John Badham on BLUE THUNDER | The Trailers From Hell! Blog
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:
10 Responses to “John Badham on BLUE THUNDER | The Trailers From Hell! Blog”
Hi, Michael and company:
Good choice and excellent write up!
I enjoyed ‘Blue Thunder’ when it first hit the big screen and still marvel at the tricked out, high tech Toy and its devices.
Except for ‘Whisper Mode’, which is more a rotor than engine thing. Most of the whiz bang can be found on most modern day Black Hawks and Hughes’ test bed NOTAR (No Tail Rotor Assembly. Ducted air vents around the rear of the boom instead of a rotor. Looks ugly and uncool, but it works) helicopters.
Scheider is better than okay. Especially opposite Warren Oates, at his gruff and sarcastic best. And Malcolm McDowell being Malcolm McDowell. Even Daniel Stern is palatable in this tight little thriller.
Great to hear your a fan of this one, Kevin. As usual, you bring some great info with you. IIRC, this was Warren Oates last film before his untimely passing. Blue Thunder is a great action thriller. It’s hard to imagine a studio attempting a remake of this (something I don’t put it passed them, though). Many thanks for reading and the comment, my friend.
Great movie! I saw this one on the big screen when it first came out. I’m going to have to get the DVD. I have it on VHS, but I’m feeling the need for the full widescreen experience.
I just picked up the Blu-ray Disc of this myself. It’s the region-free, widescreen version Sony released in 2009. I’m teeing this up soon. Thanks, John.
Man, so much I could’ve seen filming if I would’ve been able to stay in SoCal where I was born. How awesome is that that you have seen and can see so many things filming? Never heard of this one, but thanks for sharing.
I didn’t know you were born here, T. Still have family in the southland, or come back to town? Thanks for reading and the comment, my friend.
I was born in Chino and still have some family in Loma Linda and Riverside. But most of my family live on the East Coast now, so I make it out there more often. However, for my 30th we are planning a trip to possibly attend The Price is Right! haha (it’s my fave tv game show)! I will have to keep you updated on that. Last time I was there was in ’05. Visited San Diego! Loved it
I know the area. My dad, in his last years, lived in nearby Corona. Well, if the Price is Right! still is situated in the CBS Television City, you’ll be close by to where I work. If you have time, we can get together to talk film or family. Take care, T.
Definitely one of the best science fiction-action conspiracy technothrillers of the early Eighties. A film with a serious social commentary and technology that is relevant to this day.
I so very much agree, Christopher. Thanks very much for stopping by, reading, and leaving a comment :-).