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Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Happy 80th Birthday George Lucas!


It was on May 14th, 1944 that a little boy was born in Modesto, California.  Growing up he was a restless young man, with no clear idea of what he wanted to do with his life.  He finally settled on being a race car driver.  But a near-fatal car crash a few days before graduating high school put a damper on that idea.

Our hero eventually decided he wanted to go to college.  He enrolled in a junior college and studied everything from anthropology to sociology to literature.  While there he began experimenting with filmmaking.  He then ended up at University of Southern California, choosing to continue his studies in cinematography.  And he discovered that he enjoyed it, a lot.  A series of student films followed, and many of them gained notice for their groundbreaking and breathtaking visuals.

The young lad graduated from college and tried to enlist in the Air Force.  Unfortunately his many speeding tickets, of all things, disqualified him.  He was drafted to serve in the Vietnam War but was again disqualified from service, for medical reasons.

He then returned to University of Southern California as a graduate student.  After producing the short film Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB he came under the wing of Francis Ford Coppola.  It wasn't long after that when the young man was given the opportunity to make a full-length adaptation of his film, and in 1971 came the release of THX 1138.

It was not a box office success.

Undaunted, our hero decided he wanted to make a different film.  One drawing from his experiences coming of age in Modesto.  That became the genesis of 1973's American Graffiti: a film that has become as classic as any.

Then, around 1974, our young hero sat down with a pad of paper and began writing the first draft of what he roughly titled "The Star Wars".

And the rest, is history.

On this very special day, The Knight Shift and its eclectic proprietor wishes a Very Happy 80th Birthday to George Walton Lucas Jr.  A man who perhaps more than most in our lifetime has impacted the world in so many positive ways than can ever be counted.

And I like to think that he still isn't finished with his craft.

Someday, I hope George Lucas once again shows us something we haven't seen before.

Before I close out this post, I want to share one of my favorite photos of Lucas.  It's from the filming of American Graffiti.  Here is Lucas, sitting on the floor beneath the countertop at Mel's Drive-In, directing Ron Howard:

I just love the pose Lucas is in.  That, my friends, is directing with dedication.


Chris Knight said...

George Lucas also had a hand in The Godfather. He was the one who convinced Coppola to direct that film. And then Lucas put together the sequence showing the newspapers as the family is "going to the mattresses".

And yeah, Lucas might have had a little impact on my personal life... but that's another story :-P