The Behind the Scenes Pic of the Day means something. This is important!
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s Behind the Scenes Pic!
Happy Sunday, folks. Today’s pic takes a look behind the scenes of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which is an amazing film as is, but even more interesting when you think about where Spielberg was when making it.
Here he is fresh off the success of Jaws, which not only set the box office on fire, but set the standard for the studio tentpole film. He was praised as a wunderkind and this was his “sophomore” effort in the eyes of most people, although he had feature experience with both The Sugarland Express and, to some degree, Duel, before Jaws.
I mention Duel and not his other TV movies, like Something Evil, because Duel was actually theatrically released it was so good. Something Evil is kind of rightly forgotten, a teeth-cutting for the young director, what most young filmmakers get out of their system in film school now.
So, Spielberg has the world at his feet and decides to write a sci-fi film that would take the seeds of his trademark suburban family unit that was glimpsed with Brody’s family in Jaws and make it his own. He also established relationships on this movie that would stick with him for a long time, especially with cutter Michael Kahn.
So, the Spielberg that we all know (and the Spielberg most of us grew up with) was solidified with this movie. And I have to say, I’m quite a fan of Spielberg as a writer, something he didn’t do much, but Close Encounters and Poltergeist are two fantastically written films. AI I have a soft spot for, but wouldn’t count it as the best written material in the world, but we all know that Spielberg wasn’t writing that to be a Spielberg movie, but a Kubrick movie.
So, I have much love for this movie. From Richard Dreyfuss’ fantastic performance as Roy Neary to Melinda Dillon’s incredibly sympathetic Jillian to Teri Garr’s incredibly unsympathetic and frustrating Ronnie Neary to Vilmos Zsigmond’s amazing photography and the brilliant and iconic John Williams’ score, which is one of the few film scores to actually have real plot significance.
And that brings us to today’s pic, which has a young Spielberg actually at the famous keyboard that is used to communicate with our alien visitors. Hope you enjoy and click for the bigger version!
Tomorrow’s pic finally appeases the demands of one particular constant reader who is a big fab four fan!
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Jan. 9, 2011, 7:18 p.m. CST
Jan. 9, 2011, 7:21 p.m. CST
Jan. 9, 2011, 7:22 p.m. CST
I must have watched this 10-15 times within the first few months I purchased the DVD that came out in 2001. I remember the day - I rushed out of school as fast as I could to get to Best Buy. I was obsessed with this film. I remember mimicking the mashed potatoes scene with clay in an anatomy class I was taking. Good times.
Jan. 9, 2011, 7:23 p.m. CST
If I didn't have to change my password, I would have had it!
Jan. 9, 2011, 7:25 p.m. CST
I enjoy Close Encounters, but it just feels like a teaser to E.T. I think Close Encounters takes itself way to serious and Speilberg realized that. I would recomend E.T. over Close Encounters any day of the week.
Jan. 9, 2011, 7:27 p.m. CST
... that can truly only be seen in a theater at night. I saw it opening night at the Ziegfield Theater in Manhattan at night. The movie had that Spielberg jaw-dropping reaction by the audience (something he no longer has). When we all left the theater at the end, the glow of the city night life (with taxi headlights, neon signs, and traffic lights) it felt as if we were still in the movie. The theater crowd, including me, felt like we were on LSD. Watching it on video, even my 103-inch screen, does not do it justice.
Jan. 9, 2011, 7:29 p.m. CST
and I was specifically on the section just now explaining how the 'ARP' technician (who's credited twice for some reason) sent to install the unit was cast in the film and for the scene, he had to mimic the playing of the pre-recorded William's notes while someone in one of the little trailer modules off to the side of the landing area played the keyboard that was hooked up to the actual light board. Just made me wonder... why didn't they just hook the one the ARP tech was playing on camera to the light board? But crazy to know that the thing actually WORKED. Today, they'd just put up a giant fucking green rectangle and a CGI dude would get paid obscene amounts of money and take obscene amounts of time to do that effect months later. Not knocking CGI, just that it's used in situations where a little forethought can produce a practical result onset. Anyway... I love this movie... what a grand and miraculous thing to behold.
