April 14

Raise the Titanic, 1980

 

Can it be? Is it already that time? Why yes, it’s another edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! This week marks the 105th anniversary of the R.M.S. Titanic sinking, and having a resident expert at SNMS on the ocean liner and disaster that occurred in 1912, J. Blake and Dion Baia figured they’d pay their respects by covering a film based on the widely popular Clive Cussler novel that took the real-life event and turned it into a McGuffin for a Cold War-era espionage, intrigue, and deep-sea adventure filled story! Yes, the boys are diving to the bottom of the Atlantic this go around to take on the juggernaut Raise the Titanic, from 1980!

Raise the Titanic

This becomes the ‘conspiracy theory episode‘ for the Blake and Dion, as they jump right in and layout some ‘alternate facts‘ that have recently come to light as to the real details concerning this great ship’s sinking, in an attempt to: A.) Explain to you what you didn’t know about that faithful night; B.) What you couldn’t have known, concerning facts that have been virtually ignored for over 105 years, and C.) Tell you what they never wanted you to know, surrounding the sinking of the White Star Line ocean liner. The boys unravel an elaborate and long-winded story (boy, Dion sometimes can go on, and on, and on, and-) that only recently has been getting some traction within scientific and Titanic-historian circles, which was supposedly buried for fear of international scandal in a pre-WWI era. After this extensive yarn, the boys then jump head-first into Raise the Titanic, by going into the background of mega-author Clive Cussler and what led to his decision of not working again with Hollywood (after this movie) for almost 30 years. Dion and Blake also go into why this film ended up being the most-expensive film to date, and why this could be a great example of why the industry completely embraced CGI technology in the following decade, versus shelling out millions of dollars for practical effects. They also talk about the glorious soundtrack by composer John Barry and the speculation about the fate of this and other works of art that become deemed “lost.” So why did the movie flop at the box office? Why did the film’s budget skyrocket and almost triple, with the model and water tank costing 1 million more than it cost to construct the actual RMS Titanic in unadjusted 1912 dollars? Only recently declassified, what was the real reason oceanographer Robert Ballard was out snooping around in the Atlantic in the first place? How does the final film version of Raise the Titanic differ from the original novel? And most importantly, are the facts as you know it about the Titanic‘s sinking that fateful night the real story ? Well, if you want to know or not, the fellas put all the pieces together for you this week in another enthralling edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

Extras!

Here is the entire movie Raise the Titanic from 1980, courtesy of YouTube!

Have a look at the ‘supposedly’ alternate opening for Raise the Titanic.

Please have a listen to what critics say may be John Barry‘s best score, which was for Raise the Titanic.

Take a look at this great website, dedicated to all things concerning Raise the Titanic, from the Clive Cussler book, to the live-action film.

Here’s a link to the 1977 comic strip, faithfully adapted by artist Frank Bolle of Cussler‘s Raise the Titanic!

Check out this video by the group Titanic Truths LLC Historical Preservation and Salavage Design Company and their current, 2017 plan to actually raise the Titanic wreck from the bottom of the Atlantic!

For more info, here is Titanic Truths LLC‘s main website.

Take a look at the huge Titanic model used in the 1980 film as it sadly looks in 2017, rotting away in Malta.

If you liked the historical background in the episode, check out D. E. Bristow‘s out of print book, Titanic: Sinking the Myths.

Watch the entire TV special Return to the Titanic, that aired on October the 28th 1987 hosted by Telly Savalas, that was live from Paris (not London, as Dion remembered).

Here is a 2011 article Dion wrote about the conspiracy theory that the RMS Titanic was switched out by her sister ship, the RMS Olympic before her 1912 maiden voyage.

And if you want, you can now watch the Titanic sinking in REAL TIME, per this animation courtesy of YouTube.

April 8

Dick Tracy, 1990

The boys are back for yet another episode of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! This week Dion Baia and J. Blake are again going way down the alley, back to a huge franchise that was revisited during their childhood. A property that because of other comic book characters getting reboots around the same time, this beloved hero was able to finally see a well-deserved adaptation, with some big-time Hollywood clout behind it. We are of course talking about Warren Beatty‘s Dick Tracy, from 1990.

