This is another great month for movies. June 1982 gave us a couple of iconic 1980s movies can July deliver too? There is one cult(?) classic in the mix, a great animated movie, not from Disney and great action.
As you look over the movies released in July 1982 you’ll notice a theme…sex. There are a lot of sex comedies this month. Maybe 1982 was the real Summer of Love. I saw a couple of them and enjoyed them but the movies that kept me coming back to the theater weren’t comedies.
Science Fiction, action and animation are the winners for me. Some I saw in the theater and some I saw on the small screen, either HBO or home video.
Let’s jump into the movies of July 1982.
Movies from July 1982
The Secret of NIMH
I borrowed this movie from my local library along with one of the movies below. Not on VHS but on LaserDisc. Remember those? They were fantastic! I know Blu-Ray and 4k have surpassed LaserDisc but I loved them. Everyone is big on resurgence of vinyl records but for my money I’d rather collect LaserDiscs.
The Secret of NIMH is a fantastic adventure movie produced and directed by Don Bluth. If Don Bluth sounds familiar to you it’s because he is the mastermind behind one of the best video games ever made, Dragon’s Lair.
Don Bluth started his animation career at Disney and worked on two of my favorite Disney movies, Robin Hood and The Fox and the Hound. He left Disney in 1979 and started his own studio. The Secret of NIMH is the first full length feature from Don Bluth.
The movie revolves around Mrs. Brisby, a field mouse and her son Timothy. They live in a cinder block on the Fitzgibbon’s farm and must move before Fitzgibbon starts plowing the field and destroys their home. The only problem is Timothy has pneumonia and can’t be moved.
She gets advice from the Great Owl who tells her to seek out Nicodemus, the leader of a colony of rats. When she finds Nicodemus he tells her the secret of NIMH. The mice and rats were used for experiments years ago at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The experiements increased their intelligence so they cannot live as normal rodents and use human technology to survive. What? That’s a fantastic twist! (Oh and spoiler).
The movie is dark and not as kid friendly as you’d think. Rats and other animals die, one is crushed to death and another is killed when a dagger is thrown into his back. If you haven’t seen The Secret of NIHM it is well worth your time.
The animation is fantastic. It rivals the animation of Disney movies from the same era. Which makes since as the animation team all defected from Disney to work with Bluth on the project.
The voice acting is top notch as well featuring Dom DeLuise, Elizabeth Hartman, Sir Derek Jacobi, John Carradine, Shannen Doherty and Wil Wheaton.
Siskel and Ebert both loved this movie giving it Two Thumbs Up. Actually they gave it a ‘Yes’ this was before they started doing the Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down ratings.
You can watch The Secret of NIHM on The Roku Channel, Tubi TV and Pluto TV.
Of all the movies released in July 1982, Tron is the one most loved in the Retro Community. It’s withstood the test of time and is a favorite movie from the early 80s.
Tron is a sci-fi adventure movie starring Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, Cindy Morgan and David Warner.
Kevin Flynn (Bridges) is a former employee of ENCOM computer corporation. He is trying to hack the ENCOM master control program (MCP) to find evidence that Ed Dillinger (Warner) stole his code to move up in the company. Flynn is stopped by a security laser while hacking the program. The laser digitizes him and beams him into the mainframe computer.
Inside the mainframe various programs are living entities which look like their human programmers. Flynn must find the Tron program, a security program written by Alan Bradley (Boxleitner) to stop the MCP from taking over.
The plot of Tron is good but what really makes this movie are the visuals. The scenes inside the mainframe were live-action mixed with backlit animation and computer animation. It gives the movie a distinct look and feel.
The disc fight and ring game scene are fantastic. They are truly live action arcade games with deadly consequences. The light bikes are iconic and perhaps the most recognized visual from the movie. The tight ninety degree turns at high speeds are exhilarating. They tried to reproduce the scene in the 2010 sequel but it wasn’t as good.
Tron made over $50 million at the box office and over $70 million in merchandise sales on a $17 million budget and yet it was considered a financial failure. I’d say the accountant is a failure not the movie.
It was however a critical success. Roger Ebert gave it four out of four stars saying “a dazzling movie from Disney in which computers have been used to make themselves romantic and glamorous. Here’s a technological sound-and-light show that is sensational and brainy, stylish and fun.”
Tron made an impact on popular culture from the start. There were multiple arcade games and console games over the years, a movie sequel, Tron: Legacy in 2010 and short lived TV series, Tron: Uprising in 2012. There are rumors of another sequel in the works but nothing more than rumors.
You can watch Tron on Disney+.
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
I wasn’t able to see this in the theater. I shouldn’t have seen it when I did, but I was able to watch it on HBO at a friends house. His parents didn’t monitor (or care) what he watched. At night they would go down to their bedroom, listen to Pink Floyd and get comfortable numb.
Which meant we could watch whatever was on TV and one night it was The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. The movie stars Burt Reynolds as Sheriff Dodd, Dolly Parton as Miss Mona and a cast of other familiar faces from the 80s; Dom DeLuise, Charles Durning, Jim Nabors, Lois Nettleton and Barry Corbin.
Director Colin Higgins adapted the screenplay from the Broadway musical of the same name. Higgins wrote other hits from the late 70s and early 80s including Sliver Streak, 9 to 5 and Harold and Maude.
Miss Mona runs an illegal whorehouse, The Chicken Ranch on the outskirts of Gilbert, Texas. Sheriff Dodd and everyone, knows about The Chicken Ranch but Dodd won’t shut it down. Dodd is involved with Mona and doesn’t see the harm in leaving the Chicken Ranch open. Miss Mona also contributes to local charities which makes her popular with some of the townsfolk.
