December 8

The Night They Saved Christmas, 1984

Welcome back to another episode of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! With the holiday season in full swing, J. Blake and Dion Baia have delved quite deep into the video store racks, and found a lost Christmas classic, the ABC made-for-TV movie, The Night They Saved Christmas, from 1984, directed by the great Jackie Cooper!

The Night They Saved Christmas

This lost gem starring Art Carney, Jaclyn Smith, Scott Grimes, Mason Adams, June Lockhart and Paul Williams has largely and sadly fallen through the cracks of history and subsequently been lost to time – but not forgotten by the SNMS boys! After Dion and Blake reminisce about some of the classic holiday specials they grew with, the boys jump right into this fabulous film, which the fellas jokingly argue might be the ‘lost’ or ‘unknown’ sequel to the last film they covered on their previous episode, William Friedkin‘s 1977 masterpiece, Sorcerer. They take a deep-dive into this 80’s TV-movie classic and marvel over all those mythical, usually unanswered question regarding the Santa legend, that this film tackles with ease. The guys are equally astonished by the SFX within the film, be it matte-paintings, stop-motion and/or miniatures. And Blake and Dion also offer up some of their unique musical suggestions for the holiday season, to help make the ultimate 2017 Christmas mix-tape. So which one of the boys actually has a huge affinity for Hallmark Christmas movies? Did the boys actually forget to mention that Jackie Cooper was a Little Rascal? Does this film achieve that “Christmas Spirit” that so many look for in a holiday movie? And who the heck is this unseen super-villain Gaylord we keep hearing about?! Well, all these dire questions will be answered in this fun, hilarious and warm, feel-good holiday edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

Extras!

Check out this original promo for the ABC premiere of The Night They Saved Christmas!

Here’s another original TV promo for The Night They Saved Christmas!

 

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!

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.

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.

 

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.

 

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)

 

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)