Welcome to an exciting year-long project here at The Nerdy. 1980 was an exciting year for films giving us a lot of films that would go on to be beloved favorites and cult classics. It was also the start to a major shift in cultural and societal norms, and some of those still reverberate to this day.
We’re going to pick and choose which movies we hit, but right now the list stands at nearly three dozen.
Yes, we’re insane, but 1980 was that great of a year for film.
The articles will come out – in most cases – on the same day the films hit theaters in 1980 so that it is their true 40th anniversaries. All films are also watched again for the purposes of these reviews and are not being done from memory. In some cases, it truly will be the first time we’ve seen them.
This time around it’s July 25, 1980, and we’re off to see Dressed to Kill and Caddyshack!
Quick side note: Since we launched this series this year, we’ve discovered that Vintage Video Podcast is doing the exact same project with two differences: First, it’s audio (naturally), and second, they are doing every major film. We’ve listened to a couple of episodes and it’s fun checking off their thoughts against my own. Check them out over at Vintage Video Podcast.
Dressed to Kill
One thing I love about this project is it is giving me the opportunity to get around to movies I had always meant to watch. I can remember the poster for Dressed to Kill and always meaning to get to it, but just never had.
I could have gladly gone on without seeing it.
Dressed to Kill is not a bad film by any means, it is just lifeless. The only character with any form of story arc is Kate Miller (Angie Dickinson), and she is famously killed off early in the film. We are then left with new characters entering the film that never receive any form of an arc and just seem to exist in this world.
The film is also riddled with deus ex machina moments that make no sense how they came to be. For instance, how did “Bobbi” learn that not only was the person who had observed the first murder was Liz (Nancy Allen), but also found her apartment? Liz had barely finished with the police by that point.
Then, towards the end of the film we learn that Liz has been tailed by a female detective the entire time for her safety. Great… where was she when Liz was being accosted by the men in the subway or when Bobbi tried to kill her on the train? It was Peter (Keith Gordon) that saved her. So the detective shows up only at the end because THEN it was finally too dangerous for Liz?
Dressed to Kill plays more like a reel for Brian De Palma to get other work as it focuses far more on style than story. We spend great swaths of time on building tension for very little payoff, and it becomes tiresome more than gripping.
And look, I know audio technology wasn’t the best in 1980, but the insanely over-the-top moans during sex scenes bordered on pornography levels. They were laugh-inducing more than anything else.
Definitely not a film I plan on revisiting.
From a film with no character arcs to one in search of a plot, we move on to Caddyshack.
Caddyshack is one of those movies I have seen countless times, but even then it has been some years. I was always aware it didn’t feel like a completely cohesive plot, but this time around I was blown away by just how disjointed it is. It feels like a whole lot of cute ideas were thrown into a blender and out popped this movie.
Lets run this down:
- You have the plot of Danny (Michael O’Keefe) trying to raise money to go to college
- You have another plot of a culture war between Al Czervik (Rodney Dangerfield) and Judge Elihu Smails (Ted Knight)
- Ty Webb (Chevy Chase) seems to intersect with everyone, but really exists in his own odd little side story
- Carl Spackler (Bill Murray) intermittently tries to kill the gopher, but constantly wanders off into unrelated scenes
And there’s even other more minor things going on here and there.
One has to wonder what the film would have been like if it had decided to focus on just one or two of these stories as opposed to hopping around like a rabbit on acid. Did the writers just fear they didn’t have enough material to focus that much? Was it the influence of the rise of sketch comedy? It’s unclear, but it does leave you feeling a little underserved.
All of this said, it is still an entertaining movie, or four, but the disjointed nature seems to be sticking out a bit more with time.
1980 Movie Reviews will return on Aug. 1 with The Final Countdown, The Hunter, and Raise the Titanic!
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