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Golden Raspberry Awards: 1981

razzies-1981

The first Golden Raspberry Awards ceremony started as a joke.  Founder and publicist, John J.B. Wilson was able to parlay his potluck dinner party into a few local headlines.  The following year, he held another potluck dinner following the Oscars and attendance doubled.  The list of nominees was also trimmed down to five each to mimic the format of the Academy Awards.

Let’s review the nominees and “winners” of 1981.

legend of the lone ranger

We will kick things off with both of the musical categories.  This year, they added Worst Musical Score as a category.

Worst Musical Score

  • Heaven’s Gate, music by David Mansfield
  • The Legend of the Lone Ranger, music by John Barry
  • Thief, music by Tangerine Dream
  • Under the Rainbow, music by Joe Renzetti
  • Zorro, The Gay Blade, music by Ian Fraser

Winner: The Legend of the Lone Ranger

I’m not sure how much musical expertise went into this decision.  The Legend of the Lone Ranger was one of the most derided movies of 1981.  We’ll see it again in some of the bigger categories.  As frequently happens in the Oscars, I think that momentum carried over into this category.  It probably helped that the score was composed by the legendary John Barry.  Barry is best known for composing the iconic James Bond theme, so I imagine Razzie voters were eager to take him down a peg.

Worst Original Song

  • “Baby Talk” from Paternity, music by David Shire, lyrics by David Frishberg
  • “Hearts, Not Diamonds” from The Fan, music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Tim Rice
  • “The Man in the Mask” from The Legend of the Lone Ranger, music by John Barry, lyrics by Dean Pitchford
  • “Only When I Laugh” from Only When I Laugh, music by David Shire, lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr.
  • “You, You’re Crazy” from Honky Tonk Freeway, composed by Frank Musker and Dominic Bugatti

Winner: “Baby Talk”

Not a whole lot to say here either.  I wasn’t able to track down the winner to listen to it.  The song comes from a comedy starring Burt Reynolds as a confirmed bachelor who decides he wants to become a father.  So he hires Beverly D’Angelo to conceive a child with him.  Whether or not the song was any good, the movie was dreadful.

Next: Worst New Star

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Posted on October 8, 2015, in Awards, Movies, Razzies and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 52 Comments.

  1. jeffthewildman

    Another thing about the now mainly forgotten Klinton Spilsbury: His delivery of lines was so bad, the filmmakers had to dub James Keach saying his dialogue over him.

    There was both a bad Tarzan and a bad Lone Ranger. 1981 was not a good year for pulp heroes.

    For a while thanks to Mommie Dearest, Faye Dunaway’s Joan Crawford had the market cornered on the title of “worst movie mom”. At least until Precious.

    Heaven’s Gate, while far from great, does not deserve its reputation. I can think of ten movies that are far worse than it just off the top of my head.

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    • Heaven’s Gate was a victim of high expectations. After The Deer Hunter, everyone was expecting great things from Cimino. Instead, he made a bloated passion project that suffered from studio interference. The Hollywood press had their knives out and they were ready to pounce. So when it lost a lot of money, the press had a field day. Regardless of the merits of the movie itself, Heaven’s Gate made headlines. Now it is known for being a legendary flop, but most people have never actually seen it for themselves. It’s a cautionary tale. Be careful or you might be the next Cimino.

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      • I thought the problem was that he was given free reign without much studio interference. It is credited with bringing about the end of director driven era of movie production.

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        • That’s also true. What I was getting at is that even though the movie was a failure, it’s not as bad as its reputation. People who have never seen it hear about it and think it’s a horrible movie when it is really just flawed.

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        • Well, I think it was just one of many reasons why directors lost control of their product. APOCALYPSE NOW, NEW YORK, NEW YORK, SORCERER, and some of Bogdanovich’s later offerings also helped bring about the demise of the director control era 70s.

