1981: A Viewer's Guide

by millsy | created - 12 Feb 2012 | updated - 1 month ago | Public
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1. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

PG | 115 min | Action, Adventure

85 Metascore

In 1936, archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones is hired by the U.S. government to find the Ark of the Covenant before Adolf Hitler's Nazis can obtain its awesome powers.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, John Rhys-Davies

Votes: 827,613 | Gross: $248.16M

2. Das Boot (1981)

R | 149 min | Adventure, Drama, Thriller

86 Metascore

The claustrophobic world of a WWII German U-boat; boredom, filth and sheer terror.

Director: Wolfgang Petersen | Stars: Jürgen Prochnow, Herbert Grönemeyer, Klaus Wennemann, Hubertus Bengsch

Votes: 214,936 | Gross: $11.49M

3. Diva (1981)

R | 117 min | Thriller

Two tapes, two Parisian mob killers, one corrupt policeman, an opera fan, a teenage thief, and the coolest philosopher ever filmed. All these characters twist their way through an intricate and stylish French language thriller.

Director: Jean-Jacques Beineix | Stars: Wilhelmenia Fernandez, Frédéric Andréi, Richard Bohringer, Thuy An Luu

Votes: 11,037 | Gross: $0.11M

4. Ragtime (1981)

PG | 155 min | Drama

57 Metascore

A young black pianist becomes embroiled in the lives of an upper-class white family set among the racial tensions, infidelity, violence, and other nostalgic events in early 1900s New York City.

Director: Milos Forman | Stars: James Cagney, Elizabeth McGovern, Howard E. Rollins Jr., Brad Dourif

Votes: 8,110 | Gross: $21.02M

5. Lola (1981)

R | 115 min | Drama, Romance

In post-war West Germany, the charming Von Bohm is appointed a city's new Building Commissioner. His morality is tested when he unknowingly falls in love with a brothel worker, Lola, the paid mistress of a corrupt property developer.

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder | Stars: Barbara Sukowa, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Mario Adorf, Matthias Fuchs

Votes: 4,663

6. Body Heat (1981)

R | 113 min | Crime, Drama, Romance

77 Metascore

In the midst of a searing Florida heat wave, a woman persuades her lover, a small-town lawyer, to murder her rich husband.

Director: Lawrence Kasdan | Stars: William Hurt, Kathleen Turner, Richard Crenna, Ted Danson

Votes: 28,517 | Gross: $24.06M

7. Chariots of Fire (1981)

PG | 125 min | Biography, Drama, Sport

78 Metascore

Two British track athletes, one a determined Jew, and the other a devout Christian, compete in the 1924 Olympics.

Director: Hugh Hudson | Stars: Ben Cross, Ian Charleson, Nicholas Farrell, Nigel Havers

Votes: 50,181 | Gross: $58.97M

8. Gallipoli (1981)

PG | 110 min | Adventure, Drama, History

65 Metascore

Two Australian sprinters face the brutal realities of war when they are sent to fight in the Gallipoli campaign in Turkey during World War I.

Director: Peter Weir | Stars: Mel Gibson, Mark Lee, Bill Kerr, Harold Hopkins

Votes: 34,509 | Gross: $5.73M

9. True Confessions (1981)

R | 108 min | Crime, Drama

68 Metascore

A worldly ambitious monsignor clashes with his older brother, a cynical Los Angeles homicide detective who is investigating the brutal murder of a young prostitute.

Director: Ulu Grosbard | Stars: Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall, Charles Durning, Kenneth McMillan

Votes: 6,614 | Gross: $10.20M

10. Pixote (1981)

R | 128 min | Crime, Drama

The life of a boy in the streets of Sao Paulo, involved with crimes, prostitution and drugs.

Director: Hector Babenco | Stars: Fernando Ramos da Silva, Jorge Julião, Gilberto Moura, Edilson Lino

Votes: 5,875

11. Modern Romance (1981)

R | 93 min | Comedy, Romance

Albert Brooks directs himself as a successful film editor with far too many issues that affects the relationship between him and his remarkably patient girlfriend.

