Monday, May 4, 2015

Discuss: A Long Time Ago, In A Theater Far, Far Away...


Karen: Somehow, May 4th has become known as "Star Wars Day." I think it's  so people can run around saying "may the fourth be with you" or something like that. The film actually premiered on May 25, 1977. However, we didn't get Star Wars in my neck of the woods until July 6th!! I was absolutely going out of my mind waiting for it. I had read all about it in Starlog long before it came out, had got the novelization (although I patiently did not read it, but did stare at the pictures on a daily basis), saw the comics, and had seen Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and R2-D2 and C-3PO on Regis Philbin's Los Angeles-based morning talk show. I had been filled to the brim with Star Wars from every possible source but hadn't been able to see the film itself! When it finally blew into our dusty little town, it absolutely knocked me out. I used every resource I had to see it over and over again. Below is the flyer the theater put up announcing the movie's arrival -I just recently discovered I still had it a few months ago, and it sure brought back memories.


Karen: What's your story about the first time you saw Star Wars? (And around here, it's called Star Wars; none of that A New Hope crap...)

20 comments:

Colin Jones said...

Karen, you may think that waiting till July 6th was a long time but Star Wars didn't open in Britain till December 26th 1977 and that was only London - the rest of us had to wait as it crawled its' way around the country. I finally saw it on Tuesday May 30th 1978, just over a year after its' U.S. debut - I remember buying 'Savage Sword Of Conan' #8 (UK version) and reading it while waiting in line. As for the film itself - the moment that really stands out was the brief scene when Luke and Leia kissed and there was a huge "wooooooo" noise from the audience in the cinema where I was watching. Of course, George Lucas hadn't decided they were siblings yet.

dbutler16 said...

May the Fourth be with you, Karen!

Anyway, I was only 8 years old at the time, so I don't remember exactly when it came to my town (Rochester, NY) nor so I have any great keepsakes like your movie poster. I do vaguely remember seeing it in Stoneridge theater, which of course no longer exists, and being blown away, because I hadn't heard that much about it to that point. I remember the Cantina scene being my favorite part of the movie. I also remember a return engagement for Star Wars (I'm on board with the "No A New Hope" stuff with you, Karen) at the local drive-in the following summer (1978) and that my parents and I drove there, saw the huge line of cars outside the drive-in, and my dad turned the car around and drove straight home. I was bitterly disappointed, but most likely they'd have been sold out by the time it was our turn in line anyway.

Finally, I was one of the first kids on my block with the action figures, which were a while in coming out (plus I had that awesome Cantina set you could only get in Sears, which was the only way to get the blue Snaggletooth with the silver boots) and the Topps trading cards. If I may go off on a bit of a tangent, why did they have so many action figures that appeared in the movie for one second, but no Cantina band and no Grand Moff Tarkin? What's up with that?

Redartz said...

That was the first time I ever had to stand in line to enter a theater, and what a line; out the door and around the back of the building! This was unheard of at the time, in our little neck of the woods.

Upon leaving, I recall they were selling souvenir program books about the film. My friend and I each snatched one up; unfortunately that little item has vanished among the years. Alas...

Edo Bosnar said...

Saw it the first time months after it had first opened, and long after every single one of my school friends had seen it. That was because up to that point, my parents were weirdly strict about movies, esp. for me as the youngest. Before that, I was only allowed to see G-rated movies. So while it was playing in all the major theaters in nearby Salem, OR, I missed out, but when it finally made its way to a little rinky-dink theater in a nearby town, my mom finally relented and let my older sister (who had just got her driver license) take me and my brother to a matinee showing. And then we missed the first 10 minutes. Arghhh!
However, after that, my parents suddenly became less strict about movies, and besides letting my older siblings take me to PG features, they also started letting me go with friends from school as well (naturally, provided that there was parental supervision).
Anyway, at least I didn't have to wait in any long lines to get in...

david_b said...

Like most, living in a small town we too saw the loooong lines. I was 14yrs old and my Dad came with his girlfriend to take me.., we had just stopped at a local department store right before seeing the film and I bought the original Hildebrandt poster for a buck (never used or hung, I still have it pristine....).

All I could think of when I left afterwards was just HOW archaic the cars all looked outside, after watching a landspeeder blaze 'cross Tatooine.

Yes Karen, I'm TOTALLY on-board as well with the 'No New Hope' feelings. I didn't collect too many toys other than some figures back then (I was a bit old for 'em..), but I had lots of other stuff. A big glossy-hound, when I do find SW stuff to buy I ONLY collect pre-'83 stuff now, promo stuff, photos, fan club stuff, etc.., before Jedi hit and it suddenly becomes THE FRANCHISE. I just find the stuff cooler.

I did pick up a MIB original Kenner 'Empire' X-Wing a few months ago. The best posters for me were those commissioned 'Burger Chef' posters.., my Dad picked up the entire set of 'em. I have to mount 'em someday this year.

As mentioned above, I strive not to collect any newer SW merchandise, but I walked into a LCS and saw that Legacy Millenium Falcon that came out a few years ago, it's FRICKIN' HUGE...!! Easily twice the size of the Kenner Falcon, it has something like 20-30 sounds from the movie, lights everywhere, missles firin'.

I HAD to buy it, it was soooo obnoxiously cool.

SteveDoesComics said...

Like Colin, thanks to 1970s distribution, I didn't get to see it until 1978.

