American Pop 33

AMERICAN POP : GREATEST COMEDY MOVIES (1980 – 1990)

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Foreword:  Magnificent Movies = Enduring Nostalgic Influence                

If nothing else, the breadth of the knowledge I’ve gained over the politely understated expanse of my life, I’ve come to understand the emotional gravity, and transcendent importance of ‘nostalgia’. As a concept, nostalgia can at times function as a deceitful companion. At all other times, nostalgia serves a dualistic function in our lives. On one hand, it’s a deeply personal experience and on the other, a universal social bond.  

 It’s very difficult to quantify the psychological effects that nostalgia has on the clarity of our memories. However, this isn’t necessarily a terrible reality. Memories have the ability to fade for good reason. Indeed, even the memories that we most cherish can benefit from the emotional rehydration that can manifest from a whole range of triggers.   At times the catalyst can be something benign like perfumed aromas, and at other times it comes from time stamped artifacts like old letters, photographs, music, and for many people of the modern age, there is the special nostalgic warmth found in movies. Especially, the films we’ve experienced while still under the spell of youthful impression.

The movie experience transcends time, often in ways that meet the definition of magic.  In much the same ways that certain music operates as the soundtrack of our lives, movies can operate as the nostalgic catalyst that brings color back to time faded memories. Indeed, there are movies that we love as much today, as we did 10, 20, 30   years ago. If you possess a reverence for movies that borders on the spiritual, as I do, then we likely share in the common understanding of their existential power. Indeed, certain movies from our youth possess unbridled nostalgic power. Film characters are always consistent, forever frozen in time, unchanging like photographs. Movies exist in the exact same way that we remember and they never age. Movies exist in our lives as blessed companions, celluloid caretakers imbued with the power of nostalgia.  


AMERICAN POP PRESENTS:  GREATEST AMERICAN FILM COMEDIES  (1980 – 1990)  


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WEIRD SCIENCE   (1985) 

Anthony Michael Hall, Ilan Mitchell-Smith, Kelly LeBrock

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Release Date: August 2nd 1985  //  Box Office : ‎$38.9 Million  (U.S.) 

Director: John Hughes   //  Studio:  Universal Pictures  

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Critical Notoriety

A.  In 1994, ‘Weird Science’ the movie was adapted and then converted into a television project. In plainer words, some nine years after its theatrical release, television producers adapted the movie into a half hour comedy series. In truth, it’s more than reasonable to assume that movie/television show conversions such as this, may never escape the grind of  the development process. Because frankly speaking, many projects/shows, don’t. It’s also reasonable to assume that the odds of a cross genre spin-off getting through a full season of production, are typically even longer. These harsh realities create a compelling historical context, because as it turns out, ‘Weird Science’ managed to not only navigate broadcast televisions daunting development process, successfully, it also negotiated the ratings gauntlet well enough to post an ‘IMDB’ credit detailing the show’s remarkable, if not surprising, 5-year, 88 episode history. Indeed, ‘Weird Science’ the television show managed to find a good home … in the up and coming, but half decent neighborhood called the USA Network. It’s crossover success also served to validate the excellence of the original film. True story. In fact, It’s entirely possible that either you, or someone you know, might have caught a glimpse of the series, during its  broadcast run between 1994 and 1998

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Anthony Michael Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith, with Kelly LeBrock



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THE NAKED GUN : Police Squad Files  (1988)   

Leslie Nielson Priscilla Presley, Ricardo Montalbán

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Release Date: December 2nd 1988  //  Box Office :  ‎$78.8 million (U.S.) 

Director: David Zucker   //  Studio:  Paramount Pictures 

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Leslie Nielson

Critical Notoriety

A.   Director David Zucker’s ‘Airplane’ was ranked the 14th ‘Best Comedy Film of All-Time’ in a public poll administered by Great Britain’s News Channel 4.  

