The Movies of My Life: 1982-1983

I’ve been sharing (off and on) a chronological list of the movies of my life.  Not a list of the best films of all time or anything like that, but just a list of films that somehow made the memories that make my life. In this edition, 1982 and 1983. Some really tough decisions in here.


Ask me another day and I’d probably have another answer here. I was … let’s see … around seven years old in ’82, and apparently that’s a sponge time for the brain, since there’s quite a few flicks here that vie for space in my memories. I mean, look at this list: Bladerunner, Conan, Dark Crystal, E.T., Firefox, First Blood, Road Warrior, Tron. All of those hold some special place in my experience. So how to decide?

Well, I omitted Rambo and Mad Max since they didn’t have a huge impact on me until my later gun-playin’ days. They were also transient loves.

Clint Eastwood in Firefox got me on an I-wanna-be-a-jet-fighter-pilot kick long before Tom Cruise came along (how can you not be excited about this military porn introduction of the jet fighter?), but that, too, was transient.

E.T.? Wildly popular, of course. A cultural event, though it was one I mostly liked for the fact that there were lots of Reese’s pieces floating around in the world all of a sudden. (Well, that and the fact that my older brother gave me a hand-painted E.T. statue for Christmas, I think it was. Well done, too. I still have it around here somewhere.)

Conan the Barbarian memorably told us what is best in life, but even that hasn’t really stuck with me.

Bladerunner is a movie I love, I truly do, but it was an acquired taste later in my life. When I was in elementary school I didn’t know what it was. A silly reason to omit it, but I was grasping at straws to make this decision.

All of which leaves The Dark Crystal and Tron. Both have much to recommend them. The former continues to amaze with its genius puppetry, while the latter had some remarkable-for-their-time special effects that have aged surprisingly well. I’m going with Tron on the technicality that it holds a stronger place in my youthful memories, but it’s a tough call.

Herewith, Fizzgigg from The Dark Crystal, followed by the famous light-bike scene from Tron:

. . .

A Christmas Story.

Lots of good stuff in ’83 (plus it was my number on the football team in high school!). Unlike ’82, though, this one isn’t a big debate for the winner.

First, though, here are the main contenders: Return of the Jedi, The Right Stuff, Vacation, and WarGames.

Return of the Jedi was solid stuff, but I confess I’m an Empire Strikes Back kind of fan, myself — and that one couldn’t make these lists due to being released in the same year as Airplane!.

The Right Stuff was a great movie, continuing me on my I-wanna-fly kick that began with Firefox, but it’s not one I can really watch over and over with a smile on my face. I’m not really a “serious movie” kind of guy.

WarGames? Well, I’ve always had a thing for NORAD, which I’ve actually been inside. That and the “Shall we play a game?” computer voice merited the movie a few seconds of consideration here.

No, the only real contender for the title here (other than the winner) was Vacation. Man, do I love this movie. Like Caddyshack in 1980, it loses here only because of its unfortunate luck to be thrown into the ring with a juggernaut. So many great clips from the movie, though, that I have to show at least one — which happens to be my favorite:

Still, as good as Vacation is, it can’t hold a candle for memories with A Christmas Story. The trailer alone is full of, well, things that are apt to pop into my head everyday:

What about you? Memories filled with pink bunny suits and light-bikes?

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