“Blue Thunder, 1983”

“Catch ya later!”

Blue Thunder, 1983 (Roy Scheider), Columbia Pictures

The disclaimer at the beginning of Blue Thunder swears up and down that the technology used in the film is real. So, it’s really more of a “claimer” and strikes at the very heart of director John Badham’s paranoia with regard to new technologies. It isn’t so much that there are whisper-quiet helicopters and other advanced weaponry utilized by the Military, but that these technical marvels can be used for more nefarious, fascistic purposes like spying on citizens and controlling the population. Hot-shot Vietnam veteran Roy Scheider and scruffy young partner Daniel Stern are helicopter cops (or”heli-cops” – neat huh?). I’m not sure how long helicopters have been in use for law enforcement. We hear them once in a while around here, and because of this movie, I tend to draw the shades. When Scheider and Stern aren’t busting the scum of Los Angeles, they’re checking out naked ladies doing naked yoga in skyscrapers. This is a fun job! Shenanigans are interrupted by a rape-in-progress and Scheider and Stern come to the rescue.

I still don’t understand the level of effort rapists put into their work, and this is after I had to watch five Death Wish movies for Extreme Cinema. Crabby boss Warren Oates (in his final film role) busts Scheider’s balls (and deservedly so) for peeping on Encino’s hottest, and Scheider suffers ‘Nam flashbacks – a lot of them involving rival pilot Cochrane (mustache-twirling douche Malcolm McDowell). This goes to Hell pretty quickly. The woman who was raped turns out to be a big-shot congresswoman and political big-wig. She was shot in the process and died in the hospital. Roy is taken to a top secret government installation where he inspects a brand new experimental helicopter called “Blue Thunder.” In the test, the helicopter maneuvers remarkably well, and mows down targets efficiently. Test pilot McDowell misses a lot of targets and cuts down mock-ups of innocent civilians.

Scheider goes on a test run with McDowell. McDowell sabotages his helicopter for no reason other than to kill him, but we didn’t need this detail to know they have mutual hatred for one another. We get that McDowell has an axe to grind, but does he have to be completely evil? There’s no talk of “the greater good,” or the need for advanced firepower. The movie is just one big thrill ride. Scheider and Stern get under the blades of “Blue Thunder,” and go on a test flight to check out the hardware, which includes highly-sensitive microphones and video recording technology. Once again, they use this incredible technology to check out girls, and listen to their cop buddies have sex. While snooping in the Federal database, Scheider discovers a connection between McDowell and the mysterious Project THOR. They tail McDowell to the Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles. They record a clandestine conversation between McDowell, some Defense Department cronies, and one of the participants in the politician’s murder.

They all agree to “delete” Scheider, and they kill Stern. This is gripping! They pin Stern’s murder on Scheider, and Scheider is suddenly a man without a Country. Before he was killed, Stern hid the incriminating tape for Scheider, who gets his able-bodied girlfriend, Candy Clark (telegraphed early on driving like a maniac), to retrieve the tape (from a drive-in movie theater dumpster) and get it to a television station in a brilliantly edited and suspenseful sequence. This leads to some amusing helicopter battles, and what floors me is that all of this was done without the use of green screens or digital computer effects. Blue Thunder ends with a thrilling helicopter fight between Scheider and McDowell that leaves most of Los Angeles in ruins. This is a seriously exciting movie, directed by Badham, who would shortly follow-up this movie with WarGames (another techno-horror movie) less than a month later!

Our first cable box was a non-descript metal contraption with a rotary dial and unlimited potential (with no brand name – weird). We flipped it on, and the first thing we noticed was that the reception was crystal-clear; no ghosting, no snow, no fuzzy images. We had the premium package: HBO, Cinemax, The Movie Channel, MTV, Nickelodeon, CNN, The Disney Channel, and the local network affiliates. About $25-$30 a month. Each week (and sometimes twice a week!), “Vintage Cable Box” explores the wonderful world of premium Cable TV of the early eighties.

