Saturday, August 31, 2013

Top Ten Box Office Hits of 1983

The year was 1983.
In World News: Pope John Paul II signed a new Roman Catholic code incorporating changes brought about by the Second Vatican Council,  Benigno S. Aquino, Jr., political rival of Philippines president Ferdinand Marcos, was assasinated in Manila, and a South Korean Boeing 747 jetliner bound for Seoul apparently strayed into Soviet air space and was shot down by a Soviet SU-15 fighter after it had tracked the jetliner for two hours; all 269 aboard were killed.
In US News: The second Space Shuttle, Challenger, made it successful maiden voyage which included the first US space walk in 9 years, the US Supreme Court declared many local abortion restrictions unconstitutional, and the US admitted to shielding former Nazi Gestapo chief Klaus Barbie, the "Butcher of Lyon", wanted in France for war crimes.
In other news: CDs were introduced and the sales of vinyl records began a steep decline, Harvey Fierstein's "Torch Song Trilogy" won both the New York Drama Critics Circle Award as well as the Tony Award for Best Play, marking the acceptance of gay theater, singer Karen Carpenter died of complications from anorexia nervosa at the age of 32, and more than 125 million viewers tuned in to watch the last episode of M*A*S*H.
Some of the movies to make their debut in the theaters were "Something Wicked This Way Comes", "Tender Mercies", "The Year of Living Dangerously", "Doctor Detroit", "The Survivors", "Educating Rita", "Monty Python's 'The Meaning of Life'", "Cheech & Chong Still Smokin'", "All the Right Moves", "Valley Girl", "Christine", "Cujo", "The Right Stuff", "Silkwood", "Yentl", "Scarface", "Jaws 3-D", "The Big Chill", "Superman III", and "National Lampoon's Vacation".
So what were the Top Ten movies at the Box Office in 1983?  Let's do the countdown and see, shall we?...
A suburban Chicago teenager's parents leave on vacation, and he cuts loose. An unauthorized trip in his father's Porsche means a sudden need for lots of money, which he raises in a creative way.  Tom Cruise gave a memorable performance in this 80s favorite.  Other stars in "Risky Business" were Rebecca De Mornay, Joe Pantoliano, Bronson Pinchot, and Curtis Armstrong.  This film earned over $63.5 million at the Box Office.
Jack and Caroline are a couple making a decent living when Jack suddenly loses his job. They agree that he should stay at home and look after the house while Caroline works. It's just that he's never done it before, and really doesn't have a clue as to what he's doing.  "Mr. Mom" starred Michael Keaton, Teri Garr, Martin Mull, and co-starred Ann Jillian, Jeffrey Tambor, and Christopher Lloyd.  At the Box Office the film fell slightly behind "Staying Alive", bringing in $64,783,827.

It's five years later and Tony Manero's Saturday Night Fever is still burning. Now he's strutting toward his biggest challenger yet - making it as a dancer on the Broadway stage.  Directed by Sylvester Stallone (who also has a brief cameo in the film), "Staying Alive" had John Travolta reprising his role from the 1977 sensation "Saturday Night Fever".  Other actors and actresses were Cynthia Rhodes, Finola Hughes, Steve Inwood, Julie Bovasso, and Charles Ward.  This film squeaked by "Mr. Mom", grossing $64,892,670.
A rape victim is exacting revenge on her aggressors in a small town outside San Francisco. Dirty Harry, on suspension for angering his superiors (again), is assigned to the case.  "Sudden Impact" was directed by Clint Eastwood who also starred as the lead character, "Dirty Harry".  Sondra Locke, Pat Hingle, Bradford Dillman, and Paul Drake also starred in the film.  The movie took in over $67.6 million at the Box Office.
A fake FabergĂ© egg and a fellow agent's death leads James Bond to uncovering an international jewel smuggling operation, headed by the mysterious Octopussy, being used to disguise a nuclear attack on NATO forces.  Roger Moore reprised his role as James Bond (Agent 007).  Others actors and actresses were Maud Adams, Louis Jourdan, Kristina Wayborn, Kabir Bedi, and Steven Berkoff.  Throngs flocked to the theaters to see yet another Bond film which helped "Octopussy" get past "Sudden Impact" by earning over $67.8 million at the Box Office.
A young computer whizz kid accidentally connects into a top secret super-computer which has complete control over the U.S. nuclear arsenal. It challenges him to a game between America and Russia, and he, naively, innocently starts the countdown to World War 3. Can he convince the computer he wanted to play a game and not the real thing?  "WarGames" Matthew Broderick (his second film after "Max Dugan Returns" which came out the same year), Dabney Coleman, John Wood, Ally Sheedy, and Barry Corbin.  Nominated for three Academy Awards including Best Original Screenplay, the film grossed more than $79.5 million at the Box Office.
A snobbish investor and a wily street con artist find their positions reversed as part of a bet by two callous millionaires.  "Trading Places" received an Oscar nomination for its Musical Score and starred Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, Jamie Lee Curtis, Ralph Bellamy, Don Ameche, and Paul Gleason.  The Box Office records show that this film raked in over $90.4 million.
Alex Owens is a female dynamo: steel worker by day, exotic dancer by night. Her dream is to get into a real dance company, though, and with encouragement from her boss/boyfriend, she may get her chance.  "Flashdance" was nominated for four Academy Awards, two of them being for Best Original Song: "Maniac" and "Flashdance... What a Feeling".  "What a Feeling" took home the Oscar.  The film starred Jennifer Beals.  Though she was uncredited for a bit part in the 1980 film "My Bodyguard", "Flashdance" is considered her film debut.  Other stars were Michael Nouri, Kyle T. Heffner, Sunny Johnson, and Lee Ving.  The film danced up over $92.9 million at the Box Office.
Aurora and Emma are mother and daughter who march to different drummers. Beginning with Emma's marriage, Aurora shows how difficult and loving she can be. The movie covers several years of their lives as each finds different reasons to go on living and find joy.  This film was nominated for a whopping 11 Academy Awards and won the top 5: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress (Shirley MacLaine), Best Actor (Jack Nicholson), Best Director (James L. Brooks), and Best Picture.  Debra Winger, Jeff Daniels, John Lithgow, and Danny DeVito also starred in the film.  Touching millions of hearts and making many cry (myself included), "Terms of Endearment" earned more than $108.4 million at the Box Office.
After rescuing Han Solo from the palace of Jabba the Hutt, the Rebels attempt to destroy the Second Death Star, while Luke Skywalker tries to bring his father back to the Light Side of the Force.  The anticipated "Return of the Jedi" had Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, David Prowse, and Kenny Baker reprising their roles.  The Force helped this film become #1 at the Box Office, bringing in over $252.5 million.
And now you know.
For you "Star Wars" fans, it has been rumored for quite some time now (as of August 31, 2013, that is), that Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher would reprise their roles again for the upcoming "Stars Wars: Episode VII".  The film is slated for a 2015 release and is currently in its pre-production stages.
1983 was the year of a lot of good films, some of them being great and fan favorites.  I shall continue blogging about them as much as I can.  For now, I've already blogged on 5 of the top 10 films of 1983.  You'll find them on the list to the right of this page.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Top Ten Box Office Hits of 1982

