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1981 in film

List of years in film
In radio
In television

The following is an overview of events in 1981 in film, including the highest-grossing films, award ceremonies and festivals, a list of films released and notable deaths.

Highest-grossing films (U.S.)

The top ten films released in 1981 by box office gross in North America are as follows:

Highest-grossing films of 1981[1]
Rank Title Distributor Box-office gross
1 Raiders of the Lost Ark Paramount $212,222,025
2 On Golden Pond Universal $119,285,432
3 Superman II Warner Bros. $108,185,706
4 Arthur $95,461,682
5 Stripes Columbia $85,297,000
6 The Cannonball Run 20th Century Fox $72,179,579
7 Chariots of Fire Warner Bros. $58,972,904
8 For Your Eyes Only United Artists $54,812,802
9 The Four Seasons Universal $50,427,646
10 Time Bandits Embassy $42,365,581



Category/Organization 39th Golden Globe Awards
January 30, 1982
35th BAFTA Awards
March 18, 1982
54th Academy Awards
March 29, 1982
Drama Musical or Comedy
Best Film On Golden Pond Arthur Chariots of Fire
Best Director Warren Beatty
Louis Malle
Atlantic City
Warren Beatty
Best Actor Henry Fonda
On Golden Pond
Dudley Moore
Burt Lancaster
Atlantic City
Henry Fonda
On Golden Pond
Best Actress Meryl Streep
The French Lieutenant's Woman
Bernadette Peters
Pennies from Heaven
Meryl Streep
The French Lieutenant's Woman
Katharine Hepburn
On Golden Pond
Best Supporting Actor John Gielgud
Ian Holm
Chariots of Fire
John Gielgud
Best Supporting Actress Joan Hackett
Only When I Laugh
N/A Maureen Stapleton
Best Screenplay, Adapted Ernest Thompson
On Golden Pond
Bill Forsyth
Gregory's Girl
Ernest Thompson
On Golden Pond
Best Screenplay, Original Colin Welland
Chariots of Fire
Best Original Score N/A Carl Davis
The French Lieutenant's Woman
Chariots of Fire
Best Original Song "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)"
N/A "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)"
Best Foreign Language Film Chariots of Fire N/A Mephisto

Palme d'Or (Cannes Film Festival):

Man of Iron (Człowiek z żelaza), directed by Andrzej Wajda, Poland

Golden Lion (Venice Film Festival):

Marianne and Juliane (Die Bleierne Zeit), directed by Margarethe von Trotta, W. Germany

Golden Bear (Berlin Film Festival):

Faster, Faster (Deprisa, deprisa / Vivre vite), directed by Carlos Saura, Spain / France

1981 films

By country/region

By genre/medium



Month Date Name Age Country Profession Notable films
January 10 Katharine Alexander 82 US Actress
10 Richard Boone 63 US Actor
11 Beulah Bondi 91 US Actress
12 Isobel Elsom 87 UK Actress
16 Bernard Lee 73 UK Actor
21 Allyn Joslyn 79 US Actor
February 1 Wanda Hendrix 52 US Actress
2 Louise Lorraine 76 US Actress
4 Mario Camerini 85 Italy Director, Screenwriter
11 Ketti Frings 71 US Screenwriter
12 Jean Dixon 84 US Actress
21 Bernard B. Brown 82 US Sound Engineer, Composer
21 Ron Grainer 58 Australia Composer
22 Curtis Bernhardt 81 Germany Director
28 Virginia Huston 55 US Actress
28 Robert L. Wolfe 52 US Film Editor
March 4 Torin Thatcher 76 UK Actor
5 Brenda de Banzie 71 UK Actress
6 E.Y. Harburg 84 US Lyricist
14 Eleanor Perry 66 US Screenwriter
15 René Clair 82 France Director, Screenwriter
17 Dorothy Dwan 74 US Actress
27 Oliver A. Unger 66 US Producer
31 Hank Henry 74 US Actor
April 7 Norman Taurog 82 US Director
14 Sergio Amidei 76 Italy Screenwriter
26 Madge Evans 71 US Actress
26 Jim Davis 71 US Actor
26 Herb Voland 62 US Actor
May 1 Marlin Skiles 74 US Composer, Musical Director
9 Margaret Lindsay 70 US Actress
17 Hugo Friedhofer 80 US Composer
18 Richard Hale 88 US Actor
18 Arthur O'Connell 73 US Actor
22 Boris Sagal 57 Ukraine Director
23 George Jessel 83 US Actor, Producer
28 Henry Blanke 79 US Producer
June 5 Miguel Torres 81 Mexico Director
9 Russell Hayden 68 US Actor
10 Jenny Maxwell 39 US Actress
12 Eleanor Hunt 71 US Actress
12 Evalyn Knapp 74 US Actress
17 Lou Forbes 78 US Composer
19 Alfred Santell 85 US Director
22 Lola Lane 75 US Actress
23 Zarah Leander 74 Sweden Actress
July 1 George Voskovec 76 Czech Republic Actor
2 Edward Killy 78 US Director
3 Ross Martin 61 Poland Actor
7 Keefe Brasselle 58 US Actor
20 Dale Hennesy 54 US Production Designer, Art Director
25 Gerardo de Leon 67 Philippines Director, Actor
27 William Wyler 79 Germany Director, Producer
August 1 Paddy Chayefsky 58 US Screenwriter
4 Melvyn Douglas 80 US Actor
12 Shirley Grey 79 US Actress
16 Robert Krasker 68 Australia Cinematographer
18 Anita Loos 93 US Screenwriter
19 Jessie Matthews 74 UK Actress, Singer
21 Eddie Byrne 70 Ireland Actor
30 Vera-Ellen 60 US Actress, Dancer
September 1 Ann Harding 79 US Actress
6 Maria Palmer 64 Austria Actress
11 Frank McHugh 83 US Actor
15 Sara Haden 81 US Actress
22 Harry Warren 87 US Composer
23 Chief Dan George 82 Canada Actor
24 Patsy Kelly 71 US Actress
27 Robert Montgomery 77 US Actor, Director
October 4 Dorothy Dare 70 US Actress
5 Gloria Grahame 54 US Actress
15 Frank de Kova 71 US Actor
19 Nils Asther 84 Denmark Actor
24 Edith Head 83 US Costume Designer
26 Glenn Anders 92 US Actor
November 2 Ghislain Cloquet 57 France Cinematographer
3 Jean Eustache 42 France Director
12 William Holden 63 US Actor
16 Morgan Conway 78 US Actor
21 Ejner Federspiel 85 Denmark Actor
21 Harry von Zell 75 US Actor
25 Jack Albertson 74 US Actor
27 Lotte Lenya 83 Austria Actress
29 Natalie Wood 43 US Actress
30 Robert H. Harris 70 US Actor
December 5 Charles Barton 79 US Director
15 Karl Struss 95 US Cinematographer
17 Ada Kramm 82 Norway Actress
27 Hoagy Carmichael 82 US Actor, Composer
28 Allan Dwan 96 Canada Director

Film debuts



  1. ^ "1981 Domestic Grosses". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  2. ^ Japan Voice Producer Directory 2004. Vol. 1. Shogakukan. April 2004. p. 219. ISBN 978-4095263014.
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1981 in film
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