70s Rewind: STAR WARS Memories, What Are Yours?

Managing Editor; Dallas, Texas, USA (@peteramartin)
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70s Rewind: STAR WARS Memories, What Are Yours?

Frankly, this is a slow news day, even on the international front, so I'm bowing to the Force and sharing my 'first time watching Star Wars experience,' in the hopes that you'll have something better to share in the comments section.

As I've written before, I was a science-fiction devotee in the 1970s and read as many cheap paperbacks as I could afford to buy at a wonderful local used bookstore, checked out as many hardcover books as I could find at our local libray, and watched as many movies and episodic series as I could find on television -- I loved watching re-runs of The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits -- and, naturally, as many movies as I could attend in theaters (not many).

So I was primed for the opening of Star Wars on May 25, 1977, especially with the publicity blitz that accompanied it. But that was a Wednesday, a school day, and I couldn't possibly go until that Saturday, May 28. (Of course, my friend R. cut school on Wednesday to go and reported to us on Thursday his supreme disappointment at the 'unresolved' ending. Small wonder that he ended up as an extremely accomplished engineer.)

Anyway, my other friend S. and I boarded a bus from the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles and headed to Westwood, a neighborhood about 10 miles aways that surrounded the U.C.L.A. campus and was a hotbed of movie theaters and restaurants back in the day. The movie was only playing, as I recall, in Hollywood and Westwood, so we went to the Avco Cinema Center and joined the amazingly long line that snaked through a parking lot.

We waited more than three hours, not talking much, just bubbling with excitement. When we were finally granted access to the theater, it was already jam-packed, but somehow we found two seats together at the back of the auditorium. Moments later, the presentation began.

John Williams' opening theme sounded amazing in Dolby Stero, better than anything we'd ever heard before. S. and I exchanged proper looks of shock. Then a small spaceship appeared, chased by another ship that went on forever. We'd heard about this shot already, but still ... we exchanged raised eyebrows and then our eyes were glued to the screen.

Sure, we recognized the story from the 'space operas' we'd forced ourselves to read earlier in our teenage fandom, the line between heroes and villains was very, very broad, and the dialogue was very, very stiff, and we knew that in space, no one can hear your ship zoom by or stuff explode, but still ... we were enthralled, and very, very happy on the bus ride home.

When I returned hom late that afternoon, filled with excitement, my father looked up from the living room chair where he sat reading the newspaper. "How much did it cost?" he asked. I told him: $3.50. (Admittedly, a new high price in movie ticket costs.) My father made a face. "For one movie? In my day, we could see two movies, and a newsreel, and a cartoon, for 5 cents!"

But I didn't care. I'd seen Star Wars and it was very, very good.

Now, what was your first experience? Or have you managed to avoid seeing any of the Star Wars movies to date?

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  • stripey

    Me Mam and Da putting me to bed and explaining when i asked where they were going that they were off to see a 'Star War', and my first Kenner toy turning up a week later in the form of R2-D2. I remember being dumbstruck by it.

  • Ben Umstead

    Despite my childhood being near completely consumed by Star Wars from the age of 8 on, I do not have a concrete memory of how I first watched the original film. This is partly because I grew up in the heyday of the VHS and many discoveries of mine were made on the small screen, and could often blur together. But I do have a very clear memory of almost watching the original...

    Late in 1991, or very early in 1992, shortly after moving from rural Georgia to the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, I became good friends with Antoine, the son of Belgium-Luxembourg civil servants working and living aboard. Upon a sleepover at his house, an evening that saw us with little supervision, we wandered into his family's common room. We were done eating dinner and had no interest in building with LEGO that night. The house was strangely quiet. I remember finding that odd. At my home, my parents were readily around and available. We talked about watching a movie. He presented to me the only three films they owned: the original trilogy on VHS. This was the 1990 box release. Rather than saying outright we'd watch Star Wars, Antoine made the mistake of asking me to choose which one to watch. Because the art was the most photo-realistic, I picked Jedi and away we went. I was thrust into the last act of the trilogy, but could not have been happier.

  • Peter Martin

    Thanks for sharing, Ben. Always fascinating to hear about people who came to the series in a different time and place, so appreciate the lovely, scene-setting context as well!

  • cjohnston

    Well. ....
    Awesome fire-starter of a question here..
    - - -
    ..a couple topics about and surrounding Star Wars come to mind for me... (many are undeniably subjective as well.)
    Firstly - i haven't seen the verymostrecent Star Wars outing; but -- prior to that film (and aside for the Lovely Daisy Ridley) they have seemed to get more and more muttled over the years and as time goes on, imo.....
    ...I'm a Staunch fan of the "triumvirate" as i like to call them.. ...Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi.

    That being said though. ..i am often slightly perplexed and amused however by those individuals who adore The Empire Strikes Back.. ......call me a rebel.. ha.
    ..but that one has always struck me as an overlong "soap-opera" of sorts full of bickering...

    ......i am a HUGE WACKO-HUGE Aficionado fan of The Return of the Jedi though.. Still is one of my all time favorite sci-fi forays.
    - -
    As a bit of a caveat to my written wanderings and ambling about (above); ...i was FLOORED to learn/discover many years ago - that Princess Leia was the daughter of none other than Kathy Selden.. .! O.O

    .....small world..

  • Peter Martin

    You are certainly within your rights to be a 'wacko-huge' fan of RETURN OF THE JEDI -- I remember debating it with a friend after my 3rd viewing (within 4 days)!!

  • cjohnston

    Jedi Return has actually "morphed" (a bit) into one of my more unusual "must see" fare over the Christmas and New Year's Holidays....
    - - -
    The Rocketeer, The Princess Bride; along with The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet are also up there for me..

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