Streampix Weekend Watch: Ten ’80s Movies for a Fall Weekend

"The Breakfast Club." (Photo: Universal Pictures)

There’s much to be gleaned from a perusal of Streampix’s movie collection, a chance to catch up on some old classics, or check out something you’ve read about, but never seen.  Here’s a random selection of 10 classics from the ’80s to hunker down to on a chilly Fall weekend, when it’s getting dark much earlier and you feel like cocooning.

The Breakfast Club”: The late director John Hughes’ groundbreaking 1985 coming-of-age movie launched the careers of the so-called Brat Pack, and has been celebrated in any number of recent releases, like “The Kings of Summer,” “The Spectacular Now” and “The Way, Way Back.” See it for the performances of stars Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson and Anthony Michael Hall, who all learn plenty of life lessons in detention, although how to forge a successful career in Hollywood wasn’t actually one of them. Special moment: Nelson pumping his fist in the air in triumph over the Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me).”

Scarface”: Without Brian De Palma’s over-the-top 1983 tale of Al Pacino’s power-mad Cuban drug lord ruling the coke trade in Miami, gangsta rap might never have started. Check out “Ray Donovan” bodyguard Steven Bauer when he was a lot younger and cuter, and who could forget Tony Montana, nose covered in powder, wielding his real M-16A1 machine gun at the top of the stairs and uttering that deathless phrase in mangled Spanglish, used by everybody from hip-hop rhymers to baseball announcers describing a home run: “Say ‘ello to my li’l friend.”

The Lost Boys”: Joel Schumacher’s creepy 1987 tale foreshadowed the whole vampire craze, with Kiefer Sutherland leading a whole band of blood-sucking teens, in a film that stars both Coreys Haim and Feldman along with Jamie Gertz and Jason Patric.  The brilliance of the film is in combining an ’80s teen movie with a vampire flick, resulting in dialogue like Haim marveling at his bro Patric’s transformation into a regular Nosferatu: “My own brother, a goddamn, shit-sucking vampire. You wait ‘till mom finds out, buddy!”

Lean on Me”: “Rocky” director John Avildsen’s 1989 movie, about real-life inner city principal Joe Clark’s tough love starred Morgan Freeman, who earned an Oscar nomination that same year as Best Actor for his role in “Driving Miss Daisy.”  Classic Joe Clark spiel: “The trouble with being a teenager is you don’t know nothing. The problem with teenagers is you think you’re smarter than people who already been down the road you’re traveling. You know what I’m tryin’ to say to you, boy? DO YOU?” He
had me at “trouble.”

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Driving Miss Daisy”: While we’re on the Morgan Freeman tip, might as well check out his Academy Award-nominated performance in Bruce Beresford’s 198 adaptation of screenwriter Alfred Uhry’s play, which earned Oscar nods for Best Picture, Best Actress (Jessica Tandy) and Uhry’s Adapted Screenplay. Although the film earned nine nominations in all, director Beresford was snubbed. It’s the only film based on an Off-Broadway play to ever win Best Picture, while Tandy, 81 at the time, was the oldest winner in the history of that category.

Fletch”: Based on the crime novels of Gregory Mcdonald, Michael Ritchie’s 1985 starred “Saturday Night Live” alum Chevy Chase in perhaps his most iconic film role as an undercover investigative reporter who gets involved in an elaborate murder scheme hatched by an aviation exec (Tim Matheson) supposedly dying of cancer.  Chase has called this his favorite part because it required him to play several different characters. Highlight: Chevy undergoes a rectal exam to find out more information about his client’s real health.

Little Shop of Horrors”: Frank Oz’s 1986 film of the musical based on Roger Corman’s 1960 cult classic about a man-eating plant starred Rick Moranis and Ellen Greene, with Steve Martin in the role of the demented dentist played by a young Jack Nicholson in the original, but the real star was the mechanical Audrey II, a blood-sucking Venus Flytrap.

Cannonball Run II”: This 1984 sequel, also directed by Hal Needham, has become a cult fave over the years, with an all-star cast toplined by Burt Reynolds, but also including a veritable Rat Pack, with Dom Deluise, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Sid Caesar, Jackie Chan, Tim Conway, Don Knotts, Jim Nabors, Jami Farr, Foster Brooks, Telly Savalas, Tony Danza, Ricardo Montalban, Frank Sinatra, Mel Tillis, Abe Vigoda, Doug McClure, George “Goober” Lindsey, Charles Nelson Reilly, Louis Nye,  Joe Theisman, not to mention beauties Marilu Henner, Shirley MacLaine, Susan Anton and Catherine Bach. What, no Angie Dickinson? They don’t make ‘em like this anymore, and maybe that’s all for the good.

Do the Right Thing”: Spike Lee’s 1989 classic set the bar in dealing with racism in the U.S. with a searing comedy-drama that breaks out into a full-scale riot on the street of his beloved Crooklyn that begins in a pizza joint. And you thought the guy was just a Knicks cheerleader.

Diner”: Barry Levinson’s classic 1982 writer/directorial debut about growing up in ‘50s Baltimore launched the careers of Mickey Rourke, Kevin Bacon, Paul Reiser and Ellen Barkin, but whatever happened to Steve Guttenberg, Daniel Stern and Timothy Daly? Memorable scene: music fanatic Stern lecturing Barkin on how to alphabetize his record collection, with James Brown going under the “Bs.” A stage musical, with songs by Sheryl Crow, was supposed to open last spring.


The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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