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 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, 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.

July 1

Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, 1984

It’s that time once again… Welcome back to another, exciting edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! This week Dion Baia and J. Blake are covering a true epic, a film that was meant to return a property back to its original source material, and also reinvigorate a franchise that had been around (at the time) close to seventy-plus years. This go around the boys are taking on Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, from 1984.

Greystoke- The Legend of Tarzan Lord of the Apes

Blake and Dion have a lot on their plates to get through: first laying out the backstory that legendary writer Edgar Rice Burroughs set up in his original 1912 novel Tarzan of the Apes when creating the title character, and the bigger role Burroughs played as one of the original pillars in the Pulp Tradition. They give an overview of that groundbreaking genre, and explain the vast influence it still has on the entertainment we seek out today. They also discuss sci-fi writer Harlan Ellison‘s scathing review of this film Greystoke, and use that critical essay as a template in comparing this 1984 version to Burroughs’ original work, and if it is indeed appropriate to label this work “the definitive version“- is it a fair criticism? The lads also go into depth about Rick Baker‘s groundbreaking contribution to this project, and how his help specifically was the key in getting this production off the ground. But what was the reasons for having the screenwriter, Robert Towne who penned this script, sacked as director of this adaptation? What other problems did a production like this run into while trying to get this project off the ground? What exactly is the Wold Newton Family, and how is it connected here? And is Dion really a Lord ? Well come on and have a listen as the fellas match an epic movie with an epic cast as they attempt to answer all the questions in this all new episode of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

EXTRAS:

Read Edgar Rice Burroughs1912 book, Tarzan of the Apes, absolutely free!

As talked about in the podcast, here is a link to some of the Rick Baker props that went up for auction that were specifically from Greystoke.

Check out the original trailer for the film!

Have a listen to composer John Scott‘s overture!

For further writing on sci-fi writer Philip José Farmer‘s Wold Newton Universe, click here.

Also created by writer Edgar Rice Burroughs, here is concept animation from an never-produced 1936 animated John Carter of Mars series, which was helmed by legendary animator Bob Clampett.

 

June 3

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Double Feature- 1990 & 1991

Has it been 2 weeks already?! Well then welcome back to another exciting, wacky, and in this week’s case, new and unique edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! This time around J. Blake and Dion Baia are doing a bonafide double feature, something that was to weekend sleepovers as Jack Daniels was to Frank Sinatra. And after throwing dump truck-loads of money at Quinnipiac University polling and hosting scores of focus group studies, they came up with the perfect pair of films for their inaugural double feature. And what lucky pair did they choose? Well the 1990 and 1991 classics Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Secret of the Ooze of course!!!

TNMT Double-Feature

The boys are completely sleep deprived this time around but still working on all cylinders, trying to cram as much info as they can about this classic franchise into a tiny, humble podcast. After voicing their concerns about the growing intelligence of the machines on the Island of Sodor (which oddly has NOTHING to do with the TMNT), the fellas quickly jump right into the topic at hand, the backstory of the beloved Ninja Turtles. They discuss the Half Shelled Heroes’ incredible journey from comicbook page to the small screen, leap to action figures, and finally their landing on the 35mm big screen. After the original 1990 film became such a success, Blake and Dion reminisce about the Turtle phenomenon that overtook the world.  This popularity greenlit a second film, which made it to the screen just 10 days shy of a calendar year from the original’s release; making it possibly the quickest sequel put into production since the old studio system days of yesteryear.

So was the 1990 movie really an ‘independent’ film? How technically advanced and also cumbersome were the turtle suits, comparably, from one movie to the next? Was the original film really criticized for being so dark and violent, that it actually was censured in the U.K. and some other European countries because of it’s ninja connotations? And then was the 1991 sequel actually criticized for being too light-hearted and not as faithful to the source material.. wait, wha?! And will the lads actually get through the podcast before becoming too incoherent? Well order your pizza pies, grab your skateboards and your favorite pair of Nunchakus, because the guys are heading down into the sewers this week in this colossal double header, on another episode of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

EXTRAS!

Here is one of the original sketches of the TMNT, quite possibly the earliest sketch of the whole quartet, which in May 2012, sold at auction for $71,700.

Check out the 2014 documentary on the TMNT discussed in the cast, entitled Turtle Power: The Definitive History of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

Have a look at the deleted scenes from the original 1990 TMNT film!

Here are the fab four on Oprah, circa 1990, with an entire child audience!!

While we’re here, have a watch of the long out of print 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Coming Out of Their Shells Tour film!

Have a look at this amazing arrangement of the TMNT cartoon theme song, performed by Scott Bradlee and Post Modern Jukebox (from their Saturday Morning Slow Jams series), sung by Righteous Music Media‘s own Drue Davis!

Last but certainly not least, check out this rare gem, the music video for the 1990 Partner in Kryme single, Turtle Power!