Here’s a throwback for all the children of the late ’70s and ’80s. Created by Dave Stevens, Cliff Secord was a stunt pilot who discovered a mysterious jet pack, which gave him the ability to fly. Donning the equipment, Secord became The Rocketeer, a crime-fighter who took on, among other foes, the Nazis. Stevens’ airborne adventurer first appeared in comic book form in 1982. Then, in 1991, he flew onto the big screen in Disney’s “The Rocketeer,” directed by Joe Johnston (“Captain America: The First Avenger,” “Jumanji,” “Honey I Shrunk the Kids”).
Bill Campbell (now Billy Campbell, and perhaps most recognizable for his portrayal of Darren Richmond on “The Killing”) played the titular stuntman. As a lead-in to the film, which opened in late June 1991, Campbell hosted a half-hour documentary on the character and mankind’s ever-burning desire to fly unimpeded. (Major thanks to YouTube channel IntermissionSociety for publishing the vid, and to Larry Wright for drawing our attention to it.)
In the short, Campbell and other cast members (Jennifer Connelly and Timothy Dalton) discuss their roles. Alan Arkin, Paul Sorvino, and Terry O’Quinn also appeared in the film, though they’re not featured in the documentary. Campbell then meets with real-life rocketeers, people who have strapped jetpacks to themselves and flown through the air—always with a medical team at the ready. The doc also takes us through historical attempts at flight, from zany strap-on wings to even more far-fetched ideas people have tried, in the hopes of soaring with the birds.
“The Rocketeer” never placed better than fourth at the box office during its five week run in theaters (and didn’t even crack $47M domestically), consistently underperforming Kevin Costner’s “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” and Billy Crystal’s “City Slickers.” (Boy, remember “City Slickers”? We do—we remember when it was a new release.) But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a ton of fun. And there has been a growing diehard fan base ever since.
Watch the 23-minute doc below.