Best Movies of 1981

1.

Raiders of the Lost Ark

6.8

When Dr. Indiana Jones – the tweed-suited professor who just happens to be a celebrated archaeologist – is hired by the government to locate the legendary Ark of the Covenant, he finds himself up against the entire Nazi regime.

Starring: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, John Rhys-Davies, Ronald Lacey
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Release date: 1981-06-12
2.

Mad Max 2

6.1

Max Rockatansky returns as the heroic loner who drives the dusty roads of a postapocalyptic Australian Outback in an unending search for gasoline. Arrayed against him and the other scraggly defendants of a fuel-depot encampment are the bizarre warriors commanded by the charismatic Lord Humungus, a violent leader whose scruples are as barren as the surrounding landscape.

Starring: Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence, Michael Preston, Max Phipps, Vernon Wells
Directed by: George Miller
Release date: 1981-12-24
3.

The Evil Dead

6.1

When a group of college students finds a mysterious book and recording in the old wilderness cabin they've rented for the weekend, they unwittingly unleash a demonic force from the surrounding forest.

Starring: Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Richard DeManincor, Betsy Baker, Theresa Tilly
Directed by: Sam Raimi
Release date: 1981-10-15
4.

The Fox and the Hound

5.9

When a feisty little fox named Tod is adopted into a farm family, he quickly becomes friends with a fun and adorable hound puppy named Copper. Life is full of hilarious adventures until Copper is expected to take on his role as a hunting dog -- and the object of his search is his best friend!

Starring: Mickey Rooney, Kurt Russell, Pearl Bailey, Jack Albertson, Sandy Duncan
Directed by: Richard Rich, Ted Berman, Art Stevens
Release date: 1981-07-10
5.

Escape from New York

5.9

In 1997, the island of Manhattan has been walled off and turned into a giant maximum security prison within which the country's worst criminals are left to form their own anarchic society. However, when the President of the United States crash lands on the island, the authorities turn to a former soldier and current convict, Snake Plissken, to rescue him.

Starring: Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasence, Isaac Hayes
Directed by: John Carpenter
Release date: 1981-05-22
6.

My Dinner with Andre

5.6
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Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory, apparently playing themselves, share their lives over the course of an evening meal at a restaurant.
Starring: Wallace Shawn, Andre Gregory, Jean Lenauer, Roy Butler
Directed by: Louis Malle
Release date: 1981-10-11
7.

On Golden Pond

5.5

For Norman and Ethel Thayer, this summer on golden pond is filled with conflict and resolution. When their daughter Chelsea arrives, the family is forced to renew the bonds of love and overcome the generational friction that has existed for years. Norman must find his way through his anger and fear of growing old, while Chelsea struggles to rebuild their relationship. Ethel's consistent support of her "Knight in shining armor" is inspirational in its simplicity. This is a movie to ponder and always keep in your heart.

Starring: Katharine Hepburn, Henry Fonda, Jane Fonda, Doug McKeon, Dabney Coleman
Directed by: Mark Rydell
Release date: 1981-12-04
8.

An American Werewolf in London

5.4

Two American tourists in England are attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will admit exists.

Starring: David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, Griffin Dunne, John Woodvine, Brian Glover
Directed by: John Landis
Release date: 1981-08-21
9.

Gallipoli

5.4

As World War I rages, brave and youthful Australians Archy and Frank, both agile runners, become friends and enlist in the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps together. They later find themselves part of the Dardanelles Campaign on the Gallipoli peninsula, a brutal eight-month conflict which pit the British and their allies against the Ottoman Empire and left over 500,000 men dead.

Starring: Mel Gibson, Mark Lee, Bill Kerr, Gerda Nicolson, Harold Hopkins
Directed by: Peter Weir
Release date: 1981-08-13
10.

Blow Out

5.4

Jack Terry is a master sound recordist who works on grade-B horror movies. Late one evening, he is recording sounds for use in his movies when he hears something unexpected through his sound equipment and records it. Curiosity gets the better of him when the media become involved, and he begins to unravel the pieces of a nefarious conspiracy. As he struggles to survive against his shadowy enemies and expose the truth, he does not know whom he can trust.

Starring: John Travolta, Nancy Allen, John Lithgow, Dennis Franz, Peter Boyden
Directed by: Brian De Palma
Release date: 1981-07-24
11.

