Fall was once a season of scarcity, but in 1983 more than 70 new pictures were announced. The trend toward abundance should be sustained this fall, with at least 75 titles awaiting release between next weekend and Christmas. If attractions as intriguing as the science-fiction spectacles "Dune" and "2010," the Francis Coppola gangland-show biz romance "Cotton Club," the Clint Eastwood-Burt Reynolds detective comedy-thriller "City Heat" and the Eddie Murphy detective comedy-thriller "Beverly Hills Cop" live up to expectations, the year should close with annual grosses breaking the $4-billion barrier for the first time.
Why so much product now in the pipeline? Because industry calculus takes it for granted that the large majority of movies will be in and out of theatrical circulation in a matter of weeks, at which point they're expected to begin generating supplementary revenue on cable, in your neighborhood video store and ultimately on the networks. Theater owners, though, are apprehensive about the moment when a directors' strike, or some catastrophe, reduces the supply of product again, leaving no alternative but for 16,000 houses to share engagements of "Ghostbusters," "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" and "Gremlins."
However, this dire prospect seems avoidable for at least another year -- and moviegoers can expect more options than they probably care to contemplate for the remainder of 1984. The comedy bloc remains the largest, but thrillers, many with a decided erotic bias, and social or topical dramas, account for many titles. Science-fiction and romantic melodrama tie for third.
The following schedule will be subject to numerous changes as the season progresses, but may identify some of the likelier crests and troughs. September
In 1983 "Liquid Sky" rode a mid-September opening to sustained success as a cult hit. Its logical successor in 1984 is Alex Cox's "Repo Man," a comedy of contemporary social depravity with science-fiction trimmings that takes place on the lunatic fringes of Southern California. There, the hunt for the hottest "hot car" in movie history, a Chevy Malibu with a trunkful of doomsday radiation, brings out startling shades of ruthlessness and wackiness in assorted punkers, felons, UFO freaks, government agents and the staff of a car repossession agency, the Helping Hands Assurance Company.
A strikingly different debut comes from Euzhan Palcy, the young director of "Sugar Cane Alley," a French production shot in Martinique. Palcy recreates a Depression Era shantytown of her parents' generation while telling the story of a rural urchin, supported by his tenacious grandmother, whose cleverness earns him a potential escape route -- a scholarship in Fort-de-France. The British espionage thriller "The Jigsaw Man," directed by Terence Young, stars Laurence Olivier as a spy master who suspects the loyalty of one of his agents, Michael Caine. The Brazilian import "Erendira," directed by Ruy Guerra from a novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, offers the great Irene Papas a broad canvas for depravity as a peasant mother who acts as the procurer for her adolescent daughter.
"The Stone Boy," a country variation on "Ordinary People," costars Robert Duvall and Glenn Close as a bereaved couple who can't find it in themselves to comfort their younger son after he accidentally kills his older brother during a hunting trip. Wilford Brimley, destined to return as another rural patriarch in October, plays the boy's understanding grandpa. A notorious German import, "A Woman in Flames" introduces Gudrun Landgrebe, who impressed one reviewer as "a Venus in marble," playing a disgruntled young wife who takes to erotic abandon like a duck to water. "The Exterminator, Part II" presumably continues the vigilante exploits of one of Charles Bronson's imitators.
The film version of Peter Shaffer's "Amadeus," evidently expanded lavishly by director Milos Forman on location in Prague, gets a jump on the third week of September, opening Sept. 19 at the K-B Cinema (in 70mm and six-track Dolby). Forman surprised the trade by casting relative unknowns, Thomas Hulce and G. Murray Abraham, in the leading roles of Mozart and Salieri, but the production staff includes such notable collaborators as musical director Neville Marriner and choreographer Twyla Tharp.
