As mentioned in the latest podcast on the epic 1980 film Raise the Titanic, Dion Baia in 2012 with his then cohost Brian Zino of their podcast The Podwits on the 100th anniversary of that ship’s sinking, recorded a 3-part podcast in which they talk about other massive maritime disasters that many have forgotten in modern times. Both sharing a morbid fascination, and starting at the turn of the 20th century, Dion and Brian hit on numerous sinkings that were huge and world-changing at the times they occurred.
What connects these to the last SNMS podcast on Raise the Titanic (aside from the obvious disaster-at-sea aspect), is that the guys cover the fate of the many vessels brought up in that podcast, like theTitanic‘s sister ships RMS Olympic (and the incident occurring with her that had it not have happened, it maybe would have saved the Titanic from her fate), HMHS Britannic, and what the fourth funnel, which the boys lovingly label the ‘badass funnel‘, was actually for on these 3 ships. They also discuss the nuclear sub tragedies of the USS Thresher and USS Scorpion, which were the two naval submarines that ironically enabled Oceanographer Robert Ballad to discover the long-lost Titanic wreck in 1985. Brian and Dion also touch on their mutual love for the book and film version of Raise the Titanic.
The boys also touch on infamous events as the USS Maine, the RMS Lusitania, the Bismark, the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, and until September 11th, 2001, the biggest disaster in New York City history, the tale of the PS General Slocum, among many others.
Condescended into one episode, here is the acclaimed 3-parter, in an interesting, fascinating and fact-filled podcast that is so far out in the proverbial weeds, that it is not like any podcast Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers has done before, and probably ever do again! (Below are the original descriptions for the 3 parts originally published in 2012).
Happy Life Day and welcome back to an all new episode of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! Well with Christmas time here, Dion Baia and J. Blake have decided to cover maybe their most controversial topic to date and the most anticipated event of the 1978 Holiday season: the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special, that aired Friday November the 17th, of that year.
So to cut right to the chase, why is this television special so controversial for the boys at SNMS? Well probably because of the stance Blake and Dion take on this almost universally-panned time capsule from ’78. After the boys chat about last week’s podcast with guest host Mike Vanderbilt, and a dive into Dion‘s food allergies, the fellas get right into the seasonal topic at hand. They set the table and interject the context of the latter half of 1978, a year after the original Star Wars had been released and almost a year and change before the sequel Empire Strikes Back would come out in 1980. Along with a ‘variety show’ template and the majority of the original cast of 1977 film reprising their roles, we get some pretty astounding cameos by such stars as Art Carney, Harvey Korman and Bea Arthur, performances by Diahann Carroll, the rock band Jefferson Starship, and even a pint-raising song by Ms. Arthur herself. The television audience was also treated to a 9+ minute cartoon that introduced one of the most legendary Star Wars characters of all time, the mysterious bounty hunter Bobba Fett. So why is this special so universally hated by critics and fans alike? How involved was George Lucas really (especially since afterward he completely disavowed himself and completely berated the special)? Why was the aforementioned Bobba Fett introduced in cartoon form, in this holiday special anyway? Another dirty little secret, was Han Solo actually supposed to be married to a wookie?! And to get right to the most controversial question: in the context of the era, was this special really as bad as everyone likes to remember…considering what else was going on in 1978? Well it could be a very interesting podcast to say the least for some hardcore Star Wars fans, as SNMS delivers another all new, holiday edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!
An indispensable asset for any fans of the Holiday Special, here is an amazing website directly solely to the 1978 TV Special.
Check out this Black & White footage of the first screen test from 1978 of Bobba Fett.
Take a look at one of the BEST QUALITY versions of the Star Wars Holiday Specials SNMS has ever seen, in it’s entirety, courtesy of YouTube.
And here are all the original commercials that aired during the Holiday Special.
And speaking of rotoscoping, here is the ultra-rare and never released pre-MTV 1979 music video Tom Waits did for his song “The One that Got Away” with director John Lamb (who would go on to do American Pop with Ralph Bakshi). It was done as a test, using the pioneering ‘video rotoscope’ technology and then converted to animation, a technique that producers then brought to Bakshi to sell him on the concept for his next film, which audiences would see 2 years later in 1981, in the aforementioned, American Pop. The short ended up winning an Oscar in 1980 for Scientific and technical achievement. More information about this story can be found here.
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.
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 Deco. Blake 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.
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!
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, believe 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, which 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.
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.
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.)
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