September 12, 1988 12:00 PM

Movies have just enjoyed the hottest box office summer ever. Nifty news for movie studios, which get to divvy up a $1.4 billion pot. But what makes this summer truly memorable for the rest of us is that it produced more good movies than any in a decade. In the heat of 1987, only one film, Full Metal Jacket, was worth shouting about. This summer it’s easy to cite a golden dozen (see box below) and still have no room to include such goodies as Tucker, Monkeyshines, A Handful of Dust, Big Business, Shame, Pascali’s Island and The Wash. What happened? Teens hardly lost their taste for trash, witness the success of the excruciating Cocktail, Young Guns and A Nightmare on Elm Street 4. But the season’s four top-grossing films (Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Coming to America, “Crocodile” Dundee II and Big) hit the jackpot by luring family audiences. Americans are back in the habit of going to the movies together. Yikes! We’ll be talking to each other next. Meanwhile, here on a post-Labor Day week usually reserved as a burial ground for the summer’s dregs, there’s still wheat (Moon over Parador) to be found among the chaff (Rocket Gibraltar, The Wizard of Loneliness).

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