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Old 02-21-2012, 08:58 PM   #270
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Originally Posted by Huffmeister View Post
Kind of off topic, but... You know who really doesn't get enough credit for the success of Star Wars? Ralph McQuarrie, the conceptual illustrator that Lucas worked with on all of three of the original movies. Do a search for him on Google Images. The guy's work is just incredibly gorgeous. And without him, a lot of the iconic visuals just don't exist. Things like Vader's mask, Stormtrooper uniforms, Death Star interiors, etc, etc. I would love to get my hands on some prints of his artwork.
**** George. Not only would he be nothing without McQuarrie, he'd be nothing without the music of John Williams. And, mostly, he'd be nothing without his editors... specifically his ex-wife, who might have been the brains of the outfit.

Here's an excerpt from a website...

- - - - - - - - - - - -

"She was a stunning editor...Maybe the best editor I've ever known, in many ways. She'd come in and look at the films we'd made--like The Wind and the Lion, for instance--and she'd say, 'Take this scene and move it over here,' and it worked. And it did what I wanted the film to do, and I would have never thought of it. And she did that to everybody's films: to George's, to Steven [Spielberg]'s, to mine, and Scorsese in particular." [xlvi]

Marcia's rising career did not come without its troubles. For one, she had to work in L.A., where Scorsese cut his movies. "What Marcia was doing was very difficult," says George's close friend Willard Huyck. "George wasn't going berserk or anything, but he wasn't happy about the situation." [xlvii] The Lucas family tradition had never allowed a woman to have an independent career--Gloria Katz notes, "That was actually a very big step for George; it was consciousness raising." [xlviii] George hated cooking and cleaning, and hired a housekeeper while Marcia was away. Meanwhile, The Star Wars still had not been green-lit, even if Fox had agreed to develop it, frustrating him further.

Lucas had re-configured much of The Star Wars for his second draft, completed in January of 1975. He had finally come up with the basic backbone of the film--the heroic journey of farmboy Luke Starkiller--but his characterisation and dialogue were arguably even worse than his first draft. Lucas, however, acknowledged that he was a poor writer, and sought the guidance of others. "I'm not a good writer," he says in 1974. "It's very, very hard for me. I don't feel I have a natural talent for it...When I sit down I bleed on the page, and it's just awful." [xlix] He had attempted to hire writers for every one of his previous films, but experience taught him a different technique--he would listen to the suggestions others had, but write the words himself. Marcia, along with many of George's friends, critiqued which characters worked, which ones didn't, which scenes were good, and Lucas composed the script in this way. Marcia was always critical of Star Wars, but she was one of the few people Lucas listened to carefully, knowing she had a skill for carving out strong characters. Often, she was a voice of reason, giving him the bad news he secretly suspected--"I'm real hard," she says, "but I only tell him what he already knows." [l] Pollock notes, "Marcia's faith never waivered--she was at once George's most severe critic and most ardent supporter. She wasn't afraid to say she didn't understand something in Star Wars or to point out the sections that bored her." [li] She kept her husband down to earth and reminded him of the need to have an emotional through-line in the film. Mark Hamill remembers: "She was really the warmth and heart of those films, a good person he could talk to, bounce ideas off of." [lii]

As Hamill has also noted, she wasn't afraid to tell George if he was headed in a questionable direction. Dale Pollock writes, "only Marcia is brave enough to take Lucas on in a head-to-head dispute and occasionally emerge victorious." [liii] Marcia explains: "I don't think George is real close and intimate with anyone but me. I've always felt that when you're married, you have to be wife, mother, confidant, and lover, and that I've been all those things to George. I'm the only person he talks to about certain things." [liv] Walter Murch comments further: "Marcia was very opinionated, and had very good opinions about things, and would not put up if she thought George was going in the wrong direction. There were heated creative arguments between them--for the good." [lv] When Lucas was having difficulty coming up with ideas or ways of solving scenes and characters, he would talk about it with her; she even helped come up with killing off the mentor figure of Ben Kenobi when Lucas couldn't resolve the character in the last quarter of the film. Lucas says:

