July 26

The Wizard of Oz, 1939 & The Return to Oz, 1985 Double Feature

Welcome back to another all new edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers’ Summer of Sequels! This week J. Blake and Dion Baia are getting crazy with the cheese whiz, and doing an epic double-feature! They’re taking on a film that has been called the most watched movie of all time, the MGM 1939 classic, The Wizard of Oz, AND its unofficial Disney sequel which has now become a cult classic, The Return to Oz, from 1985!

In their longest running podcast to date, Dion and Blake attempt to do this massive topic some justice. On the 100th anniversary of author L. Frank Baum’s death, they discuss the original book published in 1900; the fellas unpack the 1939 MGM movie that turned 80 this year; and analyze the 1985 film which people deemed too dark and scary for a Disney film, even though it was the closest rendition of the Baum material to date. They chart what is faithful to Baum‘s original work and the incredible impact his book series has had on the world. So you better hit the bathroom now and do some stretching, because this is gonna be a long one as the boys ‘ease on down that yellowbrick road with Dorothy, in an all new exciting, hilarious and informative edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

*(Okay, with a podcast this long, the boys are bound to misspeak: They accidentally referred to the 1900 book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as The Wonderful World of Oz. They regret the error. Also, Dion misspoke when bringing up Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre, calling it Shelley Winters’ Faerie Tale Theatre-which would be a completely different thing; Dion also accidentally referred to Jack Haley as the Cowardly Lion when discussing the make-up scars on Bert Lahr‘s face; and, when mentioning Deanna Durbin‘s 1945 film Lady on the Train, Dion called it The Stranger on the Train– his apologies.)

Extras!

Check the 1980 Thanksgiving animated Special, called Dorothy In The Land of Oz.

Have a listen to the LUX Radio Show presentation of The Wizard of Oz, from 12/25/50, with Judy Garland reprising her role as Dorothy Gale.

Take a look at the official trailer to the documentary Remembering Return to Oz, which seems to be still a work in progress.

And follow the show on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram…@satsleepovers!

March 17

Beauty and the Beast , 1991

It’s that time again… time for another exciting, thrilling and enthralling episode of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! Dion Baia and J. Blake have a whammy of an installment this week: a lighthearted, musical affair from a company that at the time of this film’s release, was going through a proper-resurgence themselves. And this movie marked its crowning achievement to-date for that company’s Animation Department, which broke new ground in its pioneering uses of CGI in this project… Yes, “it is a tale as old as time” as the boys explore the enchanted world of Walt Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, from 1991.

Beauty and the Beast

The fellas jump right in and go back to the beginning, discussing everything Disney in this epic podcast: They ‘set the table’ by giving a concise timeline on Walt‘s meteoric rise to fame, from his beginnings with the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit animated shorts and the work with his good friend and genius Ub Iwerks (among others), to bringing in Carl Stalling for help creating animated musical shorts, pioneering color cartoons and his finally creating a feature-length animated film in 1937 with the ground-breaking Snow White and the Seven DwarfsBlake and Dion follow Disney‘s journey through the war years and his upswing in the 1950s, and Walt then getting side-tracked with live-action films, a new medium called television, and theme park construction. These side ventures unconsciously begin to take its toll on the animation department and with Walt‘s death in 1966 it almost becomes rudderless, culminating with the near closing of the entire animation branch in the mid 1980s. The boys then go through the renaissance in the late 80’s that brought the famed animation unit back and to the biggest cartoon film to-date, Beauty and the Beast. They go through the history of the popular fairytale with the 1946 live-action Jean Cocteau movie, even hitting on the late 80’s TV series. Dion and Blake then discuss the work it took to get Beauty and the Beast on screen, with the brand new CAPS technology that changed the face of animation, and the work by composer Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman that gave us all those classic songs we know today. So what 1949 Disney animated film do the lads draw similarities between? What are the controversial subtexts that some academics have read into the work and what are their perceptions of the themes within Beauty? How did Walt Disney‘s brilliance in knowing his own limitations actually help in making the company such a huge success? What important character from the 1946 Cocteau film did this Disney story borrow? What character was the song Be Our Guest originally supposed to be sung to? And what famous book-turned-to-film thriller (that is a staple in every serial killer library) do the boys find similarities with this animated classic? Well grab some popcorn and your favorite sipping drink, because the boys are taking you on a musical adventure this week with this mega, Disney-filled new installment of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

*Dion misspoke during the cast, the 2012 film Snow White and the Huntsman was in fact a Universal, not Disney film.

EXTRAS!

As the boys described in the podcast, here our exclusive photos taken by them at the Disney Burbank Lot of the Ub Iwerk-designed 14′ high Multi-plane camera, HERE and HERE for the game challenger, Snow White, and check out Walt and the boys HERE and HERE, using it back in the day.

Check out the boys getting a tour from Walt and Mickey themselves, HERE and HERE!

Have a look at some of the original character design sculptures that animators used as references, that were on display at the Reagan Library Disney Exhibit.

Take a look at photos HEREHERE and HERE  the boys took of the original Animation Building that’s located on the Burbank lot (personally designed by Walt), that animators drew the films from Dumbo up to The Black Cauldron within. Check out the plaque inside the building.

And HERE and HERE are the pictures the fellas took of the corner window of the Animation Building that was Walt’s office.

Here’s the original trailer to the 1946 Jean Cocteau Beauty and the Beast film, narrated by Cocteau himself.

Have a gander at this chart of the different elements of animals used to make the Beast.

As talked about in the podcast, here is the Billy Joel rendition of When You Wish Upon a Star, from the 1991 Disney album Simply Mad About the Mouse.

Check out Tom Waits‘ version of Heigh Ho (The Dwarfs Marching Song) from the 1988 Disney album Stay Awake:Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films.

December 23

Santa Claus: The Movie, 1985

With Christmas just days away, J. Blake and Dion Baia decided to seek out a film that actually was the first to attempt to lay out the backstory of old St. Nick; a movie that sadly came and went, and like any good holiday film, it’s a perfect time capsule for the era it was made within. We’ve got Santa pitted against the evil and greed of the 1980s, in Jeannot Szwarc‘s Santa Claus: The Movie, from 1985.

Santa Claus the Movie

This forgotten gem starring the great Dudley Moore, David Huddleston and John Lithgow immediately have the boys thinking back to the Christmas’ of their childhood, and the memories that come along with those experiences, like the Sears and J.C. Penney catalogs and their toy sections, or shopping with Mom and watching her use coupons for everything and then get rainchecks for what was on sale but had been 86-ed. And because of the product placement and connected marketing campaign, it has Dion and Blake longing for a McDonald‘s meal circa 1985, and all it’s unhealthy heavenly glory. They discuss the superhero-esque origin story, and relish in the glorious pre-CGI practical effects, and the beauty that has been lost in those antiquated Special Effects. So playing the SNMS-patented What-if ?” game, who were some of the other directors considered to helm this film? Was a legendary horror director actually topping the list to, at one point, oversee this project? Was this entire movie, including the parts in New York City, shot on a soundstage in another country entirely? And is it really unheard of to have that many wild reindeer pull a sleigh? Well, this week the boys hook up with the Vendequm and watch them fulfill their centuries-old prophecy, in an all new Holiday Edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

EXTRA:

Check out the original trailer for Santa Claus: The Movie!

Take a look at an original 1985 TV spot.

Here’s a great example of the product endorsements tied into the movie, where we have the elves selling Kodak Disk Cameras!

And here’s local reporter Roy Leonard from WGN Channel 9 reviewing the film on the nightly news, circa 1985.

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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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.)