Jan. 9, 2011, 7:33 p.m. CST
for my obsession with aliens and UFOs. The alien abduction of the little boy is one of the scariest things I can imagine.
Jan. 9, 2011, 7:37 p.m. CST
ET doesn't have a single scene as powerful, in my mind, as that one. The lights shining in the tiny cracks in the door frame, the scratching, scrambling sounds from the roof, the screws on the heater vent loosening on their own... All while the boy's toys activate and roam the house unbidden. "Real" alien abduction stories aren't even as terrifying as that scene.
Jan. 9, 2011, 7:38 p.m. CST
by Ricky Retardo
One reviewer said the mothership was like seeing God. You'll never go broke underestimating the intelligence of a film critic.
Jan. 9, 2011, 7:44 p.m. CST
I thought Melinda Dillion's character was well done and certainly sympathetic; at the same time, I never thought Gar's character was unsympathetic. In fact I remember upon first seeing this movie--a bit confused in regard to what I wanted for these characters. I remember thinking there was a romantic chemistry between Roy Neary and Jillian that didn't feel quite right because I didn't see Gar as a shrew or unreasonable given what was happening to her husband. BTW, nice pic. Spielberg looks like he should stil be in high school.
Jan. 9, 2011, 7:48 p.m. CST
I read in Richard Dreyfuss's "Making Of" diary that the model UFO's -- which were built to 1/20 scale -- didn't have the realistic lighting Spielberg wanted; their lights were so small they showed up as tiny poinpoints on film, not the glowing lights with hazy halos you'd see in the actual atmosphere. So they brought in smog machines and made the air 20 times more polluted, and filmed the models in that -- and voila! They perfectly achieved that haunting, atmospheric glow. Let's hear it for pre-CGI ingenuity -- and for Douglas Trumbull!
Jan. 9, 2011, 7:54 p.m. CST
I always think what happen to the family after he ditched them to go play with aliens. Probably had to go on welfare. While the kids grew up hating their father. You suck Roy! So, with that huge gaping hole in the script, was it really that well written?
Jan. 9, 2011, 7:58 p.m. CST
That is the other thing that really bothered me about the film. I found it hard to find sympathy for a man who would abandon his kids. With all the government secrecy around the event, they would never be told the truth. For them Dad just went nuts and left them--is he dead? will he never return? All the wonders of the universe could not get me to leave my kids.
Jan. 9, 2011, 8:07 p.m. CST
the story makes it clear that he (and all the others like him) had been "programmed psychically" to seek out the alien landing site. In his defense, he was driven by forces he didn't understand and couldn't control. He built devil's tower in his living room out of dirt and the neighbor's duck fence, for god's sake. The scene plays out over about 10 minutes. He's clearly kind of bonkers by that point even.
Jan. 9, 2011, 8:10 p.m. CST
For not believing him they can rot on welfare. If they had believed they would have followed him and been onboard.
Jan. 9, 2011, 8:18 p.m. CST
Sure, he became obssessed and perhaps even "programed" to seek the aliens. I would argue though that a character that is programmed to utterly forget or care about his children is a tragic figure not a heroic one. Yet, he is not made out to be tragic; instead he is presented as simply being passionate in his search for the truth--and we are made to sympathize with his quest. His family is expendable. The tearful and joyful reunion that Jillian has with her child will most likely not happen for Roy's kids. In addition he is not unhappy--he is joyful at the ending. It is certainly not tragic for him.
Jan. 9, 2011, 8:22 p.m. CST
And I love Spielberg and fucking ADORE Dreyfuss..I just think its just a film that gets weaker the more time passes. Its no Indiana Jones and it sure as shit aint no Jaws!! Sorry...
Jan. 9, 2011, 8:27 p.m. CST
The kid getting taken still to this day gives me chills. Terror - fucking - fying, and the screws unscrewing out of the vent, FUCK THAT. Oh and that hand up the fireplace, FUCK THAT. Jesus god fuck that scene. The damn "mother" alien that unfolds itself like a gigantic daddy long legs still makes me want to cover my face with a blanket like I did when I was a kid.
