#1726 The Scarlet and the Black (1983)

Over these years I’ve grown fond of underdog made for TV movies that punch far above their height in terms of telling an interesting story. In The Scarler and the Black that a real-life story is of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, an Irish Catholic priest who saved thousands of Jews and escaped Ally soldirs in Rome during WWII.

Seeing John Gielgud, Gregory Peck and Christopher Plummer work together in this movie is a treat, is capturing the essence of their characters perfectly, and adding that little flair of their own to keep things interesting.

Although the scarcer budget shows, for a made for TV movie The Scarlet and the Black is well made movie that doesn’t really give away its modest origins, other than fading out and pausing for the very apparent commercial breaks.

80s-o-meter: 43%

Total: 83%

#1725 The Siege of Firebase Gloria (1988)

Despite the apparent gung-ho theme of the film, The Siege of Firebase Gloria still shows an urge of being authentic in its depiction of hopelessness in both sides; there’s no clear cut heroes and villains. The horrific actions and dehumanizing acts done by all parties are not exaggerated but neither ignored; they are presented as a natural part of the war.

The fans of R. Lee Ermey will be happy to hear he is very much starring this show. While this is no Full Metal Jacket, there’s plenty of that same drill sergeant attitude and one liners coming from his way.

The fire fights in The Siege of Firebase Gloria are long and feel the most unrealistic and uninteresting part of the movie. Other than that the movie has interesting aspects to it and will no doubt please those who are into (Vietnam) war movies. The movie is ’drawing inspiration from real life events’ (meaning it never happened), but the lingo and depiction of the troops feels realistic – probably due to Ermey involved in co-scripting some of the scenes with the director.

80s-o-meter: 62%

Total: 71%

#1721 Bless Their Little Hearts (1983)

There’s mixed information in the internet of the movie’s release, IMDB stating 1983 and Wikipedia insisting on December 1984 release. Either way the theatrical release has been extremely limited and the movie is not the kind of popular movie to make it big on VHS, so it was more or less forgotten upon its release.

But make no mistake, Bless Their Little Hearts is a gem of an indie movie.

Following the life of an unemployed African-American father of three struggling to find work and make the ends meet, the real star of the movie is Kaycee Moore whose portrayal of his wife frustrated by having to provide to her family and her husband while trying to keep the family somehow functional. Watch her as she is having a 10-minute long, quite verbal argument with her husband and tell me she does not deserve an Oscar for her role play.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 81%

#1720 Lust for Freedom (1987)

I could not be less interested in women prison exploitation movies that saw their hay day in late 70s and early 80s, but Lust for Freedom being a Troma release and kind of late to the show, I was hoping there to be something different of interest here.

Well, there is — kind of. Right off the bat the movie starts off with a better background story of a woman underground police officer quitting her job after traumatic events and wandering into to a small town with its law enforcers running a human trafficking ring. What follows is basically every cliché of the exploitation movies out there, only. turned to 11; there’s more blood, more action, more cat fights, more nudity and more of other x-rated filth the fans of the genre are looking forward to.

Personally I still find the whole genre irrelevant to my movie taste, but I do have to give credit to Lust for Freedom for really going overboard with everything, and at least making it somewhat interesting to plow through.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 61%

#1719 Sleepwalk (1986)

Done with every Jim Jarmusch movie of the 80s? You might then be interested to check out Sleepwalk, directed by Jarmuch’s partner Sara Driver that feels like having fallen from the same arthouse tree.

Sleepwalk presents us with an interesting concept – a woman is hired to transcribe an ancient Chinese manuscript, after which she slowly starts to discover the manuscript has powers that begin to take over her life. This is where the movie goes off the rails and wanders deep into the world of nonsense. The events that follow in the movie are interesting and visually appealing to watch, but totally disconnected from the main story line.

If you can accept that not much of the movie even tries to make sense, you might find Sleepwalk enjoyable piece of experimental, surrealist cinema. It just isn’t for everyone – nor does it try to be.

80s-o-meter: 65%

Total: 55%

#1718 Listen to Me (1989)

Listen to Me is basically a sports movie, with physical college sports replaced with following events of an underdog debate team. And as such it’s a unique take on the sports genre, and it’s refreshing to see a sports movie that relies thought-provoking debates instead of the last second slowed down comebacks we’ve all seen way too many times over.

While the movie may not be nowhere accurate representation of real life college debate teams, it does tackle a controversial topic – pro life vs the right to abortion – which caused controversy among some parents upon the movie’s release.

It’s this controversial topic and well written dialogue that remains topical, making Listen to Me still relevant and thought-provoking to watch.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 71%