Wednesday, December 1, 2010

25 Years Ago This Month: December 1985

In typical movie release calendar tradition, December 1985 was packed with the studios' various prestige movies vying for awards consideration.

One such film was Runaway Train starring Jon Voight, Eric Roberts and Rebecca DeMornay. Roberts earned his one and only Oscar nomination (to date) for the film. He went on to become a trashy B-movie star. The director, Andrey Konchalovskiy, went on to later direct the wonderful Sylvester Stallone/Kurt Russell buddy copy film Tango & Cash.

The eventual Best Picture Oscar winner, Sydney Pollack's Out of Africa opened to rave reviews and went on to become the number 5 box office success for 1985, just behind...

Number 4 - Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple, based on the Alice Walker novel. It became Oscar's biggest loser by scoring 11 nominations without a single win, matching The Turning Point.

Surely someone expected the Richard Attenborough-directed A Chorus Line starring Michael Douglas to be a big awards contender. They weren't entirely wrong as it earned 3 Oscar nominations in technical categories. Otherwise it was a dismal failure.

I wonder if someone thought Enemy Mine starring Dennis Quaid as a space pilot crash landed on an alien planet along with his alien enemy played by Louis Gossett, Jr. would be a potential awards contender. It has a bit of that high-minded philosophical attitude that some producer might have believed made it "important" but the execution was so poor it barely got out of the gate.

James Garner was nominated for his only Oscar for Murphy's Romance, playing opposite Sally Field.

Michael Douglas had another movie out that month, the sequel to the previous year's very successful Romancing the Stone, Jewel of the Nile. It ended up at number 7 for the yearly box office.

I must admit that as a kid I was a big fan of the comedy Spies Like Us starring Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase as two hapless idiots unwittingly entwined in some international intrigue involving Soviets or something. Unfortunately I was too young to appreciate the only thing it really had going for it which was the cameo appearances by various Hollywood (and some world cinema) players including: Bob Hope; Joel Coen; Sam Raimi; Martin Brest; Ray Harryhausen; Costa-Gavras; Michael Apted; Terry Gilliam; and Frank Oz.

Speaking of Terry Gilliam, his classic futuristic dystopia Brazil starring Jonathan Pryce and Robert De Niro opened this month.

And speaking of stupid comedies, Clue opened in cinemas across the country with three different endings depending on the cinema you went to. It's honestly not terrible for a movie based on a board game (how's that for a left-handed compliment?). It stars Tim Curry as the butler, and Martin Mull, Lesley Anne Warren, Michael McKean, Christophr Lloyd, Madeline Kahn and Eileen Brennan as the classic colored (not in the racist way) characters.

After a very long period without a great film, Akira Kurosawa returned with Ran, still rather unfortunately unseen by me.

I know very little about The Trip to Bountiful, except that Geraldine Page won her Best Actress Oscar for her role.

Last and quite possibly least Robert Altman directed the Sam Shepherd play Fool For Love starring Kim Basinger and Shepherd himself. This was during Altman's 1980s down period before his big comeback in 1992. I've not seen it, but it is considered a lesser Altman film, only recommended for die-hard fans.

In other news:
-Snow fell in Phoenix, AZ, for the first time in nearly 47 years.
-Sylvester Stallone married Brigitte Nielsen
-Howard Cosell retired from ABC's "Wide World of Sports" after more than 20 years on the air.
-Both the Ford Taurus and the Mercury Sable were first released for public sale.
-Dian Fossey, gorilla lover, was found murdered in Rwanda (cue Oscar nominated performance for Sigourney Weaver a couple of years later).

Happy 25th birthday, Amanda Seyfried
-Actress Amanda Seyfried turns 25 this month
-Actor Frankie Muniz - you know, Agent Cody Banks - also turns 25.

Anne Baxter died on 12 December 1985
-Anne Baxter, who played the title role in All About Eve died at age 62 (brain aneurysm).
-Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, aged 70 (stroke).
-The Rolling Stones' Ian Stewart, aged 47 (heart attack).
-Former NY Yankee and home run king Roger Maris, aged 51 (Hodgkin's).
-Singer and actor Ricky Nelson, aged 65 (plane crash).
-Film producer Sam Spiegel, who won Oscars for On the Waterfront, The Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia, aged 84.

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