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 March 4th, 1983, and we’re off to see Baby It’s You, Curtains, and My Tutor!
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.
Baby It’s You
I’ll give Baby It’s You this, it starts off as a seemingly simple Romeo & Juliet retelling, and it evolves into something very different.
Jill (Rosanna Arquette) is an upper-middle-class Jewish girl in a New Jersey high school who becomes the romantic target of recent transfer, Sheik (Vincent Spano). Sheik is a dapper dresser, but never goes to class and does nothing but cases problems in the school. Jill is an A-student and finds herself falling for this Frank Sinatra obsessed bad boy.
While the film could have taken a very easy path of a happy ending, it instead takes a turn of following these characters until they are out of high school and learning the hard way that the real world holds some hard truths for everyone. Just because you were good at something in high school doesn’t necessarily mean it will translate into your young adult years. Jill finds college a much more difficult experience, while Sheik learns what was cute when he was a teenager isn’t so adorable as an adult.
No new ground is broken here, but it’s an engaging story that takes some risks. Some pay off, some don’t, but it’s a worthwhile watch.
Sometimes I’m lucky enough to get a few weeks ahead on my film watching for this series. I’m always thrilled when I’m not working to the minute of release, but then I sometimes run into a situation such as Curtains where I struggled with “Wait… did I actually watch this?”
I remember exactly one scene from this film, which is the one you see above what has to be the world’s longest ice skating scene followed by an equally long “I think I’ll just sit here and watch this crazy person approach me until it’s too late.”
The whole film revolves around a director who works with an actress who is a bit too far down the ‘Method Acting’ road and insisted on being checked into an asylum to prepare for her most challenging role to date. Meanwhile, without warning, the director begins auditioning other women for the role at a secluded estate.
This is one of those films where something just doesn’t feel right, so I went and looked up trivia on it, and sure enough, production was a mess. The director and producer were at odds for long enough that filming actually had to be done in two groupings with different crews and even one recasting.
It’s a messy, boring film that you will forget nearly as soon as you finish watching it.
Oh… good. Remember Private Lessons from 1981? Well, it’s back for 1983. At least this time it’s mildly more palatable as the male is older, but it’s still just a weird male-fantasy story of ‘this older woman can’t resist me.’
Terry (Caren Kaye) is hired to tutor Vobby (Matt Lattanzi) in French over the summer so that he can pass a test and get into a good school. Of course, this being the 80s, there’s only one way this is doing and they end up sleeping together on a regular basis, but only after he witnesses her skinny dipping in the family pool.
There’s an odd side-story about Bobby’s friends and him trying to lose their virginity and keep ending up in odd sexual misadventures, but it allowed the film to easily drive up its nudity count.
The 80s ran rampant with these types of films, and this one was a staple of late night cable movie channels for what seemed like years. While the film is really harmless for the most part – ignoring the ickyness of the main relationship – it’s just a big nothing. You don’t feel as though these characters go on any sort of a journey other than Bobby who learns to stand up to his fad by the end. Everyone else pretty much ends the film where they began, and you wonder why you spent 97 minutes of your life expecting anything different.
All that said, it’s an almost essential viewing for anyone trying to explore 80s films as it was so ubiquitous at the time.
1983 Movie Reviews will return on March 11, 2023 with 10 to Midnight and Trenchcoat!
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