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  • Writer's pictureJeff South

Other Summer Movies of the 80s: Arthur

Released: July 17th, 1981

Dudley Moore: Arthur Bach

Liza Minelli: Linda Marolla

John Gielgud: Hobson

Jill Eickenberry: Susan

Ted Ross: Bitterman

Written and Directed by Steve Gordon

Rated PG

If The Cannonball Run made think I could do comedic acting, Arthur opened the desire to not only act, but write funny stuff for a living. I knew comedy writers and was fascinated by the process of putting together a funny script. A steady diet of All in the Family, M*A*S*H, and The Carol Burnett Show instilled an appreciation of comedic writing. I knew Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, and Steve Martin. Even at 13 I could tell you who wrote episodes of my favorite sitcoms. I was as much an admirer of Garry Marshall's stylings as I was the funniest actors the shows he produced. The success of Poplar Bluff native Linda Bloodworth-Thomason showed me that someone from a small town could do it on the big stage.

Few movies sucked me in the way Arthur did. Everything was funny. Everything. The dialogue. The performances. The way the moose head is framed in what is probably my favorite scene makes me laugh just thinking about it. Dudley Moore's performance as Arthur Bach is not only one of my very favorite in cinema, it spoke to me. Maybe that's corny, but I knew right then that I wanted to make people laugh the way he made me laugh. And the script made me want to write something that would make people laugh, too. Witty, sharp, brilliant.

Because I watched so often on HBO during the summer of '82, I forget sometimes that Arthur was a summer movie from 1981. Yet, as I returned from my road trip to Virginia in the weeks before school started, I had seen the first movie that I could say inspired me. Up until then, I viewed writing as something cool and fun, but not the dream. Not the main dream anyway. I still harbored notions that I could be an athlete. Even though 8th grade football was a bust for me and I didn't try out for basketball, I kept dreaming of playing. Perhaps my freshman year would provide my breakthrough.

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