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 23rd, 1983, and we’re off to see The Man Who Loved Women and Uncommon Valor.
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.
The Man Who Loved Women
I have brought this up before, but what was it with the 1980s and the protagonists of films being wholly unlikable? I’ll get to why in a moment, but just know it’s coming.
David Fowler (Burt Reynolds) is a successful sculptor with a bit of a problem on his hands: He loves women. Every shape, size, and type. He just loves them. (Which he tells us multiple times) But his love of them leads him to more than a few issues. Not only does it impact his work, but puts his life at risk more than once.
Lets not try to paint this nicely: In the first 15 minutes of this film he obsesses over a woman’s legs, nearly causes a car accident pursuing her, lies to his insurance company to track down her license plate, makes a creepy phone call to meet her, stalks her by following her to an aerobics class, busts her tail light to trick her into coming to his house and… she sleeps with him for being persistent?
The astounding amount of ‘ick’ coming off the start of this film made it a chore to finish. I don’t like David. I don’t care how much he is trying to better himself by going to therapy. If he was an actual human being, yes, I would have more understanding of him. Of a character starring in a film, no, I have no interest in this.
While I try to view these films somewhat through the view of the time period they were made in, sometimes it is just so overwhelmingly toxic that I can’t break myself out of my modern thoughts. This is definitely one of those cases.
This is a remake of a French film. While I have never seen that work, I certainly hope it’s better than this.
The early 1980s was a hotbed for films looking back at the plight of soldiers who came home from Vietnam – such as in First Blood – and those hoping to bring back those who were left behind. Uncommon Valor falls in the latter category.
Retired Marine Colonel Jason Rhodes (Gene Hackman) has spent over a decade trying to locate his son, Frank, who he believes is still a P.O.W. somewhere near Vietnam. When he gets a lead on where he might be, and the government turns down helping him, he assembles a team to do it on their own, including some of Frank’s comrades.
Somewhere lurking in all the machismo of this film, is a decent story. There is the father who wants his son back. There are the veterans that need closure. And there is… nothing else. Every character in this film is painted with the broadest of brushes except for possibly Wilkes (Fred Ward) who was a ‘tunnel rat’ and suffered some severe trauma. Everyone else is just a caricature that you never truly get to know.
From pretty much the opening moments of the film you can predict nearly every beat of this film. In one of the worst cases of ‘foreshadowing’ I think I’ve ever seen, there is Sailor (Randall “Tex” Cobb) and his grenade necklace. If you can’t figure that out from me simply writing that out, I would be shocked.
And then there is just the problem that everything about this film feels like it was shot on a shoestring budget. They try to make you believe they’re in Laos and taking down this P.O.W. camp, but at no time does it feel like anything other than a movie set.
It’s a film filled with good actors, trying to tell an important tale, and it just lets them and the audience down too many times to be taken seriously.
And with that, 1983 has come to a close. Will we return for 1984? Yes, we will. We’re gluttons that way. But there is a twist… we already did some of 1984 in 2019. This time we will be filling in the gaps of what we missed and revisiting some films.
1984 Movie Reviews will kick off on Jan. 13, 2024 with Angel and Hot Dog – The Movie!
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