Made For 2016..!

‘THE SPECIAL’  belatedly welcomes you to 2016!!

During the site’s hiatus I have been busy compiling new material and scanning plenty of articles, images and photographing vintage pieces from the archive all to be presented here!  These will include;

* An all new image gallery featuring everything from press stills to vintage ads and review cuttings –

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* Pictorial reviews of the 1983 Monogram model kit and its variations, the Organic Die-Cast Model and the MultiToys Corp. Playset among others –

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* A page devoted to the Casio AA-85 wristwatch prop, featuring pics and the original instruction manual –

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* The long-promised Blue Thunder TV Series Companion will also make its debut this year

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But first, please read this fantastic new article by Senior Entertainment writer Mike Ryan for Upprox about just why Blue Thunder is – somewhat unnervingly – more relevant now than ever…

Chopper Wars…

SL 81 APRIL84 CHOPPER 2_0001SL 81 APRIL84 CHOPPER 3SL 81 APRIL84 CHOPPER 1Always beloved and now universally regarded as the ‘internet of its day’, US published Starlog Magazine now serves as an exhaustive chronicle of three decades of Sci-Fi/cult material.

Issue #81 (cover bottom pic) had a little treat for fans of the ‘super-vehicle’ based TV show that started with Glen Larson’s Knight Rider in a feature that would predate an argument that still endures today – which was better, Airwolf or Blue Thunder..?

Thankfully writer Lee Goldberg merely presents the facts for both productions here without the benefit of comparison as both shows were yet to be aired.  So it is with considerable surprise that I discovered none other than Buck Rogers himself (Gil Gerard) was to be Roy Scheider’s successor at the controls and that writer Dan O’ Bannon (despite later penning an episode for the series) was pretty rudely indifferent to his creations success.

Also telling is the first paragraph in the Airwolf case (second pic, middle) where it could be argued some of its eventual dominance/success was down to the grittier aspects of character traits (e.g. PTSD) explored in both Blue Thunder: The Movie and Firefox that ABC’s kiddie-friendly series actively avoided.  All this would’ve been academic though, had the closing paragraph about Columbia’s consideration of a Blue Thunder sequel been realised…

THE SPECIAL expresses thanks to SLOW ROBOT’s blog for use of its scans here – for much more vintage magazine coolness head over to STARLOGGED without delay…

Listening, Watching, Waiting…

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Printed in Spain and published (solely?) In Great Britain by Dumper Publishing, this nostalgic, pulpy annual is nevertheless 100% dedicated to the US.

Though by April 1984 its eleven-episode run was over, Blue Thunder took pride of place among the most revered cult TV of the era in the TV Favourites Annual 1985, featuring on the cover, insert (second pic) and double page spread (bottom) however this was, amazingly, not enough to qualify for an annual all its own (in an age when most shows of this genre warranted one however long its run)

While the cover shot is a generic still from the movie, the others are notable for their behind the scenes nature (from the episode ‘Payload’) – notice the backup chopper still has the mounting plate for the camera (top of second pic) and the shot in the feature is flipped – something that occured in the show itself (look for the ’02’ switching to ’50’).

Obcsure as it gets and therefore a rarity now, THE SPECIAL brings you another pictorial exclusive charting the history of Blue Thunder in the media…

9871 Feet…

BT_Camp1BT_Camp2BT_Camp3BT_Camp4BT_Synop1BT_Synop2BT_Synop3BT_Synop4More quaint souvenirs of the pre-digital age, this pair of four page cast list/synopses were distributed to the UK press for the purposes of promotional copy.  The Exhibitors Campaign Book provided by National Screen Service, Ltd. (top four pics) is typical of its kind but especially rare as the ad ‘blocks’ on the back page were inevitably cut out for composition into listings for local showings.  Among the nuggets of information present we also learn that editor Frank Morriss cut the final length to 9871 feet – not bad going when starting with a million…

Click on the scans above for larger, readable versions and look out for the much more exciting/expansive US version in a future post…

Scheider’s Law…

Cosmo1Cosmo2Cosmo3Cosmo4Cosmo5Enjoy this candid and insightful interview with our very own (and dearly missed) actor/ maverick pilot from (of all things) July 1983’s Cosmopolitan magazine.

Once described as a ‘lean cut Giacometti sculpture with a lone wolf aura’ and regarded by both peers and friends as the ultimate consummate professional ‘everyman’ he was known for on screen, Roy Scheider was as talented as he was underrated.  MUCH more to come in future posts on our favourite ‘Man in the sky…’

Das Fliegende Auge…

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West Germany has the curious distinction of having Blue Thunder (or Das Fliegende Auge) released there both first and well in advance of the rest of the world. Indeed, as the vintage programme above testifies (bottom pic) it would open in February 1983 while other territories waited until at least June and at latest September.