“Star 80, 1983”

“You won’t forget Paul Snider.”

Star 80, 1983 (Mariel Hemingway), The Ladd Company

Less a cautionary tale of the dangers of stardom than a lurid, exploitative tome of sleaze merchants ogling naive tarts, Star 80 tells the story of Playboy centerfold, Dorothy Stratten (Mariel Hemingway), and her relationship with “personal manager”, Paul Snider (Eric Roberts). Director Bob Fosse shuffles the narrative deck, giving us fleeting glimpses of blood-covered Eric Roberts contemplating his once-perfect princess. This is a structure now common to bio-pics with a slice of documentary-like reality (as in Fosse’s previous Lenny) to give the whole bloody affair a degree of authenticity.

Roberts’ Paul Snider is a wanna-be in a world of ne’er-do-wells. He was a pimp and a promoter. He procured models for car shows and wet t-shirt contests. Fosse’s take on Snider leaves no room for ambiguity; there’s nothing about him you could like. There are no redeeming qualities. Eric Roberts plays him like he’s been kicked in the head one too many times.

Snider spots unremarkable Dorothy Stratten in a diner and starts dating her on the sly. It’s not as though he were corrupting her. He wants to corrupt her, but Mariel Hemingway plays Stratten straight and innocent even as she takes off her clothes for Hugh Hefner (Cliff Robertson) and his arsenal of bargain basement photographers. Roberts is fascinating; playing Snider as a human-in-training, rehearsing appropriate greetings and stifling his anger when ridiculed. He reminds me of James Cagney. He shepherds Stratten’s career as she becomes Playboy’s Playmate of the Year, but as her star ascends, he descends into a vapid sea of smut, and dangerously, asserts ownership of her soul. This is exactly where we assume the story will go.

Snider manipulates photographers and wrangles finder’s fees to get Stratten’s pictures to Playboy. As much as the principal characters in the movie want you to believe Snider is the Lucifer to Stratten’s Eve, I see only an angry child who turns to murder when he doesn’t get what he wants. Snider and Stratten, oddly, come across as naive soulmates swimming in a sea of sharper, more manipulative sharks. Snider worships her as though she were a porcelain doll, which will permit no tarnish.

Bob Fosse’s direction is cynical and arrogant. Lenny and All That Jazz serve as companion pieces (though superior to Star 80) in establishing Fosse’s puzzling antipathy for an industry that made him an icon. Fosse captures the era perfectly, which is not far removed from the time the real story unfolded. In Fosse’s world, it’s easy to fall into the trap of having a good time. In mid-murder, Snider justifies his actions to his lifeless, blood-soaked corpse of a bride. If he couldn’t control her life, he could at the very least, control her death.

Sourced from the original 1984 Warner Bros “clamshell” VHS release. The box sports a distinctive silver/metallic gray color scheme. The movie continued to receive different format releases and is available in Beta, DVD, and Laserdisc formats, but remains unavailable on Blu Ray. “She was every man’s dream – and one man’s obsession.” The accompanying essay on the back of the box trumpets the Eric Roberts performance as, “…original, authentic, and hypnotic…” I don’t know why you would have so many redundant adjectives, but I agree. Strangely, there is a disclaimer at the bottom of the essay (as in the movie) that reads, “This motion picture is, in part, a fictionalization of certain events and people involved in the lives of Dorothy Stratten and Paul Snider.”

Our first cable box was a non-descript metal contraption with a rotary dial and unlimited potential (with no brand name – weird). We flipped it on, and the first thing we noticed was that the reception was crystal-clear; no ghosting, no snow, no fuzzy images. We had the premium package: HBO, Cinemax, The Movie Channel, MTV, Nickelodeon, CNN, The Disney Channel, and the local network affiliates. About $25-$30 a month. Each week (and sometimes twice a week!), “Vintage Cable Box” explores the wonderful world of premium Cable TV of the early eighties.

