This weekend I watched the documentary I Need That Record on Netflix Instant which details the economic, political, technological and cultural changes that has led to the shuttering of many an independent record shop in recent years. The film didn’t provide any revelatory information; however, it did a good job of putting human faces on this sad trend. At one point there was a statistic mentioned that while maybe exaggerated (but if so, not by a lot I’m guessing) posits that only 1% of all recorded music is actually available on iTunes. This has been a major concern of mine and why I steadfastly (fool heartedly you might say) still collect physical product
To bring this back to film related terms, here’s the scenario: out of all the films made before home video invention only a certain percentage ever were released on either VHS or Beta. Of that total, only a percentage ever made it to DVD, and of course, of that percentage of a percentage, only another percentage will ever make its way onto Blu-Ray, iTunes, Netflix, Hulu or even illegal internet downloads. Sure, the Godfathers, Indiana Jones and Star Wars films will always find their way onto whatever is the current format du jour, but the more exploitative, experimental, stranger, or marginalized titles will continue to evaporate.
I bring this up on this, the March 1981 Posterized entry, because while compiling this list, I was surprised at not only the amount of films released this month thirty years ago that I had never seen, but the eight plus titles I had never even heard of. Sure, you can chalk this to the fact I was a month away from celebrating my fifth birthday at this point in time, but I consider myself a learned historian of cinema, and have spent countless hours of my life mentally collecting data from either video store aisle browsing and film reference books or internet readings that it’s rare that there’s a title pre 1980 I’ve never come across, let alone eight that were all released within a one month span.
Sure thirty years is a pretty good chunk of time, but by 1981 cable and three home video formats: VHS, Betamax and Selectavision were in existence, so it seems odd that one month would yield so many obscurities. Though again, like any experience film related, perhaps this is my perspective, not counting the foreign releases, here are the title of the films from this month whose existence has thus far alluded me, please let me know in the comment field if any of these are favorites or worth checking out: Back Roads, Dirty Tricks, Harry’s War (this is on Netflix Instant), The High Country, Image Before My Eyes, Pickup Summer, Ruckus, Scared to Death.
And finally after that rambling preamble, here are the posters for films that opened theatrically in the United States during the month of March, 1981