September 23

The Rocketeer, 1991

Hello everyone, welcome back to another exciting and enthralling edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! This week J. Blake and Dion Baia are celebrating an epic milestone with an epic podcast! It’s SNMS’ two year anniversary and the boys have picked a film near and dear to their hearts, one that has gained a sizable cult following over the 25 years since it’s original release. This week they take on the classic action/adventure, The Rocketeer, from 1991.

The Rocketeer

Dion and Blake kick off the podcast with a pseudo-State of the Union, reflecting on the past year. They chat about the movies they’ve covered, the growing community of listeners and those who also frequent their Facebook page, and how humbling it has been for them. Then they seque into this epic anniversary cast, and setup the backstory of the Rocketeer. They discuss the creator Dave Stevens‘ journey getting character from comic to screen, and Disney‘s eventual involvement and the sparring that occurred between him and the company (aka the then Chairman and CEO Michael Eisner) over keeping the property as pure as possible with the transition to screen. The boys again explain the era of the 1980’s and how hard it really was to get a comic book movie done, let alone a character from an independent publisher. They also chat about the era the movie is set within, the pre-war 1930’s and the beautiful art movement that permeated almost every medium, Art DecoBlake and Dion also discuss the genius of creator Dave Stevens, and all the ‘historical fiction’ he injected into his original content. The guys go through the various details of the historical and famous figures involved in the material, leading them to another topic they have been waiting almost two years to talk about, and one of the things that they love about this film, the homage to the great B-movie actor Rondo Hatton. They explain his history, the illness that affected his physical appearance and how by the help of Rick Baker, Rondo was able to make a posthumous appearance in one more Hollywood film, albeit 49 years later (if you don’t count Scooby-Doo!). Well there’s a lot to unpack on this week’s episode and it’s admittedly a long one, but the boys have a lot to celebrate about: a fabulous film that the fans love, and lament about a growing audience that really blows the boy’s minds. So please come on down and have a listen to another hilarious, informative and engaging episode of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

*Dion accidently named the Chicago-era gangster Hymie Weiss, when intending to instead reference Murder Inc. co-founder Meyer Lansky.

*Dion also accidently named the classic  1942 Humphrey Bogart film Across the Pacific, when he was actually referring to the 1941 great and little known Bogart film, All Through the Night.

EXTRAS:

Quickly mentioned in the podcast but completely forgotten to be brought up again before the conclusion and ripped from the headlines, check out this news story about a modern ‘Rocket man‘, that shows fiction becoming reality!

Take a look at this rarely seen 1991 television special entitled, Rocketeer: Excitement in the Air that aired to coincide with the theatrical release of The Rocketeer and help promote it. 

Check out the this now ended Rick Baker auction on PropStoreAuction.com for what they were selling from The Rocketeer concerning the Lothar makeup appliances, AND other items from the film, including one of the original Rocketeer helmets!

Have a read about the great Industrial Designer Henry Dreyfuss profiled by SNMS’ own Dion Baia for his old podcast site, Podwits.com!

Here’s actor Rondo Hatton’s 1913 High School senior yearbook photo circa 1913, before he was severely afflicted with acromegaly.

Take a look at the fabulous painting of Rondo Hatton by the legendary illustrator Basil Gogos, who was known for his covers for Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine

Check out this amazing animated fan film, celebrating the 20th anniversary of The Rocketeer‘s release!

And Please check out the fabulous 2010 book mentioned in the cast, Over Here!: New York During World War II!

September 9

Grease, 1978

As the summer comes to an end and the school year gets back into full swing for some, Dion Baia and J. Blake at Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers decided upon the perfect film (in their eyes) that encapsulates the angst of ending that summer love, entering maybe your senior year and wanting to impress all your friends, while dealing with the stress of the famed TV program National Bandstand coming to your high school to record a dance contest. So this week, the boys are warming up their vocal chords and their patented dance moves as they tackle the musical comedy classic Grease, from 1978.

Grease

After going off on a brief adventure to recap their recent excursion to the Star Trek Missions Convention in Manhattan that celebrated the 50th anniversay of the beloved original series and franchise and chat about the celebrities and special events they encountered there, Blake and Dion finally dive into this beloved 1978 musical essential. The fellas analyze the 1970’s fascination and nostalgia for the 1950’s (much like we see today for the 1980’s or 90’s), and draw parallels from their own lives of actually sharing that same mutual affinity for the post-war 50’s era because (much like other SNMS listeners of the same age) the boys grew up watching the reruns of that iconic decade, along with the 1970s entertainment also in rerun, that was sentimental for that era; with TV shows like Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley, and feature films like American Graffitti, The Last Picture Show, and this week’s pick, Grease. And as they always like to do, the lads discuss the context of the era this film was made within, circa 1977-78, to see what was happening in the world and to emphasize how incredible it was for a modestly-budgeted film to come out of nowhere and shoot to the top of the charts and have such staying-power that, not only is this film and it’s songs still commonplace in our modern psyche, but the movie still holds the record of being the top-grossing movie musical of all time. But if you actually stop and examine key elements of the plot as well as some of the song lyrics and even some of the dance moves within the film, is it really a tad ‘dirtier‘ and ‘raunchier‘ than at first glance? Was the first idea really to make an animated film with a suicide at the end?! Was an adult porn star actually cast in a major supporting role? Were the creators of the original stage play actually barred at one time from set? What’s going on with the blurring of all the Coca-Cola signs in the diner? And literally ripped from the headlines, what is the conspiracy theory that everyone is up in arms about–what may be really be going on with Sandy’s character?! Well, the guys attempt to cover all the basics while keeping their dance cards filled, on this all new exciting and entertaining edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

