Date with the ‘80s

  1. Date with the ‘80s

From June 1 through July 4, the Gene Siskel Film Center presents Date with the ‘80s, a series of eleven films from a much-reevaluated decade in American film history. Many of the films are presented in 35mm prints. A highlight of the series is RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, presented in a widely praised 4K digital restoration.

A movie star was in the White House; the economy was booming; and Hollywood, after the up-in-the-air ‘70s, was getting its feet back on the ground. Once seen as a holding pattern between the New Hollywood shake-up of the 1970s and the rise of the indies in the 1990s, the 1980s are now being embraced as an era of lively, flamboyant moviemaking that reinvigorated some of the waning strengths of traditional Hollywood.

The tottering Hollywood studio system morphed into a new conglomerate-linked power structure, with increased clout wielded by bankable movie stars and the super-agents that represented them. Star vehicles became more dominant than ever before. After the anti-heroic interlude of the 1970s, old-fashioned heroism was back in style, and masculinity reasserted itself as a series of macho icons—Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Willis, Norris—conquered the box office.

After the anti-genre and revisionist classics of the 1970s, genre movies retrenched, with dramatic resurgences in such previously disreputable or “juvenile” genres as horror, science fiction, and adventure. Teenagers and young adults were recognized as the most frequent moviegoers, and Hollywood catered to them accordingly. Horror films enlivened many a date night; John Hughes invented a new kind of teen comedy; and low-budget, high-return hits like FLASHDANCE, DIRTY DANCING, and FOOTLOOSE reoriented the moribund movie musical from Broadway to MTV.

Multiplexes, wide releases, massive ad buys, and ballooning budgets made “high concept” the order of the day for producers and studio executives. FLASHDANCE was conceived as “ROCKY for women,” and FOOTLOOSE was pitched as “FLASHDANCE in the country.” Not everything was necessarily marketing-friendly; there was room for offbeat and irreverent fare, too, like John Carpenter’s transparently anti-Reaganite satire, THEY LIVE, and Alex Cox’s cult comedy of capitalist bottom-feeding, REPO MAN.

This series was co-programmed by the staff of the Gene Siskel Film Center. Special thanks to Chris Sanew, Angela Cox, Marjorie Bailey, Jason Hyde, Kayla Anderson, Nathan Cunningham, Zach Huber, Bert Marckwardt, Dan Rizzo-Orr, Marshall Shord, Cameron Worden.

—Martin Rubin


Buy a ticket for the first ‘80s film on any Saturday in June, and get a ticket for the second ‘80s film that day at this discount rate (tickets must be purchased at the same time): General Admission $7; Students $6; Members $4. (This discount rate applies to the second film only. Discount rate available only at the Film Center box office.)



Sat, Jun 1st at 3:15pm
Thu, Jun 6th at 6:00pm
Average: 3.9 (12 votes)
  1. 1985, John Hughes, USA, 97 min.
  2. With Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson

“A breath of cinematic fresh air. Credit writer-director Hughes for remembering his adolescence well. Most filmmakers these days remember only the surface details of their teenage years--the songs, the cars and the clothes. But Hughes remembers the hurts.”
—Gene Siskel, Chicago Tribune

Five kids—self-described as a brain (Anthony Michael Hall), an athlete (Emilio Estevez), a basket case (Ally Sheedy), a princess (Ringwald), and a criminal (Nelson)—are confined to the library of their suburban Chicago high school for Saturday detention. Hughes’s smart, snappy screenplay provides ample amounts of comic banter and mischief, as the group spars with their smug principal, but also drama and depth, as, one by one, they let down their guard and find they have a lot more in common than their assigned social stereotypes suggest. This movie cemented the Brat Pack ensemble and made the actors—and Hughes—‘80s icons. 35mm. (Christopher Sanew)

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Sat, Jun 1st at 5:15pm
Tue, Jun 4th at 6:00pm
Average: 4.2 (11 votes)
  1. 1986, John Hughes, USA, 103 min.
  2. With Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck

“Here is a dream as old as adolescence, and it is fun to be reminded of its ageless potency, especially in a movie as good-hearted as this one.”
—Richard Schickel, Time

Hughes created another ‘80s teen icon in the form of Matthew Broderick’s loveable smart aleck, Ferris Bueller. On a particularly beautiful day, Ferris fakes illness to play hooky, dragging his hypochondriac friend Cameron (Ruck) along for the ride--“borrowing” his dad’s collectible car in the process. The whirlwind day includes busting his girlfriend (Mia Sara) out of school, hitting Chicago landmarks including Wrigley Field and The Art Institute, crashing a parade, and impersonating a local sausage magnate, all while evading his clueless parents, bumbling principal (Jeffrey Jones), and resentful sister (Jennifer Gray). DCP. (Christopher Sanew)

Please note: The 35mm print of FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF had heavy scratches and soundtrack damage that we felt was not acceptable for exhibition. As a result, we will present FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF in DCP, rather than in 35mm, as previously announced. We apologize for any inconvenience.