The year was 1982.
In world news: The British overcame Argentina in the Falklands War, Israel invaded Lebanon in an attack on the PLO, Princess Grace died from injuries resulting from when her car plunged off a mountain road, and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev died at the age of 75.
In US news: John Hinckley, Jr. was found not guilty in shooting President Reagan because of insanity, Alexander Haig, Jr. resigned as Secretary of State, and the Equal Rights Amendment failed ratification.
In other news, Michael Jackson released his "Thriller" album, John Belushi died of a drug overdose, and "Cats" opened on Broadway, becoming Broadway's longest running production.  Thomas Keneally released his book, "Schindler's List" and Alice Walker released her novel, "The Color Purple", both eventually being made to film and becoming Box Office hits.
What films were Box Office sensations in 1982?  Well, out of 100 films, a very revealing "Summer Lovers" ranked #99, an excellent soundtrack possibly helped "The Last American Virgin" reach #90, Agatha Christie's "Evil Under the Sun" was #87, a very long and foreign "Das Boot" ranked #65, Michael Caine kissed Christopher Reeve in #43's "Deathtrap", Mel Gibson continued fighting the bad guys in "The Road Warrior" which achieved position #31, "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" was #29, Arnold Schwarzenegger showed off his bulging muscles in "Conan the Barbarian" which reached #17, Sylvester Stallone proved he was a force to be reckoned with in #13's "First Blood", and the Oscar-winning film "Ghandi" attained the #12 position.
That being said, let's countdown the Top Ten Box Office Hits of 1982...

