Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '87 - World B Tweet ""

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Underrated '87 - World B Tweet

World B Tweet – worked in movie theatres and video stores almost non-stop since 1987.   My first night in a movie theatre was opening night of the first “Lethal Weapon.”  I’m a child of the 80’s drive-in scene, the long lost son of Sam Firstenberg, and I can be found talking movies on Twitter (@WorldBTweet) or at moviesareneato.blogspot.com.
1987 holds a special place in my heart because I started my movie-associated career that year, learned how to be a projectionist and spend an entire summer doing nothing but starting and watching movies, and I watched my favorite drive-in (3 films a night for $5 a carload!) shut down at the end of the ’87 season.  My memories of those 12 months are strong.  Here are a few of the films that should be rediscovered (I was going to add “American Ninja 2” to the list, but if you don’t already know it and love it, I can’t help you at this point… sorry, you’re on your own).

Nowhere to Hide – Amy Madigan is not the first person you’d think of when setting up your action/chase pic, but it’s easy to forget that Madigan was one of the best “go-to” actresses during the 1980’s (“Streets of Fire,” “Field of Dreams,” “Places in the Heart,” “Uncle Buck.”)  Someone who was versatile enough to handle parts in those films could easily essay the role of a woman on the run (with her young son) after her Marine husband is killed when he finds a defect on an expensive new helicopter prototype and threatens to go public.   Madigan and child head for the woods, bad guys pursue, and this B-movie flies by.  Major support is provided by Michael Ironside in a somewhat rare good guy role, and Daniel Hugh Kelly, John Colicos and Maury Chaykin are all on-hand to fill out a top notch genre film cast.   Not to mention the film is co-written by Alex Rebar (“The Incredible Melting Man”).
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Surrender – Not a great film; I’ll never swear in any courtroom that it is.   But it is better than its reputation (this film has vanished at this point) would lead you to believe.  Michael Caine is an author who keeps marrying the wrong women and keeps losing tons of money to them in divorce settlements.  He pretends to be poor and, after a “meet cute” (being tied together naked during a robbery) with actually poor Sally Field, Caine tries to see if he can find true love when dollar signs aren’t attached.  Written and directed by the great Jerry Belson (“Fun with Dick and Jane,” “The End” and more great television credits during the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s that you can shake a stick at), “Surrender” isn’t perfect but it is a more than engaging time passer.  (Again, the supporting cast – Peter Boyle, Julie Kavner, Louise Lasser, Jackie Cooper, and, um…. Steve Guttenberg.)
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Number One with a Bullet — My memory escaped me and made me think that this film was a “Lethal Weapon” ripoff.   However, the Robert Carradine/Billy Dee Williams mismatched buddy cop picture came out two weeks BEFORE the Gibson/Glover one.  So you’ve got that.  The story line is weak, the bad guys aren’t much, so you get 90 minutes of Carradine chewing scenery as crazy cop Nick Barzak while Williams does his usual “cool guy/ladies man” work as partner Hazeltine.   Cliched, silly and over the top—and I can never stop watching it.     Brought to you by the director of “Midway,” “Airport 75,” and “Damnation Alley,” “Bullet” is Cannon Films at its most standard Cannoning—take a basic premise, put in a few familiar faces, and cut every budget and plot corner you can.   
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Cross My Heart – There was a short stretch of time where Martin Short was a leading man instead of a trusted supporting man.   “Saturday Night Live” propelled him to roles in “Three Amigos” and “Innerspace,” after which he made this winning romantic comedy with Annette O’Toole.   A newly dating couple go on the all-important “third date,” which will determine the future direction of the relationship, or end it.  Both parties are keeping secrets from the other (recent unemployment, a child), and everything comes into the open (along with a lot of other mishaps) during the course of this one, long date.   The actors have a winning chemistry together (and the film continues my ongoing thesis of “WHY THE HELL DIDN’T ANNETTE O’TOOLE BECOME A BIGGER STAR???”)  Warm, sexy, sweet, and definitely funny, not many people know about “Cross My Heart,” but those who do speak very, very fondly of it.
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My Demon Lover – I would have probably never watched one minute of this if I hadn’t have been a projectionist.  This film played for two weeks at my theatre, and I pieced together all ninety minutes of it over the course of its run.  Again, very silly, very low budget, but again—the film works.  A very cute (and soon to vanish from film) Michelle Little plays a loser at love (maybe we fix her up with Michael Caine’s writer in “Surrender”?) who falls for a homeless man (Scott Valentine from TV’s “Family Ties”) who is harboring a terrible, and very odd, secret.  He becomes a literal demon (with full special effects makeup) whenever he becomes aroused.   Can two desperate souls overcome a little transformation, and possible murder, to find true love?  You know the answer, but Little is adorable, Valentine is fun with his ever-transforming part, and more than anything, “My Demon Lover” is just so goshdarned likeable that it’s easy to overlook its various (and sometimes numerous) flaws.
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Gardens of Stone – Easily the most critically acclaimed movie on my list, this is the Francis Ford Coppola film that always seems to get swept under the carpet when people talk about the director.  It has it’s slow parts and it does feel disjointed at times.  However, for those of you who know the story behind the making of the film, there is a very good reason for this.  Coppola lost his son, Gian-Carlo (who was actually helping work on this film), to a boating accident during the filming.   Adding personal heartbreak to a story about loss during the Vietnam War and centering around a cemetery (Arlington National) hit too close to home for Coppola and most likely blurred lines for him during shooting.   If the film had worked at all might even be considered a miracle, but “Gardens of Stone” is actually a lot more than “working.”  Superbly acted by a fantastic cast (James Caan, Anjelica Huston, James Earl Jones, Mary Stuart Masterson, D.B. Sweeney) and filled with more poignant moments than some may be able to handle during one film,  “Gardens” is one of my favorite films of 1987 and seriously needs some rediscovery among Coppola fans and film fans in general.
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Steele Justice – Kino Lorber put this one out on Blu-Ray in 2016, and I bought it first day out.   It is one of my very favorite Stallone/Schwarzenegger ripoffs.  Fresh off success as the main baddy in “Karate Kid,” Martin Kove gets his chance to be the larger than life hero.  Complete with a Vietnam back story, a shoot for a vapid music video that ends up in a bloody shootout, Shannon Tweed as a drug kingpin (queen-pin?), and a poisonous snake for a trusted pet, “Steele Justice” is 95 minutes of pure, unadulterated 80’s bliss.   Never slows down, a supporting cast with Sela Ward, Bernie Casey, Ronnie Cox, Joseph Campanella, and Sarah Douglas.   This film, and the same year’s “Assassination” share a performer who provides two of the most godawful acting efforts of the entire decade.  I won’t name them in order to save their dignity, but My Goodness – they are brutally terrible.
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1 comment:

SteveQ said...

Best part of "Steele Justice" is when he cauterizes a wound with a hot frying pan. How did that not make my list?!