The following movies were released in 1991, making this year their twenty-fifth anniversary. This is by no means a complete list.
Warning- this article has the ability to make you feel old.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day
The second film in the franchise and could be argued to be the best (only the original stands as competition in that debate), this James Cameron directed movie saw Schwarzenegger return to the role of the T-800 (Model 101) Terminator, however this version was programmed to protect the future leader of mankind, Edward Furlong’s ten-year old John Connor. Linda Hamilton reprises her role as Sarah Connor, now a figure of female empowerment rather than a screen-victim as in the original. Robert Patrick’s T-1000, an advanced prototype Terminator model, spends his time relentlessly chasing our heroes down in a movie full of dramatic, overblown action pieces, moments of levity and even some deep commentary on the status of mankind’s future (‘It’s in your nature to destroy yourselves’). Highest grossing film of 1991.
Factoid: When two Sarah Connors were needed thanks to the shape-shifting ability of the T-1000, Hamilton’s twin sister Leslie Hamilton Gearren provided the alternate Sarah Connor.
Beauty and the Beast
Disney were in their animated prime during the late-eighties to mid-nineties, producing several musical classics such as The Little Mermaid (1989), Aladdin (1992) and The Lion King (1994). 1991 saw the release of Beauty and the Beast, based on the French fairy tale of the same name by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont. The story explores the relationship between the Beast, a prince magically transformed into a monstrous creature due to his arrogant nature and Belle, a young woman whom he imprisons. The Beast must win Belle’s heart if he wishes to break the curse and become a dashing Disney prince yet again.
Factoid: Originally the film was not going to be a musical however this changed after the success of The Little Mermaid.
The Silence of the Lambs
Despite being released on Valentine’s day, this tense thriller from director Jonathan Denmme is as far from a romantic comedy as you can get, as Jodie Foster’s Clarice Starling seeks advice from Anthony Hopkins’ imprisoned Hannibal Lecter in order to catch a serial killer. Hopkins gives a career-defining performance as the psychotic cannibalistic killer however Foster’s own display of acting brilliance means the film hits all the right notes and balance to provide an entertaining, tense horror movie. Based on the Thomas Harris novel of the same name, the movie has become embedded in popular culture, often referenced by other media and despite sequels, has never been matched.
Factoid: The film is one of only three that have won Academy Awards in the top 5 categories: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. The other films are It Happened One Night (1934) and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975).
Thelma and Louise
Directed by Ridley Scott, this feminist crime movie about two friends, Thelma (Geena Davies) and Louise (Susan Sarandon), who embark on a road trip with disastrous consequences was nominated for an impressive six Academy Awards. The strong performances from the leads resulted in both stars going up for Best Actress while the film went on to win Best Original Screenplay (Callie Khouri). Amongst the supporting cast are Harvey Keitel, Michael Madsen and Brad Pitt.
Factoid: George Clooney auditioned several times for the role of J.D., which eventually went to Brad Pitt, a future close friend and multiple co-star in several movies, including the Ocean’s Eleven trilogy and the Coen Brothers’ Burn After Reading.
Robin Williams plays a grown-up Peter Pan in this family adventure from Steven Spielberg with an almost unrecognisable Dustin Hoffman giving an eccentric performance as Pan’s nemesis and the title character, Captain James Hook. After Peter’s children are kidnapped by the Neverland Pirates he must remember his past and embrace his inner-child in order to save them whilst simultaneously becoming a better father. Yes, Pan is a typical business-before-family movie Dad in this re-imagining of J. M. Barries classic tale which was poorly received by critics and, despite making a profit, was considered a financial disappointment.
Factoid: Spielberg and the two leads, Hoffman and Williams, did not take salaries for the film, instead taking a cut of the gross revenue.
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Remembered more for its theme song and Alan Rickman’s Bafta winning performance as the Sheriff of Nottingham, this romantic adventure also starred Kevin Costner as Robin Hood, Morgan Freeman as original character Azeem, Christian Bale as Will Scarlett and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Maid Marian. An adaptation of the classic folk legend, the film was a box office hit amid middling reviews and became the second highest grossing film of the year.