In the depths of the 1930's, Annie is a fiery young orphan girl who must live in a miserable orphanage run by the tyrannical Miss Hannigan. Her seemingly hopeless situation changes dramatically when she is selected to spend a short time at the residence of the wealthy munitions industrialist, Oliver Warbucks. Quickly, she charms the hearts of the household staff and even the seemingly cold-hearted Warbucks cannot help but learn to love this wonderful girl.  "Annie" starred Albert Finney, Carol Burnett, Ann Reinking, Bernadette Peters, Tim Curry, Aileen Quinn as the lovable "Annie".  Nominated for two Academy Awards, this film earned over $57 million at the Box Office.
A town Sheriff and regular patron fights to keep a historical whorehouse open when a TV preacher targets it as the Devils Playhouse.  "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" starred Burt Reynolds, Dolly Parton, Dom DeLuise, Charles Durning, and Jim Nabors.  At the Box Office, this musical brought in over $69.7 million.
A young family are visited by ghosts in their home. At first the ghosts appear friendly, moving objects around the house to the amusement of everyone, then they turn nasty and start to terrorise the family before they "kidnap" the youngest daughter.  Directed by Tobe Hooper, "Poltergeist" starred Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, Beatrice Straight, Dominique Dunne, Oliver Robins, Zelda Rubinstein, and Heather O'Rourke as the memorable "Carol Anne".  Freaking out audiences world-wide, this film grossed over $76.6 million at the Box Office.
A hard-nosed cop reluctantly teams up with a wise-cracking criminal temporarily paroled to him, in order to track down a killer.  This was Eddie Murphy's film debut who was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance.  "48 Hrs." also starred Nick Nolte, Annette O'Toole, Frank McRae, and James Remar.  With the hit song, "(The Boys Are) Back In Town", this film earned $78,868,508 at the Box Office.
With the aid of the Enterprise crew, Admiral Kirk must stop an old nemesis, Khan Noonien Singh, from using his son's life-generating device, the Genesis Device, as the ultimate weapon.  The sequel to its 1979 mega-hit, "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" had William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, George Takei, and Nichelle Nichols reprising their infamous roles.  With Ricardo Montalban playing the evil Khan, this film just edged past "48 Hrs.", bringing in $78,912,963.
Set in 1954, a group of Florida high schoolers seek out to help a buddy lose his virginity, which leads them to seek revenge on a sleazy nightclub owner and his redneck sheriff brother for harassing them.  A hilarious comedy, "Porky's" starred Dan Monahan, Mark Herrier, Wyatt Knight, Roger Wilson, Cyril O'Reilly, Tony Ganios, Kaki Hunter, and a "howling" Kim Cattrall (if you've seen the film, you know what I'm talking about).  This film careened past its competition at the Box Office and grossed over $105.4 million.
Part 3 to its original Oscar-winning film, "Rocky III" finds Rocky defeated by brutal challenger, Clubber Lang.  Seeking assistance from his former rival, Rocky lets Apollo Creed retrain him in order to get back his fighting spirit.  Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, and Burgess Meredith reprised their roles and "I pity the fool!" Mr. T co-starred.  Also, look for scene with former wrestler, Hulk Hogan as "Thunderlips".  This film didn't have to fight "Porky's" too hard to earn over $124.1 million at the Box Office.
With the help of a tough gunnery sergeant and his new girlfriends, a young man must complete his work at a Navy Flight school to become an aviator.  Nominated for 6 Academy Awards, "An Officer and a Gentleman" earned Oscars for Original Song "Up Where We Belong" and Supporting Actor for Louis Gossett, Jr.  The film also starred Richard Gere and Debra Winger and co-starred David Keith, Lisa Blount, and Lisa Eilbacher.  At the Box Office, the film brought in $129.7 million.
Michael Dorsey is an unemployed actor with an impossible reputation. In order to find work and fund his friend's play he dresses as a woman, Dorothy Michaels, and lands the part in a daytime drama.  Directed by Sydney Pollack, "Tootsie" starred Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, Teri Garr, Dabney Coleman, Charles Durning, and Bill Murray.  Audiences continued laughing even after the film was over which helped this film earn over $177.2 million.

A meek and alienated little boy finds a stranded extraterrestrial. He has to find the courage to defy the authorities to help the alien return to its home planet.  Steven Spielberg directed this incredible story which starred Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace, Peter Coyote, Robert MacNaughton, and Drew Barrymore.  "E.T. the Extra Terrestrial" easy passed by the other films by bringing in over $359.1 million at the Box Office.

And now you know.

Steven Spielberg did quite well as this was the second year in a row his films reached #1 at the Box Office. 

In one way or another, all the films on this Top Ten list have left memorable impressions for audiences world-wide.  Though they came out in the 1983, they're favorites even among young viewers today.

Of the 10 films listed, I've blogged on 4 of them.  You can find them in the column to the right of this screen.  I'll have the pleasure of blogging on the others in the future.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Top Ten Box Office Hits of 1981

The year was 1981.  
In world news, US-Iran agreement would free 52 hostages held in Tehran since 1979, Pope John Paul II was wounded by a gunman, and Egypt's president Sadat was assassinated by Islamic extremists during a military parade in Cairo.
In US news, Ronald Reagan took oath as the 40th president of the United States and was wounded by a gunman just three months and ten days later, the US Supreme court ruled 4-4 that former president Nixon and three aides were required to pay for damages resulting from wiretapping the home telephone number of the former national security aid, and air controllers went on strike which interrupted flights for over a week.
The cost of a first class stamp was fifteen cents, Oakland beat Philadelphia 27-10 in the Super Bowl, MTV went on the air for the very first time showing music videos 24/7, Pacman-mania swept the country, and the #1 Box Office hit was... well, follow this countdown and you're sure to find out...
Kevin, an imaginative child, goes on a time-travelling adventure with a bunch of treasure-hunting dwarves, who have "borrowed" a map to the Universe's time holes from The Supreme Being.  This adventure starred David Warner, Kenny Baker, and Craig Warnock and had numerous cameos including John Cleese, Sean Connery, Shelley Duvall, Katherine Helmond, Ian Holm, Michael Palin, Ralph Richardson, Peter Vaughan, and David Rappaport.  The biggest hit ever for Embassy Studios, "Time Bandits" grossed over $42.3 million.


In "The Four Seasons", three middle-aged wealthy couples take vacations together in Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.  Along the way we are treated to mid-life, marital, parental and other crises they encounter.  The film stars Alan Alda (who also wrote and directed the film), Carol Burnett, Len Cariou, Sandy Dennis, Rita Moreno, Jack Weston, and Bess Armstrong.  Nominated for four Golden Globes including Best Picture, this often humorous yet touching film grossed over $50.4 million at the Box Office.
Roger Moore is James Bond (aka 007) and is assigned to hunt for a lost British encryption device and prevent it from falling into enemy hands.  Also starring Carole Bouquet, Topol, Lynn-Holly Johnson, and Julian Glover, "For Your Eyes Only" grossed over $54.8 million at the Box Office.