Director: Albert Brooks | Stars: Albert Brooks, Kathryn Harrold, Tyann Means, Bruno Kirby

Votes: 2,838 | Gross: $2.86M

12. Mephisto (1981)

Unrated | 144 min | Drama

A German stage actor finds unexpected success and mixed blessings in the popularity of his performance in a Faustian play as the Nazis take power in pre-WWII Germany. As his associates and ... See full summary »

Director: István Szabó | Stars: Klaus Maria Brandauer, Krystyna Janda, Ildikó Bánsági, Rolf Hoppe

Votes: 8,691

13. Prince of the City (1981)

R | 167 min | Crime, Drama

80 Metascore

A New York City narcotics detective reluctantly agrees to cooperate with a special commission investigating police corruption. However, he soon discovers that he's in over his head, and nobody can be trusted.

Director: Sidney Lumet | Stars: Treat Williams, Jerry Orbach, Richard Foronjy, Don Billett

Votes: 6,547 | Gross: $8.12M

14. Southern Comfort (1981)

R | 106 min | Action, Thriller

63 Metascore

During a routine exercise, a team of National Guards are threatened by angry and violent locals.

Director: Walter Hill | Stars: Keith Carradine, Powers Boothe, Fred Ward, Franklyn Seales

Votes: 14,843 | Gross: $5.00M

15. The Woman Next Door (1981)

R | 106 min | Drama, Romance

Two ex-lovers wind up living next door to each other with their respective spouses. Forbidden passions ensue.

Director: François Truffaut | Stars: Gérard Depardieu, Fanny Ardant, Henri Garcin, Michèle Baumgartner

Votes: 6,321

16. Blow Out (1981)

R | 108 min | Mystery, Thriller

85 Metascore

A movie sound recordist accidentally records the evidence that proves that a car accident was actually murder and consequently finds himself in danger.

Director: Brian De Palma | Stars: John Travolta, Nancy Allen, John Lithgow, Dennis Franz

Votes: 38,727 | Gross: $13.75M

17. Thief (1981)

R | 123 min | Action, Crime, Drama

78 Metascore

Coming closer to his dream of leading a normal life, a professional safecracker agrees to do a job for the Mafia, who has other plans for him.

Director: Michael Mann | Stars: James Caan, Tuesday Weld, Willie Nelson, Jim Belushi

Votes: 22,281 | Gross: $11.49M

18. Gregory's Girl (1980)

PG | 91 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

Gregory is a normal teen who is infatuated with a classmate. He must work to win her affection.

Director: Bill Forsyth | Stars: John Gordon Sinclair, Dee Hepburn, Jake D'Arcy, Clare Grogan

Votes: 6,981

19. Cutter's Way (1981)

R | 109 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

70 Metascore

Richard spots a man dumping a body, and decides to expose the man he thinks is the culprit with his friend Alex Cutter.

Director: Ivan Passer | Stars: Jeff Bridges, John Heard, Lisa Eichhorn, Ann Dusenberry

Votes: 4,534 | Gross: $1.73M

20. Time Bandits (1981)

PG | 110 min | Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy

79 Metascore

A young boy accidentally joins a band of time travelling dwarves, as they jump from era to era looking for treasure to steal.

Director: Terry Gilliam | Stars: Sean Connery, Shelley Duvall, John Cleese, Katherine Helmond

Votes: 54,365 | Gross: $42.37M

21. An American Werewolf in London (1981)

R | 97 min | Comedy, Horror

60 Metascore

Two American college students on a walking tour of Britain are attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will admit exists.

Director: John Landis | Stars: David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, Joe Belcher, Griffin Dunne

Votes: 84,051 | Gross: $30.57M

22. Circle of Deceit (1981)

R | 108 min | Drama, War

Laschen, a German journalist, travels to the city of Beirut during the fights between Christians and Palestinians to produce an essay about the situation. Together with his photographer, he... See full summary »

Director: Volker Schlöndorff | Stars: Bruno Ganz, Hanna Schygulla, Jean Carmet, Jerzy Skolimowski

Votes: 696

23. Coup de Torchon (1981)

Not Rated | 128 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

A pathetic police chief, humiliated by everyone around him, suddenly wants a clean slate in life - and resorts to drastic means to do so.

Director: Bertrand Tavernier | Stars: Philippe Noiret, Isabelle Huppert, Stéphane Audran, Jean-Pierre Marielle

Votes: 4,550

24. Strange Behavior (1981)

R | 87 min | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi

A scientist is experimenting with teenagers and turning them into murderers.

Director: Michael Laughlin | Stars: Michael Murphy, Louise Fletcher, Dan Shor, Fiona Lewis

Votes: 1,361

Dead Kids

25. Escape from New York (1981)

R | 99 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

76 Metascore

In 1997, when the U.S. president crashes into Manhattan, now a giant maximum security prison, a convicted bank robber is sent in to rescue him.