When a big city TV personality (DeLuise) exposes the Chicken Ranch the Governor (Durning) gets involved and decides if the Chicken Ranch should be closed for good.
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas is a fun movie. It features most of the songs from the Broadway show and a couple of songs written by Dolly Parton. Putting Parton on screen and letting her sing always makes for a good movie.
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas was a huge hit at the box office. It opened in the number one spot, knocking E. T. out of the top spot after a six week run. It earned over $69 million making it the ninth highest grossing movie 1982.
I didn’t see this one in the theater either. I saw it on LaserDisc, the same weekend as The Secret of NIMH. We would borrow a LaserDisc player and a couple movies from the library for the weekend. My dad was a big Kenny Rogers fan and when he saw this was available he grabbed it.
Six Pack stars Kenny Rogers, Erin Gray, Diane Lane and Barry Corbin. Corbin was also in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. He would star in four movies in 1982.
Six Pack is the story of race car driver Brewster Baker (Rogers) who takes a group of orphans under his wing. The kids become his pit crew and he starts winning his races. It all culminates at the Coca-Cola 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The movie has a bit of a Bad News Bears vibe to it. Being orphans the kids had to grow up fast and learned to fend for themselves, mostly by stealing what they need. Which is how they get parts for the race car too.
Six Pack was the film debut of Kenny Rogers. I think it’s also his only movie. He did a lot of TV work, but not movies.
The theme song “Love Will Turn You Around” written and performed by Rogers hit #1 on the Country charts and #13 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Six Pack is a fun movie and is worth watching if you can find it anywhere.
Zapped! is one of those mindless 80s sex comedies. It stars Scott Baio who was in his prime playing Chachi on Happy Days and Joanie Loves Chachi, Willie Aames who just finished up five seasons of Eight is Enough and Heather Thomas from TVs The Fall Guy in her movie debut.
In Zapped! High School student Barney (Baio) is performing a science experiment when an accident occurs, giving Barney telekinetic powers. Barney’s best friend Peyton (Aames) wants to exploit the power to get the girl his dreams, Jane (Thomas).
The movie isn’t horrible, after all it does star Heather Thomas, but It’s no Porky’s.
Chuck Norris…enough said.
This is Norris’ tenth movie and he hasn’t even started his Canon Film run yet.
It’s produced by MGM but has the look and fell of a 1970s Hong Kong movie. Which isn’t entirely a bad thing. A lot of people say it isn’t a good movie but I disagree. The gritty 70s feel to it is what makes it great. If you like the 70s chop-socky type movies than this movie is for you.
In Forced Vengeance Norris plays Josh Randall, the head of security at the Lucky Dragon casino. When the owner and his family are killed by mobsters Randall looks for the head of the crime syndicate to get revenge.
That’s all you need to know. It’s Chuck Norris kicking butt and it’s wonderful. If you haven’t seen Forced Vengeance track down a copy and watch it.
The Challenge is the first lead role for Scott Glenn, which seems strange considering this is his fourteenth movie. The movie also stars Toshiro Mifune who is best known for his work with Akira Kurosawa. Together they made sixteen movies including The Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, Rashomon and Throne of Blood.
In The Challenge Rick Murphy (Glenn) is hired to return a sacred sword to Japan. Once he arrives he discovers it was a trap and he must fight to survive. Murphy falls in with the Yakuza who instruct him to infiltrate Yoshida’s (Mifune) martial arts school and steal the sword.
While in training in the martial arts school Murphy is drawn to the Japanese traditions and etiquette and abandons his quest to steal the sword. Murphy also starts a romance with Yoshida’s daughter Akiko which leads to the big showdown with the Yakuza.
The Challange is an excellent movie which is highly underrated. If for no other reason watch it for Toshiro Mifune he is a fabulous actor and an icon in Japanese cinema.
It’s also worth noting the martial arts coordinator for The Challenge is a man named Steve Seagal. He would later go by Steven Seagal and star in some of the best martial arts movies of the 90s.
I found this move at the right time (or maybe it found me) and it started me on a path to the martial arts. Of all the Chanbara and Ninja flicks I’ve watched this one had a deeper impact. Maybe it was the American being trained in Japan or seeing the traditions of classical marital arts (even Hollywood’s version), something about it made a lasting impression.
It’s not available to stream for free, but if you ever come across a copy give it a watch.
Other movies released in July 1982
Here are the rest of the movies released in July 1982. Mostly sex comedies, it’s the theme after all. I had a friend in high school we always jokingly called ‘The Last American Virgin’ mainly because it bothered him so much. I’ve never seen the movie though.
I’ve seen bits and pieces of The World According to Garp but not the entire movie. Tex, adapted from an S. E. Hinton novel might be one to watch. I love The Outsiders, both the movie and the book and I’ve read a few other Hinton novels.
If you’ve seen any of them let me know in the comments below.
Another good month for movies in 1982. As legacy goes, Tron is the clear winner. While it is a great movie it’s not my favorite of the month. I really enjoyed The Secret of NIMH but my number one pick for the month is The Challenge.
The Challenge is one of the core movies that fueled my desire to learn not only martial arts but Japanese swordsmanship as well. Hit me up on Twitter and I’ll tell you the other movies on my list.
The early summer of 1982 is a great time for movies. Can August keep up? We’ll find out next month.
What are your favorites from July 1982?
Next week we’ll look at July 1987.