The story, told in flashback, of two young British sprinters competing for fame in the 1924 Olympics. Eric, a devout Scottish missionary runs because he knows it must please God. Harold, the son of a newly rich Jew runs to prove his place in Cambridge society.  Nominated for seven Academy Awards and winning four including Best Picture, "Chariots of Fire" starred Nicholas Farrell, Nigel Havers, Ian Charleson, Ben Cross and co-starred Daniel Gerroll and Ian Holm who was Oscar-nominated for his performance.  At the Box Office, the film grossed over $58.9 million.
A wide variety of eccentric competitors participate in a wild and illegal cross-country car race.  "The Cannonball Run" had a huge all-star cast with such mega-stars as Peter Fonda, Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Farrah Fawcett, Roger Moore, Jack Elam, Adrienne Barbeau, Terry Bradshaw, Burt Convy, Jamie Farr, and Jackie Chan.  Accompanied with the action and comedy, perhaps it was the star power that earned this film over $72.1 million at the Box Office.

Thanks to a run of bad luck and go-nowhere jobs, John convinces Russell to join the army so they can get in shape, likening it to a health spa. Once in boot camp, wiseguy John tangles with his by-the-book Sgt. and becomes the unofficial leader for his platoon, made up mostly of other misfits and assorted losers.  "Stripes" starred Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, and Warren Oates.  A hilarious comedy, this film brought in over $85.2 million at the Box Office.
Arthur is a happy drunk with no pretensions at any ambition. He is also the heir to a vast fortune which he is told will only be his if he marries Susan. He does not love Susan, but she will make something of him the family expects. Arthur proposes but then meets a girl with no money who he could easily fall in love with.  A delightful and touching comedy, "Arthur" starred Dudley Moore, Liza Minnelli, and John Gielgud in an Oscar-winning performance.  At the Box Office, the film raked in over $95.4 million.
Superman agrees to sacrifice his powers to marry Lois, unaware that three Kryptonian criminals he inadvertently released are conquering Earth.  Oddly enough, this sequel to its huge-hit predecessor made its premiere in Australia, France, Norway, Spain, Argentina, Brazil, Denmark, Portugal, West Germany, the UK, Finland and Japan before making its broad US release.  "Superman II" found Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, and Gene Hackman reprising their roles.  The long-awaited film grossed over $108.1 million at the Box Office.
The loons are back again on Golden Pond and so are Norman Thayer, a retired professor, and Ethel who have had a summer cottage there since early in their marriage. This summer their daughter Chelsea -- whom they haven't seen for years -- feels she must be there for Norman's birthday.  But there's more to her visit than just that.  A very touching drama which was difficult for stars and real life father and daughter Henry Fonda and Jane Fonda to film, "On Golden Pond" also starred Katherine Hepburn, Dabney Coleman, and Doug McKeon.  Nominated for ten Academy Awards, this film won three including Best Actor and Best Actress for both Henry and Katherine and earned every bit of its $119.2 million at the Box Office.
The year is 1936. A professor who studies archeology named Indiana Jones hears from a museum curator named Marcus Brody about a biblical artifact called The Ark of the Covenant, which can hold the key to humanly existence. Jones has to venture to vast places such as Nepal and Egypt to find this artifact. However, he will have to fight his enemy Renee Belloq and a band of Nazis in order to reach it.  Directed by Steven Spielberg, "Raiders of the Lost Ark" starred Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, and Paul Freeman.  The first of four of its film franchise (soon to be a 5th with Harrison Ford reprising his role), the Box Office heavy with its gross of over $212.2 million.
And now you know.
Of the 10 films listed, you can find 4 of them blogged by me on the list to your right.  As always, since this is blog page isn't quite half a year old yet as per this entry, the other films will be blogged about in time.
If you haven't seen some of these, I highly recommend them.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Top 10 Box Office Hits of 1980

In 1980, huge hits at the movie theaters consisted of comedies, music, sequels, and action.  Some were nominated for Oscars and other awards, and some won the prize.  Universal Studios claimed three major smashes, Columbia Pictures claimed two, and Warner Brothers claimed two as well.  In the end, however, it was 20th Century Fox that took the top two spots.

The following list is a countdown of the Top 10 Box Office Hits of 1980 including a bit of synopsis of each as well as their grosses...


"The Blues Brothers" is fun film about Jake Blues, just out from prison, who puts together his old band to save the Catholic home where he and brother Elwood were raised.  This hip flick eventually became a cult classic starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd and also featured iconic singing sensations James Brown, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin.  The film grossed over $57.2 million.


In "The Blue Lagoon", two children are shipwrecked on a tropical island in the South Pacific. With no adults to guide them, the two make a simple life together, unaware that sexual maturity will eventually intervene.  This Oscar-nominated film for its spectacular cinematography stars handsome Christopher Atkins and model-turned actress Brooke Shields.  The film grossed over $58.8 million.


In this sequel to the 1977 hit, "Smokey and the Bandit", The Bandit goes on another cross-country run, transporting an elephant from Florida to Texas. And, once again, Sheriff Buford T. Justice is on his tail.  Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jackie Gleason, and Jerry Reed reprise their roles.  The film grossed over $66.1 million.