“Valley Girl, 1983”

“It’s like I’m totally not in love with you anymore, Tommy. I mean it’s so boring!”

Valley Girl, 1983 (Nicolas Cage), Atlantic Releasing Corp.

This is one of those movies everybody has to say they love or they won’t be taken seriously. If you say you don’t like Valley Girl (God help you), you’ll get nothing but icy stares for the rest of your existence. I don’t mind saying it. I don’t care for this movie. We have four girls, friends, hanging out in the mall, scarfing down cheeseburgers and milkshakes. They don’t seem to get fat. They go shopping for clothing and run up huge credit card bills. They bitch and moan and lust after the boys and go to big parties in the Valley. The Wikipedia has a curious definition for the quintessential Valley girl: “Originally referring to upper-middle class girls from the Los Angeles commuter towns of San Fernando Valley during the 1980s, the term in later years became more broadly applied to any English-speaking female who engendered the associated affects of ditziness, airheadedness, and/or greater interest in conspicuous consumption than intellectual or personal accomplishment.” I had no idea the definition had gone that far off the rails. Running up $200 credit card bills in 1983 doesn’t strike me as upper-middle class.

Idiots and their collars.

For the purposes of story, we have to focus on Deborah Foreman. Though hirstute thespian Nicolas Cage gets top-billing, this is Foreman’s movie. Her toothy, amiable countenance drives the plot. She checks out Cage on the beach while her friends mock his awkward masculine dowdiness. Referencing the quote above, Foreman breaks it off with boring Tommy, so he looks up her best friend, Elizabeth Daily. If Foreman is a “valley girl”, what’s Cage? I would say he’s a “grody dweeb,” whatever that is. They lock eyes at said bitchin’ party. He surveys the crowd like they’re a bunch of circus freaks. I guess there’s a pecking order for weirdos. Daily feels guilty, but Tommy’s a douche who refuses to adjust the collar of his sensible polo shirt. I think I hate Tommy, and I will give the movie credit for making me feel things about the characters. Tommy winds up in fisticuffs with Nicolas Cage which, I would assume, ostracizes Cage within the local youth community, but he seems to be a misfit anyway, so it doesn’t matter. He’s considered a “punk,” even though he tends to dress and behave just like everybody else. Cage is smitten with Deborah, even though she totally looks like she’s about 35.

A frustrated Cage tells his friend, “Nobody is gonna tell me who I can score with!” All of this plays out against the star-like background of Los Angeles; a gorgeous sight at night, the glittering metropolis bordered by treacherous canyons. It’s strange. For a movie obstensibly about kids for kids of that age, there’s a lot of sex and profanity. This isn’t family friendly like a John Hughes movie, though it looks impressive for a comparatively low budget movie (reputedly, the film’s music took up half of the production budget). Weird that it feels as though Foreman’s character is going through some kind of a mid-life crisis when she decides to ditch the party to hang out with Cage, entering a world of bars and being frisked. His friend describes this as “living on the edge.” Really? Seems pretty tame to me, but I’m from New York, where “punk” was invented and people get frisked during Sunday mass. Cage and Foreman work incredibly well together, which is fortunate for director Martha Coolidge, as the whole movie depends on it while sailing a sea of boring, inexplicably disaffected youth and rebellion.

Speaking of inexplicable, there’s a ridiculous subplot involving the mother of one of the girls trying to pick up a delivery boy. If you want to introduce subplots, you should probably do it early in the movie when the audience might care. At this point (halfway through) all we care about is the budding relationship between Cage and Foreman. I wanted to see more from Foreman’s parents (Frederic Forrest and Colleen Camp), apparently ex-hippies who run a health food restaurant. The movie takes great pains to show that youth is youth, no matter the backdrop, no matter a generational divide. As Foreman’s parents express concern and worry for their daughter, they remind themselves that their youthful behavior was far more dangerous. While an interesting cultural diversion, the movie fails for me because it offers nothing. There are no characters I understand, and nothing I can relate to, even as a kid scratching my head and trying to figure it all out. Cage, for me, is a repulsive young actor with no charm and no charisma. There are a total of two movies he did that I liked: Raising Arizona and Vampire’s Kiss. Coolidge later made the superior Real Genius in 1985.

