September 15

Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1981

Welcome back to another installment of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! This week marks the third anniversary of the podcast. So to keep with the theme of other past anniversaries, Dion Baia and J. Blake are going back and celebrating the pulps– the subgenre of the serials that so many of our modern iconic characters we know and love today were born out of. And what better character epitomizes that history than the figure created to celebrate that very style in cinema, everyone’s favorite archeologist and adventurer, Indiana Jones, and the film that started it all, Raiders of the Lost Ark, from 1981!

Raiders of the Lost Ark

After a brief Joe Piscopo interlude, the boys start a very deep-dive into the origins of Dr. Jones and one of the most successful franchises of all time. Taking on their first Steven Spielberg-directed movie, Blake and Dion discuss the essential genius of Spielberg as well as analyze the brilliance of George Lucas and his connection with this film, while challenging a lot of the guff by critics concerning Lucas in his years post-1977‘s Star Wars– and even encountering Spielberg detractors while in film school. The boys utilize the little known transcription of the legendary story conference between Spielberg, Lucas and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan from January of 1978 (a fabulous read for any fan or writer), which lays out Indy as a protagonist, the other supporting characters, and even the story arc for Raiders. They also discuss the 1954 Charlton Heston film Secret to the Incas, and it’s supposed connection to Indiana Jones. They get into this love-letter to those serials of the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s, and focus on the elements that transcend genre and the other various forms of media, as they attempt to pin down what makes this property so unique and utterly timeless. The boys get into the artwork of legendary artist Jim Steranko and his input into the look of this iconic character. They also get into Indy‘s superhero costume, even laying out the actual brand-name items that the adventurer prefers to wear. So, how much was exactly cut out of the original story and shelved only to be used in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom? How much of Chuck Heston and Secret of the Incas really influenced the Indy property? What does famed artist Carl Barks and his iconic character, Scrooge McDuck, have to do with Indiana Jones? And what the heck does The Big Lebowski have to do with any of this? Well, come have a listen to our longest running podcast yet, as we “Tickle the Brim” a little and celebrate our 3rd anniversary in this all new mega-edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! *(The 1951 film that first introduced the Wilhelm scream was actually called Distant Drum, not The Distant Dream as mentioned. )

#GoingFullIndy #TickletheBrim #WettheForceps

Extras!

Here is the much-referenced and highly recommended full text of the 1978 Raiders of the Lost Ark Story Conference Transcript between George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Larry Kasdan.

Often referenced as an inspiration of Indy and Raiders, please check out the 1954 Charlton Heston film, Secret of the Incas, courtesy of YouTube!

Take a look at the original concept art legendary comic book artist Jim Steranko did for Spielberg for Raiders of the Lost Ark, and specifically the look of Indiana Jones.

So you wanna be Indiana Jones? Well don’t look any farther than to TheRaider.net‘s list of the official items worn by Ford, and how you can acquire those specific brand-names.

And for everything else Indiana Jones, look no farther than the aforementioned TheRaider.net!

Have a look at the often forgotten Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones appearance (circa 1950), in Chapter 20 of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, entitled Mystery of the Blues, from 1993.

Lastly, if you missed it, check out Harrison Ford‘s hilarious 2013 appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! while promoting the biopic 42, where he is questioned about the upcoming installment of Star Wars.

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.

 

July 17

The Towering Inferno, 1974

The summer is here and with it comes the big-mega blockbusters! And as a tribute to First Responders and to Firefighters specifically (and fittingly to the NYFD who turn 150 this year), Dion Baia and J. Blake are taking on a classic ’70’s epic, back when Special Effects weren’t just Computer Generated Images with actors in front of green screens, but when practical effects were the norm. Oh yes, once upon a time stunt men did it all for real, detailed miniatures and matte paintings expanded our world. No one did it better than legendary producer Irwin AllenSaturday Night Movie Sleepovers takes on arguably his quintessential film in his hugely successful series of disaster flicks… We’re of course talking about The Towering Inferno, from 1974.

The Towering Inferno

Blake and Dion analyse the film within the context of the mid-70’s, in a pre-Star Wars era, where the hottest thing going at the time were disaster movies and various procedural shows on television which spawned toys, action sets and board games. The boys also consider the film in the context of a post-911 world… is the romanticism of these movies forever lost? And is there actually a longer cut of the film made for television? Is composer John Williams‘ most sought after piece of music actually in this film? How do those practical effects hold up today verse modern CGI? And did Steve McQueen actually have a lisp when pronouncing “S’s”?! Well all these questions and many more will be answered in this brand new, epic edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

 

(Dion misspoke when referencing to the source material and said the The Glass Tower, when in fact he meant The Glass Inferno.)

 

(Check out the an entire site dedicated to this film, called The Towering Inferno Archive!)

(Have a look at the 1982 Atari 2600 Game Edition of The Towering Inferno!)

(Here’s Irwin Allen‘s NATO Film Presentation for The Towering Inferno)

(Take a look at this vintage interview with screenwriter Stirling Silliphant speaking about writing for disaster films, and specifically The Towering Inferno)