"Coal Miner's Daughter" is based on Loretta Lynn's autobiography.  She was married at 13. She had four kids by the time she was 20. She's been hungry and poor. She's been loved and cheated on. She became a singer because it was the only thing she could do. She became a star because it was the only way she could do it.  This multi-Oscar nominated film including a nod for Best Picture stars Sissy Spacek as Loretta Lynn (she won an Oscar for her performance) and Tommy Lee Jones.  The film grossed over $67.1 million.
Goldie Hawn was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance as "Private Benjamin".  She's a sheltered young high society woman who joins the army on a whim and finds herself in a more difficult situation than she ever expected.  The comedy stars Goldie Hawn, Eileen Brennan (also Oscar-nominated), and co-stars Armand Assante and Robert Webber.  The film grossed over $69.8 million.

Philo takes part in a bare knuckle fight - as he does - to make some more money than he can earn from his car repair business. He decides to retire from fighting, but when the Mafia come along and arrange another fight, he is pushed into it. A motorcycle gang and an orangutan called Clyde all add to the 'fun'.  This sequel to 1978's "Every Which Way But Loose" has Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke, Geoffrey Lewis, and Ruth Gordon reprising their roles.  The film grossed over $70.6 million.
Still craving for the love of his life, Ted Striker follows Elaine onto the flight that she is working on as a member of the cabin crew. Elaine doesn't want to be with Ted anymore, but when the crew and passengers fall ill from food poisoning, all eyes are on Ted.  "Airplane!" was a huge comedic hit filled with laughs galore, starring Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty (her film debut), Leslie Nielsen, Peter Graves, Lloyd Bridges, and Robert Stack.  The film grossed over $83.4 million.
Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor dress up as woodpeckers and get framed for robbing a bank... and when they discover that prison life is for the birds they go... "Stir Crazy".  This comedy co-stars Georg Stanford-Brown, JoBeth Williams, Barry Corbin, Craig T. Nelson, and Migueal Angel Suarez.  The film grossed $101.3 million.
In "9 to 5", three female employees of a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot find a way to turn the tables on him.  This hilarious female-lead film stars Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton (in her film debut who also sang and was Oscar-nominated for the theme song), and co-stars Dabney Coleman.  The film grossed over $103.2 million.
After the rebels have been brutally overpowered by the Empire on their newly established base, Luke Skywalker takes advanced Jedi training with Master Yoda, while his friends are pursued by Darth Vader as part of his plan to capture Luke.  The "Star Wars" saga continues with Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker reprising their roles.  "The Empire Strikes Back" grossed over $209.3 million.
And now you know.
Interestingly enough, the Oscar winner for Best Film, "Ordinary People" starring Donald Sutherland, Mary Tyler Moore, Judd Hirsch, and Timothy Hutton in an Oscar-winning role, just missed the Top 10 list as it came in at #11.
I'll add that I've already blogged about the top four films.  If you haven't already, feel free to check out the blogs... you'll find them listed somewhere on the right of this page.  As for the others, trust me.  I'll blog about them in due time.
If you haven't seen some or all of these fantastic Box Office hits, I highly recommend them.  Maybe even re-visit them in the comfort of your own home, whether alone or with family or friends.  If you have children, perhaps introduce these winners to them as well.


Friday, August 23, 2013

Back to the Future (1985)

