The day is finally upon us, 42 years after it began – many Star Wars fans will be able to head out to their local movie theaters today and see what we appears to be the end of the Skywalker legacy. For those of us that are not so lucky… we will probably be spending the weekend dodging all aspects of social media as to avoid any spoilers before we get to catch the film for ourselves. Instead of sharing another wonderful toy memory with you today I thought it might be nice to look back at some of the earlier films – in this case the 1983 Gene Siskel review for Star Wars Return of the Jedi. A review that happens to feature some wonderful interviews with both Mark Hamill as well as Anthony Daniels – a chance to turn back the clock and see what Siskel thought of the end of the then biggest film franchise of all time. Plus it is nice to see and hear the excitement of the late and great Gene Siskel on one of his favorite moments in Return of the Jedi – he apparently split up his review in two segments which totals nearly nine minutes.
Now if I am being totally honest, in my youth my Father and myself would always catch Sneak Previews on the local PBS television station. Personally we would find that more often than not we would side with the equally great Roger Ebert over Siskel… and you would not believe how my Father would get livid if they condemned a movie he was fond of. Now in case you were wondering both Siskel and Ebert enjoyed Return of the Jedi – in fact they would appear on the ABC News program Nightline to defend the Star Wars franchise against John Simon of the New York Magazine. Not only did Simon, who passed away at the age of 94 just this last November, not care for the then Star Wars trilogy but he also decried the actors involved in addition to the dialogue and plotting. As you can see for yourself thanks to YouTube, Siskel and Ebert both defend Star Wars as being good entertainment for both children and the young at heart. While I believe that the discussion between all three critics is quite heated… with more than a few verbal jabs – it manages to remain civil. I have to say though that I bust out laughing at what I perceived as a swipe at Simon by Ted Koppel at the end of the interview.
I do plan on writing up a non-spoiler review of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker when I’m able to catch the film next week – but until then let us take a moment and share in this image of Mark Hamill… clearly ‘distressed’ by CBS misspelling his name from that 1983 interview.