Episode 177: Clash of the Titans (1981)

We’re still here in “That Sure Was 1981”, and what were all the kids into in the early 1980’s? Mullets? Lycra? Rubix Cubes? Well, sadly, yes, but we really hip people know that what the youngsters went gaga over was ancient Greek mythology! Woo! Remember those epic street battles over Hesiod vs Homer? All those Saturday morning cartoons about the Peloponnesian War! Sophocles ‘n Pals! The Aristophanes Smile Time Joy Hour Variety Show! Ah, memories . . . I wish mine still worked.  In the wake of the success of “Star Wars,” it was of course a natural progression to do a movie about . . . the myth of Perseus.  And people love special effects, right? So let’s get Ray Harryhausen, that master of special effects . . . of the 1950’s and 60’s.  “Star Wars” had Alec Guinness.   Hah, only ONE great British Shakespearean actor? “Clash” got a whole bunch of them! Laurence Olivier! Maggie Smith! Claire Bloom! Eat that, George Lucas! Sure, all of their combined screen time is going to be less than Guiness’ but still! This can’t lose! Give a listen and find out! {spoiler: maybe it wasn’t such a sure thing . . . }

Poll question:  Is there a type or genre of movie that you feel has just been overdone? One that makes you go “Oh, geez, not ANOTHER [fill in the blank] type of movie!” If so, what is it?

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ACLU: https://www.aclu.org/

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Southern Poverty Law Center: https://donate.splcenter.org/

Episode 176: My Dinner With Andre (1981)

[Deep, impressive movie trailer voice]: Now.  In “That Sure Was 1981.” Two men.  One restaurant.  One dinner.  Two hours of pulse-pounding, mind-shattering . . . conversation! They’re breaking all the rules . . . of cinema! When everyone else said “things have to happen in a movie,” these two men dared to say no! Wallace Shawn IS Wallace Shawn! Andre Gregory IS Andre Gregory! In “My Dinner With Andre: Please Pass the MURDER!” [note: secondary title may only exist strictly in this writer’s imagination]. Yes, this is the movie so many have referenced, mocked, parodied and so much more.  There’s no way this movie should work; it’s literally just two guys sitting in a restaurant discussing a long series of largely disconnected subjects from Scottish alternative learning institutions to Japanese monks to the nature of human intimacy to electric blankets.  This shouldn’t work.  And yet it consistently shows up on many “Best Independent Films of All Time Lists.” Roger Ebert loved this movie; he said it was the best film of 1981.  Does it hold up? Do we end up loving it as much as the Blessed Ebert did? Give a listen and find out! Oh, and speaking of ol’ Roger . . .

Poll question: how much, if at all, do the reviews of “the critics” influence your desire to see any particular movie? And in what circumstances?

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ACLU: https://www.aclu.org/

Black Lives Matter: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ms_blm_homepage_2019

Southern Poverty Law Center: https://donate.splcenter.org/

Episode 175: Stripes (1981)

Once again, welcome to our deep-dive into the wild wooly winsome world of “That Sure Was 1981.” Herein, forthwith, and wakka-wakka, we discuss the Bill Murray comedy from Ivan “I Did Ghostbusters! Yay me!” Reitman.  Bill, along with his buddy (at the time) Harold Ramis, plunge into the rich mine of comedy that is all-volunteer U.S. Army, two years after the reinstatement of the selective service act.  Yes, this was the era of “Be All That You Can Be” and “It’s Not Just a Job, It’s An Adventure,” where there was an almost desperate attempt to make the army look cool and exotic, with a downplaying all the potato-peeling, latrine-digging, and shooting people.  This movie actually makes the army look . . . zany? Fun? Something that gives you a chance to sleep with Sean Young? So yes, there’s a certain question to the degree of realism in this film, but is there supposed to be any? Maybe it’s just wacky hijinks? This film was a major hit of 1981; how well does it hold up after all these years? Well, we’re here to tell you! That’s the facts, Jack!

Poll question: What movie do you think would be improved if it was told from the point of view of one of the side or supporting characters?