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        • Right. But there were other films that could’ve done it too. I agree with an observation in the book “Easy Riders Raging Bulls” “Cimino didn’t do anything Coppola, Bogdanovich, Altman, Friedkin or Beatty hadn’t done”.

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        • Easy Riders, Raging Bulls is a great read, by the way. I think I need to dig that out of the basement and give it another read, it’s been too long.

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  2. I have no problem with them nominating kids in these roles. If a child can be good enough to be nominated for an Oscar, they can also be bad enough to be nominated for a Razzie. So often, child acting is very painful to watch. There’s no need to sugarcoat it. The kid who played Abel on Sons of Anarchy is one glaring example of really awful child acting. I think in the case of MOMMIE DEAREST it was more the overall criticism of the film that got the child lumped in with all of the rest of the nominations. I don’t remember her being particularly bad in the part, and I’ve never seen that Gary Coleman movie, so I can’t say anything about that, but on principle, I have no problem with kids being nominated.

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    • “I have no problem with them nominating kids in these roles. If a child can be good enough to be nominated for an Oscar, they can also be bad enough to be nominated for a Razzie.”

      That’s just it. It is extremely rare for a child to be nominated for a non-honorary Oscar. They probably shouldn’t be. Child acting is almost always dependent on the director for good or bad. As you said, child acting will almost always be weaker than acting from grown adults. So why compare the two? I expect most grown-ups to be able to handle a razzing from a fake awards show. But what’s the point of doing that to kids? For me, it just crosses a line from being a fun little gag on the Oscars into being mean-spirited.

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  3. Once again, I haven’t seen very many of these (for which I am probably thankful). I recall seeing at least part of Mommie Dearest years ago on some cable channel–don’t remember very much but I sort of recall it being a very overblown melodrama.

    I would have definitely given John Derek strong consideration for Worst Director for Bo in the Buff aka Tarzan of the Apes. There are some absolutely wretchedly staged scenes in that one.

    Cannonball Run may not be very good, but at least it’s fun, unlike some of the other films getting some mention here, and it’s sort of mean to pick on Farrah Fawcett for it and not Burt Reynolds or Hal Needham, who clearly had way more influence on what sort of movie it was.

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    • As we’re getting a little deeper into the 80’s, I’m starting to have seen a lot more movies on cable. The 1982 entry is filled with movies I watched over and over again when HBO was new in our neighborhood.

      If I remember correctly, the first episode of Sneak Previews I ever saw was the one where Ebert and Siskel reviews Tarzan, the Ape Man. We’ll be seeing more of the Dereks going forward.

      I’m with you on Cannonball Run. It is what it is. It doesn’t need to be fodder for the Razzies. But then why nominate Farrah Fawcett and only Farrah Fawcett? I’m not sure why, but the Razzie voters really like punishing sex symbols.

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      • I did notice, looking last night at some of the Razzie nominations for the next few years, that they did start to hit Reynolds and Needham with nominations for some of their subsequent films.

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        • They did. But they keep on their sex symbols and rarely let up. I don’t know. It smacks of sexism to me. I’ll be interested to hear what others think.

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        • From what I’ve seen from The Razzies over the years, I definitely think there’s some sexism at play (wasn’t Farrah Fawcett a target for a time?).

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        • Yeah. If they perceived an actress as all looks and no talent, they would nominate them for just about anything they did.

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        • Burt Reynolds undeniably became a huge sex symbol throughout the 70’s and into the 80’s. I would have considered growing a mustache myself during that era in an attempt to better attract women, but I was only 8 at the time. Damn my stunted growth! So yes the sex symbol thing falls into play. Then, look at some the movies he was making by the early 80’s. Paternity. The movie poster shows ol’ Burt pointing his finger at you, Uncle Sam style, and the tagline reads “He wants YOU to have his baby”. What a cad! Then a short while later he makes “The Man Who Loved Women”, of course about a randy womanizer who could probably have any woman he wants. Because his character looks exactly like Burt Reynolds, and he has that killer mustache that women of the time craved so dearly. The people at the Razzies probably wanted to take him down a peg or two by that point for being so blatant about his sex symbol status. Just a hunch, I could be wrong.

