Welcome to an exciting year-long project here at The Nerdy. 1983 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 four dozen.
Yes, we’re insane, but 1983 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 1983 so that it is their true 40th anniversary. 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 November 18th, 1983, and we’re off to see A Night in Heaven and The Big Score.
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 numerous episodes and it’s fun checking off their thoughts against my own. Check them out over at Vintage Video Podcast.
A Night in Heaven
The 1980s parade of unlikable main characters continues right into another ‘older woman takes up with a younger man’ trope that the 80s seemed to love. A Night in Heaven joins the likes of Private Lessons, My Tutor, Valley Girl, and Class when it comes to the ‘older woman, younger man’ trope, while it joins a nearly endless list of unlikable main characters.
Rick (Christopher Atkins) is a cocky college student whom it turns out works as a male dancer at night to make his way through school. Faye (Lesley Ann Warren) is his speech teacher, whom after hearing Rick crack a tasteless joke, fails him on a project. Lucky for him, Faye’s marriage is in the slumps following her rocket scientist husband getting fired, and she ends up at a strip club where Ricky is working.
Long story short: Faye sleeps with Rick… Whtiney (the husband) figures it out… takes Rick out to the middle of a lake at gunpoint and makes him strip naked before threatening him multiple times… shoots hole in the boat and leaves him out there naked and cold… heads home to where Faye apologizes and they talk out their problems like adults.
If I had a nickel for every time I had seen this plot…
The film is an incoherent mess with little to no redeeming qualities. How this film ever made it into theaters is beyond me.
The Big Score
When you watch a movie about a rogue cop taking on the mob, you don’t expect the film to devolve into, “I killed your family pet!” as the main way they send warnings to one another. But, here we are.
Det. Frank Hooks (Fred Williamson) gets accused of stealing money from a crime scene, and now suspended from the force, he can go after the big drug lord (Joe Spinell) with impunity.
Cue the murder of two family pets!
Looking like it was shot on a budget of a $1.50 and cup of coffee, The Big Score meanders through a lackluster script that seems more interested in watching Nancy Wilson sing – she plays Frank’s sometimes girlfriend, Angie – then actually developing characters. It also seems to have an odd obsession with everyone knows where Frank is at all times as he receives phone call after phone call when he’s in Angie’s apartment… when he’s at the nightclub where she performs, and so on. If Frank is in a random spot, he will receive a phone call there.
The Big Score feels like a film that was trying to recapture the highs of the blaxploitation film genre of the 70s, and had no idea what made those films actually work. Considering everyone involved, they should have had a better understanding, but it just didn’t work wna we were left with a movie that just misfires on nearly every turn.
1983 Movie Reviews will return on Dec. 2, 2023 with Sahara and The Dresser!