For this week’s “Things That Bring Back Memories” post, I am going to pick something in the topic of “MOVIES” and go with “Close Encounters of the Third Kind“. This movie was released in 1977, I remember watching it (a few years later than that with my Dad, who was a Sci-Fi Junkie).
Close Encounters of the Third Kind is one of those movies that, if you have watched it – you will be sure to remember for a long time. There are so many movies in today’s world, and only a few that are ingrained in our memories. Even today, when I hear even just the sound from the video below, I know exactly what it’s from. Who else remembers this iconic play of specific notes from the “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” movie?
The story of the guy feeling drawn to a certain area, and the feeling of aliens, etc. is always one that makes you wonder. Now, I’m not one to really go for the green headed, large eyed beings that you see on certain movies, but it was still fun to watch and think about the chance that it could be.
My Dad was really into Sci-Fi…totally glued to this, Buck Rogers and Dr. Who – even before that became popular again! Some of those, I really didn’t care to sit down and watch with him…would find a reason to have to go outside and play, or make an excuse to go to my room. This one though, is one that I still love to sit down and watch!! It’s a great story, doesn’t matter your age, or anything – everyone can enjoy the story of this!
More Info on the Movie:
Close Encounters of the Third Kind is a 1977 science fiction film, written and directed by Steven Spielberg and featuring Richard Dreyfuss, François Truffaut, Melinda Dillon, Teri Garr, Bob Balaban, and Cary Guffey. It tells the story of Roy Neary, an everyday blue collar worker in Indiana, whose life changes after an encounter with an unidentified flying object (UFO).
Close Encounters was a long-cherished project for Spielberg. In late 1973, he developed a deal with Columbia Pictures for a science fiction film. Though Spielberg received sole credit for the script, he was assisted by Paul Schrader, John Hill, David Giler, Hal Barwood, Matthew Robbins, and Jerry Belson, all of whom contributed to the screenplay in varying degrees. The title is derived from ufologist J. Allen Hynek’s classification of close encounters with aliens, in which the third kind denotes human observations of actual aliens or “animate beings.” Douglas Trumbull served as the visual effects supervisor, while Carlo Rambaldi designed the aliens.
Made on a production budget of $18 million, Close Encounters was released in November 1977 to critical and financial success, eventually grossing over $337,700,000 worldwide.
A Special Edition of the film, featuring additional scenes, was issued in 1980. A third cut of the film was released to home video and laser disc in 1998 (and later DVD and Blu-ray). The film received numerous awards and nominations at the 50th Academy Awards, 32nd British Academy Film Awards, the 35th Golden Globe Awards, the Saturn Awards and has been widely acclaimed by the American Film Institute. In December 2007, it was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
In the Sonoran Desert, French scientist Claude Lacombe and his American interpreter, mapmaker David Laughlin, along with other government scientific researchers, discover Flight 19, a squadron of Grumman TBM Avengers that went missing more than 30 years earlier. The planes are intact and operational, but there is no sign of the pilots. An old man who witnessed the event claimed “the sun came out at night, and sang to him.” They also find a lost cargo ship in the Gobi Desert named SS Cotopaxi. At an air traffic control center in Indianapolis, a controller listens as two airline flights narrowly avoid a mid-air collision with an apparent unidentified flying object (UFO), which neither pilot chooses to report, even when invited to do so. In Muncie, Indiana, 3-year-old Barry Guiler is awakened in the night when his toys start operating on their own. Fascinated, he gets out of bed and discovers something or someone (off-screen) in the kitchen. He runs outside, forcing his mother, Jillian, to chase after him.
Investigating one of a series of large-scale power outages, Indiana electrical lineman Roy Neary experiences a close encounter with a UFO, when it flies over his truck and lightly burns the side of his face with its bright lights. The UFO, along with three others, are pursued by Neary and three police cars, but the spacecraft fly off into the night sky. Roy becomes fascinated by UFOs, much to the dismay of his wife, Ronnie. He also becomes increasingly obsessed with subliminal, mental images of a mountain-like shape and begins to make models of it. Jillian also becomes obsessed with sketching a unique-looking mountain. Soon after, she is terrorized in her home by a UFO encounter in which Barry is abducted by unseen beings.
