This is the next entry in a Theatre… a Movie… and a Time, a series that was begun here. It was pointed out that today is a) not the end of the world, and b) the 31st anniversary for a film that should, and will, be spotlighted. Certainly, it’s worthy on its own for this. Let alone that the film was a sequel, which somehow surpassed the original in ways totally unexpected. One being that it caused me and mine to get up at some ungodly hour.
Han Solo: “Afraid I was gonna leave without giving you a goodbye kiss?”
Princess Leia: “I’d just as soon kiss a Wookiee.”
Han Solo: “I can arrange that. You could use a good kiss.”
May 27, 1980: What a difference three years make. Catching the first Star Wars film back in 1977 just up the street was almost breathtaking. Giddily so. What came after that, just a year later, definitely not. Few things prepare you, or mark you, better than this mystery. “Life in all her wonder.”1 You now know why I really hate surprises.
When the sequel to Star Wars finally arrived in this Presidential election year, which was a Wednesday in fact, it would take almost an entire week before I’d get to see the sequel to the American epic space opera. Since it was one of the most anticipated films… like ever… the studio and filmmakers did something heretofore unheard of. And fans as an entity bought into it without qualm.
The distributors had some of the designated flagship theaters run Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back on a 24-hour schedule here in Los Angeles. Round the clock. From opening day and all the way through the elongated Memorial Day weekend, there were showtimes galore. The pre-sales and lines were ridiculous, to say the least. So much so, I and my girlfriend at the time held off until almost the very end.
We, she-whose-name-is-not-to-be-uttered (or mentioned) and I were now living together. We’d awake at 4 AM the day after the Monday holiday. Dressing quickly (me for work), we arrived at the Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre a bare half-hour before the 5:30 AM screening. Like its sister cinema, the Chinese Theatre, this movie palace was famed for so many historic Hollywood premieres. A fitting location, if there ever was one.
Afterward, she returned back to bed and I delivered myself to work that Tuesday morning — a changed man.
- Paraphrasing singer-songwriter Michael Franks. ↩