April 30, 2011

Disney Legend Richard Sherman on "Iron Man 2"

From FILM+TV on 5/11/10

And here I was thinking the filmmakers were just writing an homage to the 1964 New York World's Fair. But Disney does sneak into the Marvel Cineverse with a familiar, catchy tune. "Make Way for Tomorrow Today", penned by Disney alum Richard Sherman, is the theme song for the 1974 Stark Expo.
"It's very much a Disney-style up-tempo number," says Richard, who confirms the piece gives a wink and a nod to his 1964 composition for the Carousel of Progress. "It's the feel of 'There's A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow.' It has the same exciting Disney quality."

You can read the entire interview at the D23 site.

Retro Fun: "Tales of the Gold Monkey"

From FILM+TV on 8/31/10

Shortly after the release of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" the TV networks rolled out their own Saturday Matinee Serials. On CBS we had "Bring 'Em Back Alive" starring Bruce Boxleitner and Cindy Morgan (That's right, those two good looking programs from TRON). And yes, I watched it, it was good, and who doesn't like Bruce Boxleitner right? But it wasn't as good or as fun as ABC's "Tales of the Gold Monkey".

This show had it all for me: Airplanes, dames and one-eyed dogs. I have not seen this show in years and will probably be horrified by how silly it really is (Have you watched "Airwolf" reruns? Hoo-boy!), but coming on the heals of "Raiders" I was thrilled with the pre-WWII setting, the exotic island local, the shady villains, the femme fatales and that awesome Grumman "Goose", I'm a sucker for vintage planes.

Stephen Collins starred as the square-jawed, everyman hero Jake Cutter. Jeff MacKay as Jake's sad-sack sidekick/mechanic Corky. Caitlin O'Heaney played Sarah White, Jake's girl and an undercover spy! Roddy McDowall was all suave coolness as Bon Chance Louis owner of the Monkey Bar. And let's not forget man's best friend the one-eyed canine wonder Jack. The little Jack Russell terrier was good for a laugh and made a great foil for Jake, after all Jake had lost his fake eye in a poker game!

Created by Donald P. Bellisario, "Monkey" had a lot of the trade marks of the Bellisario/Stephen J. Cannell action-adventure shows from the 80's and 90's like "Baa Baa Black Sheep", "Airwolf", "Riptide", etc. These included shooting locations, guest actors and an awesome 80's Mike Post/Pete Carpenter theme song! This should come as no surprise since Bellisario was a writer/producer on Cannell's "Baa Baa Black Sheep".

And, unfortunately, like "Bring 'Em Back Alive", "Monkey" only ran one season (21 episodes) dying at an early age of high production costs and low ratings.

GoldMonkey.com fansite
goldmonkeydotcom on YouTube
Tales of the Gold Monkey on Wikipedia
Bring 'Em Back Alive on Wikipedia

The Rocketeer vs. Captain America

From FILM+TV on 9/3/10

At least that’s how it would be touted in the funny books if The Rocketeer made an appearance in Captain America.

When it was announced that Joe Johnston was going to be directing “Captain America: The First Avenger” it rekindled my love affair with his other comic book hero adaptation (for Disney btw, who now owns Marvel): “The Rocketeer”. But it also left me a little worried, as it has many of you, ‘cause Cliff and Peevy didn’t fare so well at the box office and most of the blame of course falls on the director. Of course I loved “The Rocketeer” and having just re-watched it I got to thinking; ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if The Rocketeer made an appearance in Captain America?’

Seriously, think about it. Even though IDW now owns the comic rights to “The Rocketeer” I bet Disney still owns the film rights (I’m just guessing) and they now own Marvel Comics and Captain America. Marvel Studios hires former Disney Productions director Joe Johnston (Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, The Rocketeer, Hidalgo) to direct the Marvel Studios/Disney Co. film adaptation of the Star Spangled Avenger.