 

dicktracy

This Hollywood blockbuster is another example of a film with a huge cast of A-listers, and coming off the heels of 1989’s Batman, this property (which had been in the works at the time for over 10 years), had some much-needed life breathed into a then 50+ year-old franchise. Truly being a testament to a pre-CGI world, Tracy was one of the last big-budget features which utilized the old tricks of Hollywood, like SFX, matte-painting, use of miniatures, optical printing, practical sets, practical Effects, and of course, practical make-up. And because of Disney‘s involvement, boy did this movie use all of the above devices to their absolute fullest, making this film truly be a proper swan-song for old Hollywood before CGI muscled it’s way into the field. But why did Disney ultimately take it’s name off the title? Even though this movie would not have been realized without the true diligence of Warren Beatty, was he in fact miss-casted in playing the title role of the legendary police detective? How true was this film to it’s comic strip roots and creator Chester Gould‘s vision? Well all these questions will be answered it yet another epic edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

*Dion misspoke when he referred to 1920’s Irish Chicago gangster Dion O’Banion, as Dion O’Brien

EXTRAS:

Here is the 2009 TCM Leonard Maltin Dick Tracy Special which explores the history of the iconic sleuth, with Warren Beatty reprising his role as the man in yellow. And Info about the special can be found here.

Have a look at this fantastic 1990 making-of TV documentary: Dick Tracy: Behind the Badge, Behind the Scenes.

Have a gander at the evolution in Al Pacino’s make up for his character, Big Boy Caprice

Check out this very rare 1990 Evening Magazine TV show episode that covers the Dick Tracy Premiere at Disney’s MGM Studios in Orlando, along with some very rare interviews with the cast.

Look at this vintage 1990 commercial for the Dick Tracy toy line.

Check out this GREAT 1990 McDonald’s commercial, promoting Dick Tracy‘s tied-in marketing campaign.

Talked about in the podcast, here’s the indispensable 1980 book, The Celebrated Cases of Dick Tracy, 1931-1951.

Also covered in the cast, here’s the HIGHLY RECOMMENDED 1990 graphic novel prequel and comic book adaptation of the feature film, called Dick Tracy: The Complete True Hearts and Tommy Guns Trilogy.

And, have a daily dose of your favorite daily comic strip, found here at GoComics.com!

October 16

The Black Hole, 1979

The boys are back for week 3 in their epic October Halloween month of Horror! This time around J. Blake and Dion Baia tackle what some might call an unorthodox choice for a scary movie pick, but it certainly is Disney‘s darkest entry in film and also their most frightening (heck, [spoiler alert!] they go to Hell at the end)! Of course we’re talking Disney’s breath-taking and highly ambitious venture into cosmic Sci-Fi, The Black Hole, from 1979.

The Black Hole, 1979

The boys get into all the minute details of a movie that was so shocking, it quite possibly might have scarred an entire generation of children while at the same time, begot a merchandising campaign so vast, it even gave us a Little Golden Book Edition for those too young to follow along with the terror onscreen. Dion and Blake attempt to dissect the film in the context of the space-mania in the late 1970’s, and Hollywood’s race to the stars on the big and small screen. They talk in detail about the pioneering and breathtaking visuals that sadly, at times were to the detriment of the movie’s story. Was this film actually in development years before Star Wars, as a disaster film no less? Were its groundbreaking Special Effects actually more involved than Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, combined? What’s really going on onboard the U.S.S. Cygnus between Hans Reinhardt and his evil companion, the hovering robot Maximilian? And learn about the roots of Dion’s fascination with Ernest Borgnine and the yearly event that he attends in the actor’s honor, all on another, terrifying and brand new episode of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

EXTRAS:

Take look at some EXCLUSIVE PICTURES of some rarely seen items on display in the Frank G. Wells Building located on the Disney Studios Burbank Lot, from when Dion and Blake were given a tour by Uncle Walt and Mickey (okay, Walt and Mickey didn’t give the tour but the lads like to remember it that way!). Here is one of the Palomino models used in the film; along with one of the scale models of V.I.N.CENTAND here‘s one of the laser pistols used in the filmALSO, here is the plaque outside of Studio A, the recording Soundstage designed to record Disney’s live orchestra music since 1939, and where The Black Hole‘s score was the first to be digitally recorded.

