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What happened to Hollywood during the 80's?

Old 03-23-07, 12:49 PM
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What happened to Hollywood during the 80's?

It seemed like during the 70's, all of Hollywood's great movies are what we would consider independent films nowadays. Movies like Network, Dog Day Afternoon, Taxi Driver, Clockwork Orange -all big budget indies. Then the 80's came and all we got were safe pictures. It seems like the grittyness of the 70's just disappeared overnight. The 80's brought us silly but memorable comedies and some great adventures but the intellectually stimulating films of the decade prior just vanished. Then finally the 90's brought back some of that missing thought provoking cinema back to theatres. Now this is in regards to Hollywood, the rest of the world continued to make brilliant films throughout the 80's.

Do you agree? Disagree? What happened to Hollywood during the 80's?
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Old 03-23-07, 12:54 PM
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One word answer: Jaws. The impact of the "blockbuster" meant studio money was spent on crowd-pleasers rather than on smaller films. It took time, but eventually the gap was filled by independents.
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Old 03-23-07, 01:34 PM
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For better or for worse it came down to two people: Spielberg and Lucas. With Empire , Raiders, E.T. and so on. But still it wasn't all about commerce. Directors like Peter Weir did their best work in the Eighties. Scorsese was doing fantastic, dazzling work. Blue Velvet came out. Do The Right Thing in 89'.

It wasn't anything like the Easy Riders, Raging Bull era but still there were some pretty amazing movies.

The 70's gave us, Spielberg, Lucas, Coppola, Scorsese, DePalma, Lumet.
The 80's Gave us, David Lynch, Spike Lee, Oliver Stone, Jim Jarmusch.
The 90's Gave Us, Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, David Fincher, Sam Mendes.

Last edited by JasonTHX; 03-23-07 at 01:42 PM.
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Old 03-23-07, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by PopcornTreeCt
It seemed like during the 70's, all of Hollywood's great movies are what we would consider independent films nowadays. Movies like Network, Dog Day Afternoon, Taxi Driver, Clockwork Orange -all big budget indies. Then the 80's came and all we got were safe pictures. It seems like the grittyness of the 70's just disappeared overnight.
Two words:

Heaven's Gate

From Wikipedia, which summarizes what I heard elsewhere:

"The fracas had a wider effect on the American film industry at the time. During the 1970s, relatively young directors such as Francis Ford Coppola, Peter Bogdanovich, and William Friedkin were given unprecedentedly large budgets with very little studio control (New Hollywood). The studio largesse eventually led to the new paradigm of the high concept feature, epitomized by Jaws and Star Wars. But it also led to less successful films as Friedkin's Sorcerer (1977), and culminating in Coppola's One from the Heart and Cimino's Heaven's Gate, among other money-losers. As the new high-concept paradigm of film making became more entrenched, studio control of budgets and productions became tighter, ending the free-wheeling excesses that begat Heaven's Gate."
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Old 03-23-07, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by JasonTHX
For better or for worse it came down to two people: Spielberg and Lucas. With Empire , Raiders, E.T. and so on. But still it wasn't all about commerce. Directors like Peter Weir did their best work in the Eighties. Scorsese was doing fantastic, dazzling work. Blue Velvet came out. Do The Right Thing in 89'.

It wasn't anything like the Easy Riders, Raging Bull era but still there were some pretty amazing movies.

The 70's gave us, Spielberg, Lucas, Coppola, Scorsese, DePalma, Lumet.
The 80's Gave us, David Lynch, Spike Lee, Oliver Stone, Jim Jarmusch.
The 90's Gave Us, Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, David Fincher, Sam Mendes.
I don't think I'd put Kevin Smith in that group. Where's Michael Mann? Ridley Scott? Ang Lee?
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Old 03-23-07, 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr. Cinema
I don't think I'd put Kevin Smith in that group. Where's Michael Mann? Ridley Scott? Ang Lee?
Mann's from the 80s. Scott is best remembered for Alien in the 1970s.

I've only seen two of Ang Lee's films that I liked. I don't know if I'd add him to the list. At least not before talking about WKW.
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Old 03-23-07, 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Mrs. Groucho
One word answer: Jaws.
No, three words: Jaws. Star Wars.
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Old 03-23-07, 03:16 PM
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While the 80s had its share of good movies, the quality dropped dramatically. Look at this list from the 70s.

