“The World According to Garp” (1982) dir. George Roy Hill

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One of the first “adult” movies I ever watched was “The World According to Garp” during the summer of 1982. Based on the best-selling novel by John Irving, “Garp” was the tale of T.S. Garp, a writer coming to terms with his own talent as a writer in the shadow of a more famous parent and as a man trying to reconcile his own manhood during a tumultuous time of gender politics (his mother being a very famous feminist writer).

This was an important film in my artistic makeup. Like Lina Wertmuller’s “Seven Beauties,” it’s one of those rare films that mix comedy and tragedy in a completely non-cheesy or schmaltzy mix. Even at 12 years of age, the ending left me completely shattered … as it still does today.

This was the first “dramatic” performance Robin Williams was credited with and in my mind, he was completely underrated. There is one part of the film where he degenerates into the Robin Williams-schtick people know and don’t love anymore, but overall, he deserved an Oscar nod for “Garp,” playing the straight man in a world of lunatics, freaks, and “true believers.” John Lithgow and Glenn Close (in their breakout performances) got their Oscar nods and they were richly deserved.

For a major studio film, this is pretty ballsy material and deserved more attention and acclaim than it received at the time. Over 32 years later, the film … and the performances … hold up very damn well. An underrated American classic.

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“Right Back Where We Started From” – Maxine Nightingale

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A terrific pop song from the 1970s that was not only a big hit in the States (#2 on the Billboard singles charts), but was also used effectively in the raunchy Paul Newman-starring, George Roy Hill-directed hockey comedy “Slap Shot” throughout several moments in that classic film.  A wonderfully upbeat song that never ceases to bring a smile to my face.

5. “Slap Shot” (1977) dir. George Roy Hill

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Number 5 on Dave’s Strange World’s all-time favorite films is the hysterically funny and beyond politically incorrect hockey film “Slap Shot.” This was considered a ballsy movie in its day, but nowadays, forget about it. No studio executive would dare greenlight a project this nasty, violent, and crude. It’s too bad, because Oscar-winning director George Roy Hill and Hollywood legend Paul Newman saw a lot of merit in Nancy Dowd’s foul-mouthed script about the down-and-dirty world of minor-league hockey. And yes, “Slap Shot” (like “Scarface” and “Pulp Fiction”) is considered a classic PRECISELY because it’s so over-the-top and rude.

The attached scene is Newman’s hilarious introduction to the infamous “Hanson Brothers.” I used to think the Hansons were based on the Ramones (especially based on Dowd’s interest in punk rock), until I read that the Hansons are totally REAL! Key line: “They’re too dumb to play with themselves!” Yes, my friends, NOT safe for work or little ones.