In 1977 I was working in the Digital Equipment Corp. Distributed Systems group, on the 5th floor
of the civil-war-era woolen mill complex in Maynard, Mass. One of my lunchtime bridge player
friends was Dick Monroe -- two years younger, another science-fiction addict, and by chance we shared
the same birthday. He knew about, from unspecified "grapevine" sources, a new and unusual movie
that was coming out in May . . .
We met at work in the morning, then climbed into Dick's two-seater car and drove into Boston for the first showing of "Star Wars" at the Sack Cheri theater on Cambridge Street. The theater is long gone, now, but it was at the back of a parking lot between Government Center and the Massachusetts General Hospital. Like many in-town movie houses, it had one large theater and presented one feature at a time; the suburban "multiplex" came along sometime later.
The premiere showing was on a Wednesday, at 1:00p on a working day. The theater crew was surprised to find a large crowd, close to a full house, lined up and ready for the midday showing. There was a Twentieth Centruy Fox souvenir program and some publicity, but that was little warning for what was soon to come.
|-- Star Wars® 1977 Souvenir Program|
The movie was stunning. Dick and I both grew up with classic science fiction, earlier stories, "Twilight Zone" and other 'landmark' features. "Forbidden Planet" introduced Robbie the robot; "The Day the Earth Stood Still" had a human-look alien ambassador, a flying saucer landing in Washington, D.C. and an 'Enforcer' robot over ten feet tall. Nothing came close to the realism and seduction into the Star Wars world.
We came out of the theater to a mob scene in the lobby. The second showing was almost sold out, mid-afternoon on a workweek Wednesday. The theater staff were dumb-founded, asking us what was going on, completely unprepared for the "blockbuster" public response. We hopped back into the car and drove back to Maynard -- just in time to catch our friends in the bar across Main Street from the mill.
Dick and I tried to explain what we had seen and experienced, superlatives flowing freely. At some point after a couple of drinks, we looked at each other, climbed back into the car and drove back to catch the third showing - 8:00p on that same day. The movie was sold out, every show, every theater, for weeks to follow. In total, I saw "Star Wars - A New Hope" eleven times in the theater.
Copyright © 1968-2015 by David B. Tuttle, Reading MA
This page updated 19-Mar-2011