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Friday, 16 November 2018

40 years on: the animated sequence of the Star Wars Holiday Special

The Star Wars Holiday Special animated segment

This Saturday, November 17, it's 40 years since the Star Wars Holiday Special, probably the strangest event in Star Wars history.

There’s plenty to mock in the special. I’ve indulged in that mockery myself in posts here and here. We can deride the domestic life of Chewbacca’s comedy, some painful comedy shtick, Princess Leia’s musical tribute to the wookiee holiday Life Day, and Luke Skywalker’s bizarre hair and make-up, to begin with. 

But in the blessed spirit of Life Day, perhaps let’s look at one aspect of the special that has been relatively-kindly received 
– its animated sequence.

Friday, 9 November 2018

The commercials in the Star Wars Holiday Special

An ad for Kenner Star Wars toys during
The Star Wars Holiday Special on CBS

On November 17, it will be time to celebrate – if that's the word – the 40th anniversary of The Star Wars Holiday Special.

I've looked before at its most excruciating moments (in a two-part blog post here and here). I've also tried to appreciate the things a young viewer in the 1970s might have loved about it (which only took one post).

In recent times, someone has posted all the commercials from a recording of the Holiday Special, and I think they deserve a post of their own. 

Friday, 2 November 2018

Some unsung heroes of the 1977 Star Wars

The Star Wars effects team receive their Oscars from Joan Fontaine

When you read original, 1970s coverage of Star Wars, you come across a few names which are rarely mentioned today.

On the other hand, there are a few people who were not named much at the time, but who we later discovered to have been a key part of the film's success.

Friday, 26 October 2018

Screen Scene magazine - where Star Wars sat alongside Logan's Run and The Tomorrow People

The Star Wars poster in Screen Scene issue 5

The 1970s fashion for poster magazines encompassed pretty much every area of popular culture: pop stars, Kung Fu, horror films and, of course, Star Wars.

We've already examined some issues of the Star Wars Official Poster Monthly. Now here's a short look at a one-off edition of a British poster magazine which reminds us of some of the other entertainment that was around at the same time.

Friday, 19 October 2018

What Mark Hamill and Gary Kurtz told science fiction fans about Star Wars in 1976

Charles Lippincott, Gary Kurtz and Mark Hamill promoting Star Wars at MidAmeriCon 1976

In 1976, well before Star Wars was ready for release, a campaign was going on to make science fiction fans aware of it. 

Charles Lippincott, who was in charge of merchandising and publicity for the film, organised convention appearances, at which he or producer Gary Kurtz would explain what the film was about. They would take artwork and information sheets with them and slow slides (yes, slides) to give some idea of the look of the movie.

As I wrote in a blog post at Amazing Stories recently, Gary Kurtz was the face of Star Wars for many fans back then, patiently explaining what the film was about.

One of those appearances is available on video – and it reminds us of a time when pictures from Star Wars seemed weird and exotic, and no one knew quite what the movie would be like.

Friday, 12 October 2018

The Star Wars Official Poster Monthly #3

The fold-out poster in Star Wars
Official Poster Monthly

The words “Giant Darth Vader poster inside” were enough to sell almost any child on issue three of Star Wars Official Poster Monthly.

In the last article (at least for now) about those original 1970s poster magazines, I’ll take a look at articles that ranged from a profile of Han Solo to the very exciting news that we would soon have robot servants.

Friday, 5 October 2018

John Stears: the man who built R2-D2

John Stears with the landspeeder

There are a few Star Wars personnel whose names were mentioned a lot when the film was released, yet who don’t seem to get the attention today. 

One of them is John Stears, the British film industry veteran who was the film’s special production and mechanical effects supervisor. He once described his work on the film as “everything that moves, breaks or falls apart” – including R2-D2, the landspeeder, the garbage masher, and hundreds of other effects.