Tagged: 1980s

The Thing: Kurt Russell as R.J. MacReady

Kurt Russell as R.J. MacReady in The Thing

Kurt Russell as R.J. MacReady in The Thing (1982)

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Kurt Russell as R.J. MacReady, helicopter pilot

Antarctica, Winter 1982

Film: The Thing
Release Date: June 25, 1982
Director: John Carpenter
Costume Supervisors: Ronald I. Caplan, Trish Keating, and Gilbert Loe

Background

We’re not gettin’ out of here alive… but neither is that thing.

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the release of The Thing, which premiered June 25, 1982 and remains the personal favorite of director John Carpenter. Four days ago on June 21, British Antarctic research stations would have observed their Midwinter Day celebration that typically includes watching horror movies about being trapped in the snow such as The Thing and The Shining.

Indeed, the action begins during “first goddamn week of winter” grumbles R.J. MacReady, a grizzled helicopter pilot embedded with an American scientific research crew stationed in Antarctica. The U.S. Outpost 31 crew is baffled by the sudden appearance of a Norwegian gunman shooting at what appears to be a relatively benign wolfdog (Jed). “Maybe we’re at war with Norway,” quips Nauls (T.K. Carter), the cook, who more helpfully offers that “five minutes is enough to put a man over down here” as the team mulls over the gunman’s possible motives.

That night, it’s not the Norwegian who the crew needs to be alarmed about, but instead the curious creature locked up with the dogs. As their canine handler Clark (Richard Masur) warns Mac:

It’s weird and pissed off, whatever it is…

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Secret Honor: Philip Baker Hall as Nixon

Philip Baker Hall as Richard M. Nixon in Secret Honor

Philip Baker Hall as Richard M. Nixon in Secret Honor (1984)

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Philip Baker Hall as Richard M. Nixon, disgraced former U.S. President

New Jersey, early 1980s

Film: Secret Honor
Release Date: July 6, 1984
Director: Robert Altman

Background

This week, we learned that the great Philip Baker Hall died at the age of 90. Familiar as a recurring face in Paul Thomas Anderson movies and as the anachronistic, straight-talking “library cop” Bookman on an early Seinfeld episode, Hall’s breakthrough screen performance was reprising his stage role as a disgraced Richard Nixon in Secret Honor.

“You have read in the press the reasons for the Watergate affair. Today, my client is going to reveal to you the reasons behind the reasons,” Hall narrates into a tape recorder as the now-former President Nixon. It was fifty years ago today when five burglars were caught breaking into the DNC headquarters at the Watergate hotel, igniting a political scandal that resulted in the fall of a president and a widespread cynical distrust of American government.

Subtitled “A Political Myth”, Secret Honor was originally a one-man play written by Donald Freed and Arnold M. Stone, who adapted their work for Robert Altman’s film of the same name. Avoiding caricature of an easily caricatured man, Hall portrayed Nixon—the only human who ever appears on screen—who spends the film’s hour-and-a-half runtime ranting to the contents of his study, specifically a tape recorder, an increasingly empty bottle of Scotch, a loaded revolver, his mother’s grand piano, and portraits of presidents and significant figures in his life from Henry Kissinger to his own mother. Continue reading

Stranger Things: Steve Harrington’s Members Only Jacket

Joe Keery as Steve Harrington on Stranger Things

Joe Keery as Steve Harrington on Stranger Things (Episode 2.05: “Dig Dug”)

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Joe Keery as Steve Harrington, popular high school senior

Indiana, Fall 1984

Series: Stranger Things
Episodes:
– “Chapter Five: Dig Dug” (Episode 2.05, dir. Andrew Stanton)
– “Chapter Six: The Spy” (Episode 2.06, dir. Andrew Stanton)
– “Chapter Eight: The Mind Flayer” (Episode 2.08, dir. The Duffer Brothers)
– “Chapter Nine: The Gate” (Episode 2.09, dir. The Duffer Brothers)
Streaming Date: October 27, 2017
Creator:
 The Duffer Brothers
Costume Designer: Kim Wilcox

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

This Friday, Netflix welcomes viewers back to Stranger Things with the fourth and penultimate season of the streaming phenomenon that blends elements of horror and sci-fi through a nostalgic 1980s lens.

