Jim Henson as "Man on Phone".


Frank Oz Into the Night

Frank Oznowicz is paged at the airport.

production photo

production photo

Into the Night is a 1985 comedy-thriller directed by John Landis. It tells the story of an insomniac man and a woman on the run whose paths cross late one night in Hollywood.

The film is notable not only for launching the careers of Jeff Goldblum and Michelle Pfeiffer, but Landis's insertion of several Hollywood creatives who usually work behind the camera, including Rick Baker (make-up artist who worked on the 1976 King Kong and An American Werewolf in London), Jack Arnold (director of It Came from Outer Space), Jonathan Demme (director of The Silence of the Lambs), Carl Gottlieb (who co-wrote and appeared in Jaws), Amy Heckerling (director of Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Clueless), Lawrence Kasdan (writer of The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark), and several others.

Among these, Jim Henson is credited in the film as "Man on Phone". Outside of cameos in his own productions, the brief moment is unique as Henson's only on-screen appearance in a movie. His scene takes place fifty minutes into the narrative when Goldblum's character reaches out for help at a private club. Henson is seated, mid-conversation on the phone, and asks, "Have I ever lied to you? Okay, well... But, can we talk about it?" Interrupted, he ends the call with, "Listen, Bernie. I'll call you back later." The reference to "Bernie" is another of many Henson would make over the years to his friend and manager, Bernie Brillstein.

Writing for Jim Henson's Red Book in 2012, the Jim Henson Company archivist explained, "Landis had become friends with Jim and Frank Oz during The Muppet Movie (Landis puppeteered in the finale), and Frank had already appeared in Landis’s films Trading Places and The Blues Brothers. It was Jim’s turn, and he had fun in his rare turn before the camera."[1] The blog entry goes on to explain that Henson filmed the cameo during the same trip in which he'd appear as a speaker at the George Pal Lecture on Fantasy Film.

Continuing the tradition of including Frank Oz in his movies, Landis also inserted an "easter egg" reference to his friend in a scene near the end of the film. As Pfeiffer's character walks through the airport, an announcer over the loud speaker can be heard, "Mr. Oznowicz. Mr. Frank Oznowicz, please go to a white courtesy telephone."

Years later, while promoting Thor: Ragnarok in 2017, Goldblum recalled meeting Henson: "Hey, I got to act with, or be with, be associated with Jim Henson before his untimely and sad passing. He was in a movie — do you know? — he was in a movie along with other, a lot of other directors that were cast in this movie, uh, Into the Night in 1984. And so, Jim Henson has a part in it. So I think I met him on that occasion."[2]


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