Greatest Ever 80s Movies - Sunday October 21

greatest ever 80s movies

Five’s own film critic Giles Coren presents this countdown of the top 40 ‘bodacious’, ‘rad’, ‘mondo’ and least ‘grody’ films of the 1980s. Using a poll of Five viewers and readers of The Times, the rundown features commentary and anecdotes from a host of contributors including 80s icons Molly Ringwald and Kelly LeBrock; film critic Barry Norman and comedian Russell Brand.

Kicking off proceedings with one legwarmertopped foot is the 1980 dance classic ‘Fame’. Irene Cara, who played Coco in the film and sang the UK number one theme song, believes that ‘Fame’ inspired many to follow their dreams into stage school. Dancer and reality TV star Wayne Sleep concurs, as does 80s popstrel Deborah Gibson. Fashionista Angela Buttolph cites the movie as kickstarting some dubious fashion trends. But aside from the big hair and pastel leotards, the film also managed to address the harsh reality of the industry, most memorably when it shows the traumatised Coco being shamelessly exploited by a seedy photographer.

The dance theme continues throughout this countdown. At 37 is 1983’s welder-dancer tale ‘Flashdance’, and at 32 is 1984’s ‘Footloose’. In this hot-steppin’ favourite, Kevin Bacon challenges an uptight town’s ban on such evil acts as dancing and listening to rock ‘n’ roll by teaching its young people to dance. Choreographer Louie Spence was not convinced of Bacon’s hoofing prowess, complaining: “I enjoyed the film; the worst part about it was the dancing… Line dancing done badly!” Despite Kevin Bacon dancing, as Angela Buttolph describes, like “Shakin’ Stevens on E”, comedian Scott Capurro is not put off. “Who doesn’t want to watch a cowboy dance? I mean, come on!”

There are not any dancing cowboys in our number 27 film, 1988’s ‘Cocktail’, but there is Tom Cruise showing off behind a bar. Paul Martin, a world record-holding cocktail mixer, cites the film as his inspiration for becoming a barman – but concedes that it made customers expect such shenanigans every time they ordered a cosmopolitan! The film made $78 million at the US box office, and provided Cruise with another huge 80s hit – but Barry Norman thinks its showiness hides the fact that Cruise is actually a decent actor. Can ‘the Cruiser’ manage to redeem himself elsewhere in our chart?

There is a change of direction at number 21, with Oliver Stone’s harrowing Vietnam drama ‘Platoon’ from 1989. Following the story of 24 soldiers, including Tony Todd (‘Candyman’, ‘The Rock’); Willem Dafoe; Tom Berenger and Forest Whitaker (‘The Last King of Scotland’, ‘The Shield’), the film watches the soldiers begin to turn their fighting inwards as differing attitudes create a rift between them. John C McGinley (hit TV comedy ‘Scrubs’), who appears in another entry in our chart, ‘Wall Street’, remembers filming well. “It was a really stunning experience,” he recalls. “I feel pretty damn lucky.” Other Vietnam movies also appear in our countdown, including Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Full Metal Jacket’ and Barry Levinson’s ‘Good Morning, Vietnam’, both from 1987.

Elsewhere in the top 40, Eddie Murphy makes his mark as one of the first major black male stars with his roles in films such as ‘48 HRS’ (1982), ‘Coming to America’ (1988) and ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ (1984); ‘24’ hero Kiefer Sutherland makes being a vampire sexy in ‘The Lost Boys’ (1987); and the Brat Pack make a name for themselves in the 1985 double-bill of ‘The Breakfast Club’ and ‘St Elmo’s Fire’. But which film has made it to number one? And which star is described by T’Pau chanteuse Carol Decker as “a little pocket-sized gorgeous thing?” All will be revealed…

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