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Friday, 15 April 2016

Those Star Wars mini-posters from 1970s Look-In magazines

Star Wars makes the cover of
Look-In on March 11, 1978

The last in our short series of posts about the British weekly magazine Look-In focuses on the mini-posters that adorned many a bedroom wall after the release of Star Wars.

My last couple of posts have been about the Star Wars content of Look-In, the "Junior TV Times" in the UK.

The grown-up TV Times was a listings magazine devoted to just one channel, ITV, plus a lot of features and interviews. But in Look-In, the listings were relegated to a couple of pages at the back, where it covered just the hours when younger people we likely to be watching.

The bulk of Look-In was given over to comic strips, news, features and pictures of ITV shows plus films and pop music, while the covers, in its heyday, were impressive pieces of art by 
Arnaldo Putzu, who also created posters for several Hammer films and Carry On movies, as well as Get Carter. It was through Look-In that I first encountered pop culture phenomena from skateboarding to punk rock. Its keenness to promote ITV programmes can seem a bit bizarre, looking back, with covers devoted to such shows as the dismal sitcom Mind Your Language alongside those given over to Abba or The Six Million Dollar Man.

Look-In's first Star Wars cover in December 1978
Look-In devoted two covers to Star Wars during its first release, as far as I'm aware. The first was in December 1977, when the film was about to get its long-awaited opening in the West End of London. The second was in March 1978, when the film had finally reached the UK regions after an agonising wait. (As we saw in this post, blockbusters were released very differently in those days, with no question of them opening everywhere at once.)

But even when Star Wars wasn't on the cover, there was a good chance that it would get a mention inside. Often, the magazine would devote a full page to a Star Wars picture, which was an easy way of making the magazine indispensable to fans. Over a few weeks, you could cut out quite a poster collection.

The following pictures were all culled from Look-In in 1978 and are reproduced here complete with torn corners and other signs of wear and tear.

Han Solo and Chewbacca in Look-In

Han Solo and Chewbacca pictured
in Look-In, March 1978

The above picture of Han and Chewie featured the March 11 1978 issue of Look-In whose cover was pictured above.

I think one reason kids liked straightforward, full-length shots like these was that it gave us a chance to study all the detail of the characters' costumes and weapons. In those days, it was impossible to imagine a time when we could be able to see Star Wars at home on demand. The Marvel comics and the action figures depicted the characters very differently from the way they were in the movie. So, whether you wanted to draw your own Star Wars pictures, or were just attempting to reconstruct the film from your memory, every new photograph was gold dust, and this was one of my favourites.

A Han Solo portrait from Look-In

Harrison Ford as pictured in Look-In

This Look-In page (whose bottom right corner is probably still stuck to a wadge of Blu-Tack in a landfill site somewhere) looks very much as though it was taken at the same photo session as the previous picture. I think it shows us that the Millennium Falcon must have been equipped with a pretty serious blow-dryer and styling tools.

A young Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in Look-In

Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in
another Look-In Star Wars souvenir

The striking thing about this Princess Leia portrait is how young Carrie Fisher looks in it.  When she filmed Star Wars, Fisher was nineteen and according to her own account, she initially feared she would be sacked for not losing as many pounds as she'd promised by the time shooting started.

Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in the Throne Room scene

Carrie Fisher from the Throne Room
scene in another Look-In portrait

Shots of Carrie Fisher sans hairy earphones were pretty rare in the 1970s, which made this picture from the Throne Room seem all the more striking. It's interesting that the lighting and Fisher's pose are very different from the exulted mood of the scene in the film. And Fisher is made to look very different than she did with those earphones.

Dave Prowse as Darth Vader in Look-In 

Darth Vader on the Rebel blockade
runner, from Look-In

This may be a pretty straightforward shot, and it could have come straight out of the film which is exactly why I liked it. I could examine every one of those controls and lights on Darth Vader's armour, and a bit of the Blockade runner corridor set as well.

Taken together, these Look-In pages formed a collection of pictures that were not easily available anywhere else. It's no wonder they adorned the bedroom walls of kids like me for months, even years, to come.

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