November 24

Sorcerer, 1977

Greetings and welcome back to another exciting episode of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! This week Dion Baia and J. Blake are celebrating a film that turned 40 this year (and is currently enjoying a theatrical re-release this very month) -a movie that flopped and was universally panned when it was originally released. But after years of obscurity it has had a resurgence and a re-evaluation, and is now considered a lost classic (even being Stephen King‘s favorite movie!) -with some even saying it could be it’s director’s best work (luckily Blake and Dion never had this problem of having to ‘re-discover’ this to know it was a masterpiece). So this week the boy’s are taking a very close look at the notorious William Friedkin epic, Sorcerer, from 1977.

Sorcerer

A movie that has haunted Dion since childhood, the guys jump right into unpacking this momentous feat of cinema. Blake and Dion dissect the various elements and history that came together to make this classic. They first return to the source material, reading the original 1952 novel Wages of Fear by French author Georges Arnaud. They analyze the 1953 film Wages of Fear by the French auteur Henri-Georges Clouzot, and use both of those versions to compare and contrast William Friedkin‘s retelling, of what has been called by some, the most suspenseful story of all time. They utilize the first hand accounts from their friend, ex-NYPD Homicide Detective turned actor, producer, consultant and friend to director William FriedkinRandy Jurgensen, who also costarred in Sorcerer, to piece together the story behind getting this epic out of the jungle and onto the big screen. They trace the path that visionaries like Friedkin and others ascended to in the 1970s-1980s, only to come crashing down by closing out an era with commercially-termed ‘flops’ (though Dion and Blake do not consider Sorcerer in that category) largely due to ballooning budgets and lofty artistic visions, or because of sheer recklessness- like the death of 3 actors on a John Landis film-set in 1982. And they analyze what kind of impact a little-known German Electronic band named Tangerine Dream, who penned the film’s synth score, had on the next decade of movie soundtracks. So, what Hollywood legend was Sorcerer first written for; who would have starred, had it not been for Friedkin‘s lack of flexibility? What’s the inside joke that Randy Jurgensen told SNMS he has with director William Friedkin (Hint: it comes a line from this movie)?  What were the contributing factors that led to the ultimate commercial failure of Sorcerer at the box office? And maybe most importantly, what is the story behind the film’s title?! Well, make sure you strap yourselves in, pack your Valium and Dramamine, because the boys are taking a nail-biting journey into the jungle and a descent into madness, on an all new and very informative edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

EXTRAS!

Check out these rare and behind on the scenes 8mm footage that was shot on the set of Sorcerer, while on location in New Jersey!

Have a look of at this vintage TV spot for Sorcerer!

Please go have a listen to the excessive interviews that SNMS as done with ex-NYPD Homicide Detective turned actor, producerconsultant and friend to director William FriedkinRandy Jurgensen, about his legendary career as a police officer and then seamless transition to a legendary stint in Hollywood, and some of the biggest movies of the 1970s, 80s and 90s. 

Take a look at this extremely rare William Friedkin Q&A from 2013 about Sorcerer that the boys were able to attend, that they transcribed into a posting, which eventually made news and is subsequently cited extensively by Wikipedia in their entry for Sorcerer

Here’s an article Dion penned in 2014 that was his review of the original novel Wages of Fear by French novelist Georges Arnaud.

Check out the concept art for both of the trucks used in the film, found HERE and HERE!

Also have a look at the various and amazing versions of the film’s POSTER that have been made over the years, found HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE!

And last but far from least, check out everything there is to know about Sorcerer on this website, which is dedicated to the film!

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!

August 26

Falling Down, 1993

Dion Baia and J. Blake are back for another must-listen to edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! The dog days of summer are wrapping up for the boys in the mean streets of the asphalt jungle, and they had the perfect film to cover at the end of August. This week they take on an urban classic, something near and dear to a generation of film goers, Joel Schumacher‘s Falling Down, starring Michael Douglas as William D-Fens Foster, from 1993.