B.  ‘Airplane’ was named one of the ‘Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made‘, by the esteemed film historians and critics at The New York Times

C.   ‘Airplane’ was named the 7th ‘Funniest Comedy of All-Time’  by British film review  publication Empire.

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Leslie Nielson and Priscilla Presley



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TRADING PLACES   (1983)  

Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, Jamie Lee Curtis 

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Release Date: June 8th 1983  //  Box Office:  $90.4 Million (U.S.) 

Director:  John Landis  //   Studio: Paramount Pictures

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Eddie Murphy with Dan Aykroyd

Critical Notoriety:  

A. Awarded: (2) British Academy Awards in rightful recognition of outstanding pperformances given by Actors Denholm Elliott and  Jamie Lee Curtis. Both of whom were awarded statues by the British Academy of Film. One for Best Actor in a Supporting Role’ (Elliot) and the other for ‘Best Actress in a Supporting Role’ (Curtis) respectively, 

B. Nominated:  Director John Landis’s Trading Places’ was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for ‘Best Motion Picture /  Musical or Comedy’

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Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd with Jamie Lee Curtis



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AIRPLANE   (1980)   

Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty, Leslie Nielsen, Robert Stack, Lloyd Bridges, Peter Graves, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Lorna Patterson

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Released:  July 2nd 1980   //  Box Office:  $83 Million (U.S.) 

Director(s): David & Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams  // Studio:  Paramount

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Critical Notoriety:   

A. Awarded: Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Comedy. 

B. Nominated: Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture / Musical or Comedy. 

C. Nominated: BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay.

D.  ‘Airplane’ is ranked  #13 on New York Time’s ‘Best 1000 Movies Ever Made’ 

E. Selected: The United States National Film Registry // The Library of Congress Recognized ‘Airplane’: “Culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”  

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Robert HaysJulie Hagerty and Leslie Nielsen



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SPACEBALLS   (1987) 

Bill Pullman, John Candy, Rick Moranis, Daphne Zuniga, Dick Van Patten, and Joan Rivers (Voice)

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Release date: June 24th 1987  //  Box Office:  $38.1 Million  (U.S.) 

Director: Mel Brooks  //  Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

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Bill Pullman and John Candy with Daphne Zuniga & Joan Rivers (Kind of) 

Critical Notoriety:

A.  By any reasonable estimation, Spaceballs stands firmly as legendary film Director Mel Brook’s greatest comedic filmmaking achievement. This movie also stands royally knighted, as the preeminent example of comedic parody in modern filmmaking. Full stop. It’s celluloid excellence has all but reinvented the sub-genre of  ‘Comedic Science Fiction‘. Indeed, there isn’t a single scene in this entire movie that isn’t considered funny. Through it’s sustained grassroots, word of mouth popularity, over the past 30 years, ‘Spaceballs’ has solidified its place atop the mountain, and within the time-honored tradition of the American Cult Classic Comedy.  

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Rick Moranis and Mel Brooks



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COMING TO AMERICA   (1988)   

Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones

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Release Date:  June 26th 1988  //  Box Office:  $288 Million  (World-Wide) 

Director: John Landis  //  Studio: Paramount Pictures 

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Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall

Critical Notoriety:  

A. Coming to America’ was the highest grossing film of 1988.

B.  Academy Award Nominated:  ‘Best Costume Design in Film ‘ –  Deborah Landis 

C.  Academy Award Nominated: ‘Best Make-Up in Film’  – Rick Baker

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“When you think of garbage, think of Akeem” 



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FLETCH   (1985)    

Chevy Chase, Tim Matheson, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, Geena Davis 

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Release Date: May 31st 1985  //   Box Office: $60 Million (U.S.) 

Director: Michael Ritchie  //  Studio: Universal Pictures 

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‘Fletch’ aka Investigative Journalist ‘John Doe’ aka Chevy Chase

Critical Notoriety:  

A. Director Michael Ritchie’s ‘Fletch’ has grown in popularity over the years, and now enjoys the notable distinction of being an American Cult Classic Comedy.   