Marty McFly: Wait a minute, Doc. Ah... Are you telling me that you built a time machine... out of a DeLorean?
Dr. Emmett Brown: The way I see it, if you're gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?
The year is 1985.  Marty McFly is a typical teenager from a typical normal-yet-twisted sort of family.  Marty plays the electric guitar, has a girlfriend, and is good friends with a scientist/inventor.  That's a good thing.  That is until a scientific experiment sends Marty back to the year 1955 in none other than a DeLorean-turned-time machine.  In 1955 -- in the very town he was born -- he meets his parents before they were actually a coupleAwkward!  Marty is there for one reason: He must do whatever he can to make his parents become a couple and stay that way.  If he fails, it could very well mean his non-existence!
The first of a trilogy, "Back to the Future" made its broad US premiere on July 3, 1985 to 1,420, raking in over $11 million on its opening weekend.  That may not seem like such a high number considering previously released "Rambo: First Blood Part II" did much better, but, ultimately, "Back to the Future" would surpass "Rambo: First Blood Part II" by over $60 million to become the number one Box Office hit of 1985, bringing in over $210.6 million globally. 
Having previously directed "Romancing the Stone" in 1984, this was the fourth feature film directed by Robert Zemeckis.  He and Bob Gale wrote the screenplay which eventually brought about nominations for an Academy Award, a BAFTA award, and a Golden Globe.  This was quite the accomplishment considering several studios originally rejected the script (rejected 40 times before it was finally given the "green light).  It has been reported that Robert has in his archives a letter of rejection from every studio rejecting "Back to the Future".  It was thought to be too soft for the type of teen movie at the time.  Disney, however, thought it was too racy.
It's quite possible that the storyline as well as the incredible visual effects drew audiences from all over.  "Back to the Future" did win an Oscar and a BAFTA award for its for its Effects and other awards as well..    
Having already been a huge star in various TV shows including "Family Ties", this was the third feature film for Michael J. Fox (Marty).  "Back to the Future" also starred Christopher Lloyed (Dr. "Doc" Emmett Brown), Lea Thompson (Lorraine), and Crispin Glover (George McFly).  The film also co-starred Thomas F. Wilson (Biff), Claudia Wells (Jennifer), Marc McClure (Dave McFly), and Wendy Jo Sperber (Linda McFly).  Lastly, look for Casey Siemaszko (3-D) and Billy Zane (Match) as Biff's sidekicks.  At age 19, this was Billy Zane's film debut.
Filmed entirely on location in California at such places as Santa Clarita, South Pasadena (for the houses of George McFly, Lorraine, and Biff), and Hollywood including the First United Methodist Church for the scene of the Enchantment Under the Sea School Dance, here's some more behind-the-scenes information that might take you "back in time"...
1.  The inspiration for the film largely stems from Bob Gale discovering his father's high school yearbook and wondering whether he would have been friends with his father as a teenager. Gale also said that if he had the chance to go back in time he would really go back and see if they would have been friends.   
2.  Biff Tannen is named in homage to Ned Tanen, one-time head of Universal, who threw Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis's script for "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" on the floor in a heated meeting, accusing it of being anti-Semitic. Despite the fact that Bob Gale is Jewish.
3.  Leonard Nimoy was considered for the job as director before Robert Zemeckis took the job. Nimoy was unable to direct "Back to the Future" because he was starting work on the story for "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home".
4.  Universal Pictures head Sid Sheinberg did not like the title "Back to the Future", insisting that nobody would see a movie with "future" in the title. In a memo to Robert Zemeckis, he said that the title should be changed to "Spaceman From Pluto", tying in with the Marty-as-alien jokes in the film, and also suggested further changes like replacing the "I'm Darth Vader from planet Vulcan" line with "I am a spaceman from Pluto!" Sheinberg was persuaded to change his mind by a response memo from Steven Spielberg, which thanked him for sending a wonderful "joke memo", and that everyone got a kick out of it. Sheinberg, too proud to admit he was serious, gave in to letting the film retain its title.   
5.  Sid Sheinberg, the head of Universal Pictures, requested many changes to be made throughout the movie. Most of these he got, such as having "Professor Brown" changed to "Doc Brown" and his chimp Shemp changed to a dog named Einstein.
6.  Michael J. Fox had always been the first choice for Marty, but he was unavailable due to scheduling conflicts with his work on "Family Ties". As "Family Ties" co-star Meredith Baxter was pregnant at the time, Fox was carrying a lot more of the show than usual. The show's producer Gary David Goldberg simply couldn't afford to let Fox go. Zemeckis and Gale then cast Eric Stoltz as Marty based on his performance in "Mask" (1985). After four weeks of filming Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale felt that Stoltz wasn't right for the part and Stoltz agreed. By this stage, Baxter was back fully on the show and Goldberg agreed to let Fox go off to make the film. Fox worked out a schedule to fulfill his commitment to both projects. Every day during production, he drove straight to the movie set after taping of the show was finished and averaged about five hours of sleep per day. The bulk of the production was filmed from 6pm to 6am, with the daylight scenes filmed on weekends. Reshooting Stoltz's scenes added $3 million dollars to the budget.   
7.  Canadian pop singer Corey Hart was asked to screen test for the part of Marty.  C. Thomas Howell was considered.  Ralph Macchio turned down the role of Marty McFly, thinking the movie was about "A kid, a car, and plutonium pills."   
8.  The Screen Actors Guild can't have two people with the same name on their books. So Michael J. Fox inserted the letter J in his name to differentiate himself from an actor called Michael Fox.
9.  Lea Thompson was cast as Lorraine McFly because she had acted opposite Eric Stoltz, the original actor cast as Marty, in "The Wild Life".
10.  John Lithgow, Dudley Moore, and Jeff Goldblum were all considered for the role of Doc Brown.
11.  Producer Neil Canton offered the role of Doc Brown to Christopher Lloyd after having worked together on "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension". Lloyd originally turned it down, but changed his mind after his wife convinced him to take the role. He improvised some of his lines.