Falling Down

Truly a poster child film for the frustrated 9-5 worker who is fed up with their job and maybe the system in general, Blake and Dion figured this would be a great movie to wrap up this hot and steamy summer season. They get right into it and chat about how the film almost became a TV movie because of Hollywood’s passing on the script due to the controversial content. They also frame the historical context of the era it was released within, hitting on the recent recession at the time, as well as the LA riots that occurred in the Spring of 1992 (while the film was being shot). They discuss the amazing choice of casting, the fantastic Michael Douglas and once again discuss the importance of the likeability of an actor playing a role, for the audience to be on board and like that character. Dion and Blake chat about the D-Feds character and if he’s actually the protagonist or perhaps the antagonist. And they compare him to his foil in the film, Detective Prendergast, played by the legendary Robert Duvall and how they both cope with the stress of daily life. They also discuss how this story translates to today’s audience; not just by how Douglas’ character is perceived and the glorification of some of his actions, but also how modern audiences in today’s highly politically correct environment may even jump to conclusions without fully understanding the context of the era, not only of 1993, but cinema in general and the background of D-Fens as a character. Well it’s a rip-roaring blast for the lads in this fun and exciting, all new episode of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! #wolfmansnards

* The David Hasselhoff TV movie Dion periodically references, is in fact called Terror at London Bridge, from 1985.

EXTRAS:

Check out the original trailer for Falling Down.

Now here’s an interesting review circa 1993 by Siskel & Ebert.

For alittle extra reading, have a look at this pretty thought-provoking thread on Reddit, as fans analyze Falling Down.

Take a look at Michael Douglas from the mid 90’s discussing the film with Jimmy Carter.

Have a look at another interview from the era of Michael Douglas discussing his role as D-Feds in Falling Down.

And here’s Barbara Hershey talking about Falling Down.

Here’s a pretty cool mashup music video using Falling Down footage edited to the Iron Maiden song Man On The Edge, which was written as an homage to the original film.

 

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, Randy Jurgensenwhich 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.

August 12

Cruising, 1980

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.

Cruising poster

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.)

EXTRAS:

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 soundtrack to this film, courtesy of YouTube!

Here’s our very own Dion Baia with legendary forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden around 2011.

This is the very rare Kenneth Anger film the boys referred to in the cast, called Scorpio Rising, from 1964.

Have a look at a great alternate, original poster for Cruising!

Here’s William Friedkin talking about the James Franco film Interior. Leather Bar.

 

December 11

Invasion USA , 1985

Tis the Season! The boys are back with an all new episode of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! Dion and Blake are ushering in the holidays with a classic, Invasion USA, starring the great Chuck Norris and directed by the supremely underrated Joseph Zito.

invasion usa
Blake and Dion discuss the burning holiday questions, like does Santa shave his beard on December 26th, or has he had to up his game because of all the high-tech toys kids have nowadays? Then they get to the film: The year is 1985 and along with movies like Commando, Rambo: First Blood Part II and Missing in Action 2: The Beginning, a low-budget Studio named Cannon releases this gem, a great example of pure, unabashed 80’s Action Escapism. Chuck is Ex CIA agent Matt Hunter and is after a terrorist who plans to destroy America, at Christmas time no less!  But why has this film fallen through the cracks of time and other Christmas-themed Action movies only bring Die Hard or say Lethal Weapon to mind? Does this deserve to be up there with those classics? Is this the film that helped solidify Chuck as the ultimate bad-ass? And what did Chuck really mean to say when he signed Dion’s poster?

All those questions (hopefully) will be answered in this all new holiday edition Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

(Dion mistakenly said Lebanon when he met Iran when speaking about he 1979-80 American hostage situation)

EXTRAS:

Check out the original trailer to Invasion USA

Have a look at a great Q & A with Chuck, as he discusses how he and Bruce Lee would fare today in MMA