The Godfather Part 1,2
Taxi Driver
Apacolypse Now
Deer Hunter
Rocky 1,2
Star Wars
Jaws
Dog Day Afternoon
A Clockwork Orange
One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest
Chinatown
The French Connection
Alien
The Conversation
Mean Streets
Dirty Harry
Outlaw Josey Whales
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
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Old 03-23-07, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by slabinskia
While the 80s had its share of good movies, the quality dropped dramatically. Look at this list from the 70s.

The Godfather Part 1,2
Taxi Driver
Apacolypse Now
Deer Hunter
Rocky 1,2
Star Wars
Jaws
Dog Day Afternoon
A Clockwork Orange
One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest
Chinatown
The French Connection
Alien
The Conversation
Mean Streets
Dirty Harry
Outlaw Josey Whales
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
And you left out a ton of great movies, like, well, everything Altman released in the 70s, along with the movie I now consider to be the finest American movie of the decade, Five Easy Pieces.
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Old 03-23-07, 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by wendersfan
No, three words: Jaws. Star Wars.
They started it. Heaven's Gate, years later, was the nail in the coffin.

As serious (and seriously good) as the 1970s were, I still have a soft spot for comedies from that era. Aside from Python, Allen, and Animal House, I can't recall a lot of comedies from the 70s. (OK, ok, The Jerk).

But a 1980's comedy list would be insanely long. I don't know if it's because I grew up on them on cable, but I think that decade had a lot of good comedy.
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Old 03-23-07, 03:53 PM
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Disco, cocaine, fashion, Reagan and synth pop.
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Old 03-23-07, 07:09 PM
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Two words: new wave.
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Old 03-23-07, 07:22 PM
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Originally Posted by JasonTHX
The 90's Gave Us, Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, David Fincher, Sam Mendes.
Sam Mendes is English, and how come nobody mentions Soderbergh when the list 90s indie directors? Sex, Lies, and Videotape kicked of the 90s American indie film movement.

Oh, and David Fincher has, AFAIK, never made an "indie" film in his life.
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Old 03-23-07, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by JasonTHX
For better or for worse it came down to two people: Spielberg and Lucas. With Empire , Raiders, E.T. and so on. But still it wasn't all about commerce. Directors like Peter Weir did their best work in the Eighties. Scorsese was doing fantastic, dazzling work. Blue Velvet came out. Do The Right Thing in 89'.

It wasn't anything like the Easy Riders, Raging Bull era but still there were some pretty amazing movies.

The 70's gave us, Spielberg, Lucas, Coppola, Scorsese, DePalma, Lumet.
The 80's Gave us, David Lynch, Spike Lee, Oliver Stone, Jim Jarmusch.
The 90's Gave Us, Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, David Fincher, Sam Mendes.
Kevin Smith
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Old 03-23-07, 08:19 PM
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Richard Linklater came out of the 80's as well right? What about Errol Morris?

Anyways, a great book to read if you're interested in the 80's independent movie scene is "Spike, Mike, Slackers, and Dykes" by John Pierson. Chronicles independent film from 1984-1994 (Slacker to Pulp Fiction)
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Old 03-23-07, 10:23 PM
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Originally Posted by PopcornTreeCt
What happened to Hollywood during the 80's?
Eleven words: The Encylcopedia Britannica Kid What Had The Report Due On Space
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Old 03-23-07, 10:54 PM
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The 80s had some awesome movies Ferris Bueller, Bevery Hills Cop 16 Candles, Back to the Future, Indiana Jones, Police Academy, Spie Like Us, Teen Wolf ummm...Cobra, Short Circuit 2, ummm...the one where Dudley Moore and Kirk Cameron switched bodies. A LOT OF GREAT MOVIES.
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Old 03-23-07, 11:07 PM
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And of course:...
BRAZIL
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Old 03-24-07, 01:12 AM
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And no mention of the Coen brothers either! forshame
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Old 03-24-07, 02:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Apone
Disco, cocaine, fashion, Reagan and synth pop.
I like your answer. When I think of any "what happened to [blank] in the eighties" question, my one word answer is always cocaine.