And think about the fact that both characters exist in the same time period of some alternate reality (late 30’s early 40’s) on the brink of WWII (and then in the war) and they both end up fighting Nazis while using cutting edge technology (a rocket pack & the super-soldier serum) to protect the U. S. of A.

The geek in me would LOVE to see a fully costumed Rocketeer standing side-by-side with Cap as they kick the crap out of the Red Skull and his gang, but I don’t think that’s really the way to go. Instead I would like a cool, blink and you miss it cameo appearance by Cliff Secord - and maybe Jenny too - at some USO event where they cross paths with Steve Rogers/Captain America. You know, shake hands; get an autograph something silly like that. A wink and a nod to the Disney/Johnston connection.

Okay, pardon me while I go daydream some more.

April 28, 2011

Where is "The Rocketeer"?

In 1991 Walt Disney Pictures released what they had hoped would be a summer blockbuster live-action film - “The Rocketeer.” And in the tradition of “Swiss Family Robinson”, “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” and “Treasure Island,” “The Rocketeer” was a family-friendly, effects-filled, period adventure story.

Unfortunately for the studio and the fans alike, “The Rocketeer” didn’t live up to its potential as a moneymaker or a franchise launcher. There are legions of us that are fans of this film and hold it in much higher regard than the studio that produced it. But unlike “Tron” the adventures of Cliff Secord have yet to be revisited with a sequel, Blu-ray release, or even a Special Edition DVD.

And speaking of which, hey Disney, we are closing in on the 20th anniversary of “The Rocketeer,” this may have been a good time to roll out that DVD upgrade, don’t you think? (You can read my previous post on a DVD Special Edition HERE.) Except for 1999’s less than glorious DVD release our intrepid hero has remained locked in the vault, perhaps punishment for its initial lackluster performance?

In the summer of ’91 Disney did their best to make the most of their promotional opportunity. There were all sorts of marketing devices including a Pizza Hut tie-in, Nintendo and PC games, 3D Comics, magazines, lunch boxes and trading cards.

At Walt Disney World’s Disney/MGM Studios they rolled out all sorts of goodies including props from the movie and setting up a frozen drink stand named for Alan Arkin’s character Peevy: Peevy's Polar Pipeline.

But the film failed to capture the imagination of that summers’ movie going audience, and for more that one reason...

“A rocket?” “Yeah. Like in the comic books."
One of the factors contributing to The Rocketeer’s soft performance at the box office was the hero’s lack of more mainstream exposure.

Created in 1981 by artist Dave Stevens, The Rocketeer first appeared as a backup story for two issues of Starslayer at Pacific Comics. Compared to other comic properties like "Superman" (1978), "Batman" (1989) and even Disney’s own "Dick Tracy" (1990), "The Rocketeer" wasn’t exactly part of the public conscience.

“Its all part of the show.”
1991 saw the release of some big-budget action films that possessed a darker vibe and more bloody, bone cracking violence than the cheerful, wholesome, light weight Rocketeer. Thanks to movies like “Die Hard” (1988) and “Batman” we were ready for our heroes to be a little darker, a little more violent, and a little less wholesome.

When the “The Rocketeer” was released it had plenty of competition. This was the summer of F/X2, Stone Cold, Backdraft, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Point Break, Double Impact, Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man, and the box office champ Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

As much as I love “The Rocketeer,” it looks like it was produced a decade earlier when compared side by side with T2. Watch them both, and marvel at how cutting edge the effects and action are in T2 and then wonder at the simple (sometimes poorly executed) effects in “The Rocketeer,” and Disney had help from ILM!

“The Rock-a-who?”
Produced for about $40 million, “The Rocketeer” made just over $46 million in the US, prompting Disney to declare it a box office bomb. Of course it didn’t help that the movie was only released at 1,616 theaters compared to T2’s 2,274 and Robin Hood’s 3,175.

This perceived failure was cause enough for Disney to abandon any plans of creating sequels or further expanding the Rocketeer brand. Both Bill Campbell (Cliff Secord) and Jennifer Connelly (Jenny Blake) were contracted for sequels. Campbell signed for two more pictures and Connelly for one.