Director: John Carpenter | Stars: Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasence

Votes: 114,488 | Gross: $25.24M

26. Eyewitness (1981)

R | 103 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

Eccentric Vietnam War vet turned janitor claims to have witnessed a murder of a man tied to international political underground in order to get the attention of a TV reporter he has a huge crush on. The cops suspect his loser best friend.

Director: Peter Yates | Stars: William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, Christopher Plummer, James Woods

Votes: 3,944 | Gross: $6.40M

27. The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981)

R | 124 min | Drama, Romance

64 Metascore

Wife and husband, both actors, play a couple in love from the Victorian era. Soon they begin to feel that fiction interweaves into reality.

Director: Karel Reisz | Stars: Meryl Streep, Jeremy Irons, Hilton McRae, Emily Morgan

Votes: 11,088 | Gross: $22.60M

28. The Howling (1981)

R | 91 min | Horror

68 Metascore

After a bizarre and near deadly encounter with a serial killer, a television newswoman is sent to a remote mountain resort whose residents may not be what they seem.

Director: Joe Dante | Stars: Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee, Dennis Dugan, Christopher Stone

Votes: 28,620 | Gross: $17.99M

29. Looks and Smiles (1981)

104 min | Drama

Thatcherism and the Irish troubles provide the backdrop for this study of Mick, a well-meaning youth in Sheffield, who has, unlike Dickens' Pip, no expectations. Mick lives with his parents... See full summary »

Director: Ken Loach | Stars: Graham Green, Carolyn Nicholson, Tony Pitts, Roy Haywood

Votes: 339

30. The Loveless (1981)

R | 82 min | Drama

44 Metascore

Trouble ensues when a motorcycle gang stops in a small southern town while heading to the races at Daytona.

Directors: Kathryn Bigelow, Monty Montgomery | Stars: Willem Dafoe, J. Don Ferguson, Robert Gordon, Marin Kanter

Votes: 1,349

31. Man of Iron (1981)

PG | 156 min | Drama, History

A worker becomes a "man of iron" forged by experience, a son comes to terms with his father, a couple fall in love, a reporter searches for courage, and a nation undergoes historic change. ... See full summary »

Director: Andrzej Wajda | Stars: Jerzy Radziwilowicz, Krystyna Janda, Marian Opania, Wieslawa Kosmalska

Votes: 2,779

32. My Dinner with Andre (1981)

PG | 110 min | Biography, Comedy, Drama

83 Metascore

Two old friends meet for dinner; as one tells anecdotes detailing his experiences, the other notices their differing worldviews.

Director: Louis Malle | Stars: Andre Gregory, Wallace Shawn, Jean Lenauer, Roy Butler

Votes: 15,905 | Gross: $5.25M

33. On Golden Pond (1981)

PG | 109 min | Drama

68 Metascore

Norman is a curmudgeon with an estranged relationship with his daughter Chelsea. At Golden Pond, he and his wife nevertheless agree to care for Billy, the son of Chelsea's new boyfriend, and a most unexpected relationship blooms.

Director: Mark Rydell | Stars: Katharine Hepburn, Henry Fonda, Jane Fonda, Doug McKeon

Votes: 25,794 | Gross: $119.29M

34. Reds (1981)

PG | 195 min | Biography, Drama, History

76 Metascore

A radical American journalist becomes involved with the Communist revolution in Russia, and hopes to bring its spirit and idealism to the United States.

Director: Warren Beatty | Stars: Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, Edward Herrmann, Jerzy Kosinski

Votes: 19,358 | Gross: $40.38M

35. Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)

R | 96 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

77 Metascore

In the post-apocalyptic Australian wasteland, a cynical drifter agrees to help a small, gasoline rich community escape a horde of bandits.

Director: George Miller | Stars: Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence, Michael Preston, Max Phipps

Votes: 156,996 | Gross: $12.47M

36. Scanners (1981)

R | 103 min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

60 Metascore

A scientist sends a man with extraordinary psychic powers to hunt others like him.

Director: David Cronenberg | Stars: Jennifer O'Neill, Stephen Lack, Patrick McGoohan, Lawrence Dane

Votes: 43,969 | Gross: $14.23M

37. Trances (1981)

Not Rated | 90 min | Documentary, Music

Documentary film about a Moroccan soul music band called Trances.

Director: Ahmed El Maanouni | Stars: Larbi Batma, Nass-El Ghiwane, Abderrahman Paco, Omar Sayed

Votes: 337



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