Timeline of Greatest Film
Milestones and Turning Points
in Film History


The Year 1983

Timeline of Greatest Film History Milestones and Turning Points
(by decade and year)
Introduction | Pre-1900s | 1900s | 1910s | 1920s | 1930s | 1940s | 1950s
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1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989

The Year 1983
Year
Event and Significance
1983
George Lucas' THX sound system technology was developed with the main goal of recreating film sound in film theaters exactly as the filmmakers had intended. The first movie to be shown in a THX-certified auditorium was Return of the Jedi (1983) - the concluding film in the 'Star Wars' trilogy.
1983
Return of the Jedi (1983), the third film in the original Star Wars trilogy, was the top grossing (domestic) film of the year, at $252.5 million, eventually taking in a life-time gross of $309 million. It was nominated for four Academy Awards, and didn't win any: Best Art Direction, Best Original Score, Best Sound, and Best Sound Effects Editing.
1983
Writer/director Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny & Alexander (1982, Swed.) was released in the US in 1983. It was named the Best Foreign Language Film for 1983, and had a total of four awards. It became the most honored foreign language film to date in Academy history.
1983
The science-fiction film Brainstorm (1983) was not entirely completed when 43 year-old Natalie Wood died of accidental drowning in late November, 1981. The film was finished by changing its ending and using a stand-in, and then released posthumously - dedicated to her memory.
1983
The ground-breaking hit arcade game Dragon's Lair, introduced by ex-Disney animator Don Bluth and Rick Dyer, was the world's first coin-operated laserdisc arcade video game. The fully-animated, interactive cartoon challenged players to time their movements through the cartoon or otherwise face death.
1983
Brian DePalma's over-the-top gangster epic Scarface (1983) starred Al Pacino as a Cuban refugee who became a Miami cocaine king-pin.
1983
The final TV episode of M*A*S*H aired on February 28, 1983, and broke the record for the most-watched single TV program episode in US history, with 125 million viewers.
1983
Over four days, John Landis directed 25 year-old King of Pop Michael Jackson's influential, 14-minute, monster-related film Thriller, that debuted on MTV on December 2, 1983. It was filmed for a then-whopping $500,000 (five times the average price). It exemplified the new wave of music videos, in essence, mini-movies that were not just promotional but also works of art. In this one, with narration by Vincent Price, Jackson with his date (Playboy centerfold Ola Ray) were returning home through a graveyard when they were attacked by blood-thirsty zombies. He morphed into a werewolf and led a dancing army of undead. It set a Guinness World Record as the most successful music video of all-time when it sold 9 million retail copies. It was sold on VHS home video and became the world's largest selling VHS musical.
1983
20-year-old Vanessa Williams (Miss New York) became the first African American to win the Miss America crown, on September 17, 1983. However, the next year, she was forced to relinquish her crown on July 23, 1984 after nude photographs of her surfaced from a previous 1982 photo-shoot (the photos were published in the September 1984 issue of Penthouse magazine by Bob Guccione). Nonetheless, she became a major entertainment star (with multiple Grammy, Tony, and Emmy nominations), with numerous appearances on stage, screen, TV, and lots of hit records and albums.
1983
Writer/director Lawrence Kasdan's classic nostalgia film The Big Chill (1983) told about the reunion of aging college friends from the radical 60s, all from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, who pondered the subject of death ("the big chill") and loss of idealism during the funeral-weekend of a suicidal friend. With three Oscar nominations and no wins, the film was embraced by baby boomers and noted for its ensemble acting.
1983
Young and mostly-unknown actor Tom Cruise appeared in his fifth feature film, the hit coming-of-age comedy Risky Business (1983). Cruise had begun his acting career with a few very minor and supporting roles in youth-oriented films including Endless Love (1981), Taps (1981), The Outsiders (1983), and Losin' It (1983). His breakthrough career role marked him as an up-and-coming male star that would go on to make Top Gun (1986) and Rain Man (1988), and many more major hits over a period of 30 years. In Risky Business, his memorable performance was as a preppy high school student - singing and dancing in his living room to a stereo blasting Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock N' Roll" while air-strumming a guitar and wearing only white underwear and Ray-Ban shades (causing skyrocketing sales of sunglasses).
1983
Linda Hunt won Best Supporting Actress (presented in 1984) for director Peter Weir's The Year of Living Dangerously (1983) for playing the character of a man (Chinese-Australian photographer Billy Kwan). She was the first female actress to win an Oscar for playing a gender-switched character role - a character of the opposite sex.
1983
Never Say Never Again (1983) (a remake of the earlier Bond film Thunderball (1965)), starred Sean Connery as James Bond - the star's first appearance as agent 007 for the first time since Diamonds Are Forever (1971). The film's title was a clever joke referring to Connery's reneged promise twelve years before that he would "never" star as Bond again. That summer, there was a so-called 'dueling' of Bonds - Connery's film competed with Octopussy (1983), an "official" James Bond film starring Roger Moore, with both films in theaters at the same time. [A similar occurrence happened when the "unofficial" Bond film Casino Royale, starring David Niven, was released the same year as You Only Live Twice (1967), but these two films were not in theaters at the same time.]
1983
Spanish filmmaker Luis Bunuel died at the age of 83 in Mexico. One of the greatest directors in world cinema, he was noted for his surrealistic Un Chien Andalou (1929, Fr.), L'Age d'Or (1930, Fr.), Los Olvidados (1950, Mex.) (aka The Young and the Damned, The Forgotten), Viridiana (1961, Mex.), Belle De Jour (1967, Fr.), Tristana (1970, Fr.), The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972, Fr.), and That Obscure Object of Desire (1977, Sp.). He was nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film three times, and won in 1972. He was also nominated twice (1972 and 1977) for Best Adapted Screenplay.
1983
HBO (Home Box Office) became a leader in developing and creating programming content, with revolutionary shows such as: Not Necessarily the News (1983-1990) - its first original series, and the sports biopic The Terry Fox Story (1983) - the first made-for-pay-TV movie.
1983
Only one actress in film history, Amy Irving, was nominated for two opposing awards in the same year, an Oscar and Razzie, for her supporting role in Yentl (1983). This feat was duplicated by Sandra Bullock in 2009, who won both awards!


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