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  4. I saw Mommy Dearest a couple of times when I was a kid, so it’s been a few years.

    For what it’s worth Mommy Dearest is a bad film, but it’s gloriously cheesy. Faye Dunaway’s acting is so over-the-top that I some peoples’ criticism, but I think it’s a real hoot. Wonderfully campy, but I guess it comes down to if you can enjoy camp or not. It’s one of the best examples I can think of as a “so-bad-it’s-good” movie.

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    • A movie so incredibly entertaining couldn’t possibly be “The worst”, right? MOMMIE DEAREST is extremely entertaining, unlike THE LEGEND OF THE LONE RANGER, which has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Even naked Bo Derek gives TARZAN, THE APE MAN an edge over TLOTLR.

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      • As we are progressing through the history of the Razzies, I keep asking myself what I expect them to be. Should they “honor” the so-bad-it’s-good movies like Mommie Dearest? Or should they be in the business of deflating over-hyped talents who make a misstep? Or lampooning the those whose looks exceed their talent? Or just picking the worst of the worst? In theory, it should be the last one given the names of the awards, but they don’t really try to do that. If they did, they would nominate a bunch of crappy movies most people had never heard of.

        While I am critical of the Razzies for some of their seeming hypocrisies, I also have to admit that it’s tough to define what their targets really should be.

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        • In that case, it would be like the Oscars, only in reverse. It’s probably up to each individual voter to determine what those terms mean to them. I don’t see how OUT OF AFRICA could have been ANYBODY’S idea of the best movie released in 1985. It is very boring. Is what makes a movie best that it entertains? Enlightens? What makes a movie worst? Lack of entertainment value? Poor quality of talent and/or craftsmanship? I think the voters for each awards ceremony make those determinations for themselves.

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        • That was actually one of the reasons I started this series. It seemed to me that the Razzies were in large part a mirror of the Oscars right down to the same flaws. The best movies of the year are rarely the ones that win the Oscars and the worst movies rarely win the the Razzies. There are usually a lot of other filters and agendas that sway the outcome. If Mommy Dearest was really the Worst Movie 1981 had to offer, it must have been a pretty good year for movies.

          Of course 1981 was the year Chariots of Fire beat out Raiders of the Lost Ark for Best Picture at the Oscars. So if the Razzies were off their mark, the Oscars were more so. Here’s a list of the Best Picture Nominees for movies released in 1981:

          Atlantic City
          Chariots of Fire
          On Golden Pond
          Raiders of the Lost Ark
          Reds

          I’d rather watch Mommie Dearest than a couple of those.

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        • I’m with you on that. Aside from RAIDERS, MOMMIE DEAREST has the highest entertainment value. I really like CHARIOTS OF FIRE, but I’d rather hear the wire hangers speech than the Vangelis theme again.

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        • Chariots is a good movie and all. But there was nothing about it that indicated that people would remember it decades later except for the score. I don’t expect the Oscars to purely be a measure of entertainment value. But sometimes I think movies are punished for having too broad of an appeal. Case in point: Raiders.

          Mommie Dearest is a bad movie. But it’s very watchable. That can’t be said for a lot of movies released in 1981.

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        • 1981 is one of the relatively few years where I can say that I have seen every one of the Best Picture nominees. Chariots of Fire I haven’t seen for a while, but based on my recollections I would say it was a classic case of “play it safe” filmmaking. I feel much the same way about On Golden Pond, which brought acting Oscars to Fonda and Hepburn. Raiders is easily the most enjoyable film to watch of the five nominees and would have been a worthier Best Picture winner than Chariots. However, if I were making the choice, the Best Picture Oscar would have gone to Reds or Atlantic City. The latter film was the real loser at the Oscars that year–possibly the best film of the year, but not a single Oscar. Raiders at least picked up a quartet of awards on the technical side.