Jan. 9, 2011, 8:33 p.m. CST
I don't think we can blame his wife for leaving, given what he has done with the living room and his obvious obssession with something appears delusional. All of us would consider grounds for a mental break down. In fact, she did what I think any mother would have done to shield her children from something very disturbing and upsetting to them. (Perhaps she had intentions of returning to help him with his problem, who knows?) Go ahead, live in your bathrobe and build a ten foot model of a mountain in your living room and see if your spouse keeps the kids in the house with you.
Jan. 9, 2011, 8:47 p.m. CST
I respect Spielberg's legacy and enjoy his films, but the thing that disturbs me the most is his obsession with aliens. How many films did he do on aliens, already? Lets count them: "Close Encounters", "E.T.", "War of the Worlds" remake, "Indiana Jones - Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" and that's it I believe. I guess he really believes in aliens or something?
Jan. 9, 2011, 8:56 p.m. CST
is seeing this at the drive-in; in particular, the scene where the lights come up behind Dreyfuss' truck while he's studying the map...and he kind of absent-mindedly waves them around him and instead.....they go up and over? I'll never forget the "oh, wow" my kindergarten-ish self got from that.
Jan. 9, 2011, 9:03 p.m. CST
by maxwell's hammer
...is easily my favorite movie ever. It was one of the movie options on a flight to Europe a few years ago, and even on the little back-of-seat screen, I was still moved by so many of the extraordinary little things the movie does. The way it endows every character with so much childlike wonder. Its always the little moments that stand out for me...<BR> <BR> Neary's little giggle when the spaceships form the Big Dipper...The scientists playfully rolling the giant globe down the hallway...the awe of those little kids listening to that crazy man at the press-conference talking about bigfoot and aliens...the way the scientists at the landing site just stand there with jaws agape like 5-year olds walking into a toy store. 'Close Encounters' is packed with dozens and dozens of little throw away moments like that.
Jan. 9, 2011, 9:04 p.m. CST
by Nasty In The Pasty
It was only as a young man (not even 30 when he made that film, Jesus...) with no wife or children of his own that he could write a scenerio where an character could leave his (unsympathetic) family and drift off into his own personal obsessions. He says he'd do the ending totally different now (much like he took out the guns in E.T.).
Jan. 9, 2011, 9:31 p.m. CST
Watch the making-of special on the disc. Lucas wanted aliens as the focal point of movie 4 (one of the original titles was going to be 'Indiana Jones and the Saucer Men'). That was the problem for a long time, Spielberg kept saying no, and Lucas kept saying, 'it has to be aliens. It will work!' Then the strange compromise was that they aren't really aliens, they are 'inter-dimensional beings' who travel through time, not space...but they look like aliens. Though I feel that Steven has matured in a sense. WotW didn't really feel all that awe-inspiring as his previous efforts. It was almost like he just said, 'I can't decide what to do next, but Tom dropped this into my lap and he's a good frend.'
Jan. 9, 2011, 9:33 p.m. CST
by jack black
a spoof of First Encounters.It was about 5 aliens which were exactly like humans with no special abilities and their spaceship looked like a garbage truck. I dont remember details but the 4 aliens were separated from their leader who got lost while visiting Earth,made contact with the humans and became rock stars because of their popularity while their leader was trying to find where they were and convince the humans that he was also a alien but everyone was laughing at him because nobody believed him. There was a scene which was making fun of the piano scene from Encounters,with a wacko translator scientist who spoke only Italian and was trying to communicate with the aliens playing some kind of all-in-one band although the aliens spoke perfectly english. If someone knows the title of this movie please share...
Jan. 9, 2011, 9:54 p.m. CST
by frank cotton
it is part of the first wave of contact...if you people followed your conspiracy websites like you are supposed to, you'd know this! now you've caused frank to blow his cover - BAD TALKBACKERS! BAD! BAD! BAD!
Jan. 9, 2011, 10:38 p.m. CST
by jack black
-Aliens: Thank you good sir for joining us in this long journey through space.wondrous things awaits you. -Roy: Oh the pleasure is all mine.i wouldnt have missed this journey for anything in the world.even my wife and kids. -Aliens: Glad to hear that.Now sit here and relax while we prepare the anal probe machine. -Roy: the anal what?? -Aliens: BRING THE ANAL PROBE MACHINE. -Roy: WHAT ?!?!?!?!?
