TV URBAN LEGEND: George Lucas once said, “If I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every copy of that show and smash it.”
The Star Wars Holiday Special is one of the most bizarre pieces of pop culture ever. A year after Star Wars debuted and was a huge success, they decided to do a TV special while waiting for the sequel to come out in 1980.
All of the major cast members showed up, from Mark Hamill to Harrison Ford to Carrie Fisher…
Of course, so did Bea Arthur…
The idea was that it was a variety special based on the basic concept of Han Solo and Chewbacca traveling to Chewy’s home world, Kashyyyk, to celebrate Life Day (essentially the Wookiee equivalent of Christmas).
The special is also known for having a cartoon in it that officially introduced Boba Fett before he showed up in the next film in the series.
Anyhow, the special was not warmly received and George Lucas clearly made a point to keep the show hidden. It made only a single official airing on broadcast television, but it aired in a number of other countries unofficially and those copies are the ones that places like YouTube air.
So Lucas did not like the special.
However, his dislike for it has created a bit of a legend.
MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Harrison Ford’s famous “I know” line in “Empire Strikes Back” was improvised.
When it comes time to actually translate movie screenplays into finished films, there are always going to be situations where things change base on circumstances. Sometimes problems that are beyond anyone’s control. There’s a famous scene in the screenplay for “Fast Times in Ridgement High” where two characters listen to a song from Led Zeppelin’s fourth album. Well, what do you do when Led Zeppelin won’t let you use any songs from their fourth album? These sorts of issues came up frequently in the filming of the first few “Star Wars” films, as George Lucas and company would often find themselves debating between multiple options with where to go with the screenplay. Kill off Obi-Wan Kenobi or let him live? Have Han shoot Greedo first or have Greedo take the first shot?
A similar debate came up during the filming of “Empire Strikes Back” in the scene where Han Solo and Leia say heartfelt goodbyes to each other before Han is encased in Carbonite. Leia professes her love and Han, in response, tells her, “I know.”
It’s a great line, and legend has it that Han’s portrayer, Harrison Ford, improvised the line on the spot and the film’s director, Irving Kershner, kept it in the film.
Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the Movie urban legends featured so far.
MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Star Wars: Splinter of the Mind’s Eye was originally written as a film sequel to Star Wars.
One of the things that has been made clear in past legends about the early days of Star Wars (like whether Darth Vader was always supposed to be Luke’s father or whether Luke and Leia were always supposed to be siblings) is that George Lucas was often playing things by ear at the start of his epic film franchise. This makes sense, of course, as there was no way for Lucas to know that his first Star Wars film would become such a sensation, so how could he spend much time planning for future films when he wasn’t even positive that he would get a second film, let alone a franchise of films and related tie-in materials?
This uncertainty led to the intriguing origin of the first full length novel based on the world of Star Wars, Alan Dean Foster’s acclaimed Splinter of the Mind’s Eye.
Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.
MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: There was an alternate ending filmed for Raiders of the Lost Ark that was cut from all U.S. prints of the film for fear it would be offensive to U.S. film-goers.
One of the most fun aspects of living in the DVD/Blu-Ray/YouTube generation is that so many never-before-seen pieces of pop culture history are now available to us, whether as extras on DVD/Blu-Ray collections or just as clips that pop up on YouTube out of nowhere. The recent Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures box set, for instance, has a partial alternate version of the classic fight between Indiana Jones and the Sworsdman.
While in the released film, Indy famously just pulls out his gun and shoots the guy, that shortened version of the scene resulted from Harrison Ford being physically unable to continue to film the original, much more elaborate scene where Indy fights him off only using his bullwhip (it appears likely that some intestinal issues on Ford’s part played a major role in him being unable to film the scene). The box set shows what little they filmed of the original version. There are other notable deleted scenes in the film, of course, including one that explained how Indy was able to survive being on the Nazi submarine towards the end of the film (he ties himself to the periscope with his bullwhip). However, one of the most famous deleted scenes in the film is most famous for the fact that it doesn’t actually exist!