Our first cable box was a non-descript metal contraption with a rotary dial and unlimited potential (with no brand name – weird). We flipped it on, and the first thing we noticed was that the reception was crystal-clear; no ghosting, no snow, no fuzzy images. We had the premium package: HBO, Cinemax, The Movie Channel, MTV, Nickelodeon, CNN, The Disney Channel, and the local network affiliates. About $25-$30 a month.  Each week (and sometimes twice a week!), “Vintage Cable Box” explores the wonderful world of premium Cable TV of the early eighties.

“The Golden Seal, 1983”

“Men who owe money have souls that float face down.”

The Golden Seal, 1983 (Steve Railsback), The Samuel Goldwyn Company

Steve Railsback is a creepy guy! I can’t get past his chilling portrayal of Charles Manson in the 1976 television mini-series, Helter Skelter, nor his turn as Duane Barry in two memorable X-Files episodes, and even the comparatively sweet, sentimental charms of a “family” movie like The Golden Seal do little to assuage my anxiety. He’s a fiery, dynamic presence – always memorable – in every role he plays. Here, he’s salmon fisherman Jim Lee, who lives quietly with his young wife (Penelope Milford) and their son, Eric ( (Torquil Campbell) on the Aleutian Islands off the treacherous coasts of Alaska.

Times are tough. Jim’s getting pennies on-the-dollar for his hard-fought bounty. Salmon fishing is rough. His peers give him a hard time for not retreating to “the city (whatever that is).” For years, he’s heard stories about a mythic “golden seal” (not golden, according to my wife, who chimed in many times as we watched the movie). It is golden, when roaming the sea, and when the sun hits it just right. Jim swears to have seen one of these beauties seven years before. During a particularly intense, frightening storm, Eric is separated from his father (who persists in calling him, “Boy,” which is unusual) and spots the creature, which is a pregnant female. He offers it shelter, feeds it, and assists it in giving birth to a pup.

When the kid returns home with stories of the golden seal, Jim’s eyes light up (for reasons that are not explained until the climax of the second act). Meanwhile, Michael Beck’s shifty Crawford enters the camp on the pretense of losing his boat in the storm. While our initial impression is that he’s simply another rooster in the hen-house (given his come-ons to Penelope), we quickly realize he’s out there to find the golden seal. Their pelts apparently fetch a pretty penny. Eric shows the seal and her pup to Jim, who tries to shoot them. The child protects and defends the seals. You just don’t get it, Kid! Times are tough!

Pretty, pretty seal!

The third act sets up a revelatory conflict. When Beck grabs his own gun on a mission to assasinate a couple of golden seals (apparently Olivia Newton-John did nothing for him), Jim must protect his son by protecting the seals. He must eschew his bloodlust for the seals and their pricey pelts, and beat the crap out of Michael Beck (he could use a muse right about now), and this is when your “traditional” Railsback performance kicks into gear. He may be a loving, sweet father and husband to his family, but if you piss him off, Charlie and Duane better watch out! The Golden Seal is a well-made, beautifully shot movie that takes it’s time setting up a story.

Our first cable box was a non-descript metal contraption with a rotary dial and unlimited potential (with no brand name – weird). We flipped it on, and the first thing we noticed was that the reception was crystal-clear; no ghosting, no snow, no fuzzy images. We had the premium package: HBO, Cinemax, The Movie Channel, MTV, Nickelodeon, CNN, The Disney Channel, and the local network affiliates. About $25-$30 a month.  Each week (and sometimes twice a week!), “Vintage Cable Box” explores the wonderful world of premium Cable TV of the early eighties.

“Mr. Mom, 1983”

“My brain is like oatmeal! I yelled at Kenny today for coloring outside the lines! Megan and I are starting to watch the same TV shows, and I’m liking them! I’m losing it.”