"I was rewriting, I was struggling with that plot problem when my wife suggested that I kill off Ben, which she thought was a pretty outrageous idea, and I said, 'Well, that is an interesting idea, and I had been thinking about it.' Her first idea was to have Threepio get shot, and I said impossible because I wanted to start and end the film with the robots, I wanted the film to really be about the robots and have the theme be the framework for the rest of the movie. But then the more I thought about Ben getting killed the more I liked the idea." [lvi]

Often, Marcia reeled in Lucas' own sense of ego. She encouraged him to do interviews as a way of raising his spirits, but was also irritated by the auteur theory of critics to credit every element of Lucas' films to himself; passing by his office as she heard a journalist use the phrase "master director," she snorted. "Doesn't he like that description?" the journalist asked. "Oh, he loves it." [lvii] Mark Hamill also notes in 2005 how her sensibilities influenced the content and structure of his films:

"You can see a huge difference in the films that he does now and the films that he did when he was married. I know for a fact that Marcia Lucas was responsible for convincing him to keep that little 'kiss for luck' before Carrie [Fisher] and I swing across the chasm in the first film: 'Oh, I don't like it, people laugh in the previews,' and she said, 'George, they're laughing because it's so sweet and unexpected'-- and her influence was such that if she wanted to keep it, it was in. When the little mouse robot comes up when Harrison and I are delivering Chewbacca to the prison and he roars at it and it screams, sort of, and runs away, George wanted to cut that and Marcia insisted that he keep it." [lviii]

One interesting bit of trivia relating to her and Lucas' cinema is that Indiana, the Alaskan malamute that gave Indiana Jones his name and also gave Lucas the inspiration for Chewbacca, was in fact Marcia's dog, not George's. [lix] On the subject of Indiana Jones, Dale Pollock provides an anecdote which demonstrates how Marcia's presence in her husband's life influenced his films in subtle but significant ways--in this case, changing the ending for Raiders of the Lost Ark:

"[Marcia] was instrumental in changing the ending of Raiders, in which Indiana delivers the ark to Washington. Marion is nowhere to be seen, presumably stranded on an island with a submarine and a lot of melted Nazis. Marcia watched the rough cut in silence and then levelled the boom. She said there was no emotional resolution to the ending, because the girl disappears. 'Everyone was feeling really good until she said that,' Dunham recalls. 'It was one of those, "Oh no we lost sight of that." ' Spielberg reshot the scene in downtown San Francisco, having Marion wait for Indiana on the steps on the government building. Marcia, once again, had come to the rescue." [lx]

Star Wars had a hectic shoot in 1976. This wasn't anything like the low-budget pictures George had made before--this was a big, expensive epic, shot in north Africa and on giant U.K. soundstages. George was often miserable and homesick, and his inability to connect to strangers left the foreign crews hostile to him. Marcia went with him to Tunisia, but the months in England during pre-production were lonesome; he wrote Marcia letters all the time, and kept a picture of her taped to the inside of his briefcase. Eventually Marcia moved there, renting a cottage for them in Hampstead; while they were away in Tunisia, burglers broke in and stole his video equipment.

When Lucas returned home, he was exhausted and disappointed in his film; Marcia had to rush him to the Marin General Hospital because of stress-induced chest pains not long after they got back. Lucas had hired a U.K. union editor--John Jympson--to cut the film while they were in England, but when Lucas had seen the rough cut he was horrified; the film was dull and without any of the kinetic energy he had envisioned. Jympson was fired, and Marcia took his place, starting over from scratch with George once they were back in California, working in the Parkhouse carriage house which was converted into an editing building. "He asked Marcia to work on the final battle sequence, so ILM could start, but he needed someone else to start at the beginning," says Richard Chew, [lxi] whom Lucas knew from Coppola's The Conversation and John Korty's films, and was hired not long after Marcia began cutting. With the entire Jympson cut junked wholesale, the film needed to be re-ordered back into dailies so that Marcia and Chew could totally start over, a laborious task for the editors, assistants and film librarians. "No one had been editing on the movie for several months," Lucas states in The Making of Star Wars, "so the first thing we had to do when we got back to San Anselmo was to reconstitute everything that had been cut in England, put it back in dailies form, and start from scratch. It turned out to be even more of a tremendous job than we thought it was going to be. We were running against a terrible time problem, so we hired [another] editor, Richard Chew. He and my wife Marcia, who was also an editor, raced to get a first rough cut of the movie ready by Thanksgiving." [lxii]