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        • Very true. People focus on the winner and the popular choice. But Reds and Atlantic City were worthy.

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        • Definitely Raiders.

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    • Agreed. It’s been a while, but my recollection was that the movie was not boring.

      I get giving Razzies to a camp classic like Mommy Dearest, an exploitation pic like Tarzan or a misfire like Lone Ranger. But one of the things we’ll see in future articles is that the Razzies keep kicking Dunaway when she’s down. And the go after the Dereks any time they make a movie. Klinton Spilsbury went into hiding or he likely would have gotten the same treatment. Once you get in their crosshairs, you become a Razzie target for life.

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      • In some ways Sylvester Stallone became the Razzies official whipping boy for a while.

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        • He sure did. He’s going to be showing up a lot soon. I also have a little something for Sly fans coming up towards the end of the month.

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        • He has since been replaced by Adam Sandler, and deservedly so.

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        • That’s true. Sometimes the Razzies do good work.

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        • Just scrolling through the Razzies nominations over the years on Wikipedia, my lord did they go after Stallone! He certainly deserved a few Razzies (cough Rhinestone cough), but not to the extent they went after him over the years. But we will get to that pretty soon in your series. Sly pops up so often that you might need to have an offical Sly-Razzie counter in your series, Lebeau!

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        • I think partially it was the whole “liberal bias” of Razzie voters. I hate the term “liberal bias” in most things, but I think it applies to the Razzies. Stallone was the embodiment of Reagan’s America and the Razzies hated that. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

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        • You’re right I think, and it’s funny how one film alone brought about that perception: Rambo: First Blood Part II. You know, the 2nd biggest film of 1985? Ha. But seriously, I remember back in the 80’s President Ronald Reagan would even reference Rambo publicly from time to time (he really must have been a fan of this Rambo movie!), just to show what a pop cultural phenomenon that film briefly became at the time. Typing out “Ronald Reagan Rambo” on Youtube, I found 12 second clip (I’m sorry, I don’t know how to add a video to my comment otherwise I would) where Reagan says “I’m reminded of a recent, very popular movie, and in the spirit of Rambo let me tell you ‘we’re going to win this time’!”

          One quick thought: how about adding this Reagan Rambo clip to the Stallone article? It would accomplish showing just what a pop cultural phenom it briefly became, that even the President himself was referencing – and quoting! – the film. Just an idea.

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        • All you need to do is post the link and the YouTube video will be embedded:

          If there’s a problem, I will usually come around and edit the comment to get the video to play correctly.

          I think that can be accommodated.

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        • Sorry, that was a test to post the youtube video and I failed. When it comes to technology I am obviously an idiot.

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        • The linked worked. Apparently the video was unavailable. I tried to run it on YouTube and it was a no-go.

          But yeah, Reagan was fond of quoting Rambo and Dirty Harry.

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  5. I remember thinking at the time that Faye Dunaway was taking a major risk, playing that role. The book was fairly horrific, if memory serves me it was the first Hollywood tell-all of its kind. Maybe not, though, maybe it was just more notorious. I didn’t see the movie, but based on the risk factor of such an unsympathetic role, it sounds like the screenplay and direction could have been a lot better, and Dunaway took the brunt of it.

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  6. Yeah, I do think Blake Edwards was punished retroactively for “10”, because I don’t think there is anything wrong with “S.O.B.” (I remember seeing the listing of the film in a TV Guide and asking my maternal grandmother what it stood for. He he). It doesn’t matter though, since that film is Blake Edwards’ middle finger to the industry anyway.
    Oh man, “NO. WIRE. HANGERS!” will always be in my head (I still have a few wire hangers, and I think of that line anytime I’m holding one). I actually like “Mommie Dearest”, even if the truth of Christina Crawford’s claims have been debated (i just don’t know really).
    I take issue with Tangerine Dream’s score for “Thief” being nominated. I think it’s a good score, and I really like the works of Tangerine Dream that I’ve heard (up front is “Risky Business”, “Near Dark” and the video game “Grand Theft Auto V”). Speaking of “Risky Business”, I have to go comment on Rebecca De Mornay’s page.

