Back to the 80s: Top 20 Montage Scenes from 80s Movies – Kickin’ it Old School

Here is another issue which I have been compiling for quite some time and I am finally getting the chance to publish. One of the common ingredients to many 80s films is the montage. This technique, though often quite cheesy, can condense hours or days into minutes usually during the course of just one song.

These montages often feature the characters getting to know each other, learning to do something, working together to accomplish something or participating in some sort of athletic competition. Oddly, the montage often builds a positive emotional response as it works it magic in many cases leaving you feeling inspired, happy or pumped up at the end.

Other than in some sports movies, you really don’t see that many montages used anymore. I thought I would go back and give you some of my favorite montages from 80s movies. For most of them I was able to find a video link to allow you to watch them. I will also list the song used during each montage as well. Hope you enjoy them.

Here is OLD SCHOOL’S TOP 10 MONTAGES FROM 80s MOVIES (+ Bonus 10):

20. Staying Alive (1983) – Staying AliveSong: “Far From Over” by Frank Stallone (yep, Sly’s brother) – Dancing seems to be good for montages (as you will see on this list) and the sequel to 1977’s Saturday Night Fever which stars John Travolta does not disappoint. [link to video]

19. Back to School (1986) – Back to SchoolSong: instrumental – Rodney Dangerfield stars as “Thornton Melon” who is a millionaire who goes back to college to be with his son and thinks he can just buy his way to a degree. That does not work and he is forced to pass oral exams for every subject or be expelled. He has little time to prepare for the exams and, with the help of his son and friends, has to cram all of his studying into a short amount of time. Perfect opportunity to use a montage. Unfortunately, I could not find a video link to this particular montage scene.

18. Scarface (1983) – ScarfaceSong: “Scarface (Push It To the Limit)” by Paul Engemann – This montage happens early in this film as “Tony Montana” played by Al Pacino is really beginning to see some success and riches. Everything might not be as good as it seems. [link to video]

17. Look Who’s Talking (1989) – Look Who's TalkingSong: “When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)” by The Beach Boys – Another device that a montage can be used for is for aging. In this film starring John Travolta and Kirstie Alley, little “Mikey” (voiced by Bruce Willis) ages at least an entire year if not more during the course of this one song. [link to video]

16. Valley Girl (1983) – Valley GirlSong: “I Melt With You” by Modern English – Yet another use for the montage is during a couple dating and/or getting to know each other. In this film, a montage is used during the courtship between “Julie” played by Deborah Foreman and “Randy” played by Nicolas Cage (in his first film not billed as Nicolas Coppola). This is a great scene, but unfortunately I could not find a video link to this montage either.

15. The Secret of My Success (1987) – Secret of My SuccessSong: “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina & the Waves – There are several montages used in this movie which stars Michael J. Fox as “Brantley Foster” and his alter-ego “Carlton Whitfield.” The one that I am featuring here shows Fox’s character establishing his “Carlton Whitfield” persona. [link to video]

14. Over the Top (1987) – Over the TopSong: “Winner Takes It All” by Sammy Hagar – This film stars Sylvester Stallone as truck driver “Lincoln Hawk” who is forced to win an arm wrestling tournament in order to get custody of his son. A montage is used to summarize the results of multiple arm wrestling matches. An interesting bit of trivia is that John Wetton, lead singer of the rock group Asia, originally sang “Winner Takes It All” for the movie, but after performing the song, it was felt that his voice wasn’t “mean” enough, so the song was then offered to Sammy Hagar, whose version ended up being the one on the soundtrack. [link to video]

13.(tie) One Crazy Summer (1986) – One Crazy SummerSong: instrumental – and Summer Rental (1985) – Summer RentalSong: “Turning Around” by Jimmy Buffett – I put these two montages together because both of them include fixing up a boat that will be used in a big regatta in the effort to defeat a jerk. Summer Rental stars John Candy, but I unfortunately could not find a video link to this montage. One Crazy Summer stars John Cusack and Demi Moore and I was able to find a video that included this montage. [link to video]

12. Better Off Dead (1985) – Better Off DeadSong: “Like To Get To Know You Well” by Howard Jones – This montage features “Lane Meyer” played by John Cusack and “Monique” played by Diane Franklin fixing up his broken down 1967 Camaro which in turn gives him his confidence again. The couple starts to have feelings for each other as well. Again, unfortunately I could not find a video link to this montage scene either.

11. The Breakfast Club (1985) – Breakfast ClubSong: “Fire In The Twilight” by Wang Chung – This is one of my very favorite films of the 80s and it, too, has a montage in it. There is a scene where the group is sneaking through the school hallways trying to avoid the principal. Unfortunately, I could not find a video link to this montage, but there will be video links for the entire top 10.

10. Dirty Dancing (1987) – Dirty DancingSong: “Hungry Eyes” by Eric Carmen – This is one of the more memorable scenes from this film where “Johnny” played by Patrick Swayze is teaching “Baby” played by Jennifer Grey how to dance and a romance begins to develop. This is not necessarily one of my personal favorites, but thought it deserved this spot on the list. [link to video]

9. Ghostbusters (1984) – GhostbustersSong: “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker Jr. – This montage shows the Ghostbusters climb to success and media popularity. The montage includes several media exposures which imply the major level of importance the guys have reached. The actual montage scene begins at about the 4:00 mark of the video link included here. [link to video]

8. Real Genius (1985) – Real GeniusSong: “I’m Falling” by Comsat Angels – This is one of my favorite teen comedies of the 80s and it includes a couple montages. One is when “Mitch” played by Gabriel Jarret is taught by “Chris” played by Val Kilmer that it is okay to work hard, but to not burn himself out too bad.[link to video]