The workload was daunting. Carol Ballard walked in Parkhouse one day at 6AM to find a bleary-eyed Marcia still cutting. Lucas was cutting the Falcon gun-port battle himself, Chew states, "then he went upstairs to his editing room and his Steenbeck editing table and looked through all the trims, while I continued working from the beginning of the film and Marcia was working on the end." [lxiii] A third editor, Paul Hirsch, whom Lucas knew from De Palma's Carrie, was later hired since there was so much to do. "Marcia Lucas called me," Hirsch recalls. "And she said, 'Things are going a lot slower than we had hoped; our editor in England didn't work out and we're having to recut everything. We've got Richard Chew on the picture--but we're not getting enough done!'" [lxiv] He accepted the offer but admits being nervous. "I was a little intimidated," he says, "because both Marcia and Richard had been nominated for Academy Awards before, and I was just this kid from New York, but they were great." [lxv] He was stationed on the Moviola, but it did not agree with him. "I had forgotten how many years it had been since I had worked on one, so I was all thumbs, breaking the film, dropping it, and wasting a lot of time just trying to get the film to go through the machine. So Marcia said, 'I don't care, I'll work on the Moviola.' After that, I was working upstairs in George's room on the Steenbeck." [lxvi] Marcia and Chew remained downstairs, closer to the assistant editors and coding machine (used for syncing ILM shots). Marcia continued to work on the film as the months went by, trying to fashion a more emotional experience from what she had to work with.

The Death Star trench run was originally scripted entirely different, with Luke having two runs at the exhaust port; Marcia had re-ordered the shots almost from the ground up, trying to build tension lacking in the original scripted sequence, which was why this one was the most complicated (Deleted Magic has a faithful reproduction of the original assembly, which is surprisingly unsatisfying). She warned George, "If the audience doesn't cheer when Han Solo comes in at the last second in the Millennium Falcon to help Luke when he's being chased by Darth Vader, the picture doesn't work." [lxvii] One curiosity of note is that she was one of the few people who was in favor of the Jabba the Hutt scene (before the Greedo dialogue was re-written), and initially argued in favour of keeping it in the film. She describes:

"Jabba was a big debatable item. George had never liked the scene Jabba was in because he felt that the casting was never strong enough. There was an element, however, that I liked a lot because of the way George had filmed it. Jabba was seen in a long shot and he was yelling, while in the foreground, in a big close-up, Han's body wiped into the left corner of the frame and his hand was on a gun and he said, 'I've been waiting for you, Jabba.' Then we cut to Han's face and Jabba turned around. I thought it was a very verile moment for Han's character; it made him a real macho guy, and Harrison's performance was very good. I lobbied to keep the scene. But Jabba was not terrific, and Jabba's men, who all looked like Greedo, were made of molded green plastic. George thought they looked pretty phony, so he had two reasons for wanting to cut the scene: the appearance of Jabba's men and the pacing of the movie. You have to pick up the pacing in an action movie like Star Wars , so ultimately, the scene wasn't necessary." [lxviii]

2007's The Making of Star Wars treats Chew as the primary cutter and only credits the space battle and the (deleted!) Anchorhead scenes to Marcia as a solo editor, but given the book's tendancy to downplay her (not even including her photo on the editors page) and the fact that she was not spoken to for the book, this is suspect (other publications, like Baxter and Pollock, treat her as the main cutter). By October or November 1976, the editing team had prepared a new rough cut; in the final crunch, the three editors began to trade off scenes as a trio. "We put it all together and spent about three or four days as a tag team," Hirsch says. "George, Richard, Marcia and I would sit at the machine each for a couple of hours, taking turns and making suggestions. The last day, we did this for about twelve hours." [lxix] Alan Ladd Jr. flew in for the screening, and walked out elated--he was convinced the film would be a hit.

As Marcia continued to re-work sequences as late as December of 1976, Martin Scorsese called her up--his editor of New York, New York had died, and he needed her to finish the film. Marcia was, frankly, sick of working on Star Wars, and was looking forward to something not made by George and something she considered more artistic. George had another two editors onboard and the film was on its way to being finished. Even still, he was not pleased. "For George the whole thing was that Marcia was going off to this den of iniquity," Willard Huyck explains. "Marty was wild and he took a lot of drugs and he stayed up all night, had lots of girlfriends. George was a family homