1939 is often called Hollywood's Golden Year, for seeing the release of such classics as "Gone With the Wind," "The Wizard of Oz," "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and a sea of others. But for summertime releases, no year may compare with 1982, which saw a bevy of stylish action flicks and memorable comedies, as well as one of the best science fiction lineups ever.
Left: Mel Gibson had made a splash in the low-budget action flick "Mad Max," about a cop seeking revenge against the scum who destroyed his family. The stakes were higher in the sequel, "The Road Warrior" (a.k.a. "Mad Max 2"), set in a post-apocalyptic future in which marauding gangs fight to the death over dwindling supplies of gasoline. Gibson plays the loner who rides out of the wilderness to help a band of settlers. It was not just stylish sci-fi, but a revisionist western - "Shane" with motorcycles and hot rods.
By CBSNews.com senior editor David Morgan
Steven Spielberg's childhood fantasy "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial," about a young boy (Henry Thomas) who befriends an alien stranded on Earth, was the director's biggest box office success, and stirred moviegoers with its simple tale of empathy, mystery and adventure.
Having lost the big fight in "Rocky" and won the big fight in "Rocky II," Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) tried to make it two out of three against his most intimidating opponent yet, Clubber Lang (played by Mr. T), in "Rocky III."
Arnold Schwarzenegger was Robert E. Howard's pulp fiction hero "Conan the Barbarian" in the flesh (and lots of it). Directed by John Milius, the film captured the mythic time's brutal violence, and had a great Basil Poledouris score to boot.
The "Star Trek" franchise had leapt from TV screens to movie screens with 1979's "Star Trek: The Motion Picture," which had very pretty pictures but little motion. "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" had motion - and emotion, as the crew of the Enterprise must battle not only a boo-hiss villain (Ricardo Montalban) but their own fears of mortality.
Steven Spielberg's one-two punch in the summer of 1982 came by both "E.T." and "Poltergeist," a creepy suburban horror tale in which a young girl is abducted by spirits into another dimension, communicating through the static of her family's TV set.
Though directed by Tobe Hooper ("The Texas Chainsaw Massacre"), the film's sensibility was pure Spielberg, the film's producer. Special effects by Industrial Light & Magic and moody music by Jerry Goldsmith made this one of the most memorable tales of the supernatural.
1982 was a banner year for science fiction movies, with no SF film standing taller than Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner." Based on a novel by Philip K. Dick and set in a rainy Los Angeles of 2019, "Blade Runner" starred Harrison Ford as Deckard, a police officer responsible for hunting down and terminating replicants - artificial humans that are illegal on Earth.
Though not a success upon its original release, the film became a cult favorite and acknowledged classic, thanks to its atmospheric depiction of a dystopian future, and memorable acting turns by Rutger Hauer, Daryl Hannah, Sean Young, Joanna Cassidy, Brion James, William Sanderson, Joe Turkel, and of course Ford.
The film underwent cutting before its release, with the studio layering a Raymond Chandleresque voiceover by Ford, but director Scott later recut the film - and then re-recut it (we've lost track by now). The latest, "final" version does the trick, but must be seen on as large a screen as possible to appreciate Lawrence G. Paull's production design, Jordan Cronenweth's cinematography and Douglas Trumbull's visual effects.
Sean Penn was the stoner to end all stoners in the comedy "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," through the film - scripted by Cameron Crowe and directed by Amy Heckerling - was also sober about such matters as abortion. In addition to Penn, the strong cast included Judge Reinhold, Phoebe Cates, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Nicolas Cage (as Nicolas Coppola), Forest Whitaker, Eric Stoltz and Anthony Edwards.
Kurt Russell starred in John Carpenter's remake of the 1951 science fiction horror film "The Thing From Another World," in which "Gunsmoke"'s James Arness was made up as a deadly alien.
The 1982 version of the "The Thing" was closer to the original novella by John W. Campbell, Jr., "Who Goes There?" and featured MUCH more graphic effects involving a shape-shifting invader.
Tired of working on tame kiddie fare like "The Fox and the Hound," a coterie of Disney Studio animators led by Don Bluth defected and set up shop to produce the animated fantasy "The Secret of NIMH." The story centers on a mouse who enlists the aid of rats who had gained remarkable intelligence via medical alterations in a laboratory in order to protect her family's home. Though still a family film, the characterizations were richer, the hazards darker than typical Disney films of the period - and the hand-drawn animation sumptuous.
The leading summer romance of 1982 was undoubtedly Richard Gere and Debra Winger's passionate pairing in "An Officer and a Gentleman." The film earned five Academy Award nominations and won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Louis Gossett Jr.
Disney jumped into the sci-fi pool with "Tron," in which a computer programmer is zapped (for want of a better technical term) and reintegrated within a computer, where he is forced to play life-or-death combat games. The film's revolutionary computer generated effects were definitely cool, even if the film made about as much sense as, well, a human being being zapped into a computer.
In "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid," a black-and-white parody of 1940s film noir, Steve Martin and Rachel Ward appeared in scenes intercut with old movie clips featuring such film noir stars as Humphrey Bogart, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Kirk Douglas, Ava Gardner, Veronica Lake, Burt Lancaster and Barbara Stanwyck. When away from the film clips, Martin resorted to his typically silly self.
Matt Dillon earned good notices in Tim Hunter's drama "Tex," based on the S.E. Hinton novel about two brothers whose father deserts them.
Glenn Close, Robin Williams and John Lithgow starred in George Roy Hill's ambitious and sprawling film version of John Irving's ambitious and sprawling novel, "The World According to Garp," about a young writer in the shadow of a mother who became a feminist icon. Close played nurse-manifesto writer Jenny Fields, and Lithgow played the transsexual ex-football player.
"We don't need no education,
We don't need no thought control."
Alan Parker's film version of "Pink Floyd The Wall" was as audacious as the source rock album, mixing politics, social commentary and animation in a tale of a man's isolation and self-destruction in the face of an uncaring, stifling society.
"A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy" marked Woody Allen's first pairing with Mia Farrow (Diane Keaton was unavailable), in a tale inspired by Ingmar Bergman's "Smiles of a Summer Night." The two were to collaborate on 12 more films, including "The Purple Rose of Cairo," "Zelig," and "Husbands and Wives."
Some films left slighter impressions, from the sword and sorcery (and biceps) of "The Beastmaster" to comedies like "Young Doctors in Love" and "Zapped!" But there were some moneymakers amid the misses.
Clint Eastwood played a pilot who stole an advanced, mind-controlled Soviet fighter plane in "Firefox," being the only American pilot who could think in Russian!
Two screen musicals - John Huston's film of "Annie," and the Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton pairing for "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" - suffered in comparison to the stage productions.
And Jason returned wielding all manner of deadly instruments in "Friday the 13th Part III" - in 3-D, no less!
The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas is celebrating the Summer of 1982 with a festival of classics from that year, including "Conan the Barbarian," "Road Warrior," "Rocky III," "Star Trek II," "Poltergeist," "Tron," "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," "The Thing," and "E.T." - enough to send any movie buff over the moon.