The competition begins to heat up on Sept. 21, with the movie version of Henry James' "The Bostonians" -- reuniting the far from sparkling team of director James Ivory and writer Ruth Prawer Jhablava. But the book's rich and curiously timely fund of social and erotic comedy may be handsomely served by Vanessa Redgrave as Olive Chancellor, the high-minded Boston feminist, fighting it out with Christopher Reeve as Basil Ransome, the courtly southern chauvinist, for emotional supremacy over the impressionable beauty, Verena Tarrant. A recurring autumn motif of rural family piety will be introduced in an American setting by writer-director Robert Benton, whose "Places in the Heart" stars Sally Field as a Depression period widow in Texas who manages to keep the bank from foreclosing, with the assistance of sister Lindsay Crouse, handyman Danny Glover and lodger John Malkovich. One of the acting revelations of 1983, Ed Harris, also appears as her brother-in-law, caught up in a clandestine affair with Amy Madigan.
Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin have the distinction of costarring in the season's first unabashed farce, "All of Me," in which a supernatural mishap leaves Martin, a fun-loving attorney, invaded by the snooty, disapproving personality of a rich hypochondriac, Tomlin -- who had been promised a spiffy body transplant by her somewhat rattled guru, Richard Libertini. Carl Reiner directed from a script by Phil Alden Robinson. "Until September," the season's first romantic tearjerker, finds Karen Allen in Paris and infatuated with a French banker played by Thierry Lhermitte. The day will be rounded out for the action clientele by the return of the definitive vigilante hero, Charles Bronson, in a new urban thriller called "The Evil That Men Do."
"The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai," which hints at being a savory entertainment, heads a quartet of openings tentatively set for Sept. 28. The title character, played by Peter Weller, is conceived as a Renaissance man for the turn of our century, whose device, the Oscillation Overthruster, can permit passage through solid matter and entry into "the Eighth Dimension." At the same time, Buckaroo has found time to become a great neurosurgeon and hard-rock star, the leader of a group called the Hong Kong Cavaliers, who also double as trouble-shooting commandos when the need arises -- as it does when John Lithgow, as a demented nemesis called Dr. Lizardo, conspires to steal the precious Overthruster. All this stuff and more was cooked up by screenwriters Earl Mac Rauch and W.D. Richter, with the latter making his directing debut.
Offering a promising realistic contrast to extravagant heroic fantasy, Norman Jewison has brought Charles Fuller's Pulitzer Prize-winning play "A Soldier's Story" to the screen, adapted by Fuller himself and starring Howard Rollins as the black officer assigned to investigate the murder of a black sergeant stationed at a base in Louisiana. Adolph Caesar recreates his original role as the victim, resurrected in flashback. "Impulse" is a supernatural thriller, costarring Tim Matheson and Meg Tilly as an engaged couple who visits her home town in grievous circumstances and discovers an epidemic of menacing occurrences. "Wild Life" purports to update the activities of the high schoolers depicted in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," now a few years into "adult" life. The cast members are new, but the original writer, Cameron Crowe, repeats his duties, this time for director Art Linson.
Though still without even tentative dates, the Dutch murder mystery "The Fourth Man" -- derived from the obsessively kinky oeuvre of the novelist Gerard Reve and directed by Paul Continued on K13 Continued From K12 Verhoeven -- looms as a possible insert, along with the documentary feature "Seeing Red," a memory album of interviews with once ardent and active Party members. October
Three topical melodramas arrive on Oct. 5. "Teachers" sounds like the shades of Paddy Chayefsky transposed to the setting of an urban high school: The institution is forced into an Agonizing Self-Appraisal when a former student sues for damages on grounds that he graduated without being able to read or write. Nick Nolte stars as a young teacher and Ralph Macchio of "The Karate Kid" plays his prize salvage prospect.
The season's second intrepid farm woman is Jessica Lange in "Country," a project she seems to have developed after acquiring star status with "Tootsie." Her character joins with husband Sam Shepard, dad Wilford Brimley and a community of indignant friends to prevent hasty government men from foreclosing on the family farm. In "Irreconcilable Differences" Drew Barrymore plays a litigious child who shames her bickering parents, Ryan O'Neal and Shelley Long, into Taking Stock by suing them for separation. Charles Shyer directed this family courtroom comedy-melodrama from a script by himself and Nancy Meyers. Oct. 12 will settle the question of whether Bill Murray has finessed his first straight role, a highly improbable one -- Larry Darrell, the spiritually aspiring protagonist of Somerset Maugham's novel "The Razor's Edge." John Byrum's remake will once again follow Darrell's quest for peace and wisdom in the wake of World War I combat.
