August 10

The Blues Brothers, 1980

Welcome to a very special episode of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! This week J. Blake and Dion Baia are covering a classic Chicago-centric film and to ground them and give it some historical city context and for this gigantic sleepover, they brought in the Windy City’s very own, Mighty-Mighty Mike Vanderbilt to lend a hand. We’re all ‘on a mission from God’ this go-around when we take on the musical phenomenon The Blues Brothers, from 1980!The Blues BrothersHaving Mike Vanderbilt over is very exciting for Dion and Blake, and after a quick catch up, they all jump right in. Mike and Blake bring an added layer to the conversation as they are gigging rock and blues musicians themselves with their own bands, and they talk shop about fronting various groups and their gear preferences when performing live at various venues (Dion tries to add his input as he played the alto saxophone in 4th grade, and the drums for 4 years in elementary and middle school). The fellas then focus in on the significance of this film and the history of The Blues Brothers and Jake & Elwood, discussing their roots on Saturday Night Live, and the direction of John Landis on the 1980 film. Mike brings his unique Chicago input, giving some great context to the various locations that highlight the Windy City, making it almost a third star of the film. So, make sure you’ve got your converted 1974 Mount Prospect Dodge Monaco gassed up, your cheese whiz, and your Night Train Wine, ’cause the boys have a long ride back, as they examine another classic, on an all new fantastic Chicago-edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

EXTRAS!

Please check out J. Blake’s musical endeavors here, as he keeps the blues arrive in New York City!

Please check out Chicago‘s very own, Mike Vanderbilt on TWITTER, on FACEBOOK,  at The A.V. Club where he is a writer and contributor, at The Daily Grindhouse where he is an editor, and tending bar at the Rock Island Public House!

Take a look at this fabulous documentary on the making of The Blues Brothers.

Here’s a playlist of the deleted scenes from the iconic film!

Have a look at The Blues BrothersFull Concert at the Winterland, on December the 31st, 1978!

December 15

Star Wars, 1977

Welcome! In the midst of holiday madness, Dion Baia & J. Blake have decided to open a gift just a tad early – a special bonus, intergalactic episode of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! With 2017 coming to a close, the boys take a deep-dive into a 40-year-old film that forever changed popular culture, the motion picture industry, the lives of millions of people and the world – 1977’s Star Wars!

Written and directed by George Lucas and starring Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford, Star Wars-mania swept the world in the late-1970s and early-1980s and became the quintessential blockbuster and landmark film for an entire generation of movie-goers. With time working against Blake and Dion for a topic so immense, the boys get right to business, discussing how the socially and politically turbulent decades of the 1960s and 70s, as well as what was going on in Hollywood at the time, led to Star Wars becoming the ultimate cinematic phenomenon. Among the many other topics at hand, they chat about its young filmmaker, speculate as to why the film appeals universally to so many people and of course, get into the radio drama that hit the airwaves in 1981. So, what was it about the 1970s that made Star Wars so special? How did George become Hollywood’s “great and powerful” Lucas? Why didn’t anybody working on the film, besides George Lucas, take it seriously? What the heck is a “parsec” and why is Han Solo’s use of the term actually not incorrect in the film? Why can’t Darth Vader get any respect? The boys attempt to answer all of these questions and more on this particularly dense…yet only scratched the surface…edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

Extras!

Here’s the original theatrical trailer!

Take a listen to The Star Wars Radio Drama…as discussed in this episode.

Check out the documentary “From Star Wars to Jedi: The Making of a Sage,” as discussed in this episode.

Take a gander at some deleted scenes from Star Wars.

And here is a funny video that Dion brings up – the Throne Room scene “Minus Williams.”

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.