That said, the more I have thought about it, the more I feel that movies on the whole really didn't get any worse, or better. I don't think the OP's question is legit, in other words. There are so many great directors who, regardless of when they came of age, were doing great work in the eighties. Yes, many of them had an embarrassing misstep or two (chalk it up to cocaine, or whatever other mania you feel is appropriate.) But really, the question is flawed because NO decade since the seventies has come close. If the typical studio picture now, or in the nineties, was better than in the eighties then you could say the eighties was the anomalous era. The question should be, "What happened to Hollywood during the 70's [that made the output so extraordinary]?" And that question has already been adequately answered here, by people who've read books like Easy Riders, Raging Bulls.
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Old 03-24-07, 07:19 AM
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Jaws started the blockbuster, by my beloved Star Wars changed movie for the worse, and this is coming from a person whose favorite movie of all-time was Star Wars.

Star Wars changed movies because it brought back the fun factor in movies that appealed to adults and children, and that brought in huge box office numbers in 1977. Short term, you had a slew of fun, well done movies that appealed to all audiences: Superman: The Movie, Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T. and Back to the Future.

Over time, the blockbuster turned into the dummy movie of the week that was laden with special effects and no story or characters development. Years later, the big box office hits were Independence Day, Twister, The Perfect Storm, etc. Those movies focused on CGI to sell the movie, and only appeal to a younger demographic because older moviegoers want a decent story and good characters when they watch a movie too.

The 70's had gritty, hard nosed movies, and the late 70's/early 80's had fun, fantasy-type movies, but they were both high in quality in terms of entertainment. With the exception of movies like Jurassic Park, Lord of the Rings, and The Matrix in the last 15 years, the summer blockbusters are forgettable CG-laden movies that nobody will care about years down the line.
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Old 03-24-07, 11:38 AM
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I don't think I'd put Kevin Smith in that group. Where's Michael Mann? Ridley Scott? Ang Lee?
I didn't mean to imply Kevin Smith was a Great filmaker, I meant he represented a group of video store geek/slacker directors who came to fruition in the 90's like Linklater. Like it or not for the first half of the 90's these guys represented a new breed of directors.

But yes, Coens do deserve a mention. So does John Singleton.
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Old 03-24-07, 01:09 PM
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Some highlights from the 80's

Reds
Blow Out
Prince Of The City
The King Of Comedy
Sophie's Choice
Rumble Fish
The Dead Zone
Once Upon A Time In America
Paris, Texas
Blood Simple
Brazil
The Falcon And The Snowman
Body Double
The Fly
After Hours
Prizzi's Honor
Hannah And Her Sisters
Kiss Of The Spider Woman
Witness
Blue Velvet
Year Of The Dragon
The Name Of The Rose
Angel Heart
Platoon
Down By Law
She's Gotta Have It
Something Wild
Bird
A Fish Called Wanda
The Last Emperor
Frantic
Near Dark
Scanners
The Unbearable Lightness Of Being
Dead Ringers
Mississippi Burning
Sex, Lies And Videotape
Videodrome
Crimes And Misdemeanors

Last edited by inri222; 03-24-07 at 04:48 PM.
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Old 03-24-07, 01:13 PM
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All these movies were made in the 80s:

Aliens
An Officer And A Gentleman
Back To The Future
Big
Big Trouble In Little China
Blade Runner
The Color Purple
Die Hard
Do The Right Thing
The Empire Strikes Back
Escape From New York
Field Of Dreams
First Blood
Full Metal Jacket
Ghostbusters
Glory
House of Games
The Karate Kid
Ladyhawke
Lethal Weapon
Manhunter
The Naked Gun
Planes, Trains & Automobiles
Platoon
Poltergeist
Predator
The Princess Bride
Raiders Of The Lost Ark
Rain Man
RoboCop
Scarface
Somewhere In Time
Star Trek II
Star Trek IV
The Terminator
The Thing
This Is Spinal Tap
The Untouchables
Wall Street
War Games
When Harry Met Sally
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Witness


Yes, a lot of bigger budget movies than smaller ones...but that didn't mean the quality disappeared. Heck, I probably love more movies from the 80s than any other decade.
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Old 03-24-07, 05:51 PM
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Originally Posted by JasonTHX
...video store geek/slacker directors [...] like Linklater.
You lost me there. I don't think Linklater is either a slacker or a video store geek, and I fail to see how he represents a group of such people. Nor can I see much that he has in common with Kevin Smith.

Originally Posted by JasonTHX
But yes, Coens do deserve a mention. So does John Singleton.
Putting these two in the same sentence does not compute. Singleton is a hack. By any sane measure, wherever you mention the Coens, you should not also mention him.
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