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    • I think the Razzies were likely voting against the use of synthesizers. I don’t think they had any more musical expertise than I do – which is none at all – but they tended to vote against people or trends just like they do in other categories.

      With Blake Edwards, he had been on a role with the Pink Panther movies and 10. So, yeah, I think there were some folks who wanted to see him get his. S.O.B. wasn’t his best work, but as you say there is nothing at all wrong with it. As insider Hollywood satires go, it’s decent.

      I have a lot of wire hangers. My realtor wants us to replace them all with white plastic hangers. No. Black. Plastic Hangers! We’re also supposed to color coordinate our closet. I’m not even kidding.

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      • You can’t make this up Lebeau. You just can’t make this stuff up.
        I’m mentally storing this information in case I ever sell this house.

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        • Last night, Mindy spray painted an end table black to match our TV stand. Another realtor recommendation. I have to admit, it did make the furnishings appear more coordinated and less haphazard.

          We got a four-page typed list of suggestions two weeks ago. We followed most of them. Readers will be happy to know I have a new computer desk chair from which to write articles. It met with realtor approval despite being very purplish in hue. On Monday, we were expecting the house to be relisted. Instead, we got another four pages of typed suggestions.

          I will say that our new realtor is doing about a million times more to sell the house than our previous realtor who failed to get us so much as an offer. She knows what she is doing. I’m not complaining about her in the least. She says that buyers are snobs and dammit she’s right. People can’t seem to separate our furnishings from the house they are going to buy despite the fact that the furnishings are not included in the purchase.

          Here’s another one. We changed all the doorknobs in the house. The previous doorknobs were completely functional, but gold in color. Apparently gold doorknobs are out of fashion. We had to replace them with cheap nickle-plated knobs which are more current. Those Do-It-Yourself Home Improvement shows have ruined people. Their expectations and priorities are completely misaligned. I would have never guessed that any of this stuff mattered to any sane person, but obviously I am in the minority.

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      • Boy, your realtor seems to be making you guys jump through some hoops: replace the mailbox, ditch the desk, distain for wire hangers, color coordinating closets…who is your realtor, Martha Stewart?:-)

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        • Lol. She’s actually an old high school friend of mine. But she does Stewart proud. I haven’t even shared a tenth of the list. For example, the bunk beds need matching bedding. Even though the beds and bedding obviously don’t come with the house. Apparently buyers are incapable of making these distinctions.

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    • jeffthewildman

      To me, the score for Thief added well to the overall vibe of the film. Michael Mann;s films often have a nighttime feel to them and the score often adds to it. Much like the use of Moby in Heat.

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      • I think it really did, and the use of Moby was pretty effective in “Heat” as well. I also like the Jan Hammer score in the underrated (to me) “Manhunter”

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    • Thumbs-up for your point about Tangerine Dream’s score for Thief. A great score and a very good movie.

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      • I think Lebeau’s right about why Tangerine Dream was nominated, that The Razzies had a problem with the use of synthesizers. Wow, those voters REALLY must have wanted to duck out of the rest of the decade then, since synth sound and the whole crystalline effect that a lot of 1980’s music had was a defining part in the pop culture of the decade.

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  7. I watched only when I laugh the other day and I could find the song that was nominated. So i watched it again and still can find it. So I have no idea what song the razzies are talking about.

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  8. Cinema Snob: Tarzan the Ape Man (1981)

    Why go to the theater to see Tarzan, when you would watch one from the director of Ghosts Can’t Do It.

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