EXTRAS:

Concerning the Star Trek Missions 50th Anniversary Convention, here’s sneaked pictures of Dion meeting Peter Weller, HERE and HERE!

And for those interested, here’s William Shatner at the Star Trek Missions 50th Anniversary Convention, signing autographs HERE, and lo and behold, the Shat‘s John Hancock, HERE.

Here is one of the many articles discussing the very controversial conspiracy theory regarding Sandy’s character!

Check out Frankie Avalon performing his Grease song ‘Beauty School Dropout’, (with an brief synopsis of the film by Avalon) at a Jerry Lewis Telethon, courtesy of Violet Pearl on YouTube!

Have a look at the 2016 FOX Television version of Grease Live, and how they staged Grease Lightning sequence, among others!

Take a look at these original Deleted scenes!

And Check out J. Blake’s 2014 Blues album, When You Coming Home?

August 26

Falling Down, 1993

Dion Baia and J. Blake are back for another must-listen to edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! The dog days of summer are wrapping up for the boys in the mean streets of the asphalt jungle, and they had the perfect film to cover at the end of August. This week they take on an urban classic, something near and dear to a generation of film goers, Joel Schumacher‘s Falling Down, starring Michael Douglas as William D-Fens Foster, from 1993.

Falling Down

Truly a poster child film for the frustrated 9-5 worker who is fed up with their job and maybe the system in general, Blake and Dion figured this would be a great movie to wrap up this hot and steamy summer season. They get right into it and chat about how the film almost became a TV movie because of Hollywood’s passing on the script due to the controversial content. They also frame the historical context of the era it was released within, hitting on the recent recession at the time, as well as the LA riots that occurred in the Spring of 1992 (while the film was being shot). They discuss the amazing choice of casting, the fantastic Michael Douglas and once again discuss the importance of the likeability of an actor playing a role, for the audience to be on board and like that character. Dion and Blake chat about the D-Feds character and if he’s actually the protagonist or perhaps the antagonist. And they compare him to his foil in the film, Detective Prendergast, played by the legendary Robert Duvall and how they both cope with the stress of daily life. They also discuss how this story translates to today’s audience; not just by how Douglas’ character is perceived and the glorification of some of his actions, but also how modern audiences in today’s highly politically correct environment may even jump to conclusions without fully understanding the context of the era, not only of 1993, but cinema in general and the background of D-Fens as a character. Well it’s a rip-roaring blast for the lads in this fun and exciting, all new episode of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! #wolfmansnards

* The David Hasselhoff TV movie Dion periodically references, is in fact called Terror at London Bridge, from 1985.

EXTRAS:

Check out the original trailer for Falling Down.

Now here’s an interesting review circa 1993 by Siskel & Ebert.

For alittle extra reading, have a look at this pretty thought-provoking thread on Reddit, as fans analyze Falling Down.

Take a look at Michael Douglas from the mid 90’s discussing the film with Jimmy Carter.

Have a look at another interview from the era of Michael Douglas discussing his role as D-Feds in Falling Down.

And here’s Barbara Hershey talking about Falling Down.

Here’s a pretty cool mashup music video using Falling Down footage edited to the Iron Maiden song Man On The Edge, which was written as an homage to the original film.

 

August 19

SNMS Presents The Side Cast: An Evening with Jurgensen

Jurgensen and Sinatra

Due to the astounding popularity and success of our last series of interviews with retired NYPD Homicide Detective Randy Jurgensen that aired here last December in 2 parts, and because of the content of last week’s SNMS episode on the 1980 film Cruising, we decided to reissue our first groundbreaking interview which originally ran in February of 2012 on our now defunct sister site, The Podwits.com.

