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 December 2nd, 1983, and we’re off to see Sahara and The Dresser.
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.
In the early 1980s, there were few women more celebrated for their beauty than Brooke Shields. So when Sahara decides to disguise her as a man – which consists of simply putting her hair up, giving her a pencil-thin mustache, and putting her in a suit – and nary a person bats an eye at it, you have to wonder just what in the world is going on.
To be fair, she is only in disguise for about three scenes, but it’s still a distracting story choice.
In 1926, R.J. Gordon (Steve Forrest) dies, and instead of mourning the passing of her father, Dale (Shields) promises her dad that she will fulfill his dream of racing their care in the Trans-African Auto Race across the Sahara. It goes without saying she gets captured in a tribal war and falls in love with Jaffar (Lambert Wilson) after she gets gifted to him by his uncle, Rassoul (John Rhys-Davies). You know, that old chestnut.
Despite being captured for multiple days, and getting caught up in a tribe war, Dale goes on to win the race thanks to the insane shortcut she took.
Lets cut to the quick: This movie is awful. I looked at how much time was left at one point and couldn’t imagine how I was only halfway through. I would have welcomed a come at that point because anything would be better than watching more of this garbage.
It’s clear that the Cannon Films… yes… THAT Cannon Films… thought they were making a sweeping romance epic. Instead, we ended up with a poorly acted film that teetered between a 1930s Valentino film and a 1960s farcical comedy.
The movie was bad from top to bottom, and no one ever needs to watch it again.
There are times when you watch a film and go, “That was amazing… and I will never watch it again.”
“Sir” (Albert Finney) is a pompous actor who feels there is nothing more important in this world than his performances of Shakespeare’s works. For 18 years he has worked with his dresser, Norman (Tom Courtenay), who knows his every whim, and how best to coax him into performing during his over-the-top moments of pompitude. As bombs literally drop around them during the height of World War II, the show must go on, and Sir and his ramshackle troupe of thespians make their way across the U.K. performing the full range of Shakespeare’s works.
But now has come the time for what may end up being Sir’s most important performance, though he won’t know it until the end of the night.
The Dresser, to be blunt, is riveting. Though you clearly know where the film is going from fairly early on, Finney and Courtenay’s performances are magnificent and captivating. Sir’s not-so-slow descent into what appears to be dementia, and Courtenay’s ‘the-show-must-go-on’ attitude that propels Sir through what will be his final performance is exquisite. Both actors put on stellar performances that, at times, feel slightly over-the-top, but feel like perfection for two men in this environment. And Courtenay’s Norman harboring not-so-thinly veiled unrequited feelings for Sir fills every corner of the screen.
It is a magnificent film from top-to-bottom, but, alas, depressing enough that I feel I shall never watch it again. It is well worth your time if you have never seen it – I had never even heard of it before this project – and I am far better off for having seen it.
1983 Movie Reviews will return on Dec. 9, 2023 with Christine, Scarface, and Sudden Impact!