Sunday, 28 February 2016

Film Review, April 1978 Issue

Our cinematic journey brings us to April 1978 and the continuing flurry of science-fiction films in the wake of the fantastically successful Star Wars.

The featured sci-fi release in this issue is Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of The Third Kind. This reunites Spielberg with one of the stars from his earlier hit, Jaws, as Richard Dreyfuss takes the lead as a man frustrated at the cover-up tactics employed when he tries to report seeing a UFO. Close Encounters was the film chosen for the 1978 Royal Film Performance.

On the Contents page glamour spot it is a male that takes pride of place. The young John Travolta who was currently strutting his stuff and showing his prowess on the dance floor in the acclaimed (if somewhat potty-mouthed) Saturday Night Fever. More later...

In the regular feature Peter Haigh's Pictures & People it is reported that Richard Burton has persuaded his old friend Stewart Granger to make a comeback after ten years of retirement to make The Wild Geese with himself and Roger Moore.

And so we come to a four-page article on CE3K (as Close Encounters of The Third Kind was already being referred to). Just in case anyone has forgotten the definitions over the last 40 years, a Close Encounter of the first kind is seeing a UFO at a distance. The second kind involves physical evidence such as crushed vegetation at a landing space, scorched earth etc. and the third kind is seeing or meeting with the occupants. Hoo-Wee! Re-open the X-Files immediately!

The photo shows a scene from the end of the rather generous screen time of the film (I found it mostly rather boring until the last bit...) when the aliens' mother ship lands to play a bit of music with the waiting scientists. The five-note motif became a feature of every playground game for ages (even for me and I was 24...) but the complicated hand movement lost out to Mr Spock's more easily remembered "Live Long and Prosper" separating of the fingers between the middle two digits.

In the midst of the four pages was an inspired piece of advertisement placing by Cadbury's Smash. Even without showing their little metal saucer-headed aliens, their hilarity at the thought of humans bashing potatoes to bits to make mash is immediately brought to mind.

Following this we come to an advert for Close-Up toothpaste. I'm not sure whether this is still going - I think Colgate have as many different varieties of toothpaste on the shelves these days as there were varieties of any type of tooth cleanser in 1978. Whatever happened to Signal - that's what I want to know...?

"Saturday Night Fever, night fev-aaah. You know how to do it..." sing The Bee-Gees, whilst John Travolta may well have taught us how to do it but (the swine) it was quickly found in the face of much laughter in dance halls that he was the only one who actually looked good whilst repeatedly drawing his imaginary sword and flinging it into the air. The rest of us looked like idiotic twits and were forced to slink off the dance-floor with the derisory hysterics of our chosen dance partner ringing in our ears. How deep is your shame, how deep is your shame...

Remember I said the film was a little potty-mouthed? Travolta and other cast members managed to get an impressive number of utterances of the F-word into it, so much so that an edited version had to be brought out to allow a certificate other than "X" for over-18s only to be given. Younger teens, having heard the fabulous soundtrack album had been barred from seeing it.

A new remake of The Four Feathers was featured, starring (L-R) Beau Bridges, Jane Seymour, Robert Powell, Simon Ward and David Robb. Beau Bridges is the one accused of cowardice and sets out with stiff upper lip to prove them all wrong.

Wow! Excitement all round! Spider-Man makes his first big-screen appearance played by ex-von Trapp family singer Nicholas Hammond. The special effects of his crawling up skyscrapers were mercilessly lampooned by Kenny Everett in his TV programme and the film makers had obviously not read the comics because they pretty much dispensed with his super strength and gymnastic abilities in favour of a kung-fu style of fighting which confused and disappointed the heck out of all true Spidey fans. They should have started at the very beginning - a very good place to start...

There's an article this time on director Michael Cimino who had completed shooting The Deer Hunter and was about to embark on the lengthy work of editing and preparing for its release.

In the Horoscope section I'm told I have been spending money "like it was going out of fashion". Guilty... I'm advised not to concentrate on what I need, but on what I can do without. Criticism from astrologers... That's what I can do without!

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