So the name Randy Jurgensen doesn’t sound familiar to you? Well, SNMS Side Castbelieve it or not you know him. The retired NYPD Homicide Detective and film icon has acted in and produced dozens of films, and has worked on some of New York City’s most famous cases. His book, Circle of Six, is his real-life tale of going against the system and practically the entire department brass in order to bring to justice the murderer of a fellow brother-in-blue, in what turned out to be one of the city’s most notorious cop killings. This passed April marked the 44th anniversary of the killing of Officer Phil Cardillo at Mosque #7 in Harlem, and the case that forever changed the seasoned detective as well as the fabric of the entire New York City Police Department. In this SNMS EXCLUSIVE, Randy sits down with Dion Baia and talks about his very colorful career as a homicide detective and his unlikely segue into the cinema. The NYPD veteran gives his opinion of the mindset of the police hierarchy that made it so hard to be a policeman in New York City in the 60’s and 70’s. He recounts his involvement in the Patsy Fuca case, Randy Jurgensenwhich became the 1971 film The French Connection. Perhaps for the first time, Jurgensen goes into detail of the sequence of events of the case he was assigned to, having to go underground into the gay leather-bar scene in the 1960s which eventually because the Al Pacino film Cruising. The Homicide Detective also discusses a crime scene that to this day still haunts him, and how he learned how to deal with ‘the job’. He then explains why it was so easy for him to make the gradual transition from detective to film consultant, actor and producer, examining his career in cinema. Mr. Jurgensen goes into his close friendship with legendary director William Friedkin, and actor Joe Spinell among others, and his memories working on films like The French Connection, The Godfather, Maniac, Cruising, Superman, and Sorcerer, among others. So what famous person was Jurgensen temporary pulled out from undercover to then go and arrest? What did his old childhood friend, legendary comedian George Carlin have to say about that notorious arrest? And what special message (through Dion) does actor Ed O’Neill have for Randy? Well come on and listen to a groundbreaking and highly educational episode of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers’ Side-Cast!

Here are Randy and Dion in 2012 after recording this interview.

Have look at Randy in Cruising, interrogating Al Pacino, as Paul Sorvino and Ed O’Neill look on. 

A young Ed O’Neill and Randy share a scene together in Cruising.

Gene Hackman in The French Connection, with Randy over his right shoulder.

August 12

Cruising, 1980

The boys are back, taking on a film that is legendary for it’s controversy, so much so that not only did it taint the actual production of the movie but also led to it being regarded as a ‘bomb’ at the box office, despite an entire cast and crew of A-list talent. Dion and Blake this week take a hard look at the Al Pacino classic, Cruising from 1980, by the auteur William Friedkin.

Cruising poster

Now the fellas are the first to admit that this wouldn’t top their list as the perfect nostalgic vehicle that a group of twelve or thirteen year old friends would knowingly rent (due to the subject matter) and watch at a sleepover back in the day, but they are also in agreement that Cruising has gotten a terribly raw deal ever since it’s first day of production. Blake and Dion start off by relating the facts of the real case that this film was partly based on, directly from the horse’s mouth so to speak, by chatting with their friend, former NYPD Detective turned actor, producer, stuntman and technical consultant Randy Jurgensen, who in real life was the one who actually went undercover into this world to solve a case, in an SNMS exclusive. They explain the backstory and the original book of the same name, and how it got into director William Friedkin‘s hands, eventually becoming a film he helmed. They lay-out the outcry that came from the gay community about the film and it’s subject matter, and the concerns behind that worry. Dion and Blake delve in and really dissect the plot, trying to flesh out all the twists and turns this noir thriller takes. So WHY was Cruising so controversial for Hollywood and the gay community in particular, and for the public at large? How “X-Rated” was this when it was first released? What about the new pseudo-documentary co-directed by actor James Franco called Interior. Leather Bar., and how much of it really focuses on Friedkin’s film that it was supposedly inspired by? What other personal and exclusive incite do the boys have from speaking with Paul Sorvino, Ed O’Neill and the great forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden about Cruising? And why the heck would the boys ever think of cosplaying with this film?! Well, come on down to find it all out, on an all new, highly informative and exciting episode of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

(Dion mistakenly referred to 1970 Cruising novel author Gerald Walker, as Gerald Butler…who knows why.)

EXTRAS:

Here’s the original trailer for Cruising!

Have a look at the rare TV trailer!

Check out this featurette on the making of Cruising !

Take a listen to the great soundtrack to this film, courtesy of YouTube!

Here’s our very own Dion Baia with legendary forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden around 2011.

This is the very rare Kenneth Anger film the boys referred to in the cast, called Scorpio Rising, from 1964.

Have a look at a great alternate, original poster for Cruising!

Here’s William Friedkin talking about the James Franco film Interior. Leather Bar.

 

July 29

Summer Rental, 1985

Get ready because it’s time for another brand new edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! We’re in the hot, sweaty and sticky days of summer, when the daily grind really starts to try the patience of most. So Blake and Dion are planning a little excursion down memory land as they pack into the family car and head for a tiny beach house that they thought was going to be cozy and isolated, but instead ends up being a 100 year old bungalow which is ten feet away to the another identical house. Have you guessed? They’re watching the 80’s summer classic, Carl Reiner‘s Summer Rental, from 1985 starring the hilarious John Candy.

Summer Rental, 1985The boys start off with another quick installment of ‘what-has-Blake-brought-back-from-his-parent’s-house-to-surprise-Dion-with? ‘ game and briefly dip