My Favorite: Movies: 1981

My last year as not-quite-a-teenage was the year Raiders of the Lost Ark came out.  I saw a pretty random assortment of movies in the theater that year. I remember seeing Raiders, Clash of the Titans, Time Bandits, Taps, Saturday the 14th and Modern Problems pretty clearly.

Raiders was easily my favorite movie that year.  It was cool in a way I hadn’t really seen in a movie before and I’m far from alone in thinking it was a great revitalization of the old action movie serials.  I wouldn’t say it was a reinvention of the form but just like Star Wars, it applied A level talent to what had previously been a mostly B movie genre.  I don’t know when this story came out but the fact that a very famous and funny scene between Indiana Jones and a scimitar wielding foe was improvised because of Harrison Ford’s stomach ailment during shooting is pretty amazing.

HAVE SEEN: Raiders of the Lost ArkFor Your Eyes OnlyThe Evil Dead, Excalibur, Escape from New York, The Fox and the Hound, Time Bandits, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, Stripes, An American Werewolf in LondonClash of the TitansThe Cannonball RunHeavy Metal, Victory, Arthur, Quest for Fire, Taps, Neighbors, Under the RainbowPennies from HeavenHeartbeepsSaturday the 14th, Continental Divide, Zoot Suit, Modern Problems

HAVE NOT SEEN: Das Boot, Southern Comfort, On Golden Pond, Chariots of Fire, Body Heat, History of the World: Part I, Outland, Blowout, My Dinner with Andre, Scanners, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Reds, Gallipoli, Nighthawks, The Howling, Thief, Ragtime, Absence of MaliceFort Apache the BronxTake This Job and Shove ItThe Pursuit of D.B. CooperCutter’s WayAmerican Pop, Wolfen, The French Lieutenant’s WomanPrince of the City

Besides Raiders, Time Bandits also is a great favorite from that year.  It was a weirder movie than maybe anything I had seen before and really my introduction to the imagination of Terry Gilliam and ultimately — Monty Python too.  It’s not a perfect movie but it’s incredibly inventive.

I also am tremendously fond of Victory — I’ve always played soccer but when I was a kid there were very few representations of soccer in America.  Victory was not only fun for me to watch but kind of validating in a way.  It also featured world class soccer football players in it that you just never saw on television in America (soccer was hardly ever shown on teevee when I was a kid):  Bobby MooreOsvaldo ArdilesKazimierz DeynaPaul Van HimstMike SummerbeeHallvar Thoresen and Pelé. Stallone was a terrible goalkeeper though.

My top ten is rounded out with Stripes and Escape from New York — both movies I saw much later.  Actually I also saw An American Werewolf in London at least a few years later.  Pennies From Heaven, Heartbeeps nd Modern Problems are all movies I have fond memories of but I have to wonder how they would hold up on watching now.


  1. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  2. Time Bandits
  3.  Stripes
  4. Escape from New York
  5. Victory
  6. Pennies from Heaven
  7. An American Werewolf in London
  8. Heartbeeps
  9. Clash of the Titans
  10. Modern Problems

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