Rick Overton It's the Rocketeer

(Welcome to Close Up, a series that drills down on the absurdly niche movie moments we just can’t shake. From single lines of dialogue to individual shots, this is a space where we go deep on the cinematic small stuff that lives rent-free in our brains.)

There’s a moment in Joe Johnston‘s 1991 comic book film adaptation of The Rocketeer that feels like it’s ripped straight out of a Superman serial adventure. Handsome pilot Cliff Secord (Billy Campbell) has infiltrated L.A.’s swanky South Seas Club to try to win back his love interest Jenny Blake (Jennifer Connelly), who is there on a date with the evil Neville Sinclair (Timothy Dalton). When Sinclair’s goons discover Cliff’s ruse and chase our hero through the club, Cliff escapes by donning an experimental rocket pack and soaring over the heads of club patrons. As he flies by, a woman clutches her chest and says, “It’s the flying man!”, and a guy on the dance floor excitedly says, “It’s the Rocketeer!”

It’s the only line that character has in the entire film, and even though he’s essentially a featured extra and is never seen again, I’ve always wanted to know more about him. You can see a flicker of recognition in the man’s eyes as he realizes he’s in the presence of this newly minted celebrity, and there’s a mixture of wonder and excitement in his delivery of that single line that has inexplicably stayed with me for years.

With this year marking the 30th anniversary of The Rocketeer, this is the perfect time to debut Close Up, a new column here at /Film in which we devote an inordinate amount of time to dissecting and discussing incredibly niche movie moments. So let’s kick things off with a conversation with Rick Overton, the actor who played that memorable “South Seas Patron” as he recounts his experience of working on this beloved film. Read More »