Take a listen to the Jay Chattaway score to Invasion USA

Here’s Dion with the man, the myth, the legend, Chuck Norris

December 4

SNMS Presents The Side Cast: Randy Jurgensen Part 1The Bad, Old Days

SNMS Side CastWelcome to an ALL NEW edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers‘ “Side-Cast“. This episode takes SNMS listeners in an entirely different direction, presenting an all new and very rare interview with a retired NYPD Detective and Hollywood legend, Randy Jurgensen. He has appeared in over 50 films and television shows, including The French Connection, The Godfather, The Seven Ups, God Told Me To, Maniac, Sorcerer, Kojak, Fort Apache the Bronx, Superman, Vigilante, Cruising,  C.H.U.D., Randy Jurgensen TodayManiac Cop, Homicide: Life on the Street, The Juror, Thinner and Donnie Brasco among many others as an advisor, actor, producer and writer. Two of his cases were turned into major Hollywood films by his good friend William Friedkin, and are now classics.

But before all of this, Randy was a Homicide Detective in Harlem, “making a living among the dead” as he calls it, in the 2-8 Precinct dubbed “the Murder Factory“, navigating through some of the most awful times in New York City’s history. He and his fellow officers battled to keep the crime and murder rate down, while at the same time struggled to not lose a city to radical groups like the Weather Underground and the Black Liberation Army (BLA). He was involved in the worst cop killing in the city’s history and made it his mission to bring the killer to justice, even if it meant sacrificing his career as a police officer. The experience led him to write a book in 2006 about the case, entitled Circle of Six: The True Story of New York’s Most Notorious Cop Killer and the Cop Who Risked Everything to Catch Him, a must read and cannot be recommended more highly. But to understand how he got to work in films with legends like Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Johnny Depp, and his good friend (and SNMS favorite!) Joe Spinell, one has to hear the incredible and unbelievable story of how he got there.

blue cover Part One of our interview with Randy is the prequel to his film career, as he goes into detail on what it was like being a cop in a city that had on average 2000 murders a year, and speaks about some of the parallels that can be seen today with law enforcement. It is truly a case where fact is stranger (and at times more interesting) than fiction. A must listen! #RememberCardillo

Click here to see Randy back in the day, a picture from the 1977 Frank Sinatra film Contract on Cherry Street.

(Here is Randy with Ol’ Blue Eyes)

Click here to see Randy on April 20, 1972, moments after being hit in the back of the head by a brick thrown off a roof, during the Harlem riot that occurred after the shooting of Officer Phil Cardillo in Nation of Islam Mosque No. 7.

Check out this short Documentary starring Retired Detective Jurgensen.

Here are some more interesting facts about Randy.

 

November 25

Dutch, 1991

Happy Thanksgiving! Here at Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers, J. Blake and Dion Baia have lined up another, albeit lesser known holiday film that not only celebrates the Turkey-Day Season, but also is a John Hughes movie to boot! This year the boys are talking up the classic Dutch, from 1991, starring Ed O’Neill and Ethan Embry.

Dutch, 1991

After letting off some steam about dealing with disrespectful movie patrons while at the cinema, the boys get down to business. Often forgotten as both a Thanksgiving movie and one penned by John Hughes as well, Dutch is a fun road film that first teamed O’Neill and Embry, who would go on to reunite in a 2003 Dick Wolf/Dragnet reboot. But what the heck happened to this film? Why did it bomb at the box office and then fall through the cracks of time? Did Ed O’Neill’s hugely successful TV show Married… With Children actually help spell doom for this film perhaps because of a kind of type-casting of O’Neill? How does this stack up to the other titles in the John Hughes catalog, and does it share similarities to another Hughes/Thanksgiving film? And can this be added to the list of classic holiday movies? All these questions will tried to be answered in this all new, and hilarious edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! #nothingburpsbetterthanbacon

EXTRAS:

Who Do You Love is the other 2008 film that came out along with Cadillac Records that documented the Chicago Blues scene and Chess Records artists in particular, that the boys couldn’t remember the name of.

Check out the original theatrical trailer for Dutch!

Who knew?! Here’s Jiu-Jitsu practitioner and Gracie Academy Black Belt Ed O’Neill, with Ryron and Rener Gracie breaking down the moves of the 2012 UFC Belfort/Jones match.

