Summer Movies of 1989: The Best Ever!
Here we are once again close to the end of however another dreadful movie year. Tired sequels that have worn out their welcome a long time ago and comedies that barely consequence in more than a chuckle are littering our movie screens. 3-D has been giving a new lease on life with very little interest and sadly very little excitement. This tired course of action was first produced to combat television in the 50’s and later resurrected in the early 80’s. This gimmick only meant we were bored in not only one size but three!
Maybe it’s the fact that I’m in my mid-forties that causes me to feel disillusioned with the modern pop culture, or that I simply have lived by too many summer movie seasons to get interested anymore. It is after all the 18 to 24 year olds that make up most of the cinema going audience. Perhaps I’m too rooted in my youth to care much about the films of today and their place in history.
I don’t think so. Current movie without everything that films in my era seem to have had in abundance. A magical and exciting combination of honesty and special effects made the films of the 80’s feel like childhood friends. This brings me back to a certain summer movies season that was both amazing in its number of blockbuster hits in addition as a healthy measure of quality dramas and comedies. The year was 1989.
First you must understand the main reason why so many big budgeted blockbusters were released in a 4 month period. In late 1987 there was a writer’s strike in Hollywood that wreaked havoc on television and characterize films. Productions came to a stop on film projects and television was littered with endless reruns. The strike caused many series to prematurely die, such as the popular “Moonlighting” which never saw its audience come back.
However, as a consequence of that strike the summer movie season of 1989 was being shaped up as a landing strip for so many big movies caught up in the air of production delays. Bad news for the studios but great news for film fans who couldn’t imagine what was ahead of them at their local theaters.
The film that led that avalanche of blockbusters was also one of the most expected films of the decade. Batman with Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson as the joker was the film that everyone was talking about. Keaton’s casting was puzzling to the fans, but Nicholson as the joker had everyone buzzing with excitement. Not since Marlon Brando in Superman has an actor elevated a film from popcorn cheese to authentic theatrical excitement.
At the same time several studios had entries of long successful film series waiting in the wings. Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade and Star Trek V were released just a few weeks later, with Lethal Weapon 2 and Ghostbusters 2 right behind them. If that wasn’t enough a man by the name of Bond, James Bond showed up just 7 days later in “License to kill”. Just think Indiana Jones, Captain Kirk, Batman and James Bond all playing at the same time! If you needed a break from this frenzy Mel Gibson and the Ghost Hunting Boys were just down the corridor.
noticeable dramas like Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” and “Dead Poets Society” provided some welcome seriousness, while the romantic comedy “When Harry Met Sally” had audiences roaring and ordering “what she had”.
Some original films also took a bite out of the audience in addition. “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” and Sam Raimi’s “Darkman” were surprise hits.
The memory of that movie summer will live on with me for the rest of my life. Not only did I see all the movies on opening night, I had a definite point of view on the excitement that was going on around me. I was a movie theatre usher at then illustrious now extinct Amboy Cinemas Theatre in Sayreville, New Jersey.
I look back at those three months as a special time not only in terms of box office history, but in the excitement and joy that I shared with my many popcorn sweeping co-stars. There has never been a summer movie season like that since and most likely never will be again. To release all those possible blockbusters in that short amount of time would never fly today.
But back then it did, and I enjoyed every moment of it. I thought I had lived by the most exhausting job I ever had. Every show was a sell-out and hundreds if not thousands of sodas were sold every day. This was the true meaning of show business.
Little did I know that a few months later a studio named Disney would be born again with an conceal movie called “The Little Mermaid”. That Thanksgiving I learned the most valuable skill of my adult life; scrapping gummy produces off a concrete floor.