12.  Tim Robbins was considered for the role of Biff Tannen.
13.  Executive producer Steven Spielberg initially had some reservations about hiring composer Alan Silvestri, having been unimpressed by Silvestri's score for "Romancing the Stone" (also directed by Robert Zemeckis). During a preview screening in which the film was accompanied by a temp track that only used part of Silvestri's score, Spielberg commented to Robert Zemeckis that a particularly grand cue was 'the sort of music the film needed', unaware that it was indeed one of Silvestri's cues.
14.  Alan Silvestri's orchestra for the score of the film was the largest ever assembled at that time (85 musicians).   
15.  In the opening sequence, all of Doc's clocks read 7:53 (25 minutes slow) except for one clock. It is on the floor next to the case of plutonium and it reads 8:20. There's also a black and white picture of a man hanging on the town hall clock of Hills Valley, the way it happened right before the lightning strikes it in 1955.
16.  Steven Spielberg gives a bit of a nod (of sorts) to Stanley Kubrick in the first few minutes of the film. When Marty is first over at Doc's house looking for him and doesn't find him, he hooks up his guitar to Doc's electrical equipment. The first dial he turns up is labeled CRM 114, which Kubrick used as a reference throughout many of his films.   
17.  Doc's distinctive hunched-over look developed when the filmmakers realized the extreme difference in height between Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox; Fox is 5' 4½" while Lloyd is 6' 1". To compensate for the height difference, director Robert Zemeckis used specific blocking where the two often stood far apart at different camera depths. For close ups, Lloyd would have to hunch over to appear in frame with Fox. The same approach was used in the two sequels.
18.  Christopher Lloyd based his performance as Doc Brown on a combination of physicist Albert Einstein and conductor Leopold Stokowski. Brown's pronunciation of gigawatts as "jigowatts", is based on the way a physicist whom Zemeckis and Gale met with for research said the word.   
19.  When Marty McFly leaves Doc Brown's garage because he is late for school, co-writer Bob Gale mentioned in a commentary that the garage was actually a flat put next to a Burger King restaurant in Burbank. As part of their agreement with Burger King, the studio wasn't given any money from the restaurant for their cameo, but Burger King did allow the crew to film their scenes for free and allowed them to park there.   
20.  A persistent myth is that Michael J. Fox had to learn to skateboard for the film. In fact, he was a reasonably skilled skateboarder, having ridden throughout high school. However, Per Welinder acted as a skateboarding double for the complex scenes.
21.  The man driving the jeep that Marty hangs on to at the beginning of the movie is stunt coordinator Walter Scott.
22.  In early drafts of the script, Marty's girlfriend's name is Suzy Parker.   
23.  The school that served as Hill Valley High was Whittier High School in Whittier, California just outside of Los Angeles. Richard Nixon is an alumnus (class of 1930) and Pat Nixon taught there from 1937 to 1941. Also just beyond the school is where Strickland's home is, as seen later in "Back to the Future Part II". The back side of the school can be seen as Marty jogs up to the porch.   
24.  Huey Lewis was asked by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale to write a song for the film. However, the two Bobs were not thrilled with the first song Huey brought back to them. After explaining what they were hoping for, Huey came back with "Power of Love". He was then told they needed one more song. And so, upon viewing a cut of the film, Huey got the inspiration for "Back in Time".   
25.  When Marty is being judged at the band auditions at the beginning, the judge who stands up to say he is "just too darn loud" is Huey Lewis (of 80s pop music group Huey Lewis and the News), whose songs, "The Power of Love" and "Back in Time" are featured on the movie's soundtrack, and also wrote Marty's audition song (which is a re-orchestrated version of "The Power of Love.")
26.  It took three hours in make-up to turn the 23-year-old Lea Thompson into the 47-year-old Lorraine.
27.  According to Bob Gale, in one of the early drafts of the script, Marty's original last name was McDermott, but it was thought to have too many syllables. It was Robert Zemeckis who then came up with naming him McFly.   
28.  Michael J. Fox is only ten days younger than Lea Thompson who plays his mother, and is almost three years older than his on-screen dad, Crispin Glover. This is not very surprising, since most of their scenes take place in 1955. They were cast to match their younger self's ages.
29.  Wendie Jo Sperber, who played Linda McFly, was in fact three years older than Lea Thompson who played her mother, and six years older than Crispin Glover who played her father.   
30.  Crispin Glover based his performance as 47 year old George in the early part of the film on Jack Nance's portrayal of Henry Spencer in "Eraserhead". While filming George's writing scene in 1955, Crispin attempted to have the scene shot with his hair standing straight up, like that of Henry Spencer. When Robert Zemeckis rejected the idea, saying it wouldn't match what was shot the previous day, Crispin replied, "Brando never matched".
31.  According to an interview he did on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson", Crispin Glover lost his voice due to nervousness while filming Back to the Future. For some scenes, he had to silently mouth his lines, with his voice being dubbed in later at a recording studio.
32.  In the original script, Doc Brown and Marty sell bootleg videos in order to fund the time machine.
33.  The Twin Pines Mall is, in fact, the Puente Hills Mall in City of Industry, California. Today, JCPenney is no longer an anchor there.
34.  The production ultimately used three real DeLoreans.
35.  The DeLorean was deliberately selected for its general appearance and gull wing doors, in order to make it plausible that people in 1955 would presume it to be an alien spacecraft.   
36.  The DeLorean time machine is a licensed, registered vehicle in the state of California. While the vanity license plate used in the film says "OUTATIME", the DeLorean's actual license plate reads 3CZV657.
37.  The DeLorean used in the trilogy was a 1981 DMC-12 model, with a 6-cylinder PRV (Peugeot/Renault/Volvo) engine. The base for the nuclear-reactor was made from the hubcap from a Dodge Polaris.  It was stated that the DeLorean had a 4-cylinder engine, but that statement was false.
38.  The script never called for Marty to repeatedly bang his head on the gull-wing door of the DeLorean; this was improvised during filming as the door mechanism became faulty.