"An Officer and a Gentleman" earned Douglas Day Stewart the privilege of realizing his own erotic thriller "Thief of Hearts," in which Steven Bauer plays a burglar inspired to insinuate himself into the affections of a young woman, Barbara Williams, whose kinky secrets he has stumbled upon during a break-in. Sidney Lumet has gathered a promising cast for "Garbo Talks!" a comedy about a demanding, dotty mother, Anne Bancroft, who insists that her put-upon son, Ron Silver, bring the reclusive Garbo to comfort her in an hour of affliction. The Australians will be represented by "Phar Lap," recounting the triumph and tragedy of one of the greatest thoroughbreds of the late '20s and early '30s. "Ninja III: The Domination" awaits those clamoring for a continuation of perhaps the least auspicious cycle now in progress.
The middle of the month brings "Bizet's Carmen," a promising new production by the gifted Italian director Francesco Rosi, who's been evolving an awesome naturalistic style in pictures like "Eboli" and "Three Brothers." This staging of "Carmen" returns him to authentic Spanish locales, enhanced by the settings of Enrico Job, the photography of Pasquilino de Santis, the choreography of Antonio Gades (the star of his own dance adaption of the story last year) and the performances of Placido Domingo as Don Jose, Julia Migenes-Johnson as Carmen, Ruggero Raimondi as Escamillo and Faith Esham as Micaela. It promises to be one of the definitive opera movies, but at the moment it's scheduled only for a Washington Opera Guild benefit showing at the MacArthur on Oct. 15.
The movie version of John Le Carre 's thriller "The Little Drummer Girl" arrives Oct. 19, featuring Diane Keaton in her first major dramatic role since the powerful "Shoot the Moon." Here she's cast as the susceptible actress recruited by Israeli agents to infiltrate a Palestinian terrorist organization. George Roy Hill will need all his ingenuity to finesse the murkier aspects of Le Carre''s allegory.
Now in inventory for about a year, "Windy City," a dramatic comedy about a group of young literary intellectuals from Chicago, reluctantly resigning themselves to long-term adult commitments, might have been obscured by "The Big Chill" last fall. This time it seems to have the generational blues theme to itself. John Shea and the indefatigable Kate Capshaw have the leading roles. Armyan Bernstein swells the ranks of screenwriters making directing debuts.
A torrent on Oct. 26, led by De Palma's return to the murder thriller, "Body Double." Craig Wasson, an unemployed Los Angeles actor, finds himself in deep trouble after house-sitting for an acquaintance and witnessing a murder next door. Melanie Griffith plays a porn actress who evidently Knows Too Much. In Rick Rosenthal's romantic comedy "American Dreamer" Jobeth Williams wins an amateur mystery writing contest that awards her a trip to Paris, where romance beckons in the contrasting European forms of Tom Conti and Giancarlo Giannini.
A teen-age boy tries to patch up his parents' shaky marriage in "First Born," which costars Teri Garr and Tom Berenger. "Give My Regards to Broad Street," some kind of fictionalized autobiographical ramble by Paul McCartney, abetted by wife Linda and old partner Ringo, finally opens. Another pop singing idiom is represented by Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson, friendly country music rivals in "Song Writer." Halloween gets its due in horror offerings entitled "Terror in the Aisle" and "Silent Madness," while Arnold Schwarzenegger finds a new, futuristic heroic identity as the menace, a killer android, in "The Terminator," set in the 21st century.
