March 17

Beauty and the Beast , 1991

It’s that time again… time for another exciting, thrilling and enthralling episode of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! Dion Baia and J. Blake have a whammy of an installment this week: a lighthearted, musical affair from a company that at the time of this film’s release, was going through a proper-resurgence themselves. And this movie marked its crowning achievement to-date for that company’s Animation Department, which broke new ground in its pioneering uses of CGI in this project… Yes, “it is a tale as old as time” as the boys explore the enchanted world of Walt Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, from 1991.

Beauty and the Beast

The fellas jump right in and go back to the beginning, discussing everything Disney in this epic podcast: They ‘set the table’ by giving a concise timeline on Walt‘s meteoric rise to fame, from his beginnings with the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit animated shorts and the work with his good friend and genius Ub Iwerks (among others), to bringing in Carl Stalling for help creating animated musical shorts, pioneering color cartoons and his finally creating a feature-length animated film in 1937 with the ground-breaking Snow White and the Seven DwarfsBlake and Dion follow Disney‘s journey through the war years and his upswing in the 1950s, and Walt then getting side-tracked with live-action films, a new medium called television, and theme park construction. These side ventures unconsciously begin to take its toll on the animation department and with Walt‘s death in 1966 it almost becomes rudderless, culminating with the near closing of the entire animation branch in the mid 1980s. The boys then go through the renaissance in the late 80’s that brought the famed animation unit back and to the biggest cartoon film to-date, Beauty and the Beast. They go through the history of the popular fairytale with the 1946 live-action Jean Cocteau movie, even hitting on the late 80’s TV series. Dion and Blake then discuss the work it took to get Beauty and the Beast on screen, with the brand new CAPS technology that changed the face of animation, and the work by composer Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman that gave us all those classic songs we know today. So what 1949 Disney animated film do the lads draw similarities between? What are the controversial subtexts that some academics have read into the work and what are their perceptions of the themes within Beauty? How did Walt Disney‘s brilliance in knowing his own limitations actually help in making the company such a huge success? What important character from the 1946 Cocteau film did this Disney story borrow? What character was the song Be Our Guest originally supposed to be sung to? And what famous book-turned-to-film thriller (that is a staple in every serial killer library) do the boys find similarities with this animated classic? Well grab some popcorn and your favorite sipping drink, because the boys are taking you on a musical adventure this week with this mega, Disney-filled new installment of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

*Dion misspoke during the cast, the 2012 film Snow White and the Huntsman was in fact a Universal, not Disney film.

EXTRAS!

As the boys described in the podcast, here our exclusive photos taken by them at the Disney Burbank Lot of the Ub Iwerk-designed 14′ high Multi-plane camera, HERE and HERE for the game challenger, Snow White, and check out Walt and the boys HERE and HERE, using it back in the day.

Check out the boys getting a tour from Walt and Mickey themselves, HERE and HERE!

Have a look at some of the original character design sculptures that animators used as references, that were on display at the Reagan Library Disney Exhibit.

Take a look at photos HEREHERE and HERE  the boys took of the original Animation Building that’s located on the Burbank lot (personally designed by Walt), that animators drew the films from Dumbo up to The Black Cauldron within. Check out the plaque inside the building.

And HERE and HERE are the pictures the fellas took of the corner window of the Animation Building that was Walt’s office.

Here’s the original trailer to the 1946 Jean Cocteau Beauty and the Beast film, narrated by Cocteau himself.

Have a gander at this chart of the different elements of animals used to make the Beast.

As talked about in the podcast, here is the Billy Joel rendition of When You Wish Upon a Star, from the 1991 Disney album Simply Mad About the Mouse.

Check out Tom Waits‘ version of Heigh Ho (The Dwarfs Marching Song) from the 1988 Disney album Stay Awake:Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films.

December 9

Star Wars Holiday Special, 1978

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.

Star Wars Holiday Special

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!

EXTRAS!

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.

 

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?