I saw The Rocketeer when it originally was released in the theater and years before I became Between Disney. I have remembered this superhero movie, starring Billy Campbell about a pilot who uncovers an experimental jet pack in 1938 which leads to a conflict with Nazis and mobsters, as a typical superhero action movie. And it was something that I never watched again since 1991. I did not hate it, I did not love it. Today The Rocketeer is considered by many as a cult classic. A recent viewing of this film has confirmed my personal opinion that it is a fun movie but not ground breaking. What I did not remember was how Mousey of a movie that it is:
· Joe Johnston: The Rocketeer was Johnston’s second directorial assignment, with his debut being a Mousey Movie in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, which has left its own mark on Disney parks. Johnston originally started in movies as a designer for Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and art director for Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, films which provide the story background for Star Tours: The Adventure Continues. In 2011, Johnston returned to the House of Mouse directing blockbuster Captain America: The First Avenger.
· Terry O’Quinn: O’Quinn plays Howard Hughes, the real life billionaire and aviator. In The Rocketeer, Hughes is the inventor of the X-3 jet pack in the film. Both the actor and the role are Mousey. O’Quinn would later go onto star in ABC’s Lost as John Locke beginning in 2004. But Hughes also has a hidden Disney history. He designed the Hughes H-4 Hercules or the “Spruce Goose”, a plane made out of wood. As noted in Jack Lindquist’s In Service to the Mouse, Disney purchased the Spruce Goose in 1988 as an attraction for a proposed Port Disney park in Long Beach. When plans for this new park were halted, Disney liquidated its ownership of the aircraft.
· Timothy Dalton: Dalton plays actor Neville Sinclair, a man with a secret interest in the jet pack and an eye for Cliff Secord’s (Campbell) lady. When I saw this the first time, the Dalton casting had my attention with my third favorite James Bond at that time (Connery, Moore, Dalton and then Lazenby) as a bad guy. In 2010, Dalton would yet again portray an actor for Disney as Mr. Pricklepants in Toy Story 3. Personally though Sinclair did his own stunts, Mr. Prickelpants appears to be both a better student and artist.
· Millie: To many actress Margo Martindale may be best known as the family friend of serial killer Dexter Morgan. But to me she will forever be Grandma Ruby in Hannah Montana: The Movie! In The Rocketeer, she plays Millie who runs the Bull Dog Café frequented by the Secord and his fellow airfield co-workers.
· Disney’s Hollywood Studios: There are several references to The Rocketeer in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The most prominent is Peevy’s Polar Pipeline named after Secord’s friend and mechanic A. “Peevy” Peabody played by Alan Arkin. Decorations for this snack stand include a replica Rocketeer jet pack.
I love superheros and superhero movies. And The Rocketeer is worth the watch, especially if you are a Disney fan as this film is rich with Mouseyness and could help deepen a visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.