Sunday, July 15, 2012

Summer of 1982: (July 16, 1982)

July 16, 1982 was one of those packed weekends where there's so many new movies released that some are bound for box-office failure, especially with the unstoppable juggernaut that was E.T.: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL.  Capitalizing on Steven Spielberg's huge success with E.T., Paramount chose this weekend to re-release 1981's RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and it ended up being the top "new" offering of the weekend, adding to the director's incredible success over the summer of 1982.

The medical soap opera spoof YOUNG DOCTORS IN LOVE opened as well, to generally decent if unenthusiastic reviews, but became a surprise sleeper hit, grossing around $30 million.  A stab at AIRPLANE!-style humor in the ZAZ mold, YOUNG DOCTORS IN LOVE was directed by TV icon Garry Marshall (HAPPY DAYS, LAVERNE & SHIRLEY) and starred familiar TV faces like Michael McKean, Ed Begley, Jr., and Ted McGinley, as well as perpetual Marshall regular Hector Elizondo, BLADE RUNNER's Sean Young, Harry Dean Stanton, Patrick Macnee, George Furth, Taylor Negron, and Dabney Coleman.  It was also an early hit for future mega-producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who would crack the big time a year later when he partnered with Don Simpson to produce FLASHDANCE.

Woody Allen's A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S SEX COMEDY is an homage to Ingmar Bergman's SMILES OF A SUMMER NIGHT, set in the early 1900s at a weekend cottage getaway for three couples (Allen and Mary Steenburgen, Jose Ferrer and Mia Farrow, Tony Roberts and Julie Hagerty).  Being that this is a Woody Allen film, neuroses and comic bedhopping occur, or as much as the PG rating will allow.  Far from Allen's best film, but nor is it his worst, the occasionally-amusing MIDSUMMER falls pretty squarely in the pleasant-but-forgettable camp.  Allen did this between the Fellini-inspired STARDUST MEMORIES and the experimental ZELIG, and was probably more concerned with continuing to establish his auteur bona fides than making people laugh.

SIX PACK was the big screen debut of beloved country music star and future botched cosmetic surgery case study Kenny Rogers, who had recently turned his hit song "The Gambler" into a popular and oddly-titled made-for-TV western KENNY ROGERS AS THE GAMBLER.  The idea of a family comedy with Rogers as race car driver Brewster Baker, befriending and taking care of a ragtag group of six orphaned miscreants seemed like a great idea, and SIX PACK was a modest success in theaters.  It hovered around 10th to 12th place for several weeks, very quietly grossing $20 million, and found a bigger audience during its endless cable airings throughout the '80s.  Rogers had a likable enough screen presence, and the film does have a solid supporting turn by 17-year-old Diane Lane as the oldest of the kids (a young Anthony Michael Hall is also in it).  BUCK ROGERS' co-star Erin Gray has one of her rare big-screen leading roles, and the great character actor Barry Corbin is a crooked sheriff.  SIX PACK spawned a huge hit single for Rogers with "Love Will Turn You Around," which was far more successful than the movie, in addition to a 1983 pilot for a proposed NBC series that never happened, with a pre-MIAMI VICE Don Johnson as Brewster Baker and Leaf (later Joaquin) Phoenix as one of the Six Pack.

Lastly, the other major opening on this busy weekend was SUMMER LOVERS, directed by Randal Kleiser (GREASE).  SUMMER LOVERS wasn't a success at all, grossing only $5 million, but it enjoyed a long life on VHS and cable, where it introduced an untold number of impressionable, hormonally-overcharged boys to the concept of the menage-a-trois.  The film starred Peter Gallagher, Daryl Hannah, and CONAN THE BARBARIAN's Valerie Quennessen, and while surely not on the erotica level of, say, a Laura Gemser EMANUELLE flick, anything gets the job done when you're 11 and the possibility of nudity exists.  Gallagher and Hannah, both relative newcomers at the time, went on to long and busy careers and are still active today, while French actress Quennessen only made a few more movies before putting her career on hold for marriage and motherhood.  She was just 31 years old when she was tragically killed in a car accident in 1989.  SUMMER LOVERS also produced a pair of radio hits with Chicago's "Hard to Say I'm Sorry," and the Pointer Sisters' "I'm So Excited," which is in the film but didn't really take off until 1984.

TOP 10 FILMS FOR THE WEEKEND OF JULY 16, 1982 (from www.boxofficemojo.com)

2.   RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (re-release)
4.   TRON
9.   ANNIE

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