12 Greatest Movie Moments of 1983
It’s 1983. In Colombia, 5000 are dead after a massive earthquake. South Korean Flight 007 is shot down by Russian jets. Sally Ride is the first U.S. woman in space and Arnold Schwarzenegger becomes a U.S. citizen. On TV, the popular action series the A-Team makes its debut as Laverne and Shirley bow out. Pop music sensation Michael Jackson’s Thriller shoots to Number 1 on the Billboard and stays there for 37 weeks while the CD is introduced. And in the movies, an epic space trilogy comes to a close while a new hunky star makes waves. Here are the 12 Greatest Movie Moments of 1983.
12) Trapped in a Pinto
The film adaptation of Steven King’s book of the same name did for dogs what Jaws did for sharks. After a playful St. Bernard gets its head stuck in a hole, a rabid bat bites its nose. When the dog comes home, he’s not feeling so well and soon enough goes on a slobbery rampage. In this moment, he traps Donna (Dee Wallace) and her young son Tad (Danny Pintauro) in their Ford Pinto, which can’t start because of a failed alternator. With the sun beating down and Cujo ever on the attack, there seems no way for them to make it out alive. Just when you thought is was safe to go back into the car. That’s a Jaws reference.
11) Appliances 1 Jack: 0
FILM: Mr. Mom
When Jack Butler (Michael Keaton) loses his job and his wife becomes the breadwinner, he decides to to stay home and be the ‘mom’ for the kids and do all the housekeeping. But, you know, since he’s a man and all, he has no idea how to do anything domestic and fails spectacularly at every conceivable aspect of the job. In this moment, as the house seems to become possessed and turn against him in a sequence that looks like a deleted scene from Poltergeist, the appliances go berserk. From washing machines to vacuum cleaners, it’s total chaos. This may be a classic, but it sure is silly.
10) It’s Only Wafer Thin
FILM: Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life
If you’re searching for the meaning of life, then look no further than Monty Python. Cobbling together a wickedly satirical set of sketches that are seemingly unrelated but are designed to address different stages of life from birth to death, they eviscerate the expected. In Part VI – The Autumn Years, we meet a shockingly, morbidly, obese man named Mr. Creosote (Terry Jones) as he enters an opulent restaurant. He is a well-dressed but foul man who regularly vomits into a bucket. By advice of the unrelentingly accommodating maître d’ (John Cleese), Mr. Creasote consumes a vast quantity of food and drink but when offered a wafer thin dinner mint, has reached his limit. What follows is a delightfully disturbing moment of gastrointestinal explosion the likes that have never been seen before or since. That’s a good thing. No mint for us, please.
9) Billy Ray Can See
FILM: Trading Places
Saturday Night Live veterans Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd team up for one of the decades funniest comedies with Murphy a poor street hustler and Aykroyd a respected Wall Street broker who are tricked and end up trading places. While it was tempting to put Jamie Lee Curtis‘ jaw-dropping sudden toplessness on this list, it goes to Murphy instead. In an early scene as we are introduced to Billy Ray Valentine (Murphy) as he roams the streets pretending to be legless and blind. After he accosts a girl for a date, the police intervene and expose him as a fraud. But not one to let an opportunity to weasel his way free, he proclaims it a miracle and hastily makes an exit, right into Louis Winthorpe III (Aykroyd). This unknowingly sets himself up for the big con. The guy is just darned funny. We never felt comfortable with Don Ameche using the “N” word though.
8) Alex Gets Comfortable
As a young woman working at a steel mill by day and as an exotic dancer at night, perky Alex Owen (Jennifer Beals) is a girl with big dreams. Her boss Nick (Michael Nouri) at the mill becomes smitten after watching her perform on stage and hopes for a date. In this moment, after he proves himself worthy, the two go to her place to have some take-out pizza. Nick settles on the sofa while Alex heads to the back room and changes into a neckless sweatshirt. She then joins him, plopping down on an ottoman across from the couch. As she talks about the power of music, she slips a hand under her top and removes her bra, all without missing a beat. It’s hypnotically effective and started a fashion trend that is still a thing. The neckless sweatshirt we mean. We’ve already wrote about this great moment in depth.
