Tuesday, 26 January 2016

1978 Film Review, February Issue

At last I have been up into the attic for the next volume of my Film Review magazines. We now move into 1978, though unfortunately something prevented me from buying - or keeping - the January issue.

So we move straight to the February issue which the cover tells us is loaded with Star Wars facts and figures. How strange now with the seventh film just out, to realise that at the time this magazine came out most people hadn't the slightest idea that this was anything other than a single film. We'll have a look at just a small part of the magazine's facts and figures as they devote an incredible nine pages to the film.

And that doesn't count related adverts! On the inside front cover is an advert for Meco's album Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk which became a huge hit with the single Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band troubling the singles charts. It was a disco treatment of John Williams' original quite classical-sounding music for the film. It was suggested that many people bought the John Williams album having heard this single and were subsequently disappointed at the lack of beat and robot and alien noises!

On the Contents page is a photo of veteran actors Peter Ustinov and David Niven from their upcoming film treatment of Agatha Christie's Poirot adventure, Death On The Nile.

And so into the nine-page look at the very first (now fourth-in-the-series) Star Wars. No mention of A New Hope because at the time it could easily have been the only film. But audiences loved it. I remember seeing the awesome opening shot of the huge Star Destroyer space ship which appeared as a point at the top of the screen and just expanded and expanded as it apparently flew over the camera until it filled the entire screen. That one shot was the most talked about film scene ever.

Perhaps the film eventually became A New Hope because of this scene. For ages people tried to get into gigs and theatres raising a hand at attendants and saying hopefully "You don't need to see my ticket...

A full page advert for the official soundtrack album. John Williams had already mesmerised audiences with the chilling score for Jaws, but the classical nature of the Star Wars score was not as immediately a hit. On second or third listening though, the way he interwove themes individual to the various main characters into the main theme is quite clever. His scores for Superman and Raiders of The Lost Ark had some quite similar motifs. For years afterwards my auntie used to phone me out of the blue to say "How does the Superman theme go?" to be closely followed by "But isn't that Star Wars...?"

Clint Eastwood's film The Gauntlet came out on release. Undoubtedly an exciting film, I have to wonder what the budget was for bullets (or blanks) alone!

This month's recipient of staples is the lovely Jacqueline Bisset, in a publicity still for the film The Deep.

And with no other cosmetic adverts to feature this month, in desperation we turn to the wart-relieving properties of Compound W. Warts vanish in days. It doesn't say just how many days...

Charles Bronson gets a double-page spread to himself in two roles - a KBG agent in Telefon on the left and playing Wild Bill Hickok in The White Buffalo on the right. I love one particular sentence in the article relating to the buffalo of the title where it says the buffalo "staged a lone stampede". Can you actually have a stampede of only one animal? And if so would it not just run off? Why would it need to stage a stampede - perhaps it planned or constructed a route or directed itself, saying things like "Knock down that fence then towards that rock so I can run round it..."

And it may be a new year, but the sex comedies are still with us. In our photo Crusoe finds himself in the cooking pot in Never on Friday (see what they did there?) The film is described in the mag as "a good laugh" so I wouldn't go searching it out especially for its erotic delights if I were you...

Not a great many horror films have been featured in this series so far. This was a weird tale to say the least - an accident victim is treated with an experimental technique and develops a blood lust which she satisfies using a "side-effect" stinger which protrudes from under her armpit. Everyone who she takes blood from develops the same condition. Directed by David Cronenberg it stars Marilyn Chambers - an actress more infamous than famous as a hardcore porn star. Lovely. I've not seen this one. ...or any of her earlier work, come to that. Ooh... unfortunate phrase...

Timex had been the number one company for manufacturing watches for the mainstream market in the UK, but had somewhat ignored digital displays with the result that Japanese firm Seiko captured and dominated that particular market. Here Timex fight back. I have memories of people saying "What do you mean: fourteen fifty one?" Wearers of digital watches developed that smug look children now get when granny phones for help with her Android tablet.

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