of actors and so Keith Carradine was a relatively new discovery to me as well. Once I saw the film it made me think of Altman of course and it was easy to see how Rudolph's working relationship with Altman may have influenced him as a filmmaker. CHOOSE ME is very much one of those stories of a bunch of characters who end up being interconnected. It's kind of AFTER HOURS meets Altman, soaked in the music and neon of the 1980s. The cast is very strong and includes the aforementioned Carradine, Genevieve Bujold, Lesley Ann Warren, Rae Dawn Chong and John Larroquette.

KIDCO (1984; Ronald F. Maxwell)
We all remember Scott Schwartz from THE TOY and a CHRISTMAS STORY, but oft overlooked is his excellent turn in KIDCO, a fun story about a youngster entrepreneur who builds a small empire selling manure. Schwartz was always good at the precocious kid role and it works quite well for him here. I will always remember this film for introducing my good friend and I to the word "bazongas" which has been an inside joke with us ever since.


Ed South said...

Kidco is such a great film! It also was an introductory lesson for my friends and I as well as it is where we learned the phrase "crock of shit"

Silver Screenings said...

I've never heard of any of these films, can you believe it? You've given me some new titles to add to my Must-Watch list. I'm glad you added this to the blogathon. :)

Rupert Pupkin said...

So glad you dug the list! Hopefully you enjoy at least a few of the films!