Today! Because I know this sounds crazy, but ever since yesterday on the road, I’ve been seeing this shape –
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
Directed by Steven Spielberg (x8)
Starring Richard Dreyfuss (x2), Melinda Dillon (x4), Teri Garr (x2), Bob Balaban (x3), Francois Truffaut (x2), Roberts Blossom (x3), Cary Guffey, J. Patrick McNamara, Warren J. Kemmerling, Philip Dodds, Lance Henriksen (x3), George DiCenzo
This movie was way too boring for us as kids. Like, I knew it existed, and from seeing the tape cover at the video store I knew there were aliens in it eventually, but whenever I caught a few minutes on TV it was always Richard Dreyfuss doing crazy shit in his house and a bunch of lab coat types in foreign crowds with loud music and singing and none of it made any sense. I don’t know for sure when I finally sat and watched the whole thing, but I want to say it was at least high school or later. Having grown up on alien adventure flicks, nothing about Close Encounters interested me for a long, long time.
And that’s the way it should’ve been – released seven months after Star Wars, I’m surprised this thing managed to fight its way in front of a PG audience. They might as well have loaded it up with F bombs and nude scenes, because this is an adult film through and through. Anyway, I think so – were you gathered around the Zenith enjoying Roy Neery’s extraterrestrial madness with the whole family in the early home video ’80s? We certainly were not.
Eventually, though, I got way into Close Encounters – even with Roy Neery ultimately proven correct and revealed as a monumentally lousy father. It makes sense that one of the running Spielberg devices is absent dads, with his second major feature starring Dreyfuss’s self-obsessed, world-abandoning maniac. Sure, it makes him interesting, needing to make a lot of personal sacrifices to go on this quest, but come on, he’s pretty quick to make those sacrifices.
Despite the many times previous where I’ve said how movies depicting places I’ve lived or just been seem like home movies, Close Encounters strongly does not fit that. Sure, the Devil’s Tower hasn’t changed much that I can tell in the last forty years, but the movie also takes a helluva lot of liberties with the actual topography of the area there. We walked all around that damn thing, and there wasn’t a spaceship landing pad anywhere! Can’t fool me, Spielberg!
But hey, if you’re ever in the Mount Rushmore area, the Devil’s Tower is just a little ways west into Wyoming. Don’t miss it! There are a hilarious number of prairie dogs!
While it was nominated for a whopping eight Academy Awards, Close Encounters nearly went home empty handed, due to that galaxy far, far away – Star Wars winning all five of their head-to-head below-the-line awards. It did take home Cinematography – where Star Wars wasn’t nominated – while both lost out for Best Director. Melinda Dillon was also up for Best Supporting Actress. Tough year to take home much! Too bad there weren’t awards for Best Playing With Your Food Sculpture, as obviously it would’ve scored some hardware.
Spielberg’s continued encroachment on the directing lead continues, becoming the second eight timer on his second movie in three days. Woody’s got eleven, but we still have a long way to go. How will this end?! Quick spotlight for new Three-Timer – #187 The Hospital/#169 Home Alone great Roberts Blossom, not hiding any bodies in his trash can in Close Encounters!