Speaking of Jiu-Jitsu, listen to Ed O’Neill tell the story of his VERY First Class at the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy with Grandmaster and UFC co-founder Rorion Gracie.

Take a look at some of the 1985 TV pilot Popeye Doyle, the spin-off sequel to The French Connection police officer of the same name, that was never picked up and made into a series.

October 21

SNMS Presents: The Side-CastHorror Recommendations

SNMS Side CastA brand new addition to Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers  rotation is the Podcast that started it all, Dion and Blake‘s Side-Cast. Originally airing on the sister site Podwits.com, the Side-Cast was the series that became the catalyst for what became SNMS. To showcase where it all began we are reissuing this series, highlighting the anthology podcast that covered a variety of topics, so that they can breath a second life, and because eventually it will be a new off-shoot of the regular SNMS Podcast, where brand new podcast content will be generated for SNMS website as well.

(For the inaugural release of the Side-Cast here at SNMS, we present a Halloween-themed podcast originally published on October the 14th of 2014, to help get the word out on the then newly launch Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers Podcast and Website. We hope you enjoy!)

To help get the word out about their new Podcast Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers, Dion and J. Blake sit down to recommend 10 horror films for the Halloween season that they feel may be overlooked or forgotten in today’s times. The boys attempt to compile a list of amazing fright films that may not be considered first choice picks, but are a necessity for ANY horror fan. Along with their podcast, the lads have also co-wrote a companion posting over at Saturday Sleepovers, giving another 10 (5 each) that they couldn’t fit into the podcast but felt remise if they didn’t include as well. So please go have a listen and then go over to Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers to see the written list. We hope you enjoy!

(Please check out J. Blake‘s new Blues album When You Coming Home? and check out his interview with Alan Jones, the premiere aficionado on everything Dario Argento.)

(Check out the written companion piece to this podcast, the 5 Rentals for $5 List of Horror Recommendations!)

June 19

Maniac, 1980

Well boys and girls, this week Dion Baia and J. Blake have a real treat lined up, a personal favorite of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers, the 1980 cult classic Maniac, directed by William Lustig and starring the late, great, Joe Spinell.

maniac1980

The guys attempt to fit as much as they can into a humble little podcast about this movie, while not trying to go too overboard and show their true colors as absolute fanatics for this film. They discuss the amazing actor that was Joe Spinell, and how he hoped that this pet project of his would do for him what Rocky did for his close friend Sylvester Stallone. Dion and Blake also go on about how it all came together and who Spinell was able to get on board, like SFX legend Tom Savini and iconic director Bill Lustig, to name a few. And the love the boys have for this movie brings up very interesting topics: Is there really an homage to Spielberg‘s Jaws in the film? What were student reactions when J. Blake screened it for his college horror class? Does this movie maybe contain the best head explosion ever? How does the 2012 remake starring Elijah Wood compare? And why do the lads keep butchering actress Catherine Munro‘s name? Well all these questions and a few more get answered in this very exciting and quite informative all new edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

 

(Well here we go again- in lamenting his love for X-rated star Sharon Mitchell who cameos in the film, Dion mistakenly referred to her as “Shannon Mitchell”. Please except his apologies)

(Here’s Mr. Spinell being interviewed on The Joe Franklin Show about his new film, Maniac)

(PLEASE check out this great documentary by David Gregory calledThe Joe Spinell Story“, which is a MUST watch for any fan.)

(Check out the promo film to the unmade Maniac 2, aka Mister Robbie, starring Joe Spinell)

(Have a look at Tom Savini and others talk about his memories of Joe Spinell)

(Here’s Elijah Wood discussing Joe Spinell’s characterization of Frank Zito, verses is own.)

(Take a look at the International trailer for 1980’s Maniac)

(Please have a gander at Dion‘s exclusive interview with Randy Jurgensen where they discuss his iconic career as an NYPD Detective and then his legendary film career, Joe Spinell (among many others), and his book Circle of Six: The True Story of New York’s Most Notorious Cop Killer and the Cop Who Risked Everything to Catch Him)