7. Teen Wolf (1985) – Teen WolfSong: “Way To Go” by Mark Vieha – This movie uses one long montage after Michael J. Fox’s character “Scott Howard” first turns into a wolf during a basketball game and then as he becomes popular at school as a result. They don’t get much more cheesier than this one, but it is still a classic. The actual montage begins at about the 3:00 mark of the video link and it also switches to color at that time as well. [link to video]

6. Breakin’ (1984) – Breakin'Song: “Ain’t Nobody” by Chaka Khan & Rufus – Another learning to dance montage as “Ozone” and “Turbo” teach “Kelly” the finer points of break dancing. This movie is pretty cheesy from start to finish, but the dancing is smooth. I have always been a big fan of this particular song as well. [link to video]

5. The Naked Gun (1988) – Naked GunSong: “I’m Into Something Good” by Herman’s Hermits – Similar to Valley Girl, this montage follows the courtship of characters “Frank Drebin” played by Leslie Nielsen and “Jane” played by Priscilla Presley as they begin to fall in love with each other. The only difference is this montage has that touch of Zucker Brothers silly comedy mixed in. [link to video]

4. Footloose (1984) – FootlooseSong: “Let’s Hear It For the Boy” by Deniece Williams – Yet another learning to dance montage with “Ren” played by Kevin Bacon bringing his big city dancing to this small town. He tries to teach his new friend “Willard” played by Chris Penn some rhythm before the senior prom. Classic 80s montage if there ever was one. [link to video]

3. Revenge of the Nerds (1984) – Revenge of the NerdsSong: “One Foot in Front of the Other” by Bone Symphony – The nerds find themselves a new house to live, but it needs a little work (well, maybe a lot of work). The guys roll up their sleeves and use a little elbow grease to turn the house into their new home. What better than a montage to take days worth of work and condense down to a 2 minute scene? [link to video]

2. The Karate Kid (1984) – Karate KidSong: “The Best Around” by Joe Esposito – There are a few montages in this great 80s classic starring Ralph Macchio as “Daniel LaRusso” trying to stand up to the bullies in his new town and finding balance in his own life. This montage is used to condense almost the entire Karate tournament down to a 3 minute sequence. If you don’t get pumped up when you hear this song, something is definitely wrong with you. [link to video]

1.(tie) Rocky III (1982) – Rocky IIISong: “Gonna Fly Now” composed by Bill Conti – and Rocky IV (1985) – Rocky IVSongs: “Training Montage” by Vince DiCola & “Hearts on Fire” by John Cafferty – Nobody does the training montage any better than the Rocky films. It is technically from 1979 or else you could also include the montage from Rocky II [link to video]. Rocky III features a montage as “Apollo Creed” helps train “Rocky” for his rematch against “Clubber Lang. This montage culminates in the foot race on the beach which demonstrates just how far “Rocky” has come. [link to video]

Rocky IV features a few excellent montages. There is one I am not even really counting which is “Rocky” sorting out his thoughts while he drives his car set to Robert Tepper’s “No Easy Way Out.” The montages that I am really counting are the training montages (which you can watch both in the video here) that show “Rocky” accomplishing the same results using natural methods compared to “Drago” using steroids and technology. They truly don’t get any better than these. [link to video]

There’s my list. I am sure there might be some that I missed, but these are the ones that came to mind over the several months I took to compile this list. If I missed any that you remember, please be sure to leave them in the comments section below. This was a fun topic for me, so I hope you had fun remembering some of these cheesy, but lovable, moments from 80s movies too.

That will conclude this special issue of Kickin’ it Old School. Thanks much for reading. If you are interested in reading more of my 80s related issues, please click there for a summary of those. If you are interested in reading more of my Top 10 lists, please click there for a summary. You can also always click on the Archives in the upper left hand column or use the Google Search Box at the top of the right hand column to find any other issues you may have missed. If you are a fan of Kickin’ it, PLEASE CLICK ON THE FACEBOOK LOGO in the upper right hand column. This will take you to the new Fan Page where I ask you to then click on “Become a Fan”. Even if you are not a Facebook member yet, please consider joining and registering as a fan at that page. Let other 80s fans know about it as well! Peace and much love.

Check this out: Speaking of montages, here is a video I came across which gives you a fast moving montages of all kinds of different 80s memories. This includes music, movies, television, fashion, toys and anything else that came from that great decade. I enjoyed it very much and wanted to share it with all of you…

Quote of the day: “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.” -Nelson Mandela

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  1. Great job. Somehow I knew a Rocky movie would top the list.

  2. I just want to know when you get any actual work for your job done. These post must take hours and hours.

    If they fire your a**, I hope eventually you find a way to make this pay the bills. It SHOULD.

  3. Reply to: surrogate
    Thanks for the compliment, surr. I wish I could make a living doing this.

    This issue is another of my favorites and it did take a while to do, so I am glad you appreciated it.

  4. Thanks for reminding me yet again that the 80’s was totally rad! The dance montages were really entertaining. And my daughters and I still crack up about Naked Gun – “I can’t believe we just met yesterday.”

  5. Great post! Loved all the movies, and music as well!!!

  6. Great list with some of my favorites like Real Genius and Footloose.

  7. What about E.G. Daily’s “Mind Over Matter” from Summer School. Classic! Or Alisha… “Do You Dream About Me” from Mannequin? Come on guys!

  8. I have been looking for the movie montage that used the song “Big in Japan” sung by Alphaville. I bet my life i heard this song during a montage but have searched for it, no shit, for 6 years and cannot find it….Please help

  9. While I thought all your picks were excellent, and z Tom Hanks dancing on the piano in the movie Big was one of the most memorable moments from my childhood.

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