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Back to the past: 10 iconic rom-com films of the 80s

Back to the past: 10 iconic rom-com films of the 80s

Today I decided to have a popcorn nostalgia session to remember iconic films of the 80s. I was born and raised in the 80s, in front of the television and going to the cinema, influenced by my grandmother’s habits, and since then, I ended up addicted for Cinema and TV. 

Molly Ringwald’s golden cinema decade is so productive and rich in terms of having films that became cult ones that it’s difficult to select just a few of them from the time tunnel to pay this tribute. I keep in my affective memory countless nice films produced in the 80s, such as “Goonies” or even “Back to the future”. To make it easier, I decided to focus on the rom-com genre today.   

See below 10 iconic romance comedy of the 80s that are emblematic for me, and I believe for many maniacs for Cinema as well, but first take your popcorn bowl and embark on this nostalgic adventure with me.

10 – Splash

Director:  Ron Howard

Writer: Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel

Year: 1984 

Stars: Tom Hanks,  Daryl HannahJohn Candy, and Eugene Levy

This was a classic blockbuster played on my classic “Afternoon Movie session” in my home in Brazil. How many times did I re-watch it on TV in my boring childhood? The storyline is about Allen Bauer, a young boy who is rescued from drowning off by a young mermaid. Years later, he returns to the same location, and once again manages to fall into the sea, and is rescued once more by the mermaid (Allen isn’t sure what he has seen and what he has imagined). Using maps from a sunken ship, the mermaid decides to search for Allen in New York City, sprouting legs when her tail dries. On finding Allen, they fall in love, but she has a secret, which will no longer be a secret if she gets her legs wet. 

It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

9 – When Harry met Sally

Director:   Rob Reiner

Writer:  Nora Ephron

Year: 1989

Stars: Billy CrystalMeg RyanCarrie Fisher 

This American movie is one of the most sensational romantic comedies of all time. With a delightful script by Nora Ephron, he tells the story of Harry and Sally, two people who travel together to New York and, for 12 years, meet sporadically. It has a beautiful soundtrack and perfect dialogues!

If you haven’t seen it yet, please, you must see it right now. I bet you will have fun with the restaurant scene. 

8- Dirty Dancing

Director:   Emile Ardolino

Writer: Eleanor Bergstein 

Year: 1987

Stars:  Patrick SwayzeJennifer GreyJerry Orbach 

There are countless references for this film in pop culture as films, series and books. Probably one of the most popular 80s movies watched. Baby is a young girl who goes with her sister and parents to a sleepy resort. However, everything changes when she meets, and falls in love with Johnny, the dance instructor of the place, and becomes his partner.

The best songs, the best choreography and a lovely story are enough reason for you to watch this movie. And I doubt that you won’t end up singing “I’ve had the time of my life” and trying to make the jump! Watch it because “nobody leaves Baby in the corner”…

In 2017 the movie gained a remake, but it didn’t reach the same fame as the original.  

7 – Can’t Buy me love

Director:  Steve Rash

Writer:  Michael Swerdlick

Year: 1987

Stars: Patrick DempseyAmanda PetersonCourtney Gains

Before Patrick Dempsey became McDreamy, he was a very weird adolescent. Tired of being one of the losers at school, he decides to buy a dress for one of the most popular girls at school, if she pretends to be his girlfriend for a month. 

The African Anteater ritual dance scene has become emblematic in the History of Cinema.

It’s hard to watch this movie without trying to do the dance once!

6- Some kind of wonderful

Director:  Howard Deutch

Writer:  John Hughes

Year: 1987

Stars:  Eric StoltzMary Stuart MastersonLea Thompson

When Keith goes out with Amanda, the girl of his dreams, Amanda’s ex-boyfriend plans to get back at Keith. Meanwhile, Keith’s best friend, tomboy Watts, realises she has feelings for Keith.

Another one from the “Films we loved from the afternoon movies session in my childhood” series. Keith is an awkward and shy student who is in love with Amanda, the most popular girl at school, and tries to win her with the help of his best friend Watts. Meanwhile, Keith’s best friend, tomboy Watts, realises she has feelings for Keith, things get complicated. 

The cool thing about this movie? The movie has a surprising “the end”.

5- Pretty in Pink

Director:  Howard Deutch

Writer:  John Hughes

Year: 1986

Stars: Molly RingwaldJon CryerHarry Dean Stanton

Molly, again, is a poor girl who falls in love with one of the richest and most popular boys in school. She must choose between the affections of dating her childhood sweetheart friend or a rich but sensitive playboy.

The story is a kind of contemporary Cinderella, especially the scene when she goes into the school for the prom, wearing the repaired pink dress, sewed by her mother. Beautiful film to warm up cold hearts!

4- Secret Admirer

Director:  David Greenwalt

Writer:  Jim KoufDavid Greenwalt

Year: 1985

Stars:  C. Thomas HowellLori LoughlinKelly Preston 

One the last day before the summer holiday, Michael receives a glowing, but anonymous, love-letter. He suspects, or better: hopes, it’s from Deborah, the girl he’s after since a while, but who dates college students only. However, she shows him a cold shoulder again. So his and her best friend Toni advises him to write her an anonymous letter in return. However, these letters get in the wrong hands and cause lots of confusion in their families, until it’s revealed, who wrote which letter to whom. Michael is obsessive for Deborah and he does not realise that his best friend Toni feels the same way about him. 

It is a very, very funy movie because of the letter and its confusion!

3- Just one of the guys

Director: Lisa Gottlieb

Writer:  Dennis FeldmanJeff Franklin

Year: 1985

Stars: Joyce HyserClayton RohnerBilly Jayne 

A girl believes she didn’t get an internship because she is a woman, so she decides to go to another school, pretending to be a man, and re-present her article there. The problem is that she falls in love with a friend from school.

The movie has an unforgettable scene when she reveals that she is a woman showing her boobies during the prom. 

2- Sixteen candles

Director:  John Hughes

Writer:  John Hughes

Year: 1984

Stars: Molly RingwaldAnthony Michael HallJustin Henry 

Samantha’s life is going downhill fast. The sixteen-year-old has a crush on the most popular boy in school, and the geekiest boy in school has a crush on her. Her sister’s getting married, and with all the excitement the rest of her family forgets her birthday! Add all this to a pair of horrendously embarrassing grandparents, a foreign exchange student named Long Duk Dong, and we have the makings of a hilarious journey into young womanhood.

I dare to say, Molly Ringwald, was the Princess of comedies of the 80s. Her sweet, shy, ordinary appearance made any girl (and boy) put herself in her place. 

The storyline is so simple, but at the same time so adorable that I couldn’t leave it out of this list. 

1- Working Girl

Director:  Mike Nichols 

Writer:  Kevin Wade

Year: 1988

Stars: Melanie GriffithHarrison FordSigourney Weaver

Tess McGill is a frustrated secretary, struggling to forge ahead in the world of big business in New York. She gets her chance when her boss breaks her leg on a skiing holiday. McGill takes advantage of her absence to push ahead with her career. She teams up with investment broker Jack Trainer to work on a big deal. The situation is complicated after the return of her boss.

Who remembers the movie soundtrack “Let the river run”, written and Performed by Carly Simon

Melanie Griffith became an acclaimed actress after her convincing acting in this movie. 

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I am a script and creative writer, journalist, producer, and marketing content developer with over 9 years of experience in Media (TV / Film Production), Communication, Journalism and Marketing. I worked for companies such as MTV, Animal Planet, Band, Discovery and, Fremantle Media. I am from Brazil, but I've been living in Dublin, Ireland, since 2017. I am also maniac for entertainment and pop culture.
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