Welcome back to 80s Bits, the weekly column in which we explore the best and worst of the Decade of Shame. With guest writers, hidden gems and more, it’s truly, truly, truly outrageous.
Splash (1984), directed by Ron Howard, is one of those memorable 80s films that you just can’t fault. It has a perfect mixture of fantasy, comedy, action and romance. It’s based on a mythical mermaid that ends up in the Big Apple.
8-year-old Allen jumps of a boat of the coast of Cape Cod only to be saved from drowning by a magical kiss from a fish girl. Flashing forward, an older Allen (Tom Hanks) imagines the memory to be nothing more than an amazing dream until he washes to shore at the same location after a drunken binge. Having been searching for Allen all her life this blonde-haired blue-eyed beauty ends up naked at the Statue of Liberty, giving tourists their moneys worth.
The amphibious woman names herself after a street sign with full knowledge that the pronunciation of her real name is enough to smash a department store full of TVs. Madison (Daryl Hannah) is excitedly overwhelmed with the discovery of big city living, fashion, shopping and taking a bath, not to mention the discovery of her long-lost love. Allen has the task of bringing this fish out of water up to speed on land-living, but is over the moon with the reality of his fictitious sweetheart. Allen is soon faced with not only coming to terms with Madison’s true identify but also that she is being hunted by a mad sciences and the Military.
Grossing US$69.8 million at the American box office, Splash put both Tom Hank and Daryl Hannah on the map and launched their successful film careers. Hanks got his first major acting role in 1981 as a cross-dressing ad man on a hit sitcom Bosom Buddies. This led to guest appearances on Happy Days and from this Howard saw his potential and cast him in the role of Allen. Hanks of coure starred in other 80s classics including Big, The Money Pit, and Joe Versus The Volcano. Hanks blue-collar appeal took him to A-list Hollywood status receiving Oscars for both Philadelphia and Forrest Gump.
Hannah followed up Splash with a line of similarly toned films such as Roxanne and High Spirits. The blonde bombshell proved her versatility in the 1989 drama Steel Magnolias. The ensemble cast of Splash perfectly gels making the movie a recipe for success. It is strengthened by the late John Candy as Freddie, Allen‘s crass playboy older brother and Eugene Levy adds much dry comic relief as Walter, the obsessed scientist that has luck working against him. The New York backdrop and absolutely awesome soundtrack adds icing to the cake.
Walt Disney Productions signed on to produce the film however they saw the film’s content as inappropriate for the brand and as a result created the Touchstone Films label (now Touchstone Pictures) aimed at an adult audience base. Even so, the nude scenes for the depiction of the beauty were done with innocence and taste.
The movie had a sequel in Splash Too (1988) which follows on with the same lead characters Allen and Madison. but inconsistently follows the ending of the 1984 original for the TV movie release.
Dive into the past to revisit this memorable film history changing movie.