One of my favorite character arcs on Stranger Things has followed Steve Harrington from the prototypical bullying jock he was at the start of the series into an affable ally who eagerly jumps in to assist and protect our young heroes against the series’ otherworldly antagonists. Continue reading

Joaquin Phoenix as Joker

Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck

Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck in Joker (2019)

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Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck, aka “Joker”, disturbed and disgraced ex-party clown

Gotham City, Fall 1981

Film: Joker
Release Date: October 4, 2019
Director: Todd Phillips
Costume Designer: Mark Bridges

Background

Could there be a more appropriate character to focus on for April Fool’s Day than the Joker?

When I was growing up, the only two actors who had prominently portrayed Gotham City’s psychopathic prankster were Cesar Romero in the classic ’60s series and Jack Nicholson, who received top billing despite not playing the title role in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman. Since then, we’ve seen a handful of actors cycle through the iconic role, beginning with Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight (2008), a few appearances by Ben Affleck and Jared Leto, and most recently a smaller part performed by Barry Keoghan in The Batman (2022).

Joaquin Phoenix received the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in the eponymous role in Joker, a reimagined origin story that pays significant homage to Martin Scorsese’s character studies like Taxi Driver (1976) and The King of Comedy (1983)—both starring Robert De Niro, who would appear in Joker—as well as twists of social commentary and themes from Death Wish (1973) and Fight Club (1999).

Many loved it and many hated it, but there’s little doubting Phoenix’s effectiveness intensity chronicling the troubled Arthur Fleck’s transformation from a desperate wannabe stand-up comedian who feels let down by society into a chaotic killer who unintentionally inspires anarchic revolution and class warfare. Continue reading

When Harry Met Sally: A Nomex Flight Jacket on New Year’s Eve

Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally (1989)

Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan assure their old acquaintance won’t be forgot among fellow New Year revelers as the eponymous leads in When Harry Met Sally… (1989)

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Billy Crystal as Harry Burns, sarcastic political consultant

New York City, New Year’s Eve 1988

Film: When Harry Met Sally…
Release Date: July 14, 1989
Director: Rob Reiner
Costume Designer: Gloria Gresham

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Happy New Year’s Eve!

One of my favorite romantic comedies, When Harry Met Sally… follows its two eponymous leads over twelve years of off-and-on friendship from their contentious meeting during a ride home from the University of Chicago up through a climactic New Year’s Eve party. Continue reading

Boogie Nights: Don Cheadle’s White ’80s Suit

Don Cheadle as Buck Swope in Boogie Nights (1997)

Don Cheadle as Buck Swope in Boogie Nights (1997)

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Don Cheadle as Buck Swope, adult film star-turned-stereo entrepreneur

Los Angeles, Winter 1983

Film: Boogie Nights
Release Date: October 10, 1997
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Costume Designer: Mark Bridges

WARNING! Spoilers and gore ahead!

Background

Approaching the new year and the prospect of fresh starts, I wanted to revisit the modern masterpiece Boogie Nights and in particular one of its ensemble cast that I have always found most compelling: Don Cheadle’s performance as the well-meaning but oft-hindered Buck Swope, a former porn actor looking to build a new life with his wife and fellow ex-porn star Jessie (Melora Walters).

After his employment history interferes with his prospects to fund his entrepreneurial endeavor to open his own stereo shop, Buck encounters a reversal of fortune just two weeks before Christmas. Continue reading

For Your Eyes Only: Bond’s Sheepskin Jacket and New Lotus

Roger Moore as James Bond in For Your Eyes Only (1981)

Roger Moore as a Lotus-driving James Bond in For Your Eyes Only (1981)

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Roger Moore as James Bond, British government agent

Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, Spring 1981

Film: For Your Eyes Only
Release Date: June 24, 1981
Director: John Glen
Costume Designer: Elizabeth Waller

Background

Today’s post extends #CarWeek to close out this year’s 40th anniversary celebration of my favorite of Roger Moore’s Bond movies, For Your Eyes Only, with a wintry look apropos the 00-7th of December as Mr. Bond drives into the ski resort town of Cortina d’Ampezzo behind the wheel of his latest Q-issued Lotus, dressed for warmth in shearling and cashmere.

