44 MPH / Homestretch Grab Bag

Plus Our Own Sequel: a 7-Year-Old’s Take on Speed 2

50 MPH is entering the homestretch with just seven episodes to go, including this week’s smorgasbord of material. It felt like a good opportunity to once again scour the cutting room floor, showcase a few choice soundbites that haven’t found a home and generally put a bow on the more that 100 interviews presented over the last 11 months.

For example — and just to show the lengths to which 50 MPH goes to provide the deepest, most comprehensive insight into the making of Speed — we’ve gone and tracked down the damn catering department. That’s right, we got in touch with Speed‘s craft service guy, Michael Kehoe, a director in his own right now but responsible for feeding the cast and crew of your favorite ’90s action film 30 years ago.

“I always had to be mobile, so, I had a Bronco, you know, a bigger one at the time,” Kehoe says. “I just opened the back. I had a guy in the back there. He would reach out and start throwing waters to people and snacks to people in the cars, and we’d just go in and out of all the cars. And then they’d say, ‘Get the hell out of the way,’ and we’d get out of the way. We’d be on the radio. They’d say, ‘OK, we’re shooting.’ Bus comes through. ‘OK, reset.’ And then we’d go. We did big salads, brown rice, you know? I did Szechuan.”

It might sound mundane but, hey, no stone unturned.

Speed Sandra Bullock Craft Service
Sandra Bullock gets in on the action at craft service.

Beyond that, there’s a little bit of Twister talk this week, just by way of random anecdotes. Composer Mark Mancina, in particular, has a great story about working with guitarist Eddie Van Halen on that film’s soundtrack, and though it wasn’t pertinent to his discussion of Speed‘s original score, it was too good to pass up here. It starts with Mancina conceiving of a piece of music that would start as orchestra and then explode into The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” during an exciting sequence in the film. But Mr. Van Halen had other ideas.

“Basically, what Eddie was saying was he wanted to write a song to do the same thing,” Mancina says. “And I said, ‘Well, Eddie, that won’t work, because the whole idea of this is that people know the song, so, when they hear the orchestra, they’re going to go, ‘I recognize this but I don’t know what it is,’ and then when they see the tornado and the power chords come in, they all know what it is. But if it’s a brand-new song that nobody knows, it’s not going to do that.’ And he didn’t understand that. His brother kept trying to explain it to him but he did not understand that concept.”

Sticking with rockers, another guitarist, Steve Stevens, has a fun story about something completely off the beaten path, namely how the “Top Gun Anthem” became the “Top Gun Anthem.” It’s a widely shared story in the music press, but it hasn’t gotten much play in the movie press, so, why not drop it here? You’ll recall, Stevens played guitar on that track, which is seared into the pop culture consciousness. Turns out, we all have “Speed” crooner Billy Idol to thank for that.

Top Gun Twister
Hear a pair of great music stories this week from two action movies 10 years apart: Top Gun and Twister.

“I guess there was a theme that [composer Harold Faltermeyer] had for Fletch, the Chevy Chase movie, and Billy walked by and knew that Harold was looking for the theme and heard this little segment of music and said, ‘Oh, that’s your Top Gun theme,'” Stevens says. “And I think Harold went, ‘Oh!’ It was right under his nose, kind of thing. And then, so, he developed that and we said, ‘OK, on a weekend, on a Saturday, after working on Whiplash Smile, we’ll put up the multitrack.’ I just kind of slipped into this mode, and I kind of forgot about it afterwards. Because, like I said, it was after an Idol session. A couple of hours. And lo and behold, the film is a big success and then we got nominated and won a Grammy.”

But the fun doesn’t stop there. You’ll recall in our midpoint grab bag, 50 MPH trotted out a 7-year-old for his take on Speed. Well, in the wake of two weeks’ worth of beating up Speed‘s disaster of a sequel, it only felt right to do our own follow-up. And so, 50 MPH proudly presents to you, a 7-year-old’s take on Speed 2: Cruise Control:

“Well, I kind of liked it, but kind of not. It barely has bombs! It’s just a bad guy that’s trying to make a boat run into another boat. It’s barely even like Speed.”

Hard to argue. And there’s more where that came from.

Finally, more emails and reviews from 50 MPH‘s loyal and enthusiastic listeners, plus an outline of what’s to come in the final weeks of the podcast — including a very, very special announcement.

All of that and more in this week’s clearinghouse episode of 50 MPH!


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*Craft service photo courtesy of Michael Risoli


Kris Tapley Your Host:

Kris has covered the entertainment industry for nearly two decades, with bylines at Variety, The New York Times, Empire and Vanity Fair. He now works as a writer and consultant in Los Angeles, where he lives with his loving wife, lively son and lazy cat. He likes Speed.