When you remember a film, it’s never a detached experience where you only recall the image from the screen. You think of the place and if you’re lucky, the pals who shared the experience with you. The circumstances and company reflect in your reaction to the film. When I saw Into the Night, it was on a VHS tape that one of the folks at Fowlerhaus had rented from North American Video for VCR night. Why did they get it? Because David Bowie was in it. None of us spread out on the sofas and floor had actually seen the movie in the theater. We were in for an odd experience since Bowie was rather too brutal for (name withheld). Into the Night: Collector’s Edition brings back that late night viewing part with a better resolution than the VHS cassette.
Ed Okin (The Fly‘s Jeff Goldblum) isn’t doing well. He’s not happy at work. He’s suffering a massive case of insomnia. And his wife (Stacey Pickren) isn’t much of a help. One day he gets talked into leaving work early so he can go home and maybe get a nap. This turns out to be a bad idea since it turns out his bed is already in use with his wife having an affair. He heads to LAX airport to try out a goofy “wellness fix” suggested by a co-worker (Blues Brothers‘ Dan Aykroyd). Except instead of finding a boring calming experience, he has Diana (Batman Returns‘ Michelle Pfeiffer) drop on the hood of his car. She’s being pursued by a quartet of Iranian goons. He now has an excuse to stay up late as they zip around the streets of Los Angeles trying to stay alive. Turns out she’s part of a smuggling operation involving a large number of emeralds that once belonged to the Shah of Iran. At first he’s just interested in getting Diane somewhere safe and getting on with his life, but he finds himself tied to her adventure. Every one keeps coming at them including a suave hitman (David Bowie).
The film took an amazing chance in casting two stars on the cusp of fame. Jeff Goldblum was mostly known for small roles (Annie Hall) or being a team player (The Big Chill and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension). He was not a romantic lead until this moment and it paid off since the next year he’d rule the screen in David Cronenberg’s remake of The Fly. Michelle Pfeiffer had gained heat as Tony Montana’s girlfriend in Scarface after the disaster that was Grease 2. Two have a great chemistry for an altered screwball comedy. Goldblum looks like a guy who hasn’t slept in days. Pfeiffer has a glow that makes her impossible to turn away from her pleas.
The film is full of cameos from stars and filmmakers. The cast includes Bruce McGill, Richard Farnsworth (David Lynch’s The Straight Story), Vera Miles, Irene Papas, Clu Gulager and Kathryn Harrold. A strange yet proper casting choice is Jake Steinfeld. If you survived the ’80s, you’ll remember those “Body By Jake” t-shirts. This Jake is that Jake, the workout guru who gets roughed up. Among the people given a chance to be filmed after careers behind the camera are Jack Arnold, Rick Baker, Paul Bartel, David Cronenberg, Jonathan Demme, Richard Franklin, Carl Gottlieb, Amy Heckerling, Jim Henson, Colin Higgins, Lawrence Kasdan, Jonathan Lynn, Paul Mazursky, Daniel Petrie, Waldo Salt, Don Siegel and Roger Vadim. Even director John Landis cast himself as one of the four Iranian goons. A semi-cameo is featured in the score as B.B. King’s iconic blues guitar joins up with Ira Newborn .
Into the Night is such an under the radar film that it’s easy to forget John Landis made the film. After that night in the mid-80s, I never stumbled across it on the cable dial. This makes it perfect to be rediscovered through Shout Select. Into the Night seems like it would be a great screwball comedy for a date night, but it has a tone issue. The on screen violence is a bit rough. There’s a lot of bullets flying. Bowie’s hitman plays rough. There’s plenty of blood amongst the slapstick comedy. It’s a great date film if you both bonded over a love of Scarface. Into the Night is still a fine evening with Jeff and Michelle.
The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The transfer looks fine even with all the night work that pushes the film. The extra resolution makes the couple dazzle in the darkness. The audio is DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono. The levels are fine between the dialogue and B.B. King’s guitar solos. The movie is subtitled.
Back into the Night (25:48) sits down with John Landis to talk about the film. He really likes to talk about getting B.B. King for the score.
Requiem for an Insomniac (22:32) is a new interview with Jeff Goldblum about his breakout role. He has great memories about spending long nights with Michelle Pfeiffer on the set.
B.B. King into the Night (26:05) is a mixture of electronic media kit and documentary about the legendary bluesman. Landis enjoys talking to B.B. There’s a video that has an all star comedy team backing up King.
Theatrical Trailer (1:39) lets you know it’s a big chase in Los Angeles.
Shout! Factory presents Into the Night. Directed by: John Landis. Screenplay by:
Ron Koslow. Starring: Jeff Goldblum, Michelle Pfeiffer, Dan Aykroyd, David Bowie, Richard Farnsworth. Running Time: 115 minutes. Rated: Not Rated. Released: November 7, 2017.
Joe Corey is the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.