B. The ‘Los Angeles Times’  (Writers and Editors) awarded ‘Fletch’ with the ranking/distinction of  “23rd Best Los Angeles Film Set”A standard that is measured using the criteria: ‘Historically memorable, enjoyable experience throughout the collaborative process of film making in Hollywood’  In addition, the film set of ‘Fletch’ was also been acknowledged as being the 4th most enjoyable Hollywood production in the previous 25 years.

C. Actor, and legendary comedic leading man, Chevy Chase has on more than one occasion, asserted that ‘Fletch’ was his favorite character among the very many that he performed during his illustrious Hollywood career. Chase has also stated that working on the ‘Fletch‘ film series ( The sequel, Fletch Lives’ was released in 1989)  stands the one of, if not the most, throughly  enjoyable, proudest film projects of his career.

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NATIONAL LAMPOON’S VACATION   (1983)  

Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Randy Quaid, Anthony Michael Hall. John Candy, Imogene Coca, Christie Brinkley

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Release Date: July 29th 1983   //   Box Office: $61.4 Million  (U.S.) 

Director:   Harold Ramis  //   Studio:  Warner Brothers

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Chevy Chase with Beverly D’Angelo enjoying ‘vacation the family’

Critical Notoriety:  

A.  ‘National Lampoon’s Vacation’  became an instant pop culture Cult Classic.   

B. ‘Vacation’ was voted the46th Greatest Comedy Film of All-Time’ by United Kingdom movie review publication,Total Film’.  

C. ‘National Lampoon’s Vacation’ is an original comedy classic film that can claim the honor of being both the genesis and catalyst for the manifestation of the subsequent wildly successful film franchise that was borne of it. Indeed, ‘Vacation’ became a uniquely American themed film franchise. In the years since its original  1983 release, the ‘Vacation’ property embarked on a remarkable run of Four (4) commercially successful film sequels. 

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CADDYSHACK    (1980) 

Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight

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Release Date: July 25th 1980   //   Box Office: $39.8 Million  (U.S.) 

Director:  Harold Ramis  //   Studio:  Warner Brothers

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Chevy Chase and Rodney Dangerfield wondering about ‘Respect’ 

Critical Notoriety:  

A. American Pop Culture ‘All-Time’ Cult Classic Sports Movie   

B. Ranked #10 Comedy of All-Time by the American Film Institute  (2008)  

C. Ranked  #7  Sports Film of All-Time by the American Film Institute  (2000) 

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POLICE ACADEMY   (1984) 

Steve Guttenberg, Kim Cattrall, Michael Winslow, Bubba Smith, “Bobcat” Goldthwait, George Gaynes, David Graf, Leslie Easterbrook  

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Release Date: March 23rd 1984   //   Box Office: $155 Million  (Worldwide) 

Director:  Hugh Wilson   //   Studio:  Warner Brothers 

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Critical Notoriety

A.   Despite the crowded film marketplace, complete with notable genre saturation that was in competition for the same audience, ‘Police Academy’ did more than just hold its own little commercial corner. In fact, ‘Police Academy’ became one of the more prolific leaders in market share. The film was a huge commercial success that would eventually report sales receipts that totaled over $80 Million, a figure mind you, that only represents domestic ticket sales. As history tells it, ‘Police Academy’ was well on its way to achieving the kind of international success that $150 Million in gross world-wide receipts, insists upon.

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Steve Guttenberg trying hard not to let Michael Winslow make him laugh 



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STRIPES   (1981) 

Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, John Candy

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Release Date:   June 26th 1981   //   Box Office: $86 Million  (Worldwide) 

Director: Ivan Reitman  //   Studio:  Columbia Pictures  

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Critical Notoriety

A.  Director Ivan Reitman’s  legendary comedy ‘Stripes’ represented career launching points and/or noteworthy early career success for a litany of future Hollywood stars including the likes of John Larroquette, Judge Reinhold, Conrad Dunn, Timothy Busfield and Bill Paxton

B.  ‘Stripes’ was the 5th highest grossing film of 1981. This film easily cleared $80 million in domestic  (U.S. and Canadian) box office receipts, with overall production costs that totaled approximately $10 million.    

