I’ve been doing a fun thing lately where I play some of the movies from my childhood in the early 80’s in the background as I work on more grunt-work tasks. It’s been super fun to go back and revisit some of these movies, or watch some of these movies for the first time all the way through (though I’m not really paying full attention to them, since I’m working), or to even watch a few for the first time; those movies I wanted to watch as a kid but was never able to.
I started with 1980, when I was eight years old, and watched a few movies like Caddyshack, Raging Bull, My Bodyguard, The Blues Brothers, and The Octagon. Most of you who are younger than me probably won’t recognize most of those names, but those were some serious ass movies back when I was a kid.
Then I moved up to 1981. Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of my all-time favorite movies, and I’ve seen it so many times I didn’t need to see it again. Same with movies like Stripes, Excalibur, and Time Bandits. So instead I watched lesser-known movies that I barely remembered, like Taps, Sharky’s Machine, Private Lessons, and Thief. Man! Really good movies! (Private Lessons was weird and creepy though. It was about a 16 year-old boy banging his 30 year-old housekeeper, with full-on sex scenes, and unlike today, the two actors were their actual portrayed ages. Ah, the 80’s.)
Then I moved up to 1982, and I was shocked. I could be wrong, but I think 1982 was perhaps the greatest single year for movies of all time. I’ll present the evidence and you can see if you agree.
Here are 20 highest-grossing films of 1982, listed in order of box office receipts. Get ready. You’re going to shit your pants.
- E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
- An Officer and a Gentleman
- Rocky III
- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
- 48 HRS
- The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
- The Verdict
- First Blood
- The Toy
- The Dark Crystal
- Conan the Barbarian
- The Sword and the Sorcerer
- Best Friends
- Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip
Holy god damn! Regardless of your personal taste, pretty much every one of those movies was very well done.
Seriously, can you think of any other year in your life where the top-selling 20 movies of the year were actually good?
Just in terms of my taste, Rocky III, Star Trek II, First Blood, The Dark Crystal, and Conan the Barbarian are some of my favorite movies of all time. E.T., Porky’s, 48 Hours, Poltergeist, Firefox, The Toy, and The Sword and the Sorcerer were some of the seminal movies of my era and my childhood. Live on the Sunset Strip is considered one of the best stand-up comic movies of all time. All in the same year. Insane!
That’s not all. Here’s a few more “little” movies you “might” have heard of that came out that same year but didn’t quite crack the top 20:
- Blade Runner
- The Thing
- The Road Warrior
- Airplane II: The Sequel
- Fast Times at Ridgemont High
- The Last Unicorn
- Pink Floyd: The Wall
- Night Shift
- The Secret of NIMH
- The Beastmaster
- Das Boat
…all in 1982! Isn’t that fucking crazy? I couldn’t believe this as I looked through the movie release lists for 1982. I lived through that year and remember it very well; I was 10 years old and remember seeing most of these movies at the time. For a kid, it was great. Movies were awesome. Dungeons and Dragons and fantasy were huge. Computers were just starting to get cool. America was still in a recession in 1982, but if you were a kid, you didn’t notice.
I had no idea at the time that I probably lived through the greatest year for movies in all of human history.