'Risky Business,' 'Return of the Jedi,' 'Flashdance' (Photo: Everett Collection)
"Risky Business" (Aug. 5, 1983). Before couch leaps, Scientology, and messy divorces, Tom Cruise was a fresh-faced young lad who danced in his underpants to stardom. The satire about a privileged suburban high school senior turned pimp received raves in its day, restored Wayfarers as a fashion icon, and made many a "best high school movies" list. Cruise would go on to pursue more dramatic leading-man roles with an action bent, although he's had a mixed return to comedy, most successfully in "Tropic Thunder." Time for a "Risky" sequel?
"Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi" (May 25, 1983). Directed by Welsh filmmaker Richard Marquand (who would die of a heart attack just four years later) and with George Lucas hovering nearby, this was the last of the (original) trilogy that would change how Hollywood made — and merchandised — its films. While the unlikely battle of cutesy Ewoks was among the things criticized in this third installment, the later prequels would feature far more annoying creatures.
"Flashdance" (April 15, 1983). A woman who welds by day and gyrates by night — and all she wants to do is go to ballet school. The glorified music video received both an Oscar nomination (for the song "What a Feeling") and a Razzie for worst screenplay by Tom Hedley and "Showgirls" scribbler Joe Eszterhas. The Gen-X "standard" was based on the true story of a Canadian construction worker and stripper, Maureen Marder, who received just $2,300 out of the whole enterprise.
"A Christmas Story" (Nov. 18, 1983). Holiday movies worth watching again have been surprisingly sparse in the past few decades (unless one counts "Bad Santa," which we sure do). Few contemporary ones rival writer Jean Shepherd's reminiscences of an Indiana childhood. To this day a Red Ryder, succumbing to the temptation of licking a frozen flagpole, and the leg lamp remain must-have Christmas items. A bonus: that nice Peter Billingsley has grown up to be a nice young producer engaging in curious enterprises with the unlikely likes of Vince Vaughn and Glenn Beck.
Honorable 2013 30th anniversary mentions
- "The Big Chill" (Sept. 28, 1983)
- "Cujo" (Aug. 12, 1983)
- "The Evil Dead" (April 15, 1983)
- "Gorky Park" (Dec. 16, 1983)
- "Mr. Mom" (July 22, 1983)
- "National Lampoon's Vacation" (July 29, 1983)
- "Scarface" (Dec. 9, 1983)
- "Terms of Endearment" (Nov. 23, 1983)
- "Trading Places" (June 8, 1983)
- "Valley Girl" (April 29, 1983)
- "War Games" (June 3, 1983)
- "The Year of Living Dangerously" (Jan. 21, 1983)