Straight away some of you might scoff at any magic in or about Star Wars, but hear me out. It has literally changed my life. Without Star Wars, my life would be totally different, it’s the absolute truth.
Listen… or read…. you get the idea.
It started a long time ago in a little town called Ashton Under Lyne. My mum and grandma would regularly take me to the cinema to see films, so I remember. They are very vague memories but this is the kind of way my young brain has interpreted the random images and sounds from my childhood.
My local cinema at the time was the Odeon, mentioned in my intro blog. This cinema, in the 70s, had one screen, like all cinemas at that time.
Post Star Wars I also remember seeing E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, Krull and Hawk the Slayer at that very same place.
Now closed my last memory of this place was playing Marble Madness when it was Slotworld.
Sadly it close down completely in 2011.
A few of the films that I do kind of remember prior to 1977, when everything changed, were The Absent Minded Professor (1961) and Island at the Top of the World (1974) and “At The Earth’s Core” (1976). My film watching childhood memories seemed to be very Disney based. The Absent Minded Professor was first released in 1961, a few years before I was born so I’ve no idea how or why I would have been at the cinema to watch this. I may even have seen it on TV, I can’t quite remember it. Starring Fred MacMurray as Professor Ned Brainard, who invents “Flubber”… flying rubber and ends up doing some strange things with it. Yes, they did make “Flubber” into a remake starring Robin Williams in the late 90s.
One particular scene I remember was the basketball scene where teams of basketball players bounced around the court.
A strange early memory that I somehow think that this may even have been my first film I saw at a cinema. But it was a long, long time ago.
One of the other films, “Island at the Top of the Earth” (1974) I do remember going to see, specifically. It had an iconic balloon which I remember distinctly, I was sad to see the balloon get destroyed by fire. I vaguely remember it being featured on Blue Peter. I loved this film, it was a little scary and loud but it was great fun.
A recreation of the the balloon itself, The Hyperion, became the centre piece of Discoveryland at Disneyland Paris when it first opened in 1992 and is there to this day.
One of the last films prior to Star Wars was “At The Earth’s Core” (1976) and it may have been at this film when there was that turning point in my life, when I first experienced Star Wars.
This film featured spectacular special effects, models and blue screen work based on an Edgar Rice Burroughs novel, that guy that wrote Tarzan. It starred Doug McClure and Peter Cushing prior to his significant Star Wars role and also featured the future Bond girl and model, Caroline Munro to get the parents to bring their kids. Cushing played his role very much like his old doddering version of Dr. Who from the Dalek films, 10 years earlier.
A great fun film with rubbery monsters, spectacular rubber sets, fire, more fire and explosions. Just what an eight year old requires.
As it was just over a the year before Star Wars was released, this film fits into the logic of my memories quite well. It was likely that it was when I got my very earliest memory of Star Wars. Particularly the scene were Luke and Leia swing across the chasm and that big black suited bloke makes his first appearance.
I remember seeing the trailer and asking my mother if we could go and see it. She said it depended on the rating. That is one memory I’ve never forgotten.