The Rocky Horror Picture Show 1975 Based on the 1973 musical stage production. Book, music and lyrics by Richard O’Brien. Directed by Jim Sharman. Both parody and tribute to old science fiction and horror movies. Straight-laced Janet Weiss (Susan Sarandon) and her all American fiancé Brad Majors (Barry Bostwick) have a flat tire on a rainy night. Walking, they come to the castle of eccentric, bisexual, transvestite scientist Dr. Frank-N-Furter, (Tim Curry) who’s hosting an Annual Transylvanian Convention. Having discovered the “secret to life itself,” the doc brings creation, Rocky (Peter Hinwood), to life.
Jealousy, seduction, murder, transformation, singing and dancing occur before aliens from another planet stage a coup. It’s as crazed as it sounds and a hoot in the right mood. Critically panned when released, the film went on to longevity as an international cult experience. Annual Rocky Horror conventions are held in varying locations, lasting days. An unemployed actor living in London, O’Brien wrote the play set against the backdrop of the glam era of 1970s British pop culture. Rent on Amazon Prime.
Atlantic City 1980 Directed by Louis Malle. Atlantic City waitress Sally Matthews (Susan Sarandon) dreams of becoming a blackjack dealer in Monte Carlo. Her sister and estranged husband Dave (Robert Joy) descend on her to sell a large amount of cocaine which, when they flee, ends up with Lou (Burt Lancaster), an aging, former, small-time gangster in Sally’s building. Lou continues selling to impress Sally. Mobsters try to kill them all. Lou has a big heart. Sally gets her dream. An intriguing piece. Not the least because of its two stars.
Malle filmed at an opportune time in that he was able to capture old Atlantic City on location: gambling was still in its early stages there, with only two casino hotels open and the city’s resorts and entertainment piers still standing. The director was in a relationship with Sarandon. Rent on Amazon Prime.
The Witches of Eastwick 1987 Based on John Updike’s 1984 novel. Directed by George Miller. Terrific fun and visually great. (Different from the book- don’t compare.) Alexandra Medford (Cher), Jane Spofford (Susan Sarandon), and Sukie Ridgemont (Michelle Pfeiffer), are lonely, restless women and best friends. One night playing at magic they actually conjure the devil who arrives as fabulously wealthy Daryl Van Horne (Jack Nicholson), seducing and impregnating all three in turn.
Locally ostracized, the three move into Van Horne’s lavish home. Alex, Jane, and Sukie give birth and, for the sake of the kids, take hysterical, magical revenge. Go to it girls! Rent on Amazon Prime.
Bull Durham 1988 Based upon the minor league baseball experiences of writer/director Ron Shelton with the Durham Bulls team in Durham, North Carolina. Baseball fable meets romantic comedy.
Veteran catcher “Crash” Davis (Kevin Costner) is hired by a minor league team to teach cocky rookie, Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh (Tim Robbins), the game. Annie (Susan Sarandon), a savvy baseball groupie each season chooses a player to bed. This time, it’s Ebby. When she meets Crash, however, things change. This is the film that features Costner’s “I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days…” speech. Seduction scenes are smart and hot.
Methodology for getting Ebby to focus is as funny as it is successful despite best efforts of young groupie Millie (Jenny Roberson). Crash and Annie both have to decide what they really want. Annie Savoy’s name was a combination of the nickname (“Annies”) that baseball players gave their groupies and the name of a bar. Costner, a former high school baseball player, was able to hit two home runs while the cameras were rolling. Said to be where Sarandon met and became a couple with Tim Robbins. Rent on Amazon Prime.
White Palace 1990 Based on the novel of the same name by Glenn Savan. Directed by Louis Mandoki. Romantic AND erotic. 27 year-old yuppie advertising executive, widower Max Baron (James Spader) drunkenly locks horns with 43-year-old, blue collar waitress, Nora Baker (Susan Sarandon) at a White Castle Restaurant. They end up drinking together. Max crashes his car into her mailbox. She invites him to stay over. The couple has incendiary sex. Despite polar differences, the young man is repeatedly drawn to Nora…eventually declaring he wants a real relationship. She’s wary, but finally succumbs, accompanying him to a party. It’s disastrous.
Everything comes out well in the end. It’s the journey that makes this film and Sarandon’s terrific portrayal. The original title was to have been The White Castle – the novel even makes reference to an actual White Castle in south St. Louis, but the restaurant chain refused permission to use its trademarked name. Free with Netflix.
Thelma & Louise 1991 Directed by Ridley Scott. The ultimate women’s buddy road trip with a side order of misogynistic men. Arkansas besties, Thelma Dickinson (Geena Davis) and Louise Sawyer (Susan Sarandon) respectively ditch an inattentive husband and a waitressing job to get away from it all. At a roadside dive, Louise shoots a man who almost rapes Thelma. Now on the run, the women head for Mexico. They pick up attractive drifter, J.D. and pay for it. A state trooper is locked in a trunk. Foul-mouthed truckers suffer much worse. Good film. Fabulous ending.
Best Original Screenplay Academy Award. Michelle Pfeiffer and Jodie Foster were originally chosen for the leads. Both accepted, but as pre-production dragged on, eventually dropped out. Brad Pitt’s break-out role as J.D. Rent on Amazon Prime.
The Banger Sisters 2002 Directed by Bob Dolman. The plot may be thin, but Susan Sarandon and Goldie Hawn have an infectiously good time. Now middle-aged women with wildly different lives, Suzette (Goldie Hawn) and Vinnie (Susan Sarandon) were once infamous rock n’ roll groupies. While Suzette stayed the course and has just been fired from a waitressing job at Whiskey a Go Go in LA, Vinnie married straight-arrow Robin Thomas (Raymond Kingsley), moved to Phoenix, had daughters Hannah (Erika Christensen) and Ginger (Eva Amurri – Sarandon’s daughter), and joined the Ladies Auxiliary.
At the end of her rope, Suzette decides to visit Lavinia (and perhaps get a loan). On the way she picks up hitchhiker Harry Plummer (Geoffrey Rush) who has serious demons to exorcise. At first Vinnie is embarrassed and appalled, then she throws off conservative shackles. Family reaction is both shocked and then decidedly mixed. Meanwhile, Suzette has Harry to save. Especially fun for those who’ve lived through the sixties. Rent on Amazon Prime.
Top photo: Bigstock