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.

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 18

SNMS Presents The Side Cast: Randy Jurgensen Part 2From Homicide to Hollywood

SNMS Side CastWelcome back to another all new edition of Saturday Night Movie SleepoversSide-Cast. We present Part 2 of our exclusive interview with retired NYPD Homicide Detective turned actor, consultant, writer and producer Randy Jurgensen. In this episode, we segue into Randy’s fascinating career in Hollywood and his body of work in the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s. We go in-depth about the first film he was drafted to be an advisor and actor for, The French Connection, and how he prepped the actors to be New York City cops (back when background prep was rare). We also discuss his friendship with director William Friedkin, as well as the four plus films they would collaborate together on. He also explains his role as of one the stunt drivers in one of the greatest car chases of allsorcererrandy time. He then goes into great detail about becoming a producer, and fighting the Screen Actor’s Guild for Larry Cohen‘s God Told Me To ; ‘stealing’ filming locations in New York City for Maniac and Viligante ; surviving the jungle and the Federales in Central America while filming Friedkin’s Sorcerer ; to fighting city hall (literally) in a small Maine town to get Stephen King‘s Thinner completed. As astounding as it is that a retired Detective was able transition into a life in Hollywood, what’s more incredible is that legends like Marlon Brando, Al Pacino and Roy Scheider were vying to hang out with him, because he was the ‘real’ deal, and moreover was the lead Detective on a very cruising_01publicized case at the time involving probably the most notorious cop killing in New York City’s history! Again, it’s a case where truth is stranger (and more entertaining), than fiction! So come listen to an absolutely fascinating and exclusive installment of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! (above picture Randy and Roy Scheider in Sorcerer, 1977; left picture is Randy in the NYC Coroner’s Office in Cruising, 1980)

EXTRAS:

The very iconic photo of the finale of The French Connection– Randy can be seen over Gene Hackman‘s right shoulder.

Here, here, here and here are behind the scenes shots of Randy on set on The Godfather, during the scene where Sonny is assassinated.

Check out Randy in The Godfather poster, up in the top right corner.

Here’s Randy at the end of Maniac, with real life partner Jimmy Aurichio!

Have a look at another picture from Cruising, with Randy center, interrogating Al Pacino, with Paul Sorvino standing against the wall.

Here’s another from Cruising, this time with a very young Ed O’Neill.

Subscribe to SNMS on iTunes!

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Listen to SNMS on PlayerFM!

 

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)

June 5

Weekend at Bernies, 1989

The guys kick-off the summer season with a cult classic, a ‘must’ for all those summer comedy fans, Weekend at Bernie’s from 1989!

Weekend at Bernie's

Dion and J. Blake have their hands full this time around! They reminisce on the long-forgotten ‘beach comedy’ genre and explore their favorite entries into this ’80’s phenomenon. Why don’t we see films like this anymore? Could this style of movie even be done nowadays? And speaking of phenomenons, the boys also get into the great time period when New York City based comedies would satirize the crime-ridden Big Apple of the ’70’s and ’80’s, an element which now may seem forgotten by some but very nostalgic for thoses generations who lived through it. And is the director, Ted Kotcheff, who also helmed (Rambo) First Blood, actually of one the most versatile directors as Blake purports? Well come on down and have a listen to a brand new, summer extravaganza, on this installment of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

Have a look at veteran actor Terry Kiser on The Actor’s Arena, explaining a lesson from his teacher, legend Lee Strasberg‘s emotional recall exercise, for crying on cue.

Check out Rom/Com author Jenny Colgan‘s hit book, Looking For Andrew McCarthy!

And here’s our very own J. Blake, hanging out with Terry Kiser, aka Bernie Lomax!