So where is “The Rocketeer”? Well, he’s in a lot of places, like Walt Disney World, eBay, IDW comics and ALL OVER the interweb.

Type ‘the rocketeer’ into Google and you’ll get About 415,000 results. Ebay? 418 results. At WDW you can find The Rocketeer at Hollywood Studios and in Planet Hollywood. And IDW comics published The Complete Rocketeer by Dave Stevens, collecting the classic series in its entirety in 2010 and are working on a NEW The Rocketeer mini-series.

Okay Dis, what’s the deal? Is there any chance that you’ll get back onboard the Rocketeer bandwagon? Even my non-Imagineer brain can come up with about a half dozen live shows, rides and motion picture/television projects for you to tackle.

But gosh darn it and gee whiz, please start with dusting off this classic and polishing it up for the home entertainment market!

[UPDATE] After I finished writing the above, I read online that Disney is going to host a 20th Anniversary screening of the film at the El Capitan theater in L.A., this will be followed by a Q&A session with cast and crew members. Does that mean they’re patching things up with Joe Johnston and maybe, seriously, going to give a little TLC to our favorite flyboy? Read about it at Hero Complex.

April 27, 2011

"The Rocketeer" 20th Anniversary Screening

Okay, so I was just getting ready to rip Disney for not acknowledging the 20th Anniversary of "The Rocketeer" when I read this online...

‘The Rocketeer’ returns to El Capitan with cast and crew'

Hero Complex just posted an article outlining D23's plans to screen the film at the El Capitan theater followed by a Q&A with the cast and crew.
The 20th anniversary of Disney’s serial-spirited adventure ”The Rocketeer” will be celebrated June 21 with a special screening and an exhibit of props and costumes, as well as a cast and creator reunion panel that will be moderated by filmmaker Kevin Smith. The entire program is being staged by D23, the paid-membership club that offers deeper, prestige access and archival-minded events to Disney fans.

You can read the entire article HERE.

Of course I still think they are missing a great opportunity to release a Special Edition DVD or Blu-ray Combo Pack of this long dormant movie. Perhaps, as I have speculated in the past, they will release it on Blu-ray when they release "Captain America: The First Avenger" on dvd.

NEW "X-men: First Class" Theatrical Trailer

Happy Birthday Ace Frehley!


April 25, 2011

Vintage Walt Disney World Photography: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (2)

Another good day on eBay and we have some more amateur shots of the 20k ride, I've also included three Disney press photos of the ride under construction, so enjoy!

The first two photos were shot in 1974.

This photo was taken in 1985 from the Skyway ride.

Here's an overhead shot of the ride, you can see the layout of the track for the subs to follow and the building that housed the dark portion of the ride. Its interesting to note that this building shares a very similar footprint to the one that was contructed for the Ariel/Little Mermaid ride in the Fantasyland expansion. Check it out HERE.

Here an Imagineer is applying gold leaf to one of the underwater sculpture pieces.

Interior work on one of the Nautilus submarines.

April 16, 2011

Vintage Walt Disney World Photography: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

I only rode this ride a handful of times, on one visit to WDW, in the late '70's. But the skill of Disney's Imagineers, the magic of the Disney film and the Victorian steampunk sci-fi of Jules Verne has left a lasting impression. I am (almost) heart broken that Maddy will never get to experience the mysteries of the deep or the thrill of a giant squid attack for herself, good thing we have the movie for her to watch!

Anyway, I made a couple of purchases on eBay this week and picked up some great vintage photos of Walt Disney World. Among them are a Disney publicity shot of the 20k lagoon and one of the Nautilus subs...

I love the crew members in costume walking her deck, as if preparing to set sail from Vulcania!