Thief

5.4

Frank is an expert professional safecracker, specialized in high-profile diamond heists. He plans to use his ill-gotten income to retire from crime and build a nice life for himself complete with a home, wife and kids. To accelerate the process, he signs on with a top gangster for a big score.

Starring: James Caan, Tuesday Weld, Willie Nelson, James Belushi, Robert Prosky
Directed by: Michael Mann
Release date: 1981-03-27
12.

Reds

5.3

A radical American journalist becomes involved with the Communist revolution in Russia and hopes to bring its spirit and idealism to the United States.

Starring: Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, Edward Herrmann, Jack Nicholson, Jerzy Kosinski
Directed by: Warren Beatty
Release date: 1981-12-25
13.

Body Heat

5.3

In the midst of a searing Florida heat wave, a woman convinces her lover, a small-town lawyer, to murder her rich husband.

Starring: William Hurt, Kathleen Turner, Richard Crenna, Ted Danson, J.A. Preston
Directed by: Lawrence Kasdan
Release date: 1981-08-28
14.

Excalibur

5.3

A surreal adaptation of Sir Thomas Malory's "Le Morte d'Arthur", chronicling Arthur Pendragon's conception, his rise to the throne, the search by his Knights of the Round Table for the Holy Grail, and ultimately his death.

Starring: Nigel Terry, Helen Mirren, Nicholas Clay, Cherie Lunghi, Paul Geoffrey
Directed by: John Boorman
Release date: 1981-04-10
15.

Chariots of Fire

5.2

In the class-obsessed and religiously divided United Kingdom of the early 1920s, two determined young runners train for the 1924 Paris Olympics. Eric Liddell, a devout Christian born to Scottish missionaries in China, sees running as part of his worship of God's glory and refuses to train or compete on the Sabbath. Harold Abrahams overcomes anti-Semitism and class bias, but neglects his beloved sweetheart Sybil in his single-minded quest.

Starring: Ben Cross, Ian Charleson, Cheryl Campbell, Alice Krige, Nigel Havers
Directed by: Hugh Hudson
Release date: 1981-05-15
16.

Lion of the Desert

5.1
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This movie tells the story of Omar Mukhtar, an Arab Muslim rebel who fought against the Italian conquest of Libya in WWII. It gives western viewers a glimpse into this little-known region and chapter of history, and exposes the savage means by which the conquering army attempted to subdue the natives.
Starring: Anthony Quinn, Rod Steiger, Oliver Reed, Irene Papas, Raf Vallone
Directed by: Moustapha Akkad
Release date: 1981-04-17
17.

Southern Comfort

5.1

A squad of National Guards on an isolated weekend exercise in the Louisiana swamp must fight for their lives when they anger local Cajuns by stealing their canoes. Without live ammunition and in a strange country, their experience begins to mirror the Vietnam experience.

Starring: Keith Carradine, Powers Boothe, Fred Ward, Franklyn Seales, T. K. Carter
Directed by: Walter Hill
Release date: 1981-09-25
18.

The Great Muppet Caper

5.1

Kermit and Fozzie are newspaper reporters sent to London to interview Lady Holiday, a wealthy fashion designer whose priceless diamond necklace is stolen. Kermit meets and falls in love with her secretary, Miss Piggy. The jewel thieves strike again, and this time frame Miss Piggy. It's up to Kermit and Muppets to bring the real culprits to justice.

Starring: Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Dave Goelz, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt
Directed by: Jim Henson
Release date: 1981-06-26
19.

Time Bandits

5.0

Young history buff Kevin can scarcely believe it when six dwarfs emerge from his closet one night. Former employees of the Supreme Being, they've purloined a map charting all of the holes in the fabric of time and are using it to steal treasures from different historical eras. Taking Kevin with them, they variously drop in on Napoleon, Robin Hood and King Agamemnon before the Supreme Being catches up with them.

Starring: Craig Warnock, David Rappaport, Kenny Baker, Mike Edmonds, Malcolm Dixon
Directed by: Terry Gilliam
Release date: 1981-07-13
20.

Clash of the Titans

5.0

To win the right to marry his love, the beautiful princess Andromeda, and fulfil his destiny, Perseus must complete various tasks including taming Pegasus, capturing Medusa's head, and battling the Kraken monster.

Starring: Laurence Olivier, Claire Bloom, Maggie Smith, Jack Gwillim, Harry Hamlin
Directed by: Desmond Davis
Release date: 1981-03-15

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