LA Flashback — “Into The Night”

Last night I was home channel surfing and came upon one of my favorite movies of all time: Into The Night. It was released in 1985, starring Jeff Goldblum and Michelle Pfeiffer and was shot entirely on location in LA, showing off the ’84 Olympics-period LA in all her glory. John Landis directed and as with most of his films, he had all kinds of friends and colleagues in cameos sprinkled throughout the movie. David Bowie was my favorite (and I swear they had to put him on an apple box in his scene with Jeff Goldblum.) But for great 80’s cheese, even Jake Steinfeld, he of Body By Jake, had a part for criminy sake!

But the LA stuff gets me good. Twice they show a Cal Worthington (and his dog Spot!) commercial (the one where he’s wing walking on a bi-plane) and once they show a Pete Ellis commercial. (Do you now have both of their jingles in your head? You will…) There is time spent at LAX with the Theme Building looking good. The one car chase goes through Century City and up and down and round and round the parking structure at the former ABC Entertainment Center which is now the new CAA building on Avenue of the Stars. There are scenes in the Marina, scenes in the flower mart downtown and a coffee shop scene shot in a Ships.

I love LA. I love this movie.

For proof it was shot in LA and full list of cameos, join me after the jump.

For the details of the movie itself, the description by Mark Englehart says it better than I can:
While caught up in the scandal resulting from the accident on the set of The Twilight Zone movie that killed actor Vic Morrow and two children, director John Landis (An American Werewolf in London) made this manic nighttime L.A. thriller with rising stars Jeff Goldblum and Michelle Pfeiffer. Goldblum plays an office worker with a dead-end job, an unfaithful wife, and a bad, bad case of insomnia. Unable to sleep, his midnight wanderings take him to the L.A. airport, where beautiful jewel smuggler Pfeiffer literally lands on his car. Fleeing Iranian terrorists (one is played by Landis), the two hit the road, and their adventures lead them to murder, mayhem, one scary hit man (David Bowie in a lurid, terrific cameo), and, of course, romance. Perhaps because of–or in spite of–the turmoil going on in his life, Landis fashioned a film unlike any of his previous (or later) safe Hollywood products; this is inventive, darkly comic, sincerely romantic, and L.A.-style sultry all the way. Landis’s greatest success is perhaps in the mood of the film: he manages to convey that weary, dreamlike insomnia feeling of adrenaline bordering on exhaustion. Goldblum is at his deadpan best and, despite a bad haircut and ’80s wardrobe, Pfeiffer shows the spark and beauty that would later make her a star. In support of Landis during his time of trouble, numerous directors, including David Cronenberg, Paul Mazursky, Don Siegel, Jonathan Demme, Lawrence Kasdan, and Jim Henson, made cameo appearances.

John Landis gives himself a great death scene — maybe that helped assuage his guilt about Twilight Zone? Probably not…

I saw this movie just before I moved to LA to attend LMU and study filmmaking and it only served to make me even more impatient to leave my small town and get to the big city! Plus, being a movie geek, I loved all the cameos I saw and it wasn’t until many years and much film history later, that I even knew the extent of the cameo list.

The full list of cameos (from wikipedia, but I did confirm them):
–Paul Mazursky co-stars as beachhouse owner and accused drug dealer Bud Herman.
–Roger Vadim also co-stars as Monsieur Melville, the French kidnapper.
–The man on the elevator with the “nice dog” is played by Jack Arnold.
–The top-hatted doorman at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel is Paul Bartel.
–Ed’s boardroom supervisor is played by David Cronenberg.
–The aerospace engineer sitting next to Herb (Dan Aykroyd) in the cafeteria is played by Richard Franklin.
–Amy, the clumsy waitress in Ship’s Restaurant, is Amy Heckerling.
–Mr. Williams (Carl Perkins) instructs a man to get off of the phone. The man is Jim Henson. Incidentally, the person Henson is talking to is named “Bert”, after Henson’s muppet.
–The actor playing the terrorist at a beauty contest (in the hostage film) is Colin Higgins.
–The script clerk on the hostage film is played by Jonathan Kaufer (“Soup for One” (1982)).
–The director of the hostage film, up on the crane, is played by Daniel Petrie.
–The police detective who interrogates Bud Herman at his beachhouse is Lawrence Kasdan.
–The tailor who fits the SAVAK agents is Jonathan Lynn.
–The driver ogling dirty pictures in the traffic jam at the start of the film is Andrew Marton (King Solomon’s Mines (1950), The Longest Day (1962)).
–The man caught with a girl in the bathroom of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel is Don Siegel.
–At the end, two Secret Service agents argue with the head agent (Clu Gulager) in Ed’s hotel room. The thin one with the glasses is Jonathan Demme and the larger one with the mustache is Carl Gottlieb.
–John Landis himself appears as the mute member of the quartet of Iranian hitmen.
–The drug dealer who tries to sell to Ed and Diana in their car is played by Academy-Award-winning make-up artist Rick Baker.
–The hooker who appears just before Baker is played by Michelle Pfeiffer’s sister, Dedee Pfeiffer.
–Screenwriter Waldo Salt plays the derelict who tells Ed that his car has been towed away by the cops.
–Landis often casts musicians in his film. In this one, David Bowie fights Carl Perkins to the death.
–Dan Aykroyd, the star of Landis’ earlier film The Blues Brothers, plays Ed’s co-worker, Herb.
–Bruce McGill, the co-star of Landis’ National Lampoon’s Animal House plays Diana’s Elvis-impersonator brother, Charlie.

This movie is a great historical document of LA. Plus, at the very end of the credits are these awesome (read: lame) Universal Studios tags (forgive my down and dirty “shoot video off the tv screen” quality):

Anyone know who Babs is?

7 thoughts on “LA Flashback — “Into The Night””

  1. You don’t know Babs? Seriously? Go to and read the trivia for Animal House.

    But yeah, this falls into that category of definitive L.A. movies. Clearly it defines 1980s L.A. in the same way that L.A. Story defined 90s L.A.

  2. I’m sure on the L.A. Metroblogs someone will quickly correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t it technically impossible to film “on location” in most of L.A.? :)

    I always thought the term meant filming outside the thirty mile zone.

  3. Where the hell have I been? I’ll tell ya: totally remiss in never having seen what sounds to be a gem of a flick. It’s going onto my Netflix queue and at the top, right away. Thanks, Julia!

  4. I also forgot to mention that Ed’s dead end job is in Aerospace (!!) and that all the nighttime adventures are all because of a downtown real estate deal in escrow.

    Thanks for the Babs reference — that is awesome! Too bad they still don’t honor it.

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