Following a tip from the Italian secret service, Bond has arrived to interface with MI6’s “man in northern Italy”—Luigi Ferrara (John Moreno)—as he surveils Locque, the mysterious man he had observed paying off Hector Gonzales. Continue reading

Cheers: Sam Malone’s Thanksgiving Madras Plaid Jacket and Knitted Tie

Ted Danson as Sam Malone on Cheers (Episode 5.09: "Thanksgiving Orphans")

Ted Danson as Sam Malone on Cheers (Episode 5.09: “Thanksgiving Orphans”)

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Ted Danson as Sam Malone, bartender and former baseball star

Boston, Thanksgiving 1986

Series: Cheers
Episode: “Thanksgiving Orphans” (Episode 5.09)
Air Date: November 27, 1986
Director:
James Burrows
Created by: Glen Charles, Les Charles, and James Burrows
Costume Designer: Robert L. Tanella

WARNING! Spoilers ahead! 

Background

Happy Thanksgiving! This iconic episode from Cheers‘ fifth season aired 35 years ago this week on Thanksgiving 1986 and has often been included on lists ranking the greatest TV episodes of all time.

Decades before your friends started hosting Friendsgiving celebrations, Carla Tortelli (Rhea Perlman) hosted the Cheers crew at her home, filling the void left by her many children, most of whom are spending the holiday with their dad, Nick; indeed, the fact that we don’t get any Turkey Day time with Dan Hedaya’s character may be the one downside to this marvelous episode.

Of course, the rest of the gang is all here: barkeep Sam Malone (Ted Danson), his famously on-again/off-again paramour Diane Chambers (Shelley Long), her lonely ex Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer), honorary barstools Norm (George Wendt) and Cliff (John Ratzenberger), and novice bartender Woody Boyd (Woody Harrelson), who frequently urges “this is gonna be the best Thanksgiving ever!” Continue reading

Roger Moore’s Tracksuit in A View to a Kill

Roger Moore as James Bond in A View to a Kill (1985)

Roger Moore as James Bond in A View to a Kill (1985)

Vitals

Roger Moore as James Bond, British government agent

Château de Chantilly, France, Spring 1985

Film: A View to a Kill
Release Date: May 22, 1985
Director: John Glen
Costume Designer: Emma Porteous

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Well, now I’ve really gone and done it. After writing about the goombahs’ tracksuits in Goodfellas and The Sopranos over the last few years, I finally decided that this 00-7th of the month called for me to scribe my ode to Old Man 007 dressing himself in Paulie Walnuts’ finest in my least favorite James Bond movie, A View to a Kill.

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The Beetlejuice Striped Suit

Michael Keaton in Beetlejuice (1988)

Michael Keaton in Beetlejuice (1988)

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Michael Keaton as Betelgeuse, boorish “bio-exorcist”

Connecticut, Summer 1987

Film: Beetlejuice
Release Date: March 30, 1988
Director: Tim Burton
Costume Designer: Aggie Guerard Rodgers

Background

Happy Halloween!

As delightfully and unapologetically weird as its director, Beetlejuice was Tim Burton’s follow-up to his directorial debut, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. The darkly comic story about a recently deceased couple summoning an unprincipled poltergeist was developed by Michael McDowell, Warren Skaaren, and Larry Wilson, with Burton channeling the cheap B-movies of decades past in his interpretation that balanced humor and horror.

In less than a decade of screen roles, Michael Keaton had already established a range of versatility between zany comedy (Night Shift) and thoughtful drama (Clean and Sober) before he took on the outlandish quasi-title role as the uh, well, Julliard-trained Betelgeuse. Continue reading