Jan. 9, 2011, 11 p.m. CST
For those interested, that keyboard is an ARP 2500. The gentleman to Spielberg's left (who is shown performing on the synth in the film) is Phil Dodds, he head engineer of ARP at the time who recently passed away in 2007. I got to mess around with a 2500 once in my lifetime; a unique experience since the damn things are so freaking rare and valuable now. Interesting that once the actual "conversation" between Phil & the alien ship started, the dulcet tones of the ARP were replaced by standard orchestral instruments overdubbed. I've always wanted to know the story behind that decision. This boring, anecdotal crap was brought to you by a wicked synth nerd. Anyway, thanks for posting this image! Desktopped!
Jan. 9, 2011, 11:10 p.m. CST
I always thought a sequel could be made revolving around the kids and Roy's eventual return to explain what happened. All the kids but one would hate their dad for leaving them but the one remembers what happened and becomes obsessed with UFO's and it leads to a life time of investigation and study. Nothing's ever found, nothing's ever proven then one day, dad knocks on the door. . .
Jan. 9, 2011, 11:24 p.m. CST
I had a similar idea on that also. There are so many great ways a sequel could go. The original needs closer to deal with the consequences of Roy's actions. Close Encounters: The Return
Jan. 9, 2011, 11:25 p.m. CST
by The Bear
Didn't I read in "You'll Never Eat Lunch in this Town Again" that Spielberg did not actually write this movie alone, but paid off the other writer(s) so he could take sole credit for it? I remember being broken-hearted by that story.
Jan. 9, 2011, 11:30 p.m. CST
Don't forget Transformers and Alien Invasion TV series [whatever its name is].
Jan. 9, 2011, 11:35 p.m. CST
I remember dying to see this after STAR WARS (CE3K was being advertised that summer with that early 'night road' teaser, and had been mentioned much earlier in STARLOG as a Spielberg SCi-Fi movie gone over budget). My father was eventually interested in seeing it, so we did go opening weekend (whereas it took over a M-O-N-T-H to see STAR WARS). In my mind, those two movies are always a pair, along with Williams' scores. CE3K doesn't age well, like many Spielberg movies (at least for me), but Dreyfuss' performance is still riveting in the 'obsession stage' and Melinda Dillon and Francois Truffaut were also great casting choices. I think what annoys me the most about CE3K now is the silly stuff like Barry's toys starting up, floor screws un-screwing themselves, UFO's racing through toll-booths, and that scene with the UFO looking, at first, like truck headlights behind Roy Neary (who waves them on) but instead they travel upward - simply for an audience "ooooohh" moment. COUNTRYBOY in the TB above mentioned Douglas Trumbull's VFX supervision, and I'd say that's what really took CE3K up a notch for overall UFO 'credibility' in the day, which was a lot more fringe back then than it is now. While Spielberg has said that, looking back as a parent, he wouldn't allow Roy Neary to abandon his family at the end of CE3K, it's pretty obvious it was due to the overwhelming pull of the ET's in his psyche, and his wife abandoning him during the crisis, and that decision never felt sour. I'll also give Spielberg credit for issuing the different CE3K cuts to DVD in a way that one doesn't nullify the other. JAWS, CE3K and RAIDERS are still my top from THE BEARD...even with those Oscars behind him, his ventures into 'real world' drama never felt as sincere.
Jan. 9, 2011, 11:49 p.m. CST
Yep! While I took some of Julia Phillips' stories with a grain, she would definitely be 'in the know' on CE3K.
Jan. 10, 2011, 12:02 a.m. CST
The kid abduction and family desertion scenes notwithstanding. Difficult to express the spell this exerted over audiences at the time of its release. It is hard to rewatch, I'll grant some talkbackers that. Nothing can ever top that first time in the dark, the thrills, the wonder, the power of the music score, the humour, the guessing before and throughout(I doubt its secrets would survive the internet and the spolier culture today). Showed it to my 12 year old daughter on DVD for the first time one night around Hallowe'en, lights off, phone jack out - and she was mesmerized, even on a modest 42 old Sony flattie. Because, at heart, it's a kid's story, a fairy tale, just like ET.