George Floyd Memorial Fund:  https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd

ACLU: https://www.aclu.org/

Black Lives Matter: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ms_blm_homepage_2019

Southern Poverty Law Center: https://donate.splcenter.org/

Episode 174: Blow Out (1981)

In our latest episode of “That Sure Was 1981” we’re taking on a movie from . . . 1981! Ha! Bet you didn’t see that coming! What an unexpected twist, what a thrill ride! This short of shocking stuff is par for the course in Brian De Palma’s “Blow Out.” And what’s the big twist in this movie? John Travolta is in it and he DOESN’T DANCE! Not even once! Eat your heart out, M. Night Shyamalan! Ok, this thriller isn’t exactly packed with twists but it does give us a glimpse into the dark, twisted world of . . .  movie sound editing! Oddly enough, this is more interesting than you’d think.  John Travolta plays the very slappable Jack, alongside Nancy Allen, who plays Mrs. Brian De Palma . . . I mean, Nancy, right, Nancy.  This is before she took on her famous role as Officer Lewis in “Robocop.” That role was famous, right? We’ve also got John Lithgow being absolutely terrifying and lots of De Palma signature camera work (who doesn’t love split-screen shots? Anyone? Anyone?).  So give a listen as this movie, and our podcast, teaches you that you can’t really trust what you think you hear.  Or smell.  I swear, that was Bumpy, not me. Honest.

Poll question: What movie do you think is great just the way it is; no plot threads to pull at, no weak performances, no explanations for things that don’t make sense.  This is a movie you wouldn’t touch at ALL.  Not necessarily perfection, but something that when you watch it, you think “they just got everything right.”

George Floyd Memorial Fund:  https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd

ACLU: https://www.aclu.org/

Black Lives Matter: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ms_blm_homepage_2019

Southern Poverty Law Center: https://donate.splcenter.org/

Episode 173: Time Bandits (1981)

Here we are, still in “That Sure Was 1981” (because Mike was a spoilsport and said we shouldn’t do 1781 just because “movies hadn’t been invented yet” or some nonsense).  This week’s entry comes from the . . . unique mind of Terry Gilliam, a movie that would set the tone for . . . most of his other movies: “Time Bandits.”  It’s a story of a young boy and six dwarfs (not seven, because Disney owns every combination of the words “dwarfs” and “seven”) with a magical map that lets them travel through time, meeting famous historical figures and fantastical beasts and, well, robbing them blind.  And there are ogres, giants, firing squads, people getting their arms ripped off, and a dog exploding.  You know, for the kids! Who was this movie for? Well, obviously it was for us . . . to talk about . . . forty years later.  Terry Gilliam, you prescient mad genius, you! So come, listen in, and find out what the heck Sean Connery and Sir Flippin’ Ralph Richardson are doing in this movie! And whether we should turn peas into beans! Jolly good!

Poll question (yes, it’s the same as last time for Stuff and Reasons):  What movie cameo by a movie star or other famous figure caught you most by surprise or was the most fun?

George Floyd Memorial Fund:  https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd

ACLU: https://www.aclu.org/

Black Lives Matter: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ms_blm_homepage_2019

Southern Poverty Law Center: https://donate.splcenter.org/

Episode 172: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Ahhh, Dr. Jones! So nice that you could join me at my evil table! Pull up an evil chair and have a tall cold glass of evil, brought to you by our most evil waiter. As we enjoy this evil breeze, let me welcome you to the latest series at Max, Mike; Evil . . . I mean, Movies: “That Sure Was 1981.” In this series, our evil hosts have decided to focus on one single year, chosen at random from a list offered up by our most diabolical listeners, and focus just on the major movies of that year.  Which year, you ask? Why, 1981, of course, that most evil of years. What makes it so evil, you ask? Because it’s the year that “Raiders of the Lost Ark” came out, and what could be more evil than that? It just is, understand? Evil! Now hand over that priceless vintage Captain Crunch whistle ring and we’ll . . .  no! He’s getting away! After him you fools! In the meantime, give a listen and see how well this forty-year-old movie . . . oh lord, really? Forty years? Give a listen.  I have to sit down before my hip spontaneously breaks.

Poll question: What movie cameo by a movie star or other famous figure caught you most by surprise or was the most fun?

George Floyd Memorial Fund:  https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd

ACLU: https://www.aclu.org/

Black Lives Matter: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ms_blm_homepage_2019

Southern Poverty Law Center: https://donate.splcenter.org/