Whatever Columbia Pictures strategy may have been, it certainly paid off.  Auge broke box-office records and would make 2,355,048 theatrically (according to IMDB) with much more to follow in rentals (where the fierce onset of the video industry first threatened to eclipse cinema) and remains a popular title there to this day.  Given the minimalist theatrical poster campaign (below) one wonders if its initial European appeal hinged instead on something as basic as the surname of its leading man..?

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The Book Of J-Bad…

Badham_BookOne of the mission prerogatives for ‘THE SPECIAL’ Is to keep Thunderfans appraised of all relevant news and merchandise both vintage and current.

What a pleasure, then, to discover that one of Hollywood’s most prolific Auteurs has put pen to paper to share his wisdom and experiences with the rest of us.  Why should we care?  Because the author is none other than Blue Thunder director John Badham.

JBMore an anecdotal ‘How to’ rather than a straightforward autobiography, the new book ‘Badham on Directing’ may well prove to be an indispensable user guide for aspiring filmmakers.

Exerpted below are passages from a recent interview by cult website Topless Robot, where interestingly, Brit-born Badham is keen to cite Blue Thunder as the adult-oriented opening to his signature ’80’s Techno-trilogy –

LYT: I wanted to ask you a question about technology in general, since you’ve made two sort of iconic movies: Short Circuit and WarGames, that both ultimately come to the conclusion that technology that we create to destroy will ultimately become benevolent. Was that a coincidental theme that you just happened to like the stories and that was the theme there, or was that something you really think about a lot?

JB: Yeah, I would actually add into that and make a little trilogy, adding in Blue Thunder, because Blue Thunder deals with a lot of stuff that we’re looking at right now very hard – government’s intrusion into our lives and how much intrusion is okay. Blue Thunder was released before the year 1984; that was an iconic year because of George Orwell’s novel all about government intrusion, looking into the future. All three of these films deal with the dangers of technology and how it can go off-track, sometimes in a very funny way, as in Short Circuit, or in scary ways, as in the other films. We’ve always been worried about how computers can go wrong, but what we’re seeing mostly is either computers going wrong mechanically, or because of elaborate hacking designed for pretty malevolent criminal purposes.

bluedirectorLYT: When I was a kid, I was a huge fan of the Blue Thunder TV series, which I think lasted an entire season.

JB: Right, right; just one season.

LYT: I don’t think any of those themes really made it into the show, did they? How did you feel about the show, in general?

JB: I was not a fan of the show. I had a lot of troubles with it. I think they just were looking to make an entertainment, and it was kind of, not a clone, but a copy of The A-Team. It became that pretty quickly. As I told them when they talked to me first about it, I said “I know you’re not going to be able to fly that helicopter very much – it’s bloody expensive! And on a TV show budget, I don’t think that’s really in the cards.” Sure enough, after 3 or 4 or 5 episodes, they put people down on the ground in a big van, running around that way, doing something more affordable, and forgetting about any themes of invasion of privacy, or anything like that. It just became another cop show.

Full interview can be found here.  Book is now available from Amazon.com and will be released towards the end of the month on Amazon.co.uk.  Review in future post…

Alonzo, A.S.C…

Alonzo1Alonzo2Alonzo3Alonzo4Alonzo5Alonzo6Alonzo7Alonzo8Presented in full as promised, the second exhaustive piece from may 1983’s American Cinematographer magazine pulls focus on Blue Thunder’s photographer –  the late John Alonzo.

Veteran of such pictures as Scarface and Chinatown, Alonzo would become notable for his almost invisible hand-held technique and being the first Cinematographer of Latin heritage to be inducted into the US Cinematographer’s union.

While his gritty, urban style was ideal for Blue Thunder, the article above details all the process shots done on the ground that still convince as aerial to this day.

Coming soon – the concluding chapter on Motion Control…

Tonnerre De Feu Pt.2…

BT_French7BT_French11BT_French9BT_French10BT_French8BT_French12Presenting the second half of the French lobby card collection in order of sequence – Notice that the beauty shot of the chopper (fourth pic down) is ‘flipped’ – an unfortunate common occurrence when images are taken from slides.  Also notice the continuity error of Murphy’s lack of green wristbands (top pic) which would miraculously re-appear after take-off.  Interestingly, the simulated devastation caused by the the F-16 missile at street level (bottom pic) in other lobby sets/posters actually show the crane setup and the skip of debris as its dropped on the poor extras…

Coming soon, German Theatrical Programme and Part 2 of the American Cinematographer features…