Reblogged from The Trailers From Hell!
“John Badham recalls the making of his rip-roaring action picture featuring some of the craziest urban helicopter action yet seen onscreen, as overseen by veteran pilot and aerial coordinator James C. Gavin. Malcolm McDowell, playing the villain, conquered his longstanding fear of flying long enough to go aloft for the loopy attack helicopter sequences. His obvious discomfort goes beyond the level of performance into the realm of Real Trouper-ism.”
I remember fondly catching some of the filming for this movie in the skies over L.A. back in the early 80s. We could see it from the windows of the top floor at work looking east toward downtown. In fact, this highly underrated action film (one that employed some of most extensive and extraordinary live action helicopter stunt work no studio today would even attempt to re-create) touches a very nostalgic nerve for me. Growing up in the old Florence Community (till I completed the 4th grade), we lived relatively close-by to the old, and now long gone, Goodyear Tire Recapping Plant.
That location was the Goodyear Airship site prior to its transition to factory work, all before the wrecking ball demolished the old hangars and buildings that made way for it to be turned into L.A.’s Central Postal Sorting Facility of today. The Rotary Action web site, one dedicated to the helicopter in movies, has named Blue Thunder, “the ultimate helicopter movie“. And its climactic action sequence, one that starts in downtown Los Angeles before heading south to this old tire plant, made for one awesome finale. The face-off between the customized Aerospatiale SA341G as the titled copter, piloted by Roy Scheider as Murphy, and his rival Colonel Cochrane (the marvelously evil Malcolm McDowell) in his Hughes 500D helicopter gunship is something no action junkie should miss.
Be sure to check director Badham’s spot on commentary and how it all relates to contemporary life in America. It’s not to be missed folks: