Sunday, May 1, 2011

25 Years Ago This Month: May 1986

Anyone remember a movie called Sweet Liberty? It's about a guy who writes a book on the American Revolution, sells the film rights and then the film crew comes to town to make the movie and throws his life into upheaval. It was directed by and stars Alan Alda. Also with Michael Caine and Michelle Pfeiffer. It was also Lillian Gish's second to last movie. I have vague recollections of catching bits of it on cable TV when I was a kid and skipping right past it. Well, it opened 25 years ago this month.

There were several more memorable films opening that month, so it's no surprise that in the lead-up to the summer box office bonanza, Sweet Liberty only pulled $14 million.

After all, Top Gun went on to be the top grossing film of the year, raking in a whopping $177 million (Hey! That was a lot of money back then). This film really needs no introduction, right? Tom Cruise, Anthony Edwards, Val Kilmer and Rick Rossovich playing beach volleyball shirtless? Ring a bell? Cruise and Kelly McGillis enjoying passion with soft blue backlighting to the tune of Berlin's "Take My Breath Away."

The other top money-makers opening in May included Sylverster Stallone's Cobra. In just ten short years Stallone went from writing the Oscar-nominated screenplay for Rocky to penning this Razzie-nominated wonder.

Next was Poltergeist II: The Other Side, sporting one of the creepiest baddies in the whole history of scary movies - Julian Beck as Reverend Kane. That guy gave me serious nightmares as a kid. Perhaps the greatest gift he brought to the role was the fact that he was dying of stomach cancer, which made him appear haggard and gaunt and completely other-worldly. He makes Robert Mitchum's Night of the Hunter reverend look like a Disney villain.

The third big box office draw of the May releases was Short Circuit. Remember when Steve Guttenberg had a career and was still making Police Academy movies? Well this movie about a Defense Department robot that goes haywire and becomes 'alive' after being struck by lightning. Movies this lame continue to rake in the box office dollars. Some things never change.

The 49th biggest earner for the year, taking in $18 million was Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling, this Richard Pryor directed autobiographical film is about a comedian who severely burns himself in a drug incident. File this in the "What ever happened to..." drawer.

In non-movie news:

10th - Tommy Lee marries Heather Locklear.
and Falco's "Rock Me, Amadeus" is #1 on the UK pop chart.
16th - the Seville Statement on Violence was adopted by an international group of scientists in my home city of Seville, Spain.
24th - Margaret Thatcher became the first British PM to visit Israel. Not even Benjamin Disraeli visited Israel? :)
25th - 7 million people (including my aunt and sister, if memory serves) joined Hands Across America, a charity fundraising event that never actually succeeded in forming an unbroken chain of hands from New York City to Long Beach, CA.
Also, a Bangladeshi double-decker ferry capsized in the Meghna River, killing about 600 people.
31st - the 13th FIFA World Cup opened in Mexico with Italy playing Bulgaria to a 1-1 draw in front of 96,000 fans at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.

Births:
13th - Pretty boy and Twilight heartthrob Robert Pattinson will be 25 this month.
16th - So will plastic-looking Megan Fox.

Deaths:
9th - Tenzing Norgay at 71 - Sherpa guide who helped Edmund Hillary mount Everest.
23rd - Sterling Hayden at 70 of prostate cancer - actor who played General Jack Ripper in Dr. Strangelove and Captain McCluskey in The Godfather.

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