Jan. 10, 2011, 12:45 a.m. CST
The writing credit is supposedly fair. Paul Schrader's script turned up and the movie didn't use anything from it. The Sugarland express writers may have done some standard doctoring.
Jan. 10, 2011, 12:49 a.m. CST
morons from outer space?
Jan. 10, 2011, 12:58 a.m. CST
how embarrassing. I remember how he would brag about not being in Jaws 2 cuz it was so bad.
Jan. 10, 2011, 1:02 a.m. CST
IMDB lists the SUGARLAND team and two others, for a total of four CE3K uncredited writers. I'd say that would have been disputed on IMDB by now if it were bogus. The CE3K story and script were probably mostly Spielberg's, but at least with POLTERGEIST the co-scriptwriters received credit. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0075860/fullcredits#writers
Jan. 10, 2011, 1:38 a.m. CST
Ponytail versus boat propeller will live in infamy. Boobs + blood = splatterfest 2010. In friggin' 3D. They just don't make 'em like they used to...
Jan. 10, 2011, 4:04 a.m. CST
cinema experiences. Those morons calling J.J. Abrams the new Spielberg need to see this on the big screen before they go shooting their mouths off. There's more cinematic inventiveness and wow factor in the first 5 minutes of CE3K than there is in Abrams entire filmography.
Jan. 10, 2011, 4:11 a.m. CST
Thanks Steven! Now, talk some sense into your frogneck friend!
Jan. 10, 2011, 4:21 a.m. CST
by jack black
yeah thats it.tx mate.
Jan. 10, 2011, 4:38 a.m. CST
Morons from outer space ?
Jan. 10, 2011, 5:13 a.m. CST
awesome movie. Blew my head off as a kid and Tahoe was cool for constantly scanning the heavens at night... I'd recommend the diary book by Bob Balaban which I think another TBer has mentioned here, if you want the feel of what it was really like trying to put the movie together. Thanks a whole bunch Quint; made my day!
Jan. 10, 2011, 5:54 a.m. CST
Gotta agree with flip63hole here. The movie won't win any awards, but did it ever deliver!! Once the big massacre at the beach gets started, you almost need a damn parka there is so much blood flying around. It was a fun movie to be sure. And CE3K is pretty good too.
Jan. 10, 2011, 6:51 a.m. CST
.. couple of months ago which has all available footage re-inserted..... great movie, dreyfuss is excellent and the spaceship fx are still awesome.. :o)
Jan. 10, 2011, 7:03 a.m. CST
One last comment, and I swear I'll quit obsessing over this. Abandoning his family is completely in line with the themes and events of the movie. These are aliens who have high-jacked military flights and held the pilots captive for 40 years. These are aliens who, for no good reason, terrorize a single mother and abduct her 3-year old child. The idea that they would "invite" Mr. Neary to come out for a visit is a logical extension. Roy's family gets screwed, yes. I propose that this movie is as much a sci-fi horror film as anything.
Jan. 10, 2011, 7:25 a.m. CST
Probably because it began that long run of "children in trouble" played-out undercurrents that's polluted many of his movies. The pre-arrival scenes at Devil's Tower are great, though, and if it helped raise Francois Truffaut's profile in America, it's all good.
Jan. 10, 2011, 7:55 a.m. CST
by jack black
Goverment official to kidnapped American fighter pilot: -So now that your 40 years journey through the stars ended and you returned to earth,what is the first thing that you want to say about your experience? -MY ASS HURTS.!!
Jan. 10, 2011, 8:18 a.m. CST
Until the last 20 minutes, this movie is a snorefest and Richard Dreyfuss is a complete dick. Hey, I'm gonna leave my family and go look for a hill...lame!
Jan. 10, 2011, 8:24 a.m. CST
... Daft Punk would play the synthesizers.
Jan. 10, 2011, 8:28 a.m. CST
...Taken. Sadly, an alien-whacking Liam Neeson was nowhere to be found. It did have that fugly Blair Witch chick as a CIA agent, though.
Jan. 10, 2011, 8:46 a.m. CST
by jack black
using the notes from his Mythodea work.
