We knew it would be big from the start. It was early June, 1977, and I had just graduated from high school in the small mountain town of Idaho Springs, Colorado. To celebrate, a buddy suggested we go to Denver to see a movie he had been hearing good things about.
To be honest, I was a bit leery. Denver was nearly an hour away, this particular movie happened to be playing on the far side of the city, and my buddy — a theater studies major — had a habit of dragging me to tedious foreign films that could only be described as time-never-to-be-recovered.
Still, we usually filled the drive with talk of things that were interesting (skiing, girls, and Risk), so we set off at noon, hoping to catch an afternoon matinee and avoid having to drive back up the canyon after dark.
When we arrived at the theater, it was to find the ticket line wrapped around an entire city block . . . twice. I suggested that we pick another movie. My buddy pointed out that if a thousand people were spending the afternoon in line just to see this one, it must be something special. I allowed myself to be convinced, and we spent the next two hours in line, listening to everyone who had already seen the movie (some three, four, ten times) tell us how blown away we were going to be. I began to feel a little bit excited.
We reached the box office and discovered we were in line for the midnight screening. By then, there was no question of going home without seeing the film. After buying our tickets, we found the nearest phone booth, and I called home to tell my parents I wouldn’t be home until three the next morning.
My father suggested I had attended enough graduation parties that week. I insisted that I wasn’t going to another graduation party. My father insisted that if I wasn’t home by midnight, he was going to have the Sheriff’s Department drag me home. (This, btw, was a legitimate threat; he was the Clear Creek County Undersheriff.) I calmly explained that I really was going to a movie. My father calmly explained that the sheriff’s deputies really would be looking for me. The phone asked for another dime, and I didn’t see any sense in finding one. The connection went dead.
Many hours later, our turn to enter the theater came. We took our seats with high expectations and watched the opening crawl. Our hearts climbed into our throats, and we sat breathless as the Tantive IV flew overhead. By the time Vader’s Star Destroyer appeared in hot pursuit, we were indeed completely blown away.
After discovering that the lines weren’t nearly as long at 2:30 a.m., my buddy and I sat through a second screening and returned home at dawn the next morning. The sheriff’s deputies were no longer on the lookout for us, but my father was waiting on the front steps. I cheerfully told him I had just seen a film that would change my life. He cheerfully agreed that I had — though probably not in the way I hoped. The rest of the summer was spent in hot water and on a very short leash . . . but it was so worth it.
I’ll see you at Celebration VI — where I hope to hear your stories about the first time you saw Star Wars!