Still without dates but possible arrivals: the documentary indictment of political repression, especially as imposed on homosexuals, in Castro's Cuba, "Improper Conduct," compiled by two noted exiles, cinematographer Nestor Almendros and director Orlando Jimenez-Leal; Alain Resnais' musical fantasy "Life Is a Bed of Roses"; the South African picaresque comedy "The Gods Must Be Crazy"; the Japanese domestic comedy "The Family Game," in which a tutor hired to prepare a young man for a good school turns the household upside down; John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands as devoted siblings in "Love Streams"; Kathleen Turner luring men to their doom under Ken Russell's uninhibited auspices in "Crimes of Passion"; and the comic misadventures of a cheerleading camp in "Gimme an 'F'!" If Hitchcock's "Rope" has slackened at the Key, expect Volker Schlo ndorff's movie version of "Swann in Love," which has Jeremy Irons in the title role. November
Poor November used to be lucky if it got two new releases. This year it may have a dozen or so. Nov. 9 is supposed to bring Christopher Reeve and Rosanna Arquette in "The Aviator," a saga of pioneering fliers directed by the George Miller responsible for "The Man from Snowy River"; "Comfort and Joy," the latest comedy by the delightfully intuitive Bill Forsyth, who did "Local Hero"; "Oh, God, You Devil!" a cutely conceived excess that allows George Burns to revive his role as Jehovah while doubling as Satan; "Blame It on the Night," a father-son melodrama starring Nick Mancuso as an aging rock star attempting to establish belated relations with his teen-age son, a cadet in a military academy; and "The Return of the Dead," a horror melodrama from Dan O'Bannon, one of the boys who hatched the monster figure in "Alien."
Another array of choices on the 16th: "The Killing Field," a dramatization of journalist Sydney Schanberg's story about the struggle of a former Cambodian colleague, Dith Pran, to survive after the Khmer Rouge holocaust; "Martin's Day," a chase melodrama in which Richard Harris, an escaped convict, takes young Justin Henry hostage, only to grow paternally fond of him; the belated appearance of "Supergirl," with Helen Slater in the title role; Gary Busey as Coach Paul Bryant in the sports bio "The Bear," directed by Richard Sarafian; "No Small Affair," a romantic comedy about a teen-age boy's infatuation with a pretty vocalist a few years his senior, costarring Jon Cryer and Demi Moore and directed on San Francisco locations by Jerry Schatzberg; the French biographical drama "A Sunday in the Country," in which director Bertrand Tavernier endeavors to recall the turn-of-the-century art world through the work of the painter Ladmiral; and "Return of the Soldier," a film version of Rebecca West's vintage novel starring Alan Bates as an amnesiac veteran of World War I who returns to a stifling sanctuary of domesticity tended by his wife Julie Christie and spinster cousin Ann-Margret (!?). A romantic indiscretion, Glenda Jackson, drops by to disrupt the prevailing gentility.
On Nov. 21, Sissy Spacek and Mel Gibson take over the responsibility of defending the beleaguered American farm family in "The River," set in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and directed by Mark Rydell. The nemesis is Scott Glenn, representing an agribusiness corporation. If "Swann in Love" has exhausted its public at the Key, the theater plans to introduce Washington to "The Brother From Another Planet," a new John Sayles film in which Joe Morton stars as a black variant of "E.T.," a stranded extraterrestrial whose features luckily allow him to pass as an eccentric newcomer to the streets of Harlem. The Christmas season may also be abused prematurely by a reissue of Bob Clark's "A Christmas Story" and the appearance of a horror thriller called "Slayride," which evidently concerns a demented Santa. December
"Terms of Endearment" snuck up on last Christmas, but it's doubtful that the big hit will be a dark horse this year -- everyone is expecting big things of about half the titles on the holiday roster. The most expensive productions of the year, "Cotton Club" and "Dune," probably consumed better than $100 million, in a roughly 60-40 ratio.
Coppola's friends and admirers hope that the return to a period gangster setting -- this time the fabled Harlem nightclub operated by Dutch Schultz as an exotic attraction for New York high society in the Roaring '20s -- will also rejuvenate his career. The screenplay, eventually entrusted to novelist William Kennedy, revolves around two love affairs: Richard Gere, a jazz trumpeter, dares to get sweet on Dutch's moll, Diane Lane, while tap-dancer Gregory Hines tries to work things out with chorine Lonette McKee.