Mr. Mom, 1983 (Michael Keaton), 20th Century Fox

The central thesis of Mr. Mom originates from a completely chauvinistic or sexist premise: that either a woman cannot make money in a man’s world, or a man cannot adapt to the accepted (for the time) functions of a housewife in a small suburban community. Michael Keaton’s character, Jack Butler, even makes a bet with his wife Caroline (Teri Garr), after he is laid off, that he can get a job before she can. He loses the bet, and in-between looking for jobs, he has to take care of their three children and their home in suburban Detroit.

As Keaton’s character sinks further into his rut-inspired domestic depression, Caroline’s career soars at an advertising agency where she applies her acquired “home-making” skills to market products like Schooner Tuna. Jack soon learns he must sacrifice a portion of his life and ambition to keep the house and the children efficient. At a company picnic, he allows Caroline’s boss (Martin Mull) to win a race to protect her position at the firm. Caroline’s job requires her to take trips and log extended hours at the office, and the increasingly neurotic Jack starts to resent her. Sensing this impending acrimony, Caroline’s “frenemy,” Joan (Ann Jillian) starts making moves on Jack.

As Jack has to fend off the advances of his (admittedly) hot neighbor, Caroline has to deal with Martin Mull’s lechery; strange how their predicaments mirror each other. Jack is required to do the laundry, do the shopping, take the kids to school (negotiating the strange demarcations of the parkway in the process), contact neurotic exterminators, and TV repairwomen, as well as facing off with the feared vacuum cleaner nicknamed “Jaws.” The moral of the story appears to be a one-way street: Jack learns a valuable lesson about the difficulties of being a homemaker and the drudgery of suburban life. What does Caroline learn?

Michael “Oatmeal Brain” Keaton: “I am NOT Batman!”

What could’ve been nothing more than a high-concept slapstick comedy with a television pilot narrative is made into something special; a very funny movie with enormously talented people both in front of, and behind the camera. Michael Keaton and Teri Garr play off each other with comedic brilliance. John Hughes’ autobiographical screenplay hits all the marks, and though Roger Ebert criticized the movie’s deliberately lightweight consistency (he doesn’t seem to get that the movie was made for the whole family), Mr. Mom does raise some interesting questions. The success of Mr. Mom precipitated Universal Pictures’ signing of Hughes for a three-picture deal in 1984.

How the times have changed! I’m a bit of a “Mr. Mom” myself. My wife works. I take care of our daughter. Take care of the house. I do the shopping. I pick up my daughter from school. I cook the food. I go outside and see dads pushing strollers around while their partners are out making the money in the hot city. I took to it immediately. She brings home the bacon, and I fry it up in a pan. Apparently John Hughes had a disastrous time taking care of his kids and was inspired to write a script based on his misadventures.

Our first cable box was a non-descript metal contraption with a rotary dial and unlimited potential (with no brand name – weird). We flipped it on, and the first thing we noticed was that the reception was crystal-clear; no ghosting, no snow, no fuzzy images. We had the premium package: HBO, Cinemax, The Movie Channel, MTV, Nickelodeon, CNN, The Disney Channel, and the local network affiliates. About $25-$30 a month.  Each week (and sometimes twice a week!), “Vintage Cable Box” explores the wonderful world of premium Cable TV of the early eighties.

“Sudden Impact, 1983”

“Go ahead, make my day.”

Sudden Impact, 1983 (Clint Eastwood), Warner Bros.

Clint Eastwood returns as “Dirty” Harry Callahan in this, the fourth installment of the popular crime/drama franchise. While negotiating punks and malcontents, he stumbles upon a series of vigilante misadventures all involving men shot once in the groin and once in the head. He very quickly figures out these murders are being perpetrated by one person or group. After causing collateral damage (this happens in every movie) during a botched diner hold-up, Harry is put on vacation by his superiors so he takes up residence in idyllic coastal town, Santa Cruz. Meanwhile, the vigilante murders are occurring with greater dispatch in this town. It seems trouble follows Harry wherever he goes.