Lacombe and Laughlin—along with a group of United Nations experts—continue to investigate increasing UFO activity and strange, related occurrences. Witnesses in Dharamsala, India report that the UFOs make distinctive sounds: a five-tone musical phrase in a major scale. Scientists broadcast the phrase to outer space, but are mystified by the response: a seemingly meaningless series of numbers repeated over and over until Laughlin, with his background in cartography, recognizes it as a set of geographical coordinates. The coordinates point to Devils Tower near Moorcroft, Wyoming. Lacombe and the U.S. military converge on Wyoming. The United States Army evacuates the area, planting false reports in the media that a train wreck has spilled a toxic nerve gas, all the while preparing a secret landing zone for the UFOs and their occupants.
Meanwhile, Roy’s increasingly erratic behavior causes Ronnie to leave him, taking their three children with her. When a despairing Roy inadvertently sees a television news program about the train wreck near Devils Tower, he realizes the mental image of a mountain plaguing him is real. Jillian sees the same broadcast, and she and Roy, as well as others with similar visions and experiences, travel to the site in spite of the false public warnings about nerve gas.
While most of the civilians who are drawn to the site are apprehended by the Army, Roy and Jillian persist and make it to the site just as dozens of UFOs appear in the night sky. The government specialists at the site begin to communicate with the UFOs by use of light and sound on a large electrical billboard. Following this, an enormous mother ship lands at the site, returning people who had been abducted over the past decades, including Barry, and the missing pilots from Flight 19 and sailors from the Cotopaxi, who have not aged since their abductions. The government officials decide to include Roy in a group of people whom they have selected to be potential visitors to the mothership, and hastily prepare him. As the aliens finally emerge from the mothership, they select Roy to join them on their travels. As Roy enters the mothership, one of the aliens pauses for a few moments with the humans. Lacombe uses Curwen hand signs that correspond to the five note alien tonal phrase. The alien replies with the same gestures, smiles, and returns to its ship, which lifts off into the night sky.
Some of the Characters:
Richard Dreyfuss (Roy Neary) was born Richard Stephen Dreyfus in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Norman, an attorney and restaurateur, and Geraldine, a peace activist, and was raised in Bayside, Queens. Dreyfuss is Jewish. He has commented that he “grew up thinking that Alfred Dreyfus and [he] are of the same family.” His father disliked New York City, and moved the family first to Europe, and later to Los Angeles, when Dreyfuss was nine. Dreyfuss attended Beverly Hills High School. Dreyfuss began acting during his youth, at Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills Arts Center and Westside Jewish Community Center under drama teacher Bill Miller. He debuted in the TV production In Mama’s House, when he was fifteen. He attended San Fernando Valley State College, now California State University, Northridge, for a year, and was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, working in alternate service for two years, as a clerk in a Los Angeles hospital. During this time, he acted in a few small TV roles on shows, Peyton Place, Gidget, That Girl, Bewitched, and The Big Valley. During the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, he also performed on stage on Broadway, Off-Broadway, repertory, and improvisational theater. Dreyfuss went on to star in the box office blockbusters Jaws (1975) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), both directed by Steven Spielberg. He won the 1978 Academy Award for Best Actor at the 50th Academy Awards ceremony for his portrayal of a struggling actor in The Goodbye Girl (1977), becoming the youngest actor to do so (at the age of 30 years, 125 days old), besting Marlon Brando, who had won his first Oscar in 1955 at the age of 30 years 360 days old. This record stood for 25 years until it was broken in 2003 by Adrien Brody, who was three weeks shy of age 30 at the time of the 75th Academy Awards ceremony. Then in 2009, he portrayed the Biblical figure Moses in the Thomas Nelson audiobook production Word of Promise: Complete Audio Bible. Dreyfuss has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7021 Hollywood Blvd. Dreyfuss was among 99 other stars at the 2012 Academy Awards – Night of 100 Stars.
