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Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Movies: 80's Cold War Movies 

Eighteen years late is better than never, you might say.

Last night I watched, for the first time, a classic 80's movie that some of you may have seen once or twice before: Top Gun. How could I have gone so long without seeing such a popular movie? Beats me. If I ran off of a list of other "I can't believe you've never seen that" movies, the ensuing firestorm would probably eat up all of Blogger's bandwidth.


Top Gun. "I feel the need... the need for speed." It had some good lines, some good action scenes, and a few cool characters. In all I rate it a solid movie. But I have to disagree with my buddy Robert, who contends that Top Gun out-ranks all other 1980's Cold War movies.


First off, what makes a 1980's Cold War movie a 1980's Cold War movie? Beyond the obvious, which requires some form of U.S.-Soviet conflict or tension, this specific genre has to tug at you in some way. These movies play on your fears and they fill you with pride. They draw you to tears or they make your blood boil. But no matter the emotion, they stay firmly grounded in the 1980's. That means lots of big hair, synthesizer soundtracks, and all that other stuff that made movies in that decade, well, quintessentially 80's.

With that in mind, I offer my Top Five 1980's Cold War movies:

1. Rocky IV- It's close, but Rocky pulverizing Drago in front of an arena full of Russians represents everything that's great about American optimism in the 1980's. The big, bad Russians looked invincible, but our scrappy warrior never backed down. David slaughtered Goliath with will and heart. Is there any doubt that this movie singlehandedly led to the downfall of the Soviet Empire just four short years after its release? The only knock on Rocky IV is that the 1980's other symbol of American resolve, Ronald Reagan, didn't have a part.

2. Red Dawn- Talk about American resolve, this time the Russkies get the best of us. But a group of high schoolers show that when you mess with America, we mess back. Charlie Sheen and Patrick Swayze (does it get more 1980's thnn Patrick Swayze?) band together to fight the commies in this classic. Wolverines!

3. War Games- The only way you get more 1980's than Swayze is with Matthew Broderick and Dabney Coleman. Can anyone between the ages of 25-35 think about tic-tac-toe without wanting to make a crack about Professor Falken? These days it's lunacy to think that a kid on a dial-up connection could cause WWIII, but back then what did we know? Every day we lived in fear that an accident could trigger a global thermonuclear launch.

4. Top Gun- Not enough anti-Russian/brink-of-WWIII elements to rank any higher. Yeah, Maverick shoots down a few Migs over the ocean, but ho hum. A great 1980's Cold War movie should make me want to piss on Lenin's grave. Top Gun does get major style points for its 80's flair. That makes it a classic.

5. 2010: The Year We Make Contact- I chose 2010 because it's so deeply rooted in the escalating conflict between the two Superpowers. It really shouldn't rank among the Top Five. It's like ranking the Big XII this year, where there's Oklahoma and Texas, and then everyone else. After the Top Four on this list, it's everyone else. I wanted to make a Top Five, though, and 2010 beats Superman IV or Invasion USA.


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