C.  ‘Stripes’ became another commercially successful artistic pairing of the outsized comedic talents of  the late Harold Ramis and Bill Murray. Besides it’s noteworthy commercial success, and the fact that this film left audiences extremely pleased, ‘Stripes’ received a remarkable amount of critical acclaim, including kudos from legendary film critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun -Times, as well as positive reactions from Janet Maslin of The New York Times. 

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Bill Murray and Harold Ramis in 1980 playing G.I. Joe 



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BEVERLY HILLS COP    (1984) 

Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, John Ashton, Bronson Pinchot, Paul Reiser, James Russo, Ronny Cox, Lisa Eilbacher, Steven Berkoff

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Release Date: December 1st 1984   //   Box Office: $316.5 Million  (Worldwide) 

Director:  Martin Brest   //   Studio:  Paramount Pictures

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Eddie Murphy and Judge Reinhold at full ‘buddy cop’ attention  

Critical Notoriety: 

A.  Director Martin Brest’s Beverly Hills Cop’ was the film that propelled the burgeoning career and ascending notoriety of actor-comedian Eddie Murphy, to the lofty heights of  international super stardom. ‘BHC’ was the perfect film vehicle to showcase Eddie Murphy’s transcendent performing talents. Specifically, the remarkable ease by which he  delivered compelling,  quick-witted, always humorous dialogue. Murphy had an engaging on-screen magnetism, and a manner of speech that introduced audiences to a new kind of loquacious paint, which he applied with the use of a brutally frank, albeit hilariously irreverent brush. 

B.  Awarded:People’s Choice Award’ for ‘Favorite Motion Picture’  

C.  Nominated:  ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ ‘Academy Award‘ for ‘Best Original Screenplay‘.       

D.  Nominated:  ‘Golden Globe Award’ for ‘Best Motion PictureMusical or Comedy

E.  Nominated:   ‘Edgar Allan Poe Award’ for ‘Best Motion Picture’

F. Beverly Hills Cop’ ranked  #85 on New York Times’s ‘Best 1000 Movies Ever Made’

G.  ‘Beverly Hills Cop‘ was the highest grossing domestic film of 1984.  

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An iconic film/production still of the incomparable Eddie Murphy 



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BACK TO THE FUTURE   (1985) 

Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover

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Release Date:  July 3rd 1985   //   Box Office: $381 Million  (Worldwide) 

Director:  Robert Zemeckis    //   Studio:  Universal  Pictures

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Critical Notoriety:

A.  Awarded:  Academy Award for ‘Best Sound Effects Editing’ /  Hugo Award for ‘Best Dramatic Presentation’ /  Saturn Award for ‘Best Science Fiction Film’

B.  Nominated:   Academy Award for ‘Best Original Screenplay’ 

C.   ‘Back to the Future’  is ranked  #28 on Entertainment Weeklys  ’50 Best (All-Time) High School Movies’  

D.  Back to the Future’  is ranked  #23 on Empire Magazine’s ‘Greatest Films Ever Made’  

E.  ‘Back to the Future’  is ranked  #56 on New York Times’s ‘Best 1000 Movies Ever Made’ 

F.  ‘Back to the Future’  (Screenplay) is ranked  #56  Greatest All-Time by the Writers Guild of America (WGA)

G.  ‘Back to the Future’ is ranked  #10 on the American Film Institute’s (AFI) ‘Top 100 Films of All-Time / Genre: Science Fiction’ 

H.  ‘Back to the Future’  was selected for historical preservation in the ‘National Film Registry’ by the U.S. Library of Congress  (2007) 

I.  Back to the Future’ is ranked #10  on Film4 Magazine’s  50 Films to See Before You Die’ 

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Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox 



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FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF   (1986) 

Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, Mia Sara, Jennifer Gray

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Release Date:  June 11th 1986   //   Box Office: $71 Million  (U.S.) 

