I went to see Star Wars for my thirteenth birthday
Obviously, I was enthralled and had seen nothing like it before. I already loved science fiction, having seen mostly the Heston ones on television (Planet of the Apes, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Soylent Green, and The Omega Man). However, none of that is why I went to see Star Wars.
Growing up, my first real love wasn’t science fiction or fantasy but horror. I took every opportunity to watch horror movies at home. I loved the Universal classics but my favorite were the relatively new Hammer horror movies. Peter Cushing was my absolute favorite actor with Christopher Lee running a close second. My mom would often watch these with me on weekend afternoons.
One fantastic day, I saw that a new Peter Cushing had come to our local theater and it was rated PG. I had never seen a Peter Cushing movie at the theater before. I was thrilled and asked my mother if we could go see it. She told me no – which she rarely ever did. I can only think the title put her off. That movie was “From Beyond the Grave” and I did not get to see it until I was an adult.
Just before my thirteenth birthday, another new Peter Cushing movie opened at our local theater. That movie was Star Wars. My mom, sister, two of my best friends, and I had a wonderful time. The Empire Strikes Back was even better, even though the Miami Herald spoiled the important plot twist ON THE MORNING THE MOVIE OPENED.
When Phantom Menace was coming out, my wife and father-in-law waited in a line overnight to get tickets. Obviously, crushing disappointment followed that decision. I think that was the last time we ever waited in a serious line for movie tickets.
Still my fifty-year-old self is much the same as my fifteen-year-old self and I am eagerly awaiting Episode VII. Anyway, what reminded me of all of this was the cover of a book I saw in Barnes & Noble. To wit:
Yes, that is Peter Cushing’s likeness on a book jacket some twenty years after his passing. By the way, I was lucky enough to catch a few of his movies on the big screen besides Star Wars, though their quality was uneven. I have seen Sword of the Valiant, Top Secret, Arabian Adventure, Shock Waves, and The House of the Long Shadows (w/ Christopher Lee, Vincent Price, and John Carradine) in the theater.
I also got to see Christopher Lee (92) in The Hobbit movies. Yay Me!