We’re introduced to the hauntingly beautiful Sondra Locke, a successful artist who has also moved into the town under the pretense of restoring a carousel for the local amusement park, but what she really wants is revenge for her sister and herself. All of the murdered men were involved in a brutal gangrape of Locke and her sibling, which left her sister catatonic and unresponsive. Locke isn’t finished marking names off her list, so she visits the remainder of the men (and their lesbian cohort, played with appropriate sleaze by Audrie Neenan) one by one. Her flashback to the rape is one of the most terrifying and seemingly accurate depictions I’ve ever seen.

The avenging angel.

Though officially “on vacation,” Harry conducts his own investigation into the killings, runs afoul of Police Chief Pat Hingle (who has a personal stake-by-proxy of his traumatized son), and makes time with a surprisingly soliticous Locke.  The “foreplay” of their conversation telegraphs a mutual understanding of the failings of law enforcement and the hypocrisy of the justice system.  As Locke airs her grievances, Harry becomes more interested in her.  It’s a fascinating scene.  Eventually Harry puts the pieces together.  When the other rapists catch on to Locke’s activities (rather than turning tail and running off into the night), they abduct her.  Harry rescues her (in a famous “resurrection” bit evocative of his old westerns), and then covers for her.

Sudden Impact is a fun and atypical Dirty Harry movie that places our sympathies with the “bad guy” (Locke) and transforms her into a reluctant hero because we relate to her and her sister’s  victimization.  Clint Eastwood directs this installment with remarkable assurance.  He had already established himself as an excellent filmmaker, and had a hand in directing sequences from Magnum Force after a falling out with original director, Ted Post.  He’s fascinated and invested in Locke’s character, and uses effective close-ups of her wounded eyes.  According to Locke’s memoir, the film originated as a separate script with no connection to Dirty Harry.  Eastwood would return to the role in 1988 with the inferior follow-up, The Dead Pool.

“Go ahead, make my day.”

Sourced from both the original 1984 Warner Bros “clamshell” VHS release and the Dirty Harry Ultimate Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray box set. The movie continued to receive different format releases, and is available in Beta, DVD, Laserdisc (using the same art design as the clamshell release) and Blu Ray formats. As with most (if not all) WEA VIDEO CANADA clamshell releases of Warner properties, the paper is flimsier than U.S.A. releases. The paper also has wax stains, and the label on the tape appears to have been printed for Beta tape (as with my previous review of Swing Shift). “Two killers are at large. One of them is Dirty Harry.” The essay on the back of the box reminds us of the previous three movies: Dirty Harry (1971), Magnum Force (1973), and The Enforcer (1976). Clint himself gives us a blurb: “People are a little edgy about the rights of criminals taking precedence over the rights of victims,” Eastwood says, “I think the public is interested in justice, and that’s what Harry stands for. He’s unique because he stood for the same principles from the beginning, when it wasn’t terribly fashionable.”

Be sure to catch the latest Extreme Cinema: Action and Exploitation Movies with Andrew La Ganke and David Lawler podcast, in which we discuss the Dirty Harry franchise in honor of Clint Eastwood’s birthday! You can also find the original, unaltered episode at BlissVille.

Special thanks to Bethany Robertson Heinlen for the Blu-Ray box set.

As to the inevitable comparisons between the original VHS tape and the Blu-Ray, the differences are staggering.  This is a discreetly clean-up transfer from original negatives that preserves the clarity of cinematographer Bruce Surtees’ compositions without the need to “improve” the visual quality by artificially brightening the image.  The Panavision process is staggering in four of the five Dirty Harry movies on the set.  As for the VHS videotape – other than myself and curious cinephiles, I don’t see any reason to watch the movie in standard (read: low) resolution, panned-and-scanned to 4:3 for televisions.  Here’s a good overview of the Blu-Ray box set.  

