To quote Halliwell’s Film Guide “Flash Gordon rides again!” One of the most enjoyable blockbusters of all time, this became THE must see film of the late 70’s and if you were a young kid in the 70’s, it really didn’t get any better than this and then there was the Star Wars figures, I became obsessed with them and the bubble gum cards, I did get a complete bubble gum card set, but the toys went on and on and on! It did seem that Lucas put a much needed breath of fresh air into family cinema. That said my mum only came with us the first time to watch this, then dad & me, we were on our own! My first cinema experience was LADY & THE TRAMP at Walkden Cinema and I supposedly saw SWORD IN THE STONE and SNOW WHITE & THE SEVEN DWARFS, but can’t remember doing, this was the one, I remember queuing at the Odeon in Bolton, the buzz was amazing! I have seen this film seven times at the cinema (a lot more than anything else), I don’t know if that says something about the state of cinema or me, whatever I watched it again at the weekend for what must be at least the 30th time and still got blown away by it. When that enormous battle cruiser comes on screen and just goes on and on, it really had me from there and you still think “How did they do that?” not “It’s just CGI!”
I suppose seeing it now you get the feeling the established names (Peter Cushing and Alec Guinness) are still the established names and only Harrison Ford came through to the main stream, true Mark Hamill was in Sam Fueller’s THE BIG RED ONE and the voice of The Joker in the animated series of Batman plus Carrie Fisher wrote Postcards From The Edge, but Peter Mayhew, David Prowse, Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker all went on to Convention hell, even though you can’t actually see any of them in the film!
The dialogue in this and “The Empire Strikes Back” are spot on, which make me think when “Star Wars Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace” and “Star Wars Episode II – Attack Of The Clones” came out what had happened to George Lucas? He can’t write and he can’t direct! All he was interested in was the special effects! Around the same time as “The Phantom Menace” appeared, Terrence Malick came back from the wilderness and made “The Thin Red Line”, a film which showed he could still direct after a gap of 30 years, the same as Lucas, but he hadn’t been held up in Skywalker Ranch for 30 years developing THX sound and other drivel!
Whatever, go and enjoy this now and if anyone around the same age as myself doesn’t include this among their favourite 100, firstly, I don’t believe them and secondly, I don’t want to talk to them!
Note – When I first saw this film it was called “Star Wars” not “Star Wars Episode IV – A New Hope” , that was only added on the re-release in late ‘78
US Premiere 25/05/77, UK release 27/12/77
DF Viewing 02/78, Odeon Bolton