Monday, June 17, 2013

The Movies I Paid To See in 1981

For most of the seventies and a little way into the eighties, I kept meticulous lists of what movies I saw and where. And what I thought of them! There were separate lists for movies in theaters and movies on television. The peak seemed to be 1974 where I saw 83 movies in theaters as documented on my high school journal blog. By 1981, the great Moviola repertory cinema had opened! But I was an adult--sort of--at age 22 and there were more demands on my time. I guess that's why I only paid to see 56 that year. These 56.

1-- Home Movies-Moviola

This was Brian DePalma's film school project movie starring a manic Kirk Douglas and the Director's then-wife, sexy Nancy Allen.

2--Plan Nine From Outer Space-Moviola

First time I had seen this Ed Wood "classic" after reading about it most of my life it seemed!

3--Any Which Way You Can-Florence

Perhaps my least favorite Eastwood picture.

4--Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen-The Studio

More political incorrectness than you would have thought possible by that point but still kinda fun.

5--Red Dust--Emery

Wow! This Gable/Harlow pre-Code classic just blew me away!

6-She Done Him Wrong-Moviola

Was never a big Mae West fan but I had to learn that for myself.

7-Monkey Business-Moviola

The Marx Brothers, on the other hand...This was the second time I'd seen this one on the big screen!

8--Eyewitness-The Studio

Seemed good at the time but I can barely recall it now. With William Hurt.


Peter Bogdanovich's Karloff picture from '68, another one I had long read about!

10--Sunday Lovers-The Studio

A mostly unfunny sex comedy anthology with Gene Wilder, Roger Moore and Lynn Redgrave.

11--The Thing (From Another World)-Moviola

The original Howard Hawks production. I'd seen it on TV but big screen was better!

12--Last Embrace--Moviola

A most enjoyable Hitchcock homage from Jonathan Demme. Wth Roy Scheider.


The big budget Arthurian legend with the quirky performance by Nicol Williamson as Merlin.


By this point I was a big Who fan but had never seen this. Wasn't impressed.

15--Let It Be-Moviola

This was the third time I had seen this on the big screen. Once in 1970 and once in 1978.

16--Stir Crazy-The Studio

I love Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor but I hated Stir Crazy.

17--Rock Show-Showcase

The long-delayed feature of Wings' 1976 tour. Most of the films I saw in '81, I saw alone but I saw this with my then girlfriend Lisa.


The gorgeous but tragic Dorothy Stratten's only starring role was in this horrid sic-fi comedy

19--One Trick Pony-Moviola

I liked it but critics didn't. Paul Simon's semi-autobiographical movie about a band just like his.

20--The Hound of the Baskervilles-Moviola

Dudley Moore was a huge star by this point so his and Peter Cook's Holmes parody (mixed with the Exorcist!) got a belated stateside release in spite of it's being the worst thing either of them had ever done.

21--Three Stooges Festival-Moviola

False Alarms, Pop Goes the Easel, Mummy's Dummies, Whoops I'm An Indian!, Wee Wee Monsieur and Tassels In the Air

22--Seems Like Old Times-Newport

Proving lightning doesn't strike twice, the Foul Play team of Chevy and Goldie reunite without any sparks at all.

23--One Last Score-Cinema X

Some XXX nonsense about gangsters I think. Just happened to be double-featured to the one below.

24--Alice In Wonderland-Cinema X

The delightful seventies adult musical, this was the XXX version with the hardcore scenes added back. It worked much better without them.

25--Superman II-Showcase
Far from the perfect film many seem to recall, I just watched it again this week and it's still super-enjoyable!

26--For Your Eyes Only-Skywalk

On the other hand, I can't recall a single thing about this late Moore Bond.

27--Raiders of the Lost Ark-Showcase

I made the mistake of waiting 'til it had been open a month before I saw it so I had heard all about it and it couldn't possibly live up to its reputation.

