October 16, 2015

Star Wars (the movie)

There are many films that have been a great influence on my life; I won't go into any of them nor the impact each had on me. But Star Wars is right up there at the very top of the list. I am not unique; it was a great film and many consider it to be so.  

 Star Wars movie poster 

I vividly remember the first time I saw Star Wars. It had just been released and opened at the Coronet Theater  at 3575 Geary Boulevard in San Francisco; the crowd was lined up around the block and every single soul was psyched up to the hilt. 

Star Wars opening at the Coronet Theater
May 28, 1977 

There was a spark of excitement that I had never seen before in people waiting to see a movie. I was fortunate; the line to get in was enormous and even though the theater seated more than 1,350 people, it filled just as I and about ten other people ahead of me got to the entrance which meant we had to wait in line for the next showing of the film in two hours. Not a single one of us complained. What this meant was when I finally did get in, I had my choice of where to sit in the whole theater. Of course, I sat dead center from the front and back and in the exact middle of the row! Oh, my lord!

Coronet Theater interior 
Fred Larson / The Chronicle

I will never forget the opening of the film (see link below) until the day I die! It started with a scrolling crawl similar to the ones in the 1940 Flash Gordon serials.

Flash Gordon movie poster 

This is followed by a scene of a star field and a planet which was nice but unremarkable until the tip of the Star Destroyer entered the top of the screen pursuing a space ship; it grew larger and larger and . . .           

It was state-of-the-art special effects that was mind blowing when seen for the first time; of course from today's point of view, thirty five or so years later, it's old stuff. But at the time . . .     

The soundtrack by John Williams was stellar (pun intended). It had a typical love theme (can't have a movie with out one) but the music for the rest of the film, the Tattoine Desert, the Cantina scene, etc. is brilliant. His use of highlighted solo instruments rather than huge orchestral arrangements was never repeated with such powerful impact in any other film he scored. He never did a better score after that.    

And of course, Star Wars featured the arch-villain of all time, Anakin Skywalker, otherwise known as, Darth Vader. There had never been anything like him before and there has never been anything like him since. The American Film Institute listed him as the third greatest movie villain in cinema history on 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains, behind Hannibal Lecter and Norman Bates. I'm sorry, they are wrong! Vader is Numero Uno. Darth Vader was portrayed by bodybuilder David Prowse and by stunt performer Bob Anderson during the character's lightsaber fight scenes. James Earl Jones provided Vader's voice, but was initially uncredited in Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back because he felt his contributions were too small to warrant recognition. Guess again!

I was so inspired by the tale of Luke Skywalker and his clash with Darth Vader, I put together an act based on the film for one of the dance routines I performed with Pillow at the Hungry i where I was dancing at the time (see link below).   

Darth Vader, was the inspiration for many other events; especially bank hold ups. On July 22 of 2010 the Huffington Post reported: "Darth Vader Robs Bank: Setauket Chase Bank Robbed By Star Wars Character." The article is accompanied by photos (see link below).   

Star War stats:
Directed by George Lucas
Produced by Gary Kurtz
Written by George Lucas
    Mark Hamill
    Harrison Ford
    Carrie Fisher
    Peter Cushing
    Alec Guinness
    David Prowse
Music by John Williams
Cinematography by Gilbert Taylor
Edited by    
    Paul Hirsch
    Marcia Lucas
    Richard Chew
Production company
    Lucasfilm Ltd.
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date: May 25, 1977
Running time: 121 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $11 million
Box office: $775.4 million

The Coronet Theater was demolished thirty years later in 2007. One of the many tragic movie theater losses of San Francisco. 

photo by Mark Costantini / The Chronicle

photo by Jim Cassedy

Star Wars on the net:  
David Prowse website    
The Hungry i, S. F.    
Huffington Post Darth Vader hold up   

Star Wars scenes on YouTube:   
       Ben Kenobi      
       "Help Me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're My Only Hope"     
       Trash Compactor       
       Jabba The Hutt      
       Alderaan's Destruction     
       That's No Moon           
       Ben Kenobi vs Darth Vader       
       Death Star Assault      
       1977 Trailer     
       deleted scenes       
       the making of Star Wars     


There was never nor will there ever be a movie like it!

 Styrous® ~ Friday, October 16, 2015

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