Analysis Culture

Jennifer Connelly and the queens of retro movie nerddom

Being the Retrologist of the group (I was there, man!), I feel this is really not only my lane… but my responsibility. NAY! My obligation! My lot, even. My crux.

My blessing and my curse. (Coming of age in the 80s made some things really difficult in the modern era. Do you know how hard it is to find tanlines these days?!)

I’ll start by defining the parameters. The temporal bookends here are 1979 and 1988 (arguably the Golden Age of Retro Nerddom; if not golden, then certainly golden-with-a-broad-silverish-buffer). There are exceptions to this time frame, but none of the movies/women mentioned herein fall outside it. (The definition — my definition — of ‘retro’ will be a standalone rant all to itself.)

‘Movie’ is explicit: not TV shows, not games, not music (that’ll be its own list later), not MTV hosts or game show models — because let’s be honest, every woman ever on The Price is Right would be on this list (even though no one knows their names), and Vanna White. Anyway, feature motion pictures (as B as some of them may seem). And the movies need to be pretty nerdy, or cult filmy. This counts out a lot of movies and ladies, in my opinion. Doesn’t mean the movies aren’t rad, or that the chicks aren’t bodacious. (I’m looking at you, Adrian Barbeau…) But having a Cannonball Run lunchbox made you cool. Having a Labyrinth one… did not. (Just trust me on this one.)

‘Queen’ is not quite so explicit. Nor, in this case, is it literal. Although one of the females on this list did play an Empress, and one was technically offered a queenship… you get the picture. And, to the best of my knowledge (and trust me, here, I’ve searched), they are all females. (And any American dude my age *can* verify that as of May 1987, Vanna White was very much a female.)

Objective: To flesh out the top-shelf 80s females, movies, and roles that absolutely no doubt live on the hearts and minds of (at the very least) dudes who were old enough to go to the skating rink alone or ride their GT Pro Performer without training wheels at the time these flicks came out on Betamax, VHS, or Laserdisc. (I’m looking at you, Frumentarius. I know Geo Hand had already traded in his Ghetto Blaster and cardboard mat for an M-16A1 and mortar baseplate by then…)

This list is reasonably definitive to me. I’d like to suggest that you make your own, and let us know. Although I obviously can’t be wrong about it, I can certainly be enlightened on someone I might have overlooked at the time. And if there is a movie on this list that you haven’t seen… find it. Go down to your local Blockbust… wait. Uh. Find it.

This list is in no particular order, because they are all first place for one reason or another.


Jennifer Connelly as Sarah Williams. Labyrinth. ’86. Holy shit, man. So, I was all of about 10 or 11 when this movie came out. She was totally a few years older than me, but I just knew we woulda clicked — probably even couple-skated. Might’ve even written on each other’s Trapper Keepers. Although I wasn’t exactly into dressing up and doing play-pretend in the park by myself, I did play D&D and had a lot of the same books on my bookshelf.

I was way into metal by this time, and knew that after her emotional trans-dimensional trauma and shitty relationship with her parents (her dad did get completely run through by the Kurgan in Highlander AND saved Han and Luke in The Empire Strikes Back, though), she’d be along soon enough. Plus, after the codpiece she had to contend with in her would-be abuser/suitor, it was either metal or Kronos Quartet… 😉

Sarah was as headstrong as you could really be as a 15 year old who still did solo LARP-style make-believe shit, and was definitely a far above average problem solver and “gamer” (in the role-player/problem-solver sense of the word) — the scene with the four dudes hanging on the doors. Plus, she was hot. And any chick that read fantasy PLUS still dressed up and shit, AND was hot… Yeah. (The term we use in the business is “freak”.) The older woman thing — though a LIMFAC — was like icing on the dork-liking-the-dork-chick cake. No one was sitting with her in the lunchroom at school. (But I woulda been. With my Labyrinth lunchbox held high.)

A little whiny as the story starts, she gets herself straightened out enough by the end to not get molested by an inter-dimensional pedophile and save her brother. Fuckin’ mission accomplished.

Scene of the movie: When she’s bitching about shit not being fair, and Jareth says, “You say that so often. I wonder what your basis for comparison is.” That line wickedly appropriate today.

(Sweet little Sarah has grown up to be significantly hotter.)


Next up: Catherine Mary Stewart!

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Miche
Miche
1 year ago

Heh heh heh….. this is going to be so much fun. 😀

“Did you say hello?” “No, I said ‘Allo, but that’s close enough. Come inside, have a cup of tea and meet the Mrs.”

But oh, that piece of cod…. (which is far more disturbing to me as an adult than it ever was as a kid. Maybe I was just too focused on the abject unfairness of life–represented so well with the tension between rights/wants and responsibilities/needs–and those crazy puppets that could toss their own heads…)

“Yeah…should you need us….”

JoyB
JoyB
1 year ago

The Lady approves of these shenanigans and respectfully requests that you continue!
The movies from back then are so much better than the blockbuster drivel of today.
Theo, Do you remember the special stickers that some of us used to ensure specific tan line images? Tee hee

Mason
Mason
1 year ago

I have about 10 years on you Theo, but being in my prime 19ish 20ish, during this very era was as beautiful as I remember, and you pen. Those bookends are very meaningful to me. As long as your list ends up with “Long Kiss Goodnight” and Geena Davis – we are walking the same groove. A bit outside of your bookends, but a worthy addition I would think.

Mason
Mason
1 year ago
Reply to  Theo Dyssean

Lets do the time warp dance!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mason
Mason
1 year ago
Reply to  Mason

Sarandon and Davis in Thelma and Louise

homanj1
homanj1
1 year ago
Reply to  Mason

I like Sarandon in anything but Bull Durham is clearly my favorite.

clluelo
clluelo
1 year ago

Just be careful with Catherine Mary Stewart !! That’s my clan

Susan B
Susan B
1 year ago

Say what???

Mic-Mac
Mic-Mac
1 year ago

Trapper Keepers, LOL. Now I know you arr my kids age. Wow

Mic-Mac
Mic-Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Theo Dyssean

I believe you mentioned you were 10 or 11 in 1986. That gave me a good guess. But my kids loved Bon Jovi

rynosbucket
rynosbucket
1 year ago

I’m diggin’ the flow yo!!!

Rick Dembroski
Rick Dembroski
1 year ago

1979-1993 where my childhood ages and I dig the retro go to on this list. Jennfer Connelly is one of the big ones that stands out. For me it was Erin Grey in buck rodgers and linda carter as wonder woman that made me realize women were amazing and i loved spandex on certain ones…Great series my friend great indeed

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