The Decade of the ‘80s: Classic Movies

By Haroula Barbounis

Ah, the 1980s. Aside from the big hair and the neon colors, the 1980s was stocked with cinematic masterpieces as well as feel-good family hits. Here is a sample of some of the most nostalgic throwbacks and prominent, influential cinema.

  1. Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Released in 1980, the second movie of the prevalent Star Wars trilogy, Empire Strikes Back continues the relentless battle between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. Viewers finally were able to see the romance blossom between Han Solo and Princess Leia, and they were able to experience the shock and surprise of Luke’s revealed parentage.

2. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

What eventually grew to three subsequent movies, Raiders of the Lost Ark started a decade of timeless classics. The famed main character, Indiana Jones, played by Harrison Ford, is up against the clock to find the Ark of the Covenant, with the Nazis on his tail to retrieve it first. On the hunt for the Ark, Jones is accompanied with his former girlfriend Marion and his good friend Sallah, who lives in Cairo, Egypt. Brimming with action, suspense, and energy, Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the many riveting thrillers of the decade.

3. Rocky III (1982)

Having recently gained fame by winning a boxing match against the renowned Apollo Creed, Rocky Balboa becomes the Heavyweight Champion, his face eventually being recognized everywhere. However, rising big name James “Clubber” Lang soon becomes a contender to take Balboa’s spot. With the help of his former opponent, Apollo Creed, Rocky fights to ensure his place at the top. The third of six films, Rocky III is proved to be a movie worth watching.

4. WarGames (1983)

While searching for video games, intelligent but lazy high school student David Lightman inadvertently connects into a military supercomputer and plays Global Thermonuclear War. NORAD, aka the North American Aerospace Defense Command, misinterprets David’s “attack”, and retaliates by planning to send back missiles of their own. Realizing that Global Thermonuclear War is real and not merely a video game, David races to fix his mistake that could possibly begin World War III. Jam-packed with tension and excitement, WarGames demonstrates the concept that not all games can be won.

5. Sixteen Candles (1984)

Starring the iconic Molly Ringwald, Sixteen Candles tells the story of self-conscious teen Samantha Baker and how her seemingly horrible sixteenth birthday eventually gets her the man of her dreams. Beginning with her family forgetting her birthday, Sam goes to school in sad spirits, until an unfortunate incident brings her to the attention of her crush, Jake Ryan. Unbeknownst to her, he goes to great lengths to earn her affection, despite the mayhem of her family. Another factor in this equation is her classmate Ted, otherwise known as “The Geek,” who is also pining for her. Overall, it showcases the hardships of ordinary teen life.

6. Breakfast Club (1985)

In this memorable movie, five teens from different backgrounds are brought together to serve Saturday detention. Along the way, the teens, despite their dissimilarities, learn that they are not as different as they had once thought. Sharing common ground when they open up about their insecurities, it is revealed that people are not as they seem. John Hughes spins this tale wonderfully with a positive, influential message.

7. Pretty in Pink (1986)

Again starring Molly Ringwald, Pretty in Pink is about a love triangle that deals with the differences in class. Andie Walsh, the main character of this film, is an outcast who gets asked out by rich boy Blane. Despite their differences in class, the duo are determined to make their relationship work, in spite of Andie’s best friend Duckie, who is in love with her, and Blane’s friend Steff, who thinks that people from different backgrounds shouldn’t be together. Nonetheless, Pretty in Pink is a sweet movie filled with romance and laughter.

8. Dirty Dancing (1987)

In this 1987 classic, Frances “Baby” Houseman and her wealthy family come to stay at the Kellerman’s Mountain House, where they offer dance lessons. While at the resort, Baby soon makes friends with some of the staff, including dance instructor Johnny Castle. After an incident occurs with Johnny’s partner, Baby offers to fill in for her. While Johnny teaches Baby dance routines, sparks fly between them, but the stability of their newfound romance will be tested if Baby’s father finds out.

9. Die Hard (1988)

Die Hard is a renowned film starring the famous actor Bruce Willis. Willis plays John McClane, a New York City cop, who flies to Los Angeles to see his estranged wife Holly and their kids. He goes to to see his wife at her company’s Christmas party, only to have the building taken over by terrorists. McClane escapes from becoming a hostage and realizes that he is the only one who can save those who are held captive. A thriller jam-packed with action, Die Hard is definitely a movie you won’t want to miss.

10. Little Mermaid (1989)

Splashed with vigor, romance, and a little bit of timeless music, The Little Mermaid is the catalyst for the golden age of beloved Disney classics. Voiced by Jodi Benson, our main mermaid, Princess Ariel of the fictional undersea kingdom of Atlantica, unwittingly falls in love with Prince Eric, a human, to the chagrin of her father, King Triton. After making a deal with the sea witch Ursula, Ariel must convince Eric to kiss her in three days;otherwise she will turn back into a mermaid and belong to Ursula.