Director:  John Hughes   //   Studio:  ParamounPictures

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Critical Notoriety:

A.  Legendary Director John Hughes’s 1980’s teen classic ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ production budget was modest to the point, that if it were made today it would instantly  be categorized it as an ‘Indie’ film (not that there’s anything wrong with that). The final production budget was approximately $5.8 million. Not bad for a film that went on to  achieve a box office gross that exceeded $70 million. In addition, ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ landed on the top 10 list of  highest grossing American films of 1986.   

B.  Nominated:  ‘Golden Globe Award’ for ‘Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy’ (Matthew Broderick)  

C.  ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ is the style of film in which thoughtful and discerning audience members will likely find subliminal evidence of philosophical gravity. Indeed, this film attempts to navigate the winding road of emotional angst, while addressing some universally recognized issues that exist within the complex, if not bizarre, realities  of the human condition. John Hughes was an artist of special talents, perhaps chief among them was his keen ability to address some of life’s deeper questions through skillfully layered dialogue/prose. Indeed, at the peak of his creative powers, John Hughes was nothing short of masterful. Specifically, in regards to his artistically thoughtful attempts to question the emotions that dictate our motivations, and color our understanding. Without question, Hughes’s was masterful at the art of character exposition through the use of pointed manipulation. An understated exploration of consequential emotion through the use of profound, albeit it fictional, analogy.  

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Matthew Broderick and Alan Ruck appreciate modern art with Mia Sara

  D. Reflections on ‘Ferris Bueller‘ from a few Esteemed American Voices:

(1)  Acclaimed Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert proclaimed ‘FBDO’ as “One of the most innocent movies in a long time.” Adding, “A sweet, warm-hearted comedy.”

(2)  Richard Roeper Chicago Sun-Times called ‘FBDO’  “One of my favorite movies of all time. It has one of the highest ‘repeatability’ factors of any film I’ve ever seen … I can watch it again and again.”

(3)  Mark Hemingway of the ‘National Review’ praised ‘FBDO’ as a “Celebration of liberty.” Adding, “If there’s a better celluloid expression of ordinary American freedom than Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, I have yet to see it.” 

(4)  Political commentator and conservative writer George Will asserted with reasonable conviction, that “Ferris Bueller”, is the ‘moviest movie’. Adding, “A film (most) true to the general spirit of the movies, and the spirit of effortless escapism.” 

E.  Just as with several other esteemed films on this list, ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ was selected by the U.S. Library of Congress for historical preservation in the ‘National Film Registry (2014) 

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(L to R) Matthew Broderick with Mia Sara and Alan Ruck



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GHOSTBUSTERS   (1984) 

Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis, Annie Potts, William Atherton

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Release Date:  June 7th 1984   //   Box Office: $295.2 Million  (Worldwide) 

Director:  Ivan Reitman   //   Studio:  Columbia Pictures 

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(L to R)  Ivan Reitman, Ernie Hudson, Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd

Critical Notoriety:  

A.   Nominated:  Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in Film’         

B.   Nominated:  Academy Award for Best Original Theme Music/Song’ 

C.   Nominated:  Golden Globe Award for ‘Best Motion Picture’ / ‘Best Performance by an Actor in a Comedy’  – Bill Murray  /  ‘Best Original Song’  – Ray Parker Jr. 

D.   Awarded:  ‘Saturn Award’ by Academy of Science Fiction for ‘Best Fantasy Film’ 

E.   ‘Ghostbusters’  is ranked  #28  on the American Film Institute’s (AFI) All-Time Comedy list ‘100 Years…100 Laughs’  (2000).  

F.   Selected:  United States Library of Congress selected ‘Ghostbusters’ for ‘historical  preservation’ in the National Film Registry  (2015) 

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“Never cross the streams … until it’s cool to cross the streams…” 




 

END.

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