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Sat, Jun 8th at 3:00pm
Tue, Jun 11th at 6:00pm
Average: 3.6 (7 votes)
  1. 1984, James Cameron, USA, 107 min.
  2. With Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton

“One of the most original movies of the 1980s and one of the best sci-fi films ever made.”
—Richard Schickel, Entertainment Weekly

With its savvy mix of thoughtful sci-fi concept and slam-bang action-movie set pieces, this sleeper hit was the breakthrough film for Cameron, as well as a defining role for the future Governator. The perfectly cast Schwarzenegger plays a robotic emissary from a machine-dominated future who is sent back in time to prevent the birth of a revolutionary leader. Imaginative effects, memorable dialogue, and heartfelt romance have kept this genre game-changer amazingly fresh. 35mm. (MR)

Please note: Due to a distributor booking oversight, the 35mm print of THE TERMINATOR will not be available for our screenings. We will be presenting THE TERMINATOR in DCP, rather than in 35mm, as previously announced. We apologize for any inconvenience.

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Sat, Jun 8th at 5:15pm
Thu, Jun 13th at 6:00pm
Average: 2.7 (6 votes)
  1. 1982, John Milius, USA, 129 min.
  2. With Arnold Schwarzenegger,
  3. Sandahl Bergman

“A triumph of production design, set decoration, special effects and makeup...CONAN ranks right up there with the best.”
—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Schwarzenegger got his first major role in this hugely entertaining and beautifully visualized adventure-fantasy based on Robert E. Howard’s pulp-fiction series. Set in a mythic past, the film takes its hero on a picaresque quest from orphan to slave to gladiator to avenger. Laced with dollops of sex and blood, CONAN cannily mixes pulp and prestige, the latter supplied by co-screenwriter Oliver Stone, cinematographer Jack Cardiff, actors Max von Sydow and James Earl Jones (as good and bad father-figures, respectively), and composer Basil Poledouris, whose stirring score is legendary. 35mm widescreen. (MR)

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Sat, Jun 15th at 3:00pm
Thu, Jun 20th at 6:00pm
Average: 4.3 (10 votes)

4K restoration!

  1. 1981, Steven Spielberg, USA, 115 min.
  2. With Harrison Ford, Karen Allen

“One of the most deliriously funny, ingenious and stylish American adventure movies ever made.”
—Vincent Canby, The New York Times

Spielberg reinvented the action-adventure film, lovingly collecting his most treasured memories of the genre, embellishing them with superior production values, and refreshing them with a hip tongue-in-cheek sensibility. Set in 1936, RAIDERS pits American archaeologist Indiana Jones (Ford) against Nazis in a battle for possession of the all-powerful Ark of the Covenant. Highlights include the bounding-boulder opening, the snake pit, the flying wing, the truck chase (which Roger Ebert rated as the best chase scene ever), and much more. We present the acclaimed 4K DCP restoration (scanned from the original camera negative), inaugurating the Film Center’s recently installed 4K projection system. (MR)

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Sat, Jun 15th at 5:15pm
Tue, Jun 18th at 6:00pm
Average: 4.2 (9 votes)
  1. 1985, Robert Zemeckis, USA, 116 min.
  2. With Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd

“One of the rare big-budget entertainments that’s improved with time.”
—Eric Henderson, Slant Magazine

Talk about turning lemons into lemonade--that notorious Eighties dud, the DeLorean car, was immortalized by its starring role as a mad scientist’s nuclear-powered time machine in this madcap romp by former Chicagoan Zemeckis. Marty McFly (Fox) hitches a ride to high school via said car, and ends up on a detour back to 1955, where his own teenage parents, luscious Lorraine (Lea Thompson) and nerdy George (Crispin Glover, who nearly steals the show), are in serious danger of not hooking up, especially when Lorraine gets the hots for Marty. Welcome to Fifties nostalgia with a witty Oedipal kick. 35mm. (BS)

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Sat, Jun 22nd at 3:00pm
Wed, Jun 26th at 6:00pm
Average: 4.1 (8 votes)
  1. 1988, John Carpenter, USA, 97 min.
  2. With Roddy Piper, Keith David