These next pix are by the gentleman I purchased the photos from - Bill Cotter. check out his website for more great vintage photos on sale: World's Fair Photos

And here are some aerial views, shot during helicopter tours of the Magic Kingdom (I've highlighted the 20k ride's location):

And of course one thing leads to another and I did a quick browse of the interweb and found these sites that give a tip of the cap to Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea...
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: The Ride
Vulcania Submarine
Crazed Fanboy Presents
Widen Your World

"Doctor Who: The Impossible Astronaut" Trailer

April 9, 2011

Celebrating 25 years of Pixar with Planet-Pulp

Today I stumbled across a VERY cool online gallery. Planet-Pulp.com has an impressive line-up of artists submitting artwork based on a Planet's theme. Here is a sample from this month's 25 years of Pixar gallery...

The Legends by Adam Lambert

Here's a word (or two) from Planet-Pulp: PLANET-PULP is only 5 month old and we’re trying to get the word out about what a great site we are. We’re just wrapping up our PIXAR 25th Anniversary Celebration Show and encourage you to visit the art and consider writing a little about us to help spread the word. We celebrate a new theme every month so were sure to be a anticipated destination in any Pop-Culture fans browser bookmarks. Be sure to follow us in April as we celebrate Saturday Morning TV and then Star Wars following in May.

April 5, 2011

"How Walt Disney Cartoons Are Made" (1939)

Here is an eight-minute documentary short from Walt Disney Studios. The subject is the creation of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" and played theatrically before feature films. "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" was Walt Disney's first full-length, animated feature film and in 1989 was added to the United States National Film Registry.

April 4, 2011

Rediscovering [Walt] Disney: Vintage Advertising (10): Der Fuehrer's Face

1942. Boxoffice Magazine

Der Fuehrer's Face is a 1943 animated cartoon by the Walt Disney Studios, starring Donald Duck. It was directed by Jack Kinney and released on January 1, 1943 as an anti-Nazi propaganda movie for the American war effort. The film won the 1943 Academy Award for Animated Short Film, and was the only Donald Duck cartoon to win an Oscar. In 1994, it was voted #22 of "the 50 Greatest Cartoons" of all time by members of the animation field. ~ Wikipedia

Der Fuehrer's Face is available on DVD: Walt Disney Treasures: On The Front Lines

"Game of Thrones" - The first 15 minutes.

April 3, 2011

Rediscovering [Walt] Disney: Vintage Advertising (9): Dumbo

1941. Boxoffice Magazine

1941. Boxoffice Magazine

1941. Boxoffice Magazine

Dumbo is a 1941 American animated film produced by Walt Disney and released on October 23, 1941, by RKO Radio Pictures.

The fourth film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, Dumbo is based upon the storyline written by Helen Aberson and illustrated by Harold Pearl for the prototype of a novelty toy ("Roll-a-Book").[1] The main character is Jumbo Jr., a semi-anthropomorphic elephant who is cruelly nicknamed "Dumbo". He is ridiculed for his big ears, but in fact he is capable of flying by using his ears as wings. Throughout most of the film, his only true friend, aside from his mother, is the mouse, Timothy — a relationship parodying the stereotypical animosity between mice and elephants.

Dumbo was made to recoup the financial losses of Fantasia. It was a deliberate pursuit of simplicity and economy for the Disney studio, and at 64 minutes, it is one of Disney's shortest animated features.
~ Wikipedia

Dumbo on DVD - Dumbo is not currently available on DVD but is scheduled to be released on Blu-ray in 2011.

April 2, 2011

Rediscovering [Walt] Disney: Vintage Advertising (8): The Reluctant Dragon

1941. Boxoffice Magazine

1941. Boxoffice Magazine

The Reluctant Dragon is a 1941 American combined live action and animated film produced by Walt Disney, directed by Alfred Werker, and released by RKO Radio Pictures on June 20, 1941. Essentially a tour of the then-new Walt Disney Studios facility in Burbank, California, the film stars radio comedian Robert Benchley and many Disney staffers such as Ward Kimball, Fred Moore, Norman Ferguson, Clarence Nash, and Walt Disney, all as themselves. ~ Wikipedia

Disney Animation Collection Volume 6: The Reluctant Dragon on DVD