Monday, July 5, 2021


I re-watch this one every now and then. It's undemanding fun. I enjoyed reading about it in "Hollywood’s forgotten superhero: why didn’t The Rocketeer take off?."
The Joe Johnston-directed Rocketeer is now recognisable as a classic origin story: an average joe discovers his powers, saves a dame, and beats the baddies. In this case, it’s cocky stunt pilot Cliff Secord (Billy Campbell), who finds a top secret rocket pack and battles Hollywood star/Nazi spy Neville Sinclair (Timothy Dalton) in Los Angeles in 1938. ....

They wove more Thirties references into the screenplay. It was now entrepreneur-magnate Howard Hughes – played in the film by Terry O’Quinn – who invented the rocket pack. Villain Neville Sinclair was created as an Errol Flynn-like matinee star who hunts down the rocket pack for himself (well, for the Fuhrer, who – like his plan to nab the Ark of Covenant for evil-doing – wants to create an army of rocket men). “It was Basil Rathbone meets Errol Flynn,” says Bilson about Sinclair. The character was based on the unsubstantiated story that Errol Flynn was a secret Nazi. “It was just a rumour,” says Bilson. “We went with that.” Seven-foot basketball player Tiny Ron Taylor was cast as his Hatton-esque henchman, Lothar. ....

Watched now, The Rocketeer still glimmers with old timey movie magic. It’s all heart and derring-do – a film about Hollywood, playing on Hollywood tropes, but a rip-roaring Hollywood adventure in its own right. Its spirit is best captured in Cliff’s first heroic moment as the Rocketeer – saving a passed-out pilot from an air stunt gone wrong. .... (more)
"Hollywood’s forgotten superhero: why didn’t The Rocketeer take off?" The Telegraph, July 4, 2021.

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