Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tuesday Treasures: The Rocketeer

Welcome to the first installment of "Tuesday Treasures", where each week I'll be presenting a review of something that I enjoy, and think that you might like as well. Some of these, you may be familiar with. Some, you may not have heard of, and that's the point: to lead you to something you might truly enjoy, but might not have found otherwise.

It won't all be music, books, or movies, but I do love all of those, so it's easy to begin with a movie.

I present:

The Rocketeer.

The Rocketeer was released in 1991 through Disney, and based on a comic book of the same name by the late Dave Stevens.

It follows the adventures of Cliff Secord (Billy Campbell), a pilot in California in 1938. Cliff, his best friend/mechanic Peavy (Alan Arkin), and his girlfriend Jenny (the stunningly beautiful Jennifer Connelly), become embroiled in international espionage when Cliff accidentally finds an experimental rocket pack designed by Howard Hughes (Terry O'Quinn) and stolen by mobster Eddie Valentine (Paul Sorvino) for actor/Nazi spy Neville Sinclair (then-James Bond Timothy Dalton).

This movie can be summed up in one word:


I'll add more words:

Pure, unadulterated fun.

Cliff and his friends find themselves pursued by Valentine and Sinclair in a chase that ends with an explosive battle aboard a Nazi zeppelin over the skies of Hollywood.

Directed with flair by Joe Johnston (who will be helming next year's Captain America movie for Marvel Studios), this film is a loving tribute to the sci-fi action serials of the 30's and 40's, the source material that inspired the original comic book.

The Rocketeer was filmed before the advent of computer graphics, forcing the filmmakers to achieve flight the old-fashioned way, with practical, in-camera effects using miniatures and real sets.

Its performance at the box-office did not meet Disney's expectations, and so the contracted sequels that would have made this an Indiana Jones-style adventure trilogy were scrapped, making The Rocketeer a stand-alone film that remains one of my favorites of the past two decades.

When released on VHS it began to gather a cult following of fans who generally refer to themselves as "Finheads".

I can't speak highly enough of this film, as both a brilliant example of translating a comic book to the live-action screen, and as a fun adventure movie on its own merits. The exhilaration Cliff feels on his first flight, as well as the amazement felt by the press and general populace upon his first public appearance are almost tangible, and just one of the reasons that this film deserves much more recognition than it gets.

If you've seen this movie and enjoyed it, I encourage you to revisit it.

If you've never seen it, I encourage you to seek it out. It is available on dvd (though sadly only in a basic, no-special-features edition), and I think you'll enjoy the spirit of fun and adventure that a great many movies of today are lacking.

It is just plain fun and exciting, and Jennifer Connelly is in it.

If you'd like to be a part of Tuesday Treasures, sharing something you enjoy, please let me know at scratch_1701@yahoo.com. I'd love for this to become a community Treasure Chest.

Thanks for reading my ranting,



  1. It's been awhile since I was last here. I love the new look, Brad. Oh, and when I was five I was obsessed with the Rocketeer. So that's pretty funny.

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  3. I hate typo's.

    Thanks, Tim. Good to see you around again.

    And for the record, I'm still obsessed with The Rocketeer.

    My kids love it for the same reason that I do:
    the fun of it.

  4. Tuesdays treasures is such a neat idea :) Love the new look!

  5. I really liked The Rocketeer, too. It's been years since I've seen it but since Jennifer Connelly is the only woman I wouldn't trust that boy I married with I bet he'd spring for the DVD.

  6. Laurel--HAHAHA!

    My ex always said the same thing about me.

    Even though I'm not married anymore, sadly I'm nowhere closer to Jennifer Connelly.

    *heavy sigh*

  7. The new look is very cool. And I love the Tuesday Treasures idea. I'll have to think what I can send you for a future post. And I'll have to check out The Rocketeer. Sadly enough, I've never read or watched it.

  8. Both the comic and the movie are fantastic, Jaleh.