39.  According to Michael J. Fox on the 2010 DVD/Blu-Ray interviews, the interior of the DeLorean was so tight due to the added props, that every time he had to shift gears, he would repeatedly hit his forearm on the handle that turns on the time circuits and he would also rap his knuckles hard against the time display board. If you pay attention during the car chase with the terrorists, you can hear these hits every time Marty uses the shifter.
40.  Writers Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis actually received a fan letter from John DeLorean after the film's release, thanking them for using his car in the movie.   
41.  The picture of Mayor Red Thomas on the election car in 1955 is set decorator Hal Gausman.   
42.  Biff's catchphrases "make like a tree and get outta here" and "butthead" were improvised by Thomas F. Wilson.
43.  Thomas F. Wilson almost had his collarbone broken in the scene where Marty and Biff are about to fight in the cafeteria, as Eric Stoltz (then cast as Marty) roughed up Tom for real, take after take, despite repeated requests from Tom to tone down the aggression. Tom later said he was about to return the favor during filming of the car park scene outside the dance, but Eric was fired before that confrontation could take place.
44.  When Thomas F. Wilson is asked about "Back to the Future" by enthusiastic fans, he will often hand them a postcard of frequently asked questions as a timesaver.   
45.  A Texaco gas station is shown in both 1955 and 1985. Interestingly, Christopher Lloyd's maternal grandfather was one of the founders of the Texaco oil company.   
46.  Doc Brown's car in 1955 is a 1950 Packard Super Eight convertible.   
47.  When Marty tells Doc that Ronald Reagan is President in 1985, Doc scoffs by asking if Jane Wyman is the First Lady. Wyman had actually been married to Ronald Reagan from 1940 to 1948, though Reagan was already married to Nancy Reagan in 1955.  Doc Brown also says "I suppose Jack Benny is the Secretary of the Treasury!" This is a reference to Benny's stage/screen persona as a "tightwad" with money.   
48.  While filming the "parking" scene with Marty and young Lorraine in the car, the production crew decided to play a practical joke at Michael J. Fox's expense. The scene called for Fox to drink from a prop liquor bottle filled with water and do a spit take when he sees Lorraine with a cigarette. For a specific take however, the prop liquor bottle was switched for one which contained real alcohol inside. Fox, unaware of this, performed the scene and drank from the bottle, only to discover the switch after-the-fact. The full gag is featured on the "Outtakes" section of the DVD.   
49.  The space alien gag first appeared in the screenplay's third draft, with the primary difference being that it was to be done to Biff.   
50.  Marty's guitars used throughout the movie: - Erlewine Chiquita ("big amp" sequence) - Ibanez black Strat copy (scenes of Marty's band performing in the 80s) - Gibson 1963 ES-345TD (Marty performing at the dance)
51.  Musician Mark Campbell did all of Michael J. Fox's singing. He's credited as "Marty McFly".
52.  Marty McFly mimics famous rock stars during the later part of his performance at the school dance, when he starts playing heavy metal. His kicking of speakers (The Who), playing the guitar while lying down (Angus Young of AC/DC), hopping across the stage with one leg kicked up (Chuck Berry) and his solo (Jimi Hendrix/Edward Van Halen).   
53.  Though the film "Marty" won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1955, Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale say in the DVD QandA session that they were not aware of this fact when they named their main character Marty. Both films also have a diner owner named Lou.   
54.  From the day the film wrapped to the day it was released was a mere 9 and a half weeks, an unprecedentedly short lead time for a major movie release.   
55.  The test audience to whom the movie was initially screened was not told that the movie was intended to be a comedy. Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale recalled that the atmosphere in the cinema started to get really tense during the scene where Einstein the dog is sent through time, because the audience was expecting that something gruesome had happened to the dog.  Also, when this movie was previewed for the test audience, Industrial Light and Magic had not completed the final DeLorean-in-flight shot, and the last several minutes of the movie were previewed in black and white. It didn't matter, as the audience roared in approval of the final scene anyway.
56.  Crispin Glover has claimed to have only seen the film once, shortly after its release. In contrast, Christopher Lloyd has stated that when he occasionally stumbles across a "Back to the Future" film while channel surfing, he will often sit and watch it.
57.  As of 2011, the Hill Valley clock tower set has been through four different fires. The first one happened shortly after the finishing of "Back to the Future Part II" where all the original surrounding buildings burned to the ground by lightning. The second fire in 1994 almost destroyed the structure. In 2008, the fire that destroyed the nearby "King Kong" ride/set, along with two archive vaults and the New York street, slightly scorched the tower.  Also in 2008 a massive fire broke out in the back-lot destroying two archive video vaults and the New York set used for "Spider-Man 3", which is right across from the Hill Valley clock tower, which was minorly scorched by the time the fire was out.   
58.  On 10 November 2010 Bob Gale received a plaque from the principal of Whitter High School, aka Hill Valley High School in dedication of the film. This plaque can be seen by the students of the school near the front end of the building stating that "Back to the Future" had been shot there.   
And now you know.
The parts of the script with references to President Ronald Reagan needed to be reviewed by the White House for approval so as not to offend the President. Producers had some concerns over Reagan's reaction to Doc Brown's famous line mocking the improbability of his being President in 1985, but Reagan was said to get a real kick out of it.   
Apparently former president Ronald Reagan was amused by Doc Brown's disbelief that an actor like him could become president, so much so that he had the projectionist stop and replay the scene. He also seemed to enjoy it so much that he even made a direct reference of the film in his 1986 State of the Union address: "As they said in the film 'Back to the Future', 'Where we're going, we don't need roads.'"   
Please enjoy these numerous picture stills from the film, including a couple taken behind-the-scenes...






Marty McFly: Hey, Doc, we better back up. We don't have enough road to get up to 88.
Dr. Emmett Brown: Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads.