Tuff Turf : Required 80s Film Viewing

So, one of the shows I produce in my regular rotation of event television is The American Cinematheque Tribute. I’ve worked on the past 3 specials that honored Julia Roberts, Samuel L. Jackson and Matt Damon. The Cinematheque is a wonderful film preservation society that runs some fantastic film programming at The Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Boulevard. I really enjoy working on the show and THIS year’s honoree is Robert Downey, Jr.

One of the perks is that we get ALL the films from the honoree’s body of work to make notes on what clips we plan on cutting together and how we are going to thread them into themes.

Well, I can tell you that when you watch one actor’s ENTIRE library of films, you run across some gems you might normally not think to watch. And last night, I found one such gem. A diamond actually.

Tuff Turf (1985)

The film stars James Spader as the new kid in a rough school. Spader is a preppy who has had great opportunities, however he’s a misunderstood troublemaker who has squandered those chances. And when he falls in love with a gang leader’s girl (played by Kim Richards, who is currently a Real Housewife Of Beverly Hills), he’s in for a ruff time. This is, after all, tuff turf.

RDJ plays a rebel punk at the school who befriends Spader. He even gives him his first switchblade. That’s the kind of friend you need around these tuff parts!

The film’s tone is all over the place. It wants to be funny, then serious, then violent and then…a musical? There is actually a somewhat coordinated dance scene in the film.

It’s also a great slice of 80s Los Angeles life. Enjoy the trailer. Then get the movie.

Patrick J. Doody

Patrick J. Doody is a horror nerd and Mexican Pepsi enthusiast living in Los Angeles.He writes movies and makes TV shows. Check out his latest endeavor, Beyond Stranger Things streaming on Netflix.

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