Factoid: In this version of events Prince John is omitted and the Sheriff is given a first name- George.
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
The final movie to feature the original cast in their entirety and released shortly after Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s death, The Undiscovered Country continued the tradition that even-numbered Trek movies are better than their odd-numbered counterparts. This time William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy et al must prevent the fragile peace talks between the Klingons and the Federation from breaking down amid a conspiracy with a militaristic agenda. After the disappointing response to the fifth movie Nicholas Meyer, director of the acclaimed Wrath of Khan, returned to direct the film which was deemed a critical and financial success.
Factoid: Director Nicholas Meyer also co-wrote the screenplay, a task he performed for two other Trek films; The Wrath of Khan and The Voyage Home. All of these were even numbered movies and were positively received.
This Charlie Sheen vehicle, directed by Jim Abrahams (co-director of Airplane) is a hilarious spoof of eighties Tom Cruise hit Top Gun. As well as being a direct parody of Top Gun, the movie also has references to Superman, Rocky, 9 1/2 weeks and An Officer and a Gentleman. The film was a critical and commercial success, grossing approximately seven times its budget which led to a sequel which parodied, chiefly, the Rambo film series.
Factoid: Sheen would reunite with co-stars Jon Cryer and Ryan Stiles in the sitcom Two and a Half Men.
Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) directed this action crime thriller starring Keanu Reeves as Johnny Utah, an FBI agent sent undercover to infiltrate a gang of surfers, suspected of being behind a string of recent bank robberies. Patrick Swayze plays Bodhi, the leader of the surfing robbers while Gary Busey appears as Utah’s FBI partner. The film was the first to feature Reeves in a more action-orientated role which would continue with Speed and The Matrix Trilogy. A recent remake disappointed at the box office and was mauled as critics, becoming an example of another pointless studio remake.
Factoid: Other stars considered for the role of Johnny Utah include Charlie Sheen, Val Kilmer, Johnny Depp and Matthew Broderick.
Guilty by Suspicion
Irwin Winkler, producer of critically acclaimed films such as Rocky and Raging Bull, stepped into the role of director in this Robert De Niro vehicle. The film finds fictional Hollywood director David Merrill (De Niro) returning from abroad to find the the threat of Communism looming large over his life and, under suspicion of being a Communist, is banned from working in film. His only hope to work as a director again is to implicate colleagues/friends as Red Agents. Strong reviews failed to attract viewers, making Guilty by Suspicion one of the bigger flops of 1991.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze
A rushed sequel which was criticised for toning down the violence and grittiness of the 1990 original (based on the comic book of the same name), the movie saw the return of the villain Shredder who has created his own mutants to fight our teenage heroes. Poor reviews and even a Vanilla Ice performance during the final fight scene didn’t stop the movie becoming a hit with younger audiences and consequently claiming the spot of 13th highest grossing film in North America that year. A direct sequel followed in 1993 and an animated sequel in 2007. The franchise has since been relaunched under Michael Bay.
Factoid: Ernie Reyes, Jr. starred as pizza delivery boy and ally to the turtles Keno. He was also the stunt double for Donatello in the original movie.
Father of the Bride
A remake of the 1950 film of the same name, Father of the Bride stars Steve Martin as a businessman who, after finding out his daughter is getting married, struggles with letting her go but eventually realises her happiness makes him happy. A family comedy that proved a sizeable hit, the film balances the fine line between funny and sweet with Martin at the top of his game.
Factoid: Steve Martin plays George Banks, which is also the name of the father from Mary Poppins.
Other Events of 1991:
The Gulf War ended
Street Fighter II released in arcades
First Starbucks Coffee opened in California
First Sonic the Hedgehog game released by Sega
The SNES is released
Warsaw Pact officially dissolved
Dissolution of the Soviet Union
Bill Clinton announces intention to gain Democratic nomination for President of USA
Births: Ed Sheeran and Pixie Lott (among others)
Deaths: Dr Seuss, Frank Capra, Gene Roddenberry and Freddie Mercury