Teri Garr (Ronnie Neary) can claim a career in show business by birthright. She was born in Lakewood, Ohio, the daughter of Eddie Garr (born Edward Leo Gonnoud), a Broadway stage and film actor, and Phyllis Garr (née Emma Schmotzer), a dancer. Her maternal grandparents were Austrian, and her father was of Irish descent. While she was still an infant, her family moved from Hollywood to New Jersey but, after the death of her father when she was 11, the family returned to Hollywood, where her mother became a wardrobe mistress for movies and television. While Garr’s dancing can be seen in nine Elvis Presley movies, her first speaking role in motion pictures was in the 1968 feature Head (1968), starring The Monkees. In the 1970s she became well established in television with appearances on shows such as Star Trek (1966), It Takes a Thief (1968) and McCloud (1970), and became a semi-regular on The Sonny and Cher Show (1976) as Cher’s friend, Olivia. Garr has since risen to become one of Hollywood’s most versatile, energetic and well-recognized actresses. She has starred in many memorable films, including Young Frankenstein (1974), Oh, God! (1977), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Mr. Mom (1983), After Hours (1985) and her Academy Award-nominated performance for Best Supporting Actress in Tootsie (1982). Other film roles include The Black Stallion (1979), One from the Heart (1981), The Escape Artist (1982), Firstborn (1984), Let It Ride (1989), Full Moon in Blue Water (1988), Out Cold (1989), Short Time (1990), Waiting for the Light (1990), Mom and Dad Save the World (1992), Perfect Alibi (1995), Ready to Wear (1994) and A Simple Wish (1997).
Bob Balaban (David Laughlin) was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Eleanor (née Pottasch) and Elmer Balaban, who owned several movie theatres and later was a pioneer in cable television. His mother acted under the name Eleanor Barry. His uncles were dominant forces in the theatre business; they founded the Balaban and Katz Theatre circuit in Chicago, a chain which included the Chicago and Uptown Theatres. Balaban’s father and uncle Harry founded the H & E Balaban Corporation in Chicago, which operated its own movie palaces including the Esquire Theatre in Chicago. They later owned a powerful group of television stations and cable television franchises. His uncle Barney Balaban was president of Paramount Pictures for nearly 30 years from 1936 to 1964. His maternal grandmother’s second husband, Sam Katz, was a vice president at MGM beginning in 1936. Sam had been early partners with Bob’s uncles Abe, Barney, John, and Max in forming Balaban and Katz. Sam also served as President of the Publix theatre division of Paramount Pictures. Balaban began his college career at Colgate University where he joined Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity and then transferred to New York University. He lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with his family. He is Jewish. His paternal grandparents immigrated from Russia to Chicago, while his mother’s family was from Germany, Russia, and Romania. He has been married to Lynn Grossman since April 1, 1977. They have two children.
Melinda Dillon (Jillian Guiler) was born October 13, 1939, in Hope, Arkansas, to Norine and W.S Dillon. She attended Hyde Park High School. Melinda started in improvisational comedy, and stage acting before she made her feature-film debut as an eccentric neighbor of Catherine Deneuve’s in The April Fools (1969). After a seven year absence, she returned to film with appearances in Bound for Glory (1976). And in Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). She played a mother coping with the alien abduction of her son. Her performance in the film earned her an Oscar nomination. Four years later, she earned a second Oscar nomination for her performance as an emotionally disturbed woman who provided an alibi for a suspect in Sydney Pollack’s Absence of Malice (1981). Her warmth fostered two mother roles in the whimsical comedies A Christmas Story (1983) and Harry and the Hendersons (1987). Melinda made strong impressions as Savannah Wingo, Nick Nolte’s on-screen mentally disturbed, poet sister whose attempted suicide serves as the catalyst in Barbra Streisands The Prince of Tides (1991). And in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia (1999). She played the role of Rose Gator.
Did You Know?
The calendar from 1945 is set in the Helvetica typeface, which was not even designed until 1954.
The small aliens in the film were actually played by local girls aged between 8-12 yrs old. They were used instead of boys because Steven Spielberg felt that they moved more gracefully.
During the ABC newscast, the reporter states that the Devil’s Tower National Monument was created by Theodore Roosevelt in 1915. Wrong! Roosevelt was President from 1901 to 1909, and the Monument was created in 1906.
The size of the mother ship can be very incompatible in different shots. When it arrives it’s behind the mountain, it is a lot bigger than the mountain. When it’s in front , it’s no longer bigger but smaller, or at best about the same.
In a close shot of the U.N. SUV’s, one of the flags is blowing forward while the other blows backward. Also the flags are waving as if in a gentle breeze. In all the others shots the vehicles are moving fast and all the flags are blown back by the strong wind.
The coordinates received by the scientists (40°36’10” N, 104°44’30” W) aren’t very close to Devils Tower at all. The coordinates are very close to Stage Colorado, east of Ft. Collins, Colorado, almost 300 miles away from the monument.
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