7) The Missiles Are Flying
FILM: The Dead Zone
After a traumatic accident leaves Johnny Smith (Christopher Walken) in a coma for five years, he awakens with an extraordinary gift. By touching another person, he can “see” their past, present, and future. At a political rally some time later, he shakes the hand of a Senatorial candidate and has a vision of the man becoming President and ordering a nuclear strike against the Soviets. It causes armageddon. In the vision, the President is mad with power, attempting to fulfill an illusionary destiny. It’s a horrifying truth that now Smith must prevent. At all costs. If there is a film that would benefit from a remake, this one is it. Knowing this, though, how did he get elected President in The West Wing?
6) The Triple Dog Dare
FILM: A Christmas Story
The dream of owning a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model BB gun is all little Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsley) can think about. Problem is, everyone, including Santa, says he’ll shoot his eye out. But he’s got other things to worry about, too. His best friend Flick (Scott Schwartz) has a reputation to keep on the playground, and when he’s challenged with a rare Triple Dog Dare (by-passing the triple dare) to put his tongue on the frozen flag pole, he’s got no choice but go though with it. Of course it gets stuck and the kids all flee when the bell rings, leaving the screaming tongue-frozen boy to the elements. It’s up to the cops and the fire department to save him now. Raise your hand if you tried this yourself?
5) Clark Goes Swimming
FILM: National Lampoon’s Vacation
The family road trip to end all family road trips, this John Hughes comedy follows the adventures of hapless Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) who just wants to get his clan to Wally World in a cross country trek everyone can enjoy. Not so easy. Along the way, on the open road, he gets teased by a gorgeous blonde women (Christie Brinkley) in a red Ferrari. They eventually meet up at a lodge where she wants to go skinny dipping. He foolishly follows but can’t even get that right, alerting the hotel, including his wife and kids, to their presence. You did the right thing, Clark. Good boy.
4) Tony’s Little Friend
A remake of the 1932 classic gangster film of the same name, this violent, gritty film stars Al Pacino as Tony Montana, a Cuban refugee in Miami who gets involved in the cocaine drug trade. He builds an empire but creates many enemies and loses control of it all. In this moment, as his world crumbles around him, with his sister shot dead at his feet, an international drug lord sends his men to kill him, but he has a surprise for them, a grenade-launching M-16 assault rifle. He politely asks them to say hello. Few films have had this kind of influence on movies and music, heavily embraced by the Hip Hop generation.
3) Joshua Wants to Play
After the military removes the human component from the nuclear weapons launching protocols and gives control to a large specially-programmed computer, things are meant to be more secure. Nope. A young, enthusiastic computer hacker named David (Matthew Broderick) looking to play some unreleased games, accidentally taps into the system. Calling itself ‘Joshua’, the computer lists a series of strategy programs and war simulations that David thinks are from an entertainment company. When Joshua asks, “Shall we play a game?” he has no idea what he’s about to start. Maybe WWIII. It’s a fantastic movie moment that still sends chills. Plus there’s the adorable Ally Sheedy.
2) Vader Unmasked
FILM: Star War: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
As the first trilogy to the epic Star Wars saga came to a close, the third chapter saw the final showdown of the ragtag Rebels against the mighty Empire. As Han Solo (Harrison Ford) leads a band of troops to the surface of Endor to take out a shield generator to allow the attacking Rebels to get close to the second Death Star, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) battles for control of his father Darth Vader and the defeat of the Emperor (Ian McDiarmid) himself. When it’s over, Vader (spoilers) saves his son at great cost, sacrificing himself to let his boy live. In his dying moments, he asks Luke to remove the mask so that he might see him at last with his own eyes. What we see, forever humanizes the once terrifying villain. It’s one of the best moments in the franchise. And dang if we don’t a little weepy every time.
1) Joel Dances
FILM: Risky Business
Tom Cruise plays Joel Goodson (get it? Good Son), an uptight high schooler who is left alone in the house while his parents travel out of town. Like any normal kid, he is influenced by his friends to get into a little trouble, though when he calls a service to send a girl over, little does he know how much trouble. He eventually meets Lana (Rebecca De Mornay), whom he is told is what “every white boy off the lake wants” and gets involved in a brief prostitution scheme. Before all that though, he celebrates a little freedom with an undercooked TV dinner, a pink dress shirt, two white socks, a pair of tighty-whities, and a little Old Time Rock and Roll. This dance scene made Cruise an instant superstar and cemented his career as a sex symbol. It’s the most iconic movie moment of 1983.