My main memory is of standing in a queue round the side of the cinema and being impressed by a gold office block with mirror-glass windows across the street, that I'd somehow never noticed before. It was also drizzling slightly, so I was trying to avoid getting my eyes poked out by the umbrella of the woman stood in front of me.

As for the film, I loved how it looked - with the spaceships and robots and flying cars and light sabres - but found the characters, story and dialogue to be somewhat on the corny side. I remember me and my dad upstairs on the bus on the way home, mocking some of the exchanges, like, "Don't get cocky, kid," and the thing about, "hitting wump-rats."

I was well into stuff like Killraven at the time, so it seemed a bit juvenile and slight in comparison but it was all harmless, escapist fun and I still to this day want a floating car.

Garett said...

My Dad asked me if I wanted to go see the movie, but I thought he said "Star Awards". Somehow the whole promotion of Star Wars had bypassed me, and I thought it was going to be like the Academy Awards. Boring! I phoned my friend and asked if he wanted to go see Star Awards with us, and he heard "Star Wars" and was so excited, yes yes!! I couldn't figure this out--what was the big deal?

So we went, me expecting a dull show of people giving acceptance speeches. And of course I was blown away! Fantastic show, and by the time Empire came out I was totally primed and ready for it. The other tidbit is that the poster for "Revenge of the Jedi" was hanging in my grade 9 drama class, right behind my desk. At the end of the year the teacher asked if anyone wanted to take it home, but no one did. Now I see on ebay today that the original poster is selling for $1000. Ouch!

Doug said...

I exclaimed to my aunt, who had taken 11-year old me to see the film, that it was the best movie I'd ever seen (high praise indeed, given what an Ape-o-phile I was).

The next summer my sister and I again visited with my aunt and uncle. That year she took me to see Superman: The Movie. Upon exiting the theater I exclaimed that it was the best movie I'd ever seen.

And then a few years later The Empire Strikes Back came out. And the bar was raised again.

Doug

Anonymous said...

There's no theatre in my town, so I actually first saw Star Wars on videotape; my best friend had it on Betamax and we watched it numerous times (along with Empire Strikes Back, which he also got on tape later). Of course, we had a VHS at home, so I couldn't dub my own copy. I think I had some Star Wars action figures, and a big Treasury size comic, before I saw the actual movie.

Mike Wilson

Edo Bosnar said...

Mike W., since I was way behind on watching the movie, I had already read the entire comic book adaptation long before I saw the movie. I was initially puzzled by the missing scenes included in Marvel's comics that weren't in the movie, like that whole conversation between Luke and his buddy Biggs, and then Han Solo's argument with Jabba (who apparently wasn't initially visualized as this giant slug). After seeing the movie the first time, I recall wondering whether all of that was in those first 10-15 minutes I'd missed...

Garett said...

Here's Star Trek's Tim Russ to explain Star Wars Day. :)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_ZRsf9sneQ

Edo Bosnar said...

Geez, Garett, that is absolutely hilarious. I particularly love that Darth Vader's boss is the "garbage octopus," and that he turned Obi-wan into laundry *snort*. Way to go, Tuvok!

Anonymous said...

I was eight years old, I saw the ads, and I BITCHED, and BITCHED, and BITCHED for weeks to my Ma to take us.
I think she would have taken us to The Exorcist, if only to stop my incessant nagging.
M.P.

pfgavigan said...

Hiya,

I saw it on opening night with my brother and his family.

Nothing, and it was hard not to capitalize that, will ever compare with the appearance of the Star Destroyer.

pfgavigan

Graham said...

I had to wait a couple of months before I got to see it. The closest theatre was in a city about 30 miles away and usually the only time we visited was when someone was sick or we were buying school clothes or Christmas gifts. It had been out for awhile and there was still a line to see it. The only thing I had seen was a brief clip on a morning talk show. I can remember what a big deal it was....there was an extended article in one of the spring Weekly Readers that we got in school. I loved the first one and actually figured out a way to see it twice (it was in the theatre for a LONG time).

Anonymous said...

I wasn't quite born yet, but my mom was pregnant with me when she saw it. Apparently prenatal me got so excited that my mom thought she was going into labor and had to leave the theatre!

Seeing Return of the Jedi when I was 5 is my earliest memory of going to a movie.

- Mike Loughlin

Anonymous said...

@Edo: Yeah, I was confused by those missing scenes (Jabba the bipedal alien, Luke with Biggs and Cammie or whatever her name was); it would've been cool if those had made it into the movie...although I prefer Jabba as the slug-dude.

Mike Wilson

Karen said...

I love reading about everyone's experiences. Thanks for chiming in. I think if you're of a certain age, going to see Star Wars really was one of those "I'll never forget" moments.

Unless you're the baby of the group, like Mike L.! Then your MOM has a really great story to tell! That might have taken the cake today!

Unknown said...

Karen, you lived in Santa Maria? I don't feel so bad for growing up in Pacific Grove anymore. My friends and I saw STAR WARS (the only title I'm aware of) opening weekend in Carmel. We were prepped by the first three issues of the Marvel series. We figured if they could come close to the comic...

Our first reaction: "Man, that's one huge spaceship."
Our second reaction: "Man that's one really freakin' huge spaceship."

At that point, our parents were so lax, that we could see anything. I'd just turned thirteen. There were hardly any people in the theatre for that first show. When we went back a few days later, the line was around the block.

James Chatterton

Anonymous said...

Karen: Ha! I am a literal Bronze Age Baby!

- Mike Loughlin

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