I didn't see a lot of movies in theaters as a child -- when you have younger brothers and a sister, family moviegoing is difficult and expensive. But by 1983, I was old enough to go to movies with friends -- proper PG movies, not that babyish Disney stuff, either. Still, there were many movies I had to miss. Although PG-13 was still a year away, my mom often checked the local Catholic weekly newspaper to make sure I wasn't seeing anything Morally Offensive. I don't know why I didn't just sneak into more movies, but I was a prissy little 14-year-old and suspect most of my friends were too. (Also, a terrible liar.)
Despite the restrictions, I remember 1983 as one of my favorite summers for movies because it marked the first time I stood in line on a movie's opening day to see something I was really, really excited about. I wasn't disappointed, either, although the summer did hold some letdowns. It also marks the first time I saw an R-rated movie in a theater, which my parents would never have let me do at that time, and which was also far from disappointing. I've bolded the titles of my favorite films from that summer. strong>May 6: I wasn't allowed to see Doctor Detroit, even though I liked Dan Aykroyd, although I caught it on cable a couple of years later and found it very mild ... okay, except that it has hookers in it. You know my parents weren't letting me anywhere near Cheech and Chong Still Smokin, for which I should probably be grateful.
May 13: Breathless? Totally uninterested, even though I had no idea it was a remake. I was perhaps too young to find Richard Gere interesting. Didn't realize until I just looked it up that the remake was directed by Jim McBride, who followed it up with two movies I liked, The Big Easy and Great Balls of Fire.
May 20: Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone was totally off my radar at that age, even though I liked science-fiction. Did I miss anything by not seeing this? You tell me.
May 27: Return of the Jedi. Yep. Opening day. Lakeside Cinema, Metairie (which had become a Linens and Things the last time I looked). Sadly, we saw no one in costume -- Metairie just isn't that geeky -- but there were some good long lines to make the wait feel worthwhile. It was one of the few sequels I saw that didn't let me down. Chained Heat was also released that week, not that I would have noticed at the time.
June 3: I wanted to see The Man with Two Brains, because I loved Steve Martin, but apparently it was Morally Offensive. Instead, I got to see a movie with a geeky cute lil guy who convinced a computer to play Global Thermonuclear War. I had an early Apple computer in 1983 and when I watched WarGames, wished I knew how to hack into stuff. I never did learn.
June 10: I was in college before I became a fan of James Bond movies, so Octopussy didn't appeal to me. Still doesn't, really. Trading Places did, but ... yeah. Thank you, Catholic Legion of Decency. I think they considered anything with Eddie Murphy to be automatically Morally Offensive -- sadly, that's not true anymore, is it?
June 17: Finally, a blockbuster movie I was allowed to see: Superman III. I was crazy for the previous movies and was almost as hyped as I'd been for Return of the Jedi -- I had a secret crush on Gene Hackman, among other things. Boy, was I disappointed. The characters were all wrong-- Richard Pryor ... why? -- the story was dumb, I felt cheated. Funny, this is kind of how I felt when I saw Spider-Man 3.
June 24: I didn't have to worry about being disappointed by Porky's II: The Sequel because my parents weren't letting me anywhere near anything remotely Porkyish. Although no one noticed that a movie I was allowed to see later in 1983 was made by the same director: Bob Clark, A Christmas Story. I was interested in Yellowbeard, having started to cultivate an interest in British comedy, but no one wanted to see it with me. I also skipped Twilight Zone: The Movie and the Robin Williams/Walter Matthau dark comedy The Survivors, directed by Michael Ritchie. In retrospect, I don't regret missing a single one of these.
July 1: While we didn't see Stroker Ace when it was in theaters, it eventually ended up being one of my younger brother's favorite Burt Reynolds movies. At age 14, I could not care less about some movie about NASCAR drivers.
July 15: Anyone who gets annoyed at how many sequels we have to suffer through in summer these days should look carefully at this list and notice that Hollywood released an equally annoying number of dumb sequels back in 1983. This week's winner was Staying Alive, the sequel to Saturday Night Fever. Other options included the Australian teen comedy Puberty Blues and a Woody Allen film that I would come to enjoy very much about four years later, Zelig.
July 22: Mr. Mom really annoyed the crap out of me when I saw it in theaters -- I thought some of the gags were lifted directly from Freaky Friday and some other Disney movies, and I didn't find it funny. It is one of the first times I remember wanting to critique a film formally. Other choices that week that were forbidden to 14-year-old Catholic girls were Class, a teen comedy starring lil Rob Lowe and Jacqueline Bisset, and Jaws 3-D, which starred Dennis Quaid.
July 29: Sometimes it helps to have friends whose parents don't read up on movies before you see them, and don't even notice the movie is rated R, so you can enjoy the funniest film of the summer: National Lampoon's Vacation. I got in trouble for laughing too hard during the scenes with Aunt Edna, which my friend's parents didn't find funny in the least. Another big release that week was Krull, which didn't interest my teen-girl self at all.
August 5: In 1984, I would get in trouble with my Catholic Youth Organization for bringing a videotape of Risky Business to a movie night -- we were only allowed to watch about 10 minutes before our shocked leaders stopped the film. But a lot of other people enjoyed it during its 1983 release, which launched Tom Cruise's career. Other releases included The Star Chamber, starring Michael Douglas, and an Allan Arkush concert film/comedy called Get Crazy.
August 12: Good thing school was about to start so I couldn't regret not being allowed to see Cujo, just as I was starting to read Stephen King novels. My little brother wanted to see Smokey and the Bandit Part 3, but had to settle for watching The Dukes of Hazzard on TV instead. I think we both wanted to see Curse of the Pink Panther -- we often caught bits of Pink Panther movies on network TV and always thought they would be far more interesting than they turned out to be. We were so young and naive when it came to sequels, back then.
August 19: Another one of those comedies that it seemed like everyone else got to see but us opened this week -- the Rodney Dangerfield vehicle Easy Money. I caught it on cable a few years later, while babysitting, and was unimpressed.
August 26: The summer of 1983 ended with a Canadian film that would eventually become a cult favorite, and a favorite with many of my family members: Strange Brew. If only I'd known it had Shakespearean elements, perhaps I could have talked my parents into letting me see it back then. A version of Hercules starring Lou Ferrigno, fresh from his Hulk gig, also opened that week.