Tuesday, November 27, 2012

25 Years Ago This Month: November 1987

25 years ago this month saw the release of the film that brought Denzel Washington his first Oscar nomination, a nod for Best Supporting Actor in Richard Attenborough's based-on-fact film Cry Freedom. Washington plays South Africa apartheid activist Steven Biko, who was killed under suspicious circumstances while in police custody. Kevin Kline plays his friend, journalist Donald Woods, whose books brought the case worldwide attention.

The year's number 1 box office success was Three Men and a Baby, starring three actors who have never carried a big movie on their own and have largely disappeared from Hollywood since. Ted Danson, Tom Selleck, and Steve Guttenberg are bachelors sharing a spacious Manhattan apartment. One day a baby is left on their doorstep. Comedy ensues from the premise that men are just incompetent with babies.

One of the best movies of 1987 and a favorite of mine growing up (it's part of my DVD collection) was Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. It's one of the great holiday films with Steve Martin as a man trying to get from New York to Chicago in time for Thanksgiving dinner with his family. John Candy plays a well-intentioned travel companion who doesn't know when to stop talking and getting in the way.

The eventual best picture winner at the Oscars was The Last Emperor, Bernardo Bertolucci's epic tale of the last emperor to rule over china. It swept all nine Oscars for which it was nominated.

Now here's a movie: The Running Man was based on a Stephen King novel he published under a pseudonym. It starred Arnold Schwarzenegger in a future dystopia in which he is wrongly accused of a crime and, after a series of contrived circumstances, becomes a contestant in a deranged bloodbath of a game show that has contestants battling each other to the death in a labyrinth from hell.

I am shocked to find that Flowers in the Attic was a theatrically released film. It's based on a V.C. Andrews novel, for God's sake! I remember watching this as a kid and thinking even then it must be a TV movie. It's not quite Kristy Swanson's film debut but close. And Louise Fletcher is basically cast because of her legendary role as Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

Charles Bronson kept plugging away in Death Wish 4: The Crackdown.

There was the forgettable Shelley Long comedy Hello Again, about a suburban housewife brought back from the dead by a spell cast by her sister.

Long before Jon Cryer was the popular co-star of the sitcom "Two and Half Men" he was starring in films like Hiding Out, about a stock broker pursued by the mob for testifying so he has to hide out as a high school student.

As if the first film with Michael J. Fox was just crying out for a sequel, Jason Bateman starred in Teen Wolf Too about the cousin of Fox's character being seduced by a university with a full athletic scholarship on the hope that he has the family genes to go werewolf. What do you know? He does!

Barbra Streisand and Richard Dreyfuss starred in a thriller called Nuts.

Film Debut: Jason Bateman in Teen Wolf Too.

In non-movie news:
11th - Anthony M. Kennedy was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court, leading to an illustrious career as the "swing vote" in the highest court in the land.

18th - A fire in London's King's Cross underground station killed 31 people.
18th - House and Senate panels release reports assigning "ultimate responsibility" for Iran-Contra scandal to President Ronald Reagan.

21st - Demi Moore and Bruce Willis got married.

29th - Korean Air flight 858 was blown up by a bomb planted by North Korean operatives, killing all 115 aboard.

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