It was 30 Years Ago Today…

Thirty years ago, I was completing my freshman year at college. I had just been named Arts & Leisure editor and was sifting through the promotional material we received from publishers and movie studios. One item caught my eye, roughly 17” x 11” in size, it was a glossy color brochure about a new movie opening in late May from 20th-Century Fox. The film, Star Wars, looked kinda cool with a no-name cast and a down and dirty production design.

I brought the brochure home with me as a keepsake and put the film out of my mind until I got home. A few weeks later, it opened on a Wednesday night, thirty years ago this very day, and for whatever reason, I wanted to but could not attend that first showing. However, every television news program had reviews and clips and it looked amazing. Nothing quite like it in films and certainly unlike anything on network TV since Star Trek.

I had to go the next night.

That summer, my best pal Jeff, and I were working at the Nathan Lagin Lamp Factory (me, I was in charge of lamp shade receiving) and so we planned to catch the first showing after dinner. Well, word spread and spread pretty fast in those pre-Internet days, so we found a long line. We got in, though.

Like most of America, I was blown away.

The movie was the first one I actively went out of my way to see again and again in a short span of time. I must have seen it four times over the summer and then once more back up at college in September, with a gang of people which included Deb who I had just met.

Every generation there comes something that unites the masses and it has been Superman in the 1940s, Daniel Boone in the 1950s and now, in the 1970s it was Star Wars. It certainly deserves to be lauded for what it brought to America and what it did for cinema. Knock the stuff that came after all you want, but in the context of May 1977, this was a trend-setting, breathless movie that mixed fun characters, some lofty notions of good and evil and state-of-the-art special effects in what was clearly meant as an ode to simpler days.

P.S. Did I happen to mention that Kate comes home in eight days?

4 comments

  • I think my completely lame evening plans call for a bowl of butter popcorn, a glass (hah, a can) of Natty Boh, and Star Wars in the DVD player …

    … the original version, not the Special Edition.

    Han. Shoots. First!

  • Susan O.

    Ouch. I was finishing 6th grade. I saw it, dragged my father to see it, and he managed to even drag my mother to see it. While Star Trek may have changed American Culture, Star Wars has changed the way we watch movies, and the way we market them.
    Han rules. Always.

  • Bob Ahrens

    I was 15. If I wanted to go somewhere, my parents had to take me, and in a big family like mine it was hard to schedule anything like a family outing to movies… Still I watched the talk shows like Merv Griffin and Mike Douglas as they paraded out the glamourous, young new stars of the film with srange names like “Hamill” and “Ford”… “Hey wasn’t Hamill the girl who won all those medals at the Olympics?” ,,, “No Catherine, that was Dorothy, not Mark”

    So as I watched eagerly at those tantalizingly short snippets of the film they would tease you with, I resigned myself that my parents were not cool enough to see this film. After all, they’d passed on the shark movie, and the last one we’d gone as a family to was the “Love Bug”.

    Couple days later, we were sitting ’round the dinner table, and all night, Mom and Dad were speaking animatedly over some story…. strange words like Vader and Force and Death Star seemed key to their discussion…Then it hit me… Those sneaky little (insert expletive here)! They had ruthelessly gone out under the cloak of darkness and saw the movie. Without me. Without all of us kids. Like on a date or something.
    Suddenly it was cool to take your girl to the movies again!

    Of course we shamed them into taking us to the movie that very night. It was the first and only time I ever saw my parents see a movie more than once.

  • mike weber

    Ummm – that’s “Davey Crockett in the 50s’s”.

    “Daniel Boone” – same actor, granted – was rather later.