Jan. 10, 2011, 10:11 a.m. CST
... not only have I talked to people who worked on it, visited the mothership at the DC aerospace museum, and bought my playstation 3 just to play this blu-ray (my first blu-ray purchase)... but I also have the relatively unknown action figure style doll - still in the 1977 CE3K packaging - the doll of the Rambaldi lead alien which does the hand signs. I read the novelization more times than I read the Star Wars' novelization back then in 3rd grade. The Bob Balaban journal was repeated 4th grade reading... I think for me personally this is the best film ever made, and its a parable for religion, and at it's most underlying core... it's about being an artist and dealing with the creative drive. Spielberg himself doesn't really understand the greater sum of the parts, as evidenced by his commentary. But I don't think any of the great directors truly grasp the sum of the parts of their own movies, and they cannot reproduce them because it was partly chance and partly a collaboration of specific talents and mindsets that made such a great thing at that specific time.
Jan. 10, 2011, 10:14 a.m. CST
I have tons of great making of photos from this film... but I figure that my emails will be needles in a haystack at this point.
Jan. 10, 2011, 10:53 a.m. CST
in an interview in one of those fantastic film type magazines - but more indie - back then in 1977 that he saw CE3K (with family?) and it was like a mass religious feeling of awe that came over everyone in the audience at the end. I swear, no other movie has come close to being so timelessly meaningful, mythical, personal yet mass appealing, and cutting edge. It's cool on so many levels, the simplest of which is the excellence of the acting (yes I know cocaine was involved!)
Jan. 10, 2011, 1:13 p.m. CST
staring, mouths agape, at something wonderous...see Hook, Empire Of The Sun, I'm sure there are plenty others I can't think of at the moment...his Kick The Can segment from Twilight Zone??
Jan. 10, 2011, 6:37 p.m. CST
What doesn't he release a much better video game of E.T. since there was a recent anniversary of said movie. the 80s Atari 2600 one wasn't good at all. There's gotta be a market for it, especially since there's a back to the future video game.
Jan. 10, 2011, 9:35 p.m. CST
The reason this and ET are my two favorite Spielberg movies is because they are the most personal - even more than his artistic "adult" movies. The fact that Spielberg's father left their family and yet here he makes an entire movie that justifies just that is pretty amazing. From the first scene the film is about our inability to communicate - between languages, sexes, families. I once saw an interviewer point out to Spielberg that his mother was a musician and his father was a scientist and at the end of CEOTTC he brings them both together. That's pretty remarkable for a popular film. ET tells that same story of abandonment from the child's point of view. It's rare for a filmmaker to lay out their needs and concerns so clearly in popular filmmaking, yet Spielberg is still often thought of as the "happy ending" filmmaker. This is what I love about his best films, and I think it's why they connect with so many people on a deep level.
Jan. 11, 2011, 12:41 a.m. CST
He seemed like he was in an ok mood, despire the fact that pretty much everyone at the graduation was prolly waiting for a chance to kiss his a$$ and or get autographs from him. I heard he got some credit/slack towards his diploma because, you know, he is one of the most popular direqtors of all time.
Jan. 11, 2011, 5:14 a.m. CST
by The Dwayne
who thought the POTD was going to be from UHF starring Weird Al?
Jan. 11, 2011, 6:12 a.m. CST
jokes are no longer even mildly amusing. Every stand-up comic, every cartoon, every movie seems to do the same joke. Its just damn lazy. Can we move on to a new concept? Or is the anus just so damn funny we have to mention it every half-hour?
Jan. 11, 2011, 10:15 a.m. CST
I'm on the Ronny train. Terri Garr's character is *un*sympathetic? Your husband walks off his job, becomes increasingly unhinged, freaks his kids out, and yet you stick with him. That is, until he fills your living room with mud and bricks and bushes, at which point you figure, well, sorry dude. Build your garbage mountain. I'm taking the kids and going to my sister's. Then your husband, who has taken obsession to a clinical level, runs into a chick and is like "you believe in aliens, too! Let's make out!" And then you ditch your wife and kids and go to space--no "tell my family I'm sorry for being a selfish ahole, but I want to hang out with the aliens more than I love you."
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