After passing through many hands, "Dune" finally ended up the responsibility of David Lynch, the Virginian with a distinctive macabre flair. Frank Herbert's science-fiction epic about the battle for control of a forbidding desert planet has been adapted by Lynch, embellished scenically by Tony Masters and Carlo Rambaldi and cast with Kyle MacLachlan (as the hero, Paul Atreides).
Director Peter Hyams' sense of obligation to "2010," Arthur Clarke's sequel to "2001: A Space Odyssey," has reportedly inspired to keep in touch with the novelist daily via a Hollywood-to-Sri Lanka computer hookup. Roy Scheider, John Lithgow and Bob Balaban portray the American members of a Yankee-Soviet expedition to Jupiter to determine the fate of the stranded Discovery. Upon arrival they encounter the mystically transported Astronaut Bowman, again played by Keir Dullea, and reactivate the defunct HAL, once again dubbed by Douglas Rain. There's a third science-fiction vehicle at Christmas, a chase thriller from John Carpenter that evidently takes a romantic comedy approach. Called "Star Man," it casts Jeff Bridges as another "E.T." variant, a stranded alien who has three days to reach a rendezvous point 2,000 miles across the United States.
Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep will be reunited in a romantic comedy called "Falling in Love," directed by Ulu Grosbard from a screenplay by Michael Cristofer. Eddie Murphy arrives from the Detroit police force to do wonders for Beverly Hills in "Beverly Hills Cop," directed by Martin Brest from a script by Dan Petrie Jr. Meanwhile, Burt Reynolds as a playful shamus and Clint Eastwood as a taciturn cop will keep getting in each other's way in "City Heat," a comedy-mystery set in Kansas City during the '30s.
Michael Keaton will be on the wrong side of the law in "Johnny Dangerously," a spoof of Prohibition Era gangster melodramas costarring Joe Piscopo, Griffin Dunne and Marilu Henner. "The Flamingo Kid," Garry Marshall's first movie comedy since "Young Doctors in Love," harks back to the early '60s, with Matt Dillon as an impressionable high school grad soaking up worldly wisdom while parking cars one summer at a Long Island nightclub, where he comes to idolize the skills of card-sharp Richard Crenna. A new Goldie Hawn comedy, "Protocol," will have to transcend Buck Henry's egregious misconceptions of the Way Things Work in official Washington, which helped sink "The First Family" a few Christmases ago, but the role may let Hawn carry the day, especially under the direction of Herbert Ross.
Neil Simon, will be represented by "The Slugger's Wife," a comedy-drama about the strains placed on a young marriage when the partners are also celebrities -- Michael O'Keefe as a rising star with the Atlanta Braves and Rebecca de Mornay as a rock vocalist whose star has already risen. Tom Selleck will endeavor to outmanuever a gang of assassins in "Runaway," a chase thriller written and directed by Michael Crichton. Finally, the long-awaited sequel to one of the surprise hits of last spring, "Breakin'," will attempt to reassemble the breakdancing crowd. The catchy title: "Electric Boogaloo: Breakin' II."
All these attractions will probably jockey for position around two opening dates, Dec. 7 and 14, before settling on a final start. "Pinocchio," which has already proved itself on several occasions, seems content to wait for the last possible break on Dec. 21. It will be doubled with a live-action comedy short, "Frankenweenie," a spoof in which a mad scientist of a juvenile tries to reanimate a dear departed pooch. There's also an outside chance that David Lean's first production in more than a decade, a movie version of E.M. Forster's "A Passage to India," will be ready for the holidays, but a January opening seems likelier in this market. The promising movie-musical compilation, "That's Dancin'," a new entry in the tradition of "That's Entertainment," may also miss the holidays and drop into the January-February slot. Still, the last third of the year shouldn't be hurting for presentable entertainments.