March/April 1984

Terms of Endearment and international mother-daughter films, James L. Brooks interview, Flashdance, The Right Stuff, midsection on cameramen and cinematography, Supreme Court videocassette ruling, John Sayles in Harlem, Sam Peckinpah’s The Osterman Weekend

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Issue Details

WORLD OF OUR MOTHERS
Mothers and daughters: they are the post-nuclear family. Marcia Pally looks at Terms of Endearment, then at three foreign films directed by women (including Diane Kurys’ Entre Nous), to see what it is parent and child have to say to each other. And James L. Brooks, in a rare interview, tells Kenneth Turan about bringing Terms to term.

MIDSECTION: CAMERAMEN
This year’s Oscar nominations did reward one group of young Turks: cinematographers Caleb Deschanel, William Fraker, Don Peterman, and mystery man Gordon Willis. Updating our special issue from 1972, Todd McCarthy takes a panoramic view of the new generation of lensers. And Arlene Zeichner retrospects Hollywood’s wizards of still photography.

GRAND MASTER ‘FLASH’
If 1983’s movies didn’t take their cue from the frenetic surrealism of MTV, they aped familiar sitcom and TV-movie formats. For our annual boxoffice review, Gregg Kilday charts 1983’s hits and flops, from the syntho-dazzle of Flashdance to The Right Stuff.

VCR FEVER
Hollywood sent up a howl when the Supreme Court ruled that you could tape movies and TV shows on your videocassette recorder for free. Imagine: film history in all its splendor available for scavenging on your magic machine. But will you record Ozu’s The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice the next time it plays HBO? Or will you memorialize your favorite fantasies of sex and violence, the better to savor them firsthand? From experience, our David Chute has the answer. Forget Ozu. Grab that fantasy software.

JOURNALS
Hoboken’s finest filmmaker, John Sayles, invades Harlem; Pat Aufderheide reports. Dan Yakir screens a rare homosexual film from Israel.

FORD AND ANDERSON
No, it’s not a Nostalgia Ticket for the Republican Party. Lindsay Anderson’s fond, contentious book on John Ford has just been published in the U.S., which prompts thoughts from Richard Schickel on Ford’s films and the need for cultural heroes.

OSCAR GAMBLE
Match wits with our experts: David Ansen, Lee Beaupre, Stuart Byron, David Denby, Roger Ebert, Myron Meisel, Dale Pollock, Andrew Sarris, Richard Schickel, Kenneth Turan.

LOST ‘WEEKEND’
Sam Peckinpah’s comeback film, The Osterman Weekend, went away with unseemly abruptness. Richard T. Jameson was there at the beginning and files his report now, after the end.

‘UNFAITHFULLY YOURS’
Compare the new movie with the 1948 Preston Sturges classic and you’ll find a case of champagne comedy gone flat. By Veronica Geng.

CLAUDETTE COLBERT
On April 23 the Film Society of Lincoln Center pays tribute to the movies’ most sensible seductress. Here, Stephen Harvey does same.

INDEPENDENTS: WORLD’S FAIR
A new movie commemorates the 1939 World’s Fair and its prophecy of a new world. By Kenneth Spence.

ORBITS
On the eve of Greystoke, Hollywood’s favorite Tarzan swung into that big treehouse in the sky. David Thomson elegizes Johnny Weissmuller.

BOOKS: ROMAN SCANDALS
Kenneth Tynan called Roman Polanski “the five-foot Pole you wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole”; James Toback finds dark and light sides in Polanski’s autobiography. Also: Carrie Rickey reviews Peter Biskind’s book on Fifties films.

1983 FILM COMMENT INDEX

BACK PAGE: QUIZ #6
An acrostic puzzle to test your film lore. Try it—you’ll like it.