Here’s a GREAT Behind the Scenes picture of Peter Ellenshaw overseeing the photography of the U.S.S. Cygnus model, courtesy of AintitCool.com

Check out this awesome rarely seen commercial for a toy robot version of V.I.N.CENT!

While you’re at it, here’s a vintage commercial for its action figures!

Courtesy of BugEyedMonster.com, along with the regular toys, check out some UTRA-RARE Black Hole toy prototypes that NEVER made it to market.

Have a look and listen to the Black Hole Read Along and Aloud record, most notably with different actors voicing the characters, with the exception of Roddy McDowell.

Here’s the LP versionStory of the Black Hole“, this time with the actor’s from the film. And he’s Part 2, Side B!

For more on the Manhattan West Side Mexican Restaurant Tortilla Flats click here, and for more on Borgnine Night, click here for a CBS News Profile on the event (where SNMS’ own Dion Baia can be seen at the 2:25 mark!)

Take a listen to the sister-site Podwits.com Podcast where Dion, Brian Zino and J. Marcus recorded live from the 2012 Borgnine Night!

 

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September 11

The Last Starfighter, 1984

To close out the long and hot summer, J. Blake and Dion Baia have embarked on a journey that will take them out of the trailer park canyons of California and up into the galaxy to help defend the cosmos against horrifying alien evildoers who are hell-bent on, well… doing whatever they plan to do- and the key to this adventure is provided to us by one cleverly disguised, humble arcade game console. Yes, we are talking about the highly-underated 1984 film The Last Starfighter, directed by Nick Castle.

The Last Starfighter

Yes Joystick Jockeys, this cult classic is hailed as the first film to showcase CGI Imagery to replace the tradition Stop-Motion and Practically Special Effects, and is sometimes forgotten for that milestone. But how does a space film in a post-Star Wars world stand out without ultimately being compared to the property that set the bar? The boys reminisce about the era of the late 1970’s and 80’s when one actually had to go out of their house and travel to a local arcade or restaurant if they wanted to socialize while gaming, and/or see the latest and greatest in video game technology vis-à-vis the big console units. Has time and the public been fair to this ground-breaking film? Can this movie actually be considered as influential as Star Wars in certain circles? And what’s this film’s 3-way connection to John Carpenter? And does Blake‘s Lance Guest story really involve a late-night encounter in the adult section of a 24-hour New York City store? Well we’re not pulling any punches on this all new edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! Inter-stellar!!

(Check out the site for the Kenner Star Wars toys documentary discussed in this podcast entitled, Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys.)

(Here’s the link to Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America, the great book that discusses the history of game consoles; the success of Mario starting from the failed arcade console Radar Scope which was then converted into the legendary Donkey Kongleading to the rise of Nintendo and the legacy we are all familiar with today.)

(Have a look at composer Craig Safan conduct a performance of The Last Starfighter Suite, live!)

(The name of the Cleveland Restaurant that had VHS tapes to watch behind the bar was The Greenhouse Tavern)

(And on a COMPLETELY unrelated note, here is Dion meeting to man, the myth, the legend- Mr. Ron Jeremy)

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July 3

Flight of the Navigator, 1986

Happy Birthday America! To ring in the July 4th holiday, J. Blake and Dion Baia are pulling out a real old-school classic, the forgotten Disney gem, Flight of the Navigator, from 1986.

Flight of the Navigator

The boys bring a slew of knowledge and personal experience to this edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers, relaying the history of Walt Disney‘s company, especially in the context of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, be it in animated and live-action films. Dion and Blake relay their story of the private tour of the Disney Studios in Burbank CA that they took part in, and Dion’s fortunate (or unfortunate) meeting of Michael Eisner, ex-CEO of Disney Studios from 1984-2005 and how it panned out. How does Flight still hold up today? How about the Special Effects? Was this Disney’s answer to E.T.? And wow, Disney can be dark when they want to be, can’t they?! We’re traveling the cosmos in this 4th of July extravaganza, so come on down and have a listen!

(Here’s a great 1986 featurette for Flight of the Navigator)

(Check out the trailer to the must-see documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty, about the near-scuttling of Disney‘s Animation department.)