Our first cable box was a non-descript metal contraption with a rotary dial and unlimited potential (with no brand name – weird). We flipped it on, and the first thing we noticed was that the reception was crystal-clear; no ghosting, no snow, no fuzzy images. We had the premium package: HBO, Cinemax, The Movie Channel, MTV, Nickelodeon, CNN, The Disney Channel, and the local network affiliates. About $25-$30 a month.  Each week (and sometimes twice a week!), “Vintage Cable Box” explores the wonderful world of premium Cable TV of the early eighties.

“Nate and Hayes, 1983”

“Can’t trust women – even when they’re dead!”

Nate and Hayes, 1983 (Tommy Lee Jones), Paramount Pictures

Big “Bully” Hayes tells his story to a writer hours before he is to be executed. He had been busted and betrayed by repugnant Brit Ben Pease (whose balls he had “shot off” at some point in the back-story) after trying to sell guns to backward natives on a remote island. He talks about the time he had been paid to ferry Reverend Nate (Michael O’ Keefe, wearing a ridiculous hat) and his intended, the gorgeous Sophie (luscious Michelle Pfeiffer lookalike Jenny Seagrove) to an island in the South Pacific his Aunt and Uncle govern.

Sophie hints she’s warm for “Bully’s” form (he’s kind of like the bad boy all chicks dig), but before she can do anything about it, the wedding is interrupted by the sleazy Pease and his cohorts, who murder Nate’s family, leave him for dead, and abduct Sophie so he can sell her off to a Samoan king. “Bully” comes back (presumably to liberate Sophie from her impending domesticity) but he discovers the island has been ransacked and the peaceful villagers have been taken away to be slaves. Meanwhile Nate, assuming “Bully” to be the principal architect behind the massacre, sets off to exact revenge.

After several days without food and water, he very nearly dies, but he is then rescued by Hayes. They join forces to rescue the (improbably) brave Sophie, who has to fend off Pease, his men, and and an inept German Count (Grant Tilly). The reason I say Sophie is improbably brave is because her character is obviously written to be, while no-nonsense and a realist, of aristocratic background and something of a porcelain doll, but because of our burgeoning feminist sensibillites (for the time) and a script co-written by John Hughes, she comes over as a tough chick. I don’t have a problem with it because it feels natural. If anything his script is stronger for it’s anachronisms.

Lovely Jenny Seagrove

The movie was, inexplicably, renamed Savage Islands (perhaps to cater to fans of exploitation movies), produced as a “tax shelter” movie with New Zealand money, and then sold to Paramount as a negative pick-up, which may explain the spotty distribution of the film to other formats. This is one of a handful of movies to trigger the MPAA’s PG-13 rating due to scenes of graphic violence too intense for children. Obstensibly an attempt to cash in on the action and pulp adventure boom of the early ’80s, the film failed at the box office.

A daring rescue!

Nate and Hayes was my “white whale” for a time in pursuit of those hard-to-find movies that received endless play on cable television.  This was a movie I spent years trying to track down, and even existing in chunks at places like YouTube, those chunks were soon deleted.  I finally gave up and found a VHS tape of it thanks to Captain Ziggy.  I thought I was getting a well-worn tape, but imagine my surprise when I find the Captain had sent me a sealed Paramount Home Video tape made in 1990 (possibly the last time the film was released on VHS for home exhibition)!  There are two other “white whales”; one film I managed to find, the other is still elusive.

Special thanks to Captain Ziggy!

Our first cable box was a non-descript metal contraption with a rotary dial and unlimited potential (with no brand name – weird). We flipped it on, and the first thing we noticed was that the reception was crystal-clear; no ghosting, no snow, no fuzzy images. We had the premium package: HBO, Cinemax, The Movie Channel, MTV, Nickelodeon, CNN, The Disney Channel, and the local network affiliates. About $25-$30 a month.  Each week (and sometimes twice a week!), “Vintage Cable Box” explores the wonderful world of premium Cable TV of the early eighties.