“One of Carpenter’s best films...funny and daring.”
—Michael Wilmington, Los Angeles Times

Using the familiar sci-fi trope of “aliens among us,” horror master Carpenter weaves a wild, occasionally goofy, and ultimately biting commentary on class division and greed. A down-on-his-luck construction worker (former wrestler Piper) stumbles across a pair of sunglasses that strip the veneer off reality and reveal that the powers-that-be are aliens, enslaving the population with subliminal messages through advertisements, TV, and the media. 35mm widescreen. (Christopher Sanew)

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Sat, Jun 22nd at 5:00pm
Mon, Jun 24th at 6:00pm
Average: 4.7 (11 votes)
  1. 1984, Alex Cox, USA, 92 min.
  2. With Harry Dean Stanton, Emilio Estevez

“Dares to be unconventional…gave me one of the biggest laughs I’ve had at the movies in a long time.”
—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Combine space aliens, slackers, and deadbeats with a goofy jolt of magic realism and a 24-hour-party sensibility, and you get a rip-roaring cult movie rendered oddly poetic by the intuitive cinematography of Dutch master Robby Müller (PARIS, TEXAS). A kind of KISS ME DEADLY for the Eighties, REPO MAN follows young punk Otto (Estevez) and old repo hand Bud (Stanton), plus assorted men in black, in the quest for a hot ’64 Chevy Malibu with its apocalyptic cargo in the trunk. Music by The Plugz. In English and Spanish with English subtitles. 35mm. (BS)

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Sat, Jun 29th at 3:00pm
Thu, Jul 4th at 7:45pm
Average: 3.7 (9 votes)
  1. 1987, Emile Ardolino, USA, 100 min.
  2. With Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Gray

“A surprising amount of sensitivity and satirical insight.”
—Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader

The immortal line, “Nobody puts Baby in the corner,” fired the imaginations of a generation, but DIRTY DANCING, with its irresistible soundtrack of Sixties hits and its hard-bodied lightly clad stars, is one for the ages. Daddy’s princess Baby (Gray) gets a tantalizing taste of rock ’n’ roll life on the wrong side of the tracks when the annual family vacation at a grand old Catskills resort brings her face-to-face and hip-to-grinding-hip with lean, black-clad greaser boy Johnny Castle (Swayze), dance master extraordinaire. Baby’s transition from stuck-up suburban girl to Johnny’s fancy-footed equal is pure fantasy and delirious escapism. 35mm. (BS)

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Sat, Jun 29th at 5:00pm
Wed, Jul 3rd at 6:00pm
Average: 3.6 (5 votes)
  1. 1984, Herbert Ross, USA, 107 min.
  2. With Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer

“Ross's drama wears its age well, real song-and-dance joy for the pre-Glee generation.”
—Jane Lamacraft, Sight and Sound

Durable Hollywood formulas are reinvigorated with MTV aesthetics in this rousing neo-musical. A dance-crazy city boy (Bacon) finds himself transplanted to a small town where the reactionaries rule and rock music is outlawed; he joins forces with the reverend’s rebellious daughter (Singer) to put some pep back in Podunk. Bacon is dreamy in his first romantic lead, the dance scenes are captivating, and the music score (which spawned a smash album) features such hits as “Let’s Hear It for the Boy,” “Almost Paradise,” and the title tune. DCP. (MR)

Please note: Due to a distributor booking oversight, the 35mm print of FOOTLOOSE will not be available for our screenings. We will be presenting FOOTLOOSE in DCP, rather than in 35mm, as previously announced. We apologize for any inconvenience.

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Tue, Jul 2nd at 6:30pm
Thu, Jul 4th at 3:30pm
Average: 3.8 (4 votes)
  1. 1983, Philip Kaufman, USA, 193 min.
  2. With Sam Shepard, Scott Glenn

“A great joins a short list of recent American movies that might be called experimental epics: THE GODFATHER, NASHVILLE, APOCALYPSE NOW.”
—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Superbly adapted from Tom Wolfe’s bestseller, THE RIGHT STUFF dramatizes the early evolution of the American space program. The story begins with test pilots challenging the sound barrier and proceeds through the selection of the first seven astronauts amid an avalanche of hype, their humiliation at the hands of Russian cosmonauts and American chimpanzees, and, at long last, their opportunity to show the “right stuff” in a series of hair-raising flights. With an irreverent tone that neatly sidesteps sanctimoniousness, this sharp and often funny film is a meditation on heroism, from the wide-roaming cowboy to the buckled-in team player. 35mm. (MR)

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