28--The Projectionist-Moviola

Chuck McCann's only starring feature and Rodney Dangerfield's first film role I believe.

29--Love Happy-Emery

Bad Marx Brothers is still better than most anything else.

30--A Night in Casablanca-Emery

See above.

31--Blow Out-Skywalk

The first film I liked John Travolta in--Brian DePalma's Blow-up homage.

32--Zorro, the Gay Blade--The Studio

More political incorrectness but Hamilton is a hoot here!

33--Under the Rainbow-Skywalk

Chevy Chase and Carrie Fisher and a whole bunch of munchkins. Could have worked but...

34--Rufus Jones For President-Moviola

Ethel Waters and a very young Sammy Davis Jr. This was the opening show for the next item.

35--Betty Boop's Scandals of 1974-Moviola

I had never seen Betty cartoons before and was supposed to meet my friend Michelle there but couldn't find her! We compare notes later on the phone.

36--Steamboat Bill, Jr.-Moviola

Keaton! He had already become a favorite in recent years and this remains one of his best pictures in my opinion.

37--Why Worry? Moviola

Never got into Harold Lloyd as much but I took any chance to catch his work on the big screen as well.

38--Escape From New York-Skywalk

Loved Carpenter, Russell and Van Cleef. Why didn't I love this movie?

39--The Great Muppet Caper-Florence

I gave it 3 stars so I enjoyed it but I remember nothing about it. Was this the one with Diana Rigg?


Albert Finney horror film. It was just kinda there.

41--The Jolson Story-Moviola

Wow! So much old-fashioned fun! Star Larry Parks' son Andrew, a fun actor himself, is now a FB friend.

42--The First Moviola Cartoon Festival-Moviola

Perhaps the most fun I had all year in a theater with everything from Clampett Daffy Ducks to Fleischer Popeyes and tons of rare stuff including the then-rare Porky Pig "outtake."

43--Assault On Precinct 13-Moviola
My favorite John Carpenter movie and one of my favorite scores of all time as well...also by Carpenter.

44--Heavy Metal-Showcase

Ridiculously overindulgent animated feature based on stories from the adult comics mag. Saw this with Lisa who liked it more than I did.

45--Body Heat-Skywalk

This is the one which caused me to name William Hurt as my favorite actor for a while. Kathleen Turner is hot and even Ted Danson makes a memorable impression.


 I wasn't expecting much and came away quite the fan of Bill Murray. Also with PJ Soles and one of the last major roles for Warren Oates.

47--The Best of Gail Palmer-Cinema X

Can't even recall why I went to see this compilation but I remember it being dull in spite of Gail Palmer's then-positive rep as a genuinely good XXX director.

48--Sins Of My Daughter-Cinema X

Who remembers? Again, it was just a second feature. the only thing I rated "BOMB" all year. Can't even find it listed online.

49--Jupiter's Thigh-Moviola

Dear Inspector was a French film I still have never gotten to see after missing it at an art house when it was new. This was its delightful sequel!

50--An American Werewolf in London-Florence

I won tickets to see this on the TV game show Flippo's Screen Test. Lisa went with me.

51-Halloween II-Skywalk

As much as I loved the first one, I hated this Carpenter-less sequel. Truly hated.

52--Time Bandits-Showcase

Lisa accompanied me again and we had to leave early due to my kidney stone attack! It would be years before I saw the rest on TV.

53--The Third Man-Moviola

This was the first film I saw after my mother's death three days earlier. In spite of that, it quickly became a favorite.


Cagney's return to the big screen was in this disappointing epic, the first picture I saw with friend Terri who would become my film going partner for years afterwards.

55--Ghost Story-Skywalk
The last film for Melvyn Douglas and Fred Astaire. Another one I saw with Terri.

56--The French Lieutenant's Woman-Carousel

Seems like Terri had free passes for this one and neither of us was all too excited about seeing it. I liked it better than she did. My first Streep!

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