What a feeling we got watching Flashdance for the very first time back in 1983. This film had a totally profound impact on 80s style and altered the public’s perception of dancers and women, and specifically of women dancers. Oh, and it’s one of the best 80s movies ever.
Like many 80s movies, the film came with a theme song (“Flashdance… What a Feeling” by Irene Cara) that rocked up the charts and became one of the iconic hits of the decade.
Flashdance also changed the face of the musical, ushering in a filmmaking style in which music and dance is heavily featured but the performers don’t break out into singing at random points throughout the film. Instead, Flashdance gave us a more realistic twist on what a musical could be. And unlike most musicals, the film opted for gritty dance performances over traditional corny musical numbers.
80s Movies, Music, and Dance
Music and dance were essential components of many 80s movies. You had to have the big theme song, which got plenty of radio play and made soundtrack sales.
Some films were lucky enough to slip a few additional hits onto the soundtrack. Flashdance was one such film as the Flashdance Original Soundtrack also boasted hit song “Maniac” by Michael Sembello. Both the title track and “Maniac” reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1983, the year the film was released.
The dance numbers in the film were modeled after music videos, which were a relatively new phenomenon back in the early 80s.
80s Movies and Total Success
When Flashdance first came out, the critical reviews were poor, but audiences loved it, and it became a box office smash, earning over $100 million.
Soon, girls were mimicking the fashion of the film, ripping their sweatshirt collars off and wearing them hanging off one shoulder, as depicted in the movie’s poster. One particular performance in the movie, to the song “Maniac,” became iconic and has since been parodied, spoofed, and even attributed in a 2003 Jennifer Lopez music video.
In time, Flashdance came to symbolize 80s movies, packed with hot hits, cool fashion, and plenty of dance, plus a great storyline and highly sympathetic characters.
The Mother of All 80s Movies
The Breakfast Club is like THE quintessential 80s movie. Ask anyone what is the mother of all 80s movies and they’ll totally tell you it’s The Breakfast Club.
In fact, this movie is such a huge 80s icon that it almost always tops any list of 80s movies, and it usually ranks at number one.
It’s packed with 80s attitudes, style, and jargon but it reigns as a classic despite its status as the be-all-end-all of 80s movies.
Fortunately, The Breakfast Club hit video after VHS was widely available. Oh sure, it was a big hit at the box office, but on video, you could watch it over and over.
Back then, watching movies at home was still kind of a big deal. We played our 80s movies day in and day out, and The Breakfast Club was no exception. It wasn’t uncommon for teens to know every line of the movie.
Probably what made this movie such a huge hit, besides the killer screenplay, was its amazing cast of up-and-coming teen actors.
The film itself had only a small handful of actors who played the five main characters (the kids who comprised The Breakfast Club), plus two supporting roles (the principal and janitor), and a couple of the kids’ parents, plus one sibling.
The five primary actors and the characters they played were:
- Emilio Estevez – Andrew Clark (The Athlete)
- Anthony Michael Hall – Brian Johnson (The Brain)
- Judd Nelson – John Bender (The Criminal)
- Molly Ringwald – Claire Standish (The Princess)
- Ally Sheedy – Allison Reynolds (The Basket Case)
This film launched all of their careers, and while most of them didn’t enjoy high visibility into the 90s, they made up almost the entire group of 80s movies actors known as The Brat Pack.
The Breakfast Club
Interesting to note is that John Hughes, guru of all the greatest 80s movies, wrote the entire screenplay for The Breakfast Club over the course of two days – July 4-5 in 1982. That’s a lot of writing in a very little amount of time, especially when you consider what a totally huge hit the movie turned out to be.
Hughes also acted in the film, appearing in a cameo performance as Brian’s father at the end of the film when Brian is picked up from detention.
The film is about five high school students, who are all totally different from one another. They have to attend a Saturday detention for the various infractions they’ve committed against school rules. When the day starts, they see each other as strangers, in some cases, enemies. But by the time detention’s over, they’ve learned a valuable lesson about what it means to be human. We’re all not so different after all.
According to IMDB:
The film’s title comes from the nickname invented by students and staff for detention at New Trier High School, the school attended by the son of one of John Hughes’ friends. Thus, those who were sent to detention were designated members of “The Breakfast Club.” “The Breakfast Club” at that school probably took its name in turn from the title of American radio’s longest running network entertainment show, broadcast from Chicago, 1933 to 1968.
Lots of 80s movies had soundtracks that we loved and played over and over. The Breakfast Club Soundtrack made good sales, but mostly that was because it had one big hit on it – The Simple Minds’ single “Don’t You Forget About Me.”
The song was a little bit haunting and had the driving beat, desperate lyrics, and new wave flavor that was synonymous with 80s music.
The video for the song featured the Simple Minds in a big, abandoned space with iconic checkerboard floors, very old-fashioned, interspersed with clips from the movie.
Grow Your Collection of 80s Movies
Even though the 80s are well behind us, you can still get a copy of The Breakfast Club. If you don’t have it, then your 80s movies collection is totally abysmal. Better hurry up and get your fix:
Stay tuned to Total 80s Remix for more of your favorite 80s movies.