A long time ago in Phoenix, Arizona…

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Saturday, May 28, 1977 was a relatively warm late May Saturday in the quiet, but rapidly growing city of Phoenix.  I had just finished Little League baseball practice when my dad announced that he was taking me, and my best friend to the new movie, Star Wars.

I had been anxiously awaiting Star Wars for quite a while.  My mom had brought home the novelization for me a few months before thinking it might be something that would interest me.  I tore into the book, and simply could not put it down. I was immediately captivated by the adventures of Luke Skywalker, set in a galaxy far, far away…

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In a few short months I would be able to put real pictures to the mental images I had created in my mind as more promotional material was released. Finally, Marvel released the comic adaptation of the movie, and everything clicked into place. This wasn’t just a universe I wanted to read about in novels, or see on the big screen. This was a universe I wanted to live in and explore.

Throughout my youth I had been fascinated by mythology, and adventure stories. My grandmother had kept an old children’s book of collected mythologies in her den. I had marveled at the stories of Hercules’ labors, the Greek gods, and tales of Norse legends. At my local library they had two books which collected the old Alex Raymond Flash Gordon comic strips that I routinely checked out. In my mind I had visited thousands of these worlds, and experienced the heroics of these characters I read about. And what I saw in Star Wars in the months leading up to its theatrical release was a collection of all of these stories and legends wrapped up into one big space adventure.

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The Cine Capri was the only theater in town showing Star Wars. The theater had opened in the early 60’s and had hosted a number of big event movies. It sported the largest screen in the Valley, was equipped with a 70mm projector, and had a state of the art stereo sound system. I had only been to the Cine Capri a handful of times to see a roadshow re-release of The Sound of Music and The Greatest Story Ever Told, but I knew Star Wars was going to be on a big, big screen so I was more than excited.

We pulled up to the theater around 11:30 AM for the 12:10 showing. My dad knew this was a new release and Star Wars had received a lot of press about long lines for showtimes, so naturally arriving 40 minutes before showtime should secure us seats. Dad was wrong…

The line fully wrapped around the theater and trickled back in front of Barrows, a large furniture store on the same property. We had to park down the street at another store in the area. We walked up to the ticket booth and were told that tickets were sold out and there were only a few remaining for a 3:00 show. My dad got the 3:00 tickets, and we made a quick dash across the street to slam down a quick lunch before we would get in the enormous, and ever growing line.

My good friend Buzzer had come along for the movie, and like me, he was as excited for Star Wars as I was. But how could he not be when his next door neighbor was pestering him about the latest Star Wars article he found in Starlog Magazine, or a blurb he had read in one of a dozen movie magazines at the bookstore? Buzzer and I chatted away the time in line, and probably spoke about little other than Star Wars… I’m sure we drove my dad insane… Finally, it was showtime.

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Although we had arrived over three hours before the film started we were toward the back of the line for the 3:00PM showtime, and for those familiar with the old Cine Capri that meant one thing; sitting up front. The Cine Capri had a massive curved screen, and the first few rows were only a few yards from the screen so sitting in the first three rows or so could be a little disorientating as the screen would take up almost all of your view, including your peripheral vision. Dad was a bit annoyed that we were so close to the screen, but he didn’t complain about that as much as he did the sticky floors.

You see, the theater seated 800 patrons in very comfortable high-backed rocking chairs, but in order to accommodate the number of seats the auditorium was built in a slope down toward the screen. Unfortunately during screenings as people would spill their drinks the contents would slowly trickle their way toward the front of the auditorium, pooling within the first few rows. Despite the cleaning crews best efforts, patrons in the front would have to contended with sticky floors and hope they would not lose a shoe (I saw that happen a few times myself).

The anticipation was growing in the crowd, and there was an audible din growing… then the lights went out…

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To say Star Wars had an impact on my impressionable young nine year old mind would be an understatement. I was already a fan of other book, movie, and TV franchises like 007, Star Trek, and Planet of the Apes, but Star Wars tapped into something different. It was part fantasy, part space opera, part myth, part western, and part Saturday morning adventure serial. It was set in a universe which pushed all of my creative buttons. Summer of 1977 was the Summer of Star Wars to me. I saw the movie countless times, began collecting Star Wars comics, books, and eventually the action figures. I collected Burger King glasses, 7-11 Slurpee cups, promotional posters… anything to immerse myself in that universe.

And I’m still a fan to this day…

Real life, like family and work, have of course stepped in and take up most of my time, but even to this day I love to escape to that far away galaxy and visit with friends both old and new like Luke Skywalker, Qui-Gon Jinn, Padme, Obi-Wan, Han Solo, Ventress, Anakin, Leia, R2, Boba Fett, and Ahsoka Tano.

The Star Wars Saga is filled with so many rich characters, and touch on themes which resonate with fans across the globe which is one of the reasons I’m so taken by Star Wars. Through this blog I hope to share my personal ruminations about the characters and themes of the Saga, and my own experiences as a fan. I’ll share reviews of the movies, The Clone Wars, Rebels and future Star Wars releases. I hope I can entertain my readers, engage in conversation about the Saga, and possibly challenge a few preconceptions about the Saga through my own research and observations.

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May the Force Be With You

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7 thoughts on “A long time ago in Phoenix, Arizona…

  1. If you’ll forgive a “thanks for your story; now here’s mine” first comment, I was interested to see your tale because of the contrasts with mine. I know I was younger than you when I first saw Star Wars, so young I can’t be certain just when I did. It was at the movies, though (a much less grand theatre than yours, but the one I also first saw The Phantom Menace at too), and I know it got my attention such that I soon had a case full of action figures (with some probably significant omissions from the side of the bad guys) and a smattering of the Marvel comic books beginning a few issues above #50. I didn’t get to see The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi until they were out on video, first experiencing them “secondhand” through their storybooks and other adaptations; whether that’s helped me have a sense of perspective, I don’t know.

    Anyway, it’s nice to have a new opinion opening up in the small circle I keep track of, and I’m hoping for more posts here in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Keith. I’ll be working my way to Phantom Menace soon. I have some great memories surrounding its release. Having kids really opened my eyes regarding the Saga and the impact it was having on newer fans.

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  2. Some interesting facts about the original run of Star Wars at the Cine Capri. When it opened on Wednesday, May 25, 1977, It was a 35mm mono print. It was one of 43 theaters that got the film that first day. It did not get a 70mm 6 track stereo print until almost mid July of 77. By then the 35mm print had warn to the point that it was almost unprojectable. The Cine Capri had the exclusive rights to Star Wars in Arizona for the first 6 months, and as a result, holds the record as most profitable theater showing the film. People drove from Tucson and Flagstaff just to see the film at the Capri. Star Wars played at the Capri for so long, that it actually over lapped its own re-release in 1978, and ultimately screened the film for amost 2 years straight.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Love this! I wasn’t allowed to watch Star Wars as a kid by my father, so I had to sneak to the movie with some friends. I was 12 years old, and it was the most magnificent thing I’d ever seen. Just stunning, and it opened up a love of Science (and SciFi) that I’ve held ever since.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Ahsoka Tano – On the Path of the Hero’s Journey | One Saga - An Exploration of the Star Wars Saga

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