1982 Was The Best Year Ever... For Movies - Caleb Jones

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
  • Tootsie
  • An Officer and a Gentleman
  • Rocky III
  • Porky’s
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  • 48 HRS
  • Poltergeist
  • The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
  • Annie
  • The Verdict
  • Gandhi
  • First Blood
  • The Toy
  • Firefox
  • 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:

  • Tron
  • 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
  • Diner
  • 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.

Crazy.

9 Comments on “1982 Was The Best Year Ever… For Movies

  1. Holy shit Caleb so many of my favs in the same year!  Hollywood is really struggling these days in my mind-too many remakes, rehashes, etc.. and very few original ideas anymore.  Not sure what happened to the creative process.

    My personal favs:

    Star Trek 2 (in my top 5 movies of all time actually-Khan is one of the best villains in cinema)

    Conan  (just pure badassery from Arnold in his prime)

    The Thing (loved all things John Carpenter back then; Big Trouble in Little China, They Live, Halloween, Escape from NY…)

    The Road Warrior (still the best one even though i enjoyed the latest one)

    Blade Runner (not sure what to think about this “sequel” coming out)

    Beastmaster (this one always brings back great childhood memories even though it’s kinda hokey.  The psycho BDSM looking guys always freaked me out as a kid)

  2. Hollywood is really struggling these days in my mind-too many remakes, rehashes, etc.. and very few original ideas anymore.  Not sure what happened to the creative process.

    Much of it is economic. Making big blockbusters that flop has become so expensive and scary for Hollywood that they’ll only do it if they “know” they’ll make money, like if it’s a Star Wars, Transformers, or superhero movie. So you’ve got this weird thing now where every movie is either a huge, stupid blockbuster or a very cheap, low-budget affair.

  3. Damn, I only heard about half of these movies since I wasn’t even born yet. Really should take a look at some of these.

    I do have one question. Why did you almost completely stop reviewing movies on this blog? I know you had readers vote on what kind of content they like most but it’s still your personal blog. It would be nice to see a movie review every once in a while.

  4. I do have one question. Why did you almost completely stop reviewing movies on this blog? I know you had readers vote on what kind of content they like most but it’s still your personal blog.

    Then you answered your own question. The audience has spoken, and I’m here to make money, thus I do what the majority of the audience wants.

    It would be nice to see a movie review every once in a while.

    I already do. I just talked about the Wonder Woman movie and I reviewed the last Star Wars movie. I will continue to post reviews… every once in a while.

  5. Das Boat 1982?

    Wtf?

    That is the most intense movie (and mini-series) of male camaderie and gutsy leadership of all time – Go Watch.

  6. I think 1984 was better. And it was the year I was born, what a coincidence!

    Terminator
    Red Dawn
    Top Secret
    Conan The Destroyer
    Missing in Action
    Ghostbusters
    Romancing the Stone
    Repo Man
    Starman
    Spinal Tap
    Beverly Hills Cop
    Revenge of the Nerds
    Police Academy
    The Last Starfighter
    Dreamscape
    Temple of Doom
    Karate Kid
    Bachelor Party
    The Toxic Avenger
    Runaway
    Search For spock
    Gremlins
    Footloose
    Splash
    Nightmare on Elm Street
    Dune ( l don’t like dune, but lots of people do)

     

  7. That is the most intense movie (and mini-series) of male camaderie and gutsy leadership of all time – Go Watch.

    Yep, it was fucking awesome.

    I think 1984 was better.

    No. Great list of some movies I really like, but if you compare that list based on pure quality (not taste, but quality) to the 1982 list, 1982 still comes out ahead.

    And Romancing the Stone and Police Academy were the shit. I should re-watch both of those.

  8.  
    I was pretty young in 1982, but as I got a little older (grade school age), I loved watching Poltergeist. It was my all-time favorite movie. My poor friends got stuck watching it over and over with me, somehow I never got tired of it.  The second Poltergeist was pretty good, but not quite like the first one!
    I was reading about the cast of Poltergeist and boy, was there drama. I read the following:

    “Dominique Dunne, the 22-year-old actress who portrayed big sister Dana Freeling in the first Poltergeist film (released in June 1982), died on 4 November 1982 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, four days after her boyfriend choked her into a coma from which she never awoke. Weeks earlier, Dunne had ended her abusive live-in relationship with Los Angeles chef John Sweeney, but on the night of 30 October 1982, he dropped by their former shared residence to plead with her to take him back. The conversation did not go as he’d hoped, and the encounter ended with him strangling her for what was later determined to be 4 to 6 minutes, then leaving her for dead in her driveway.”

    Check out the link about what happened to many of the cast members of Poltergeist.

    http://www.snopes.com/movies/films/poltergeist.asp

     

  9. Yeah I’ve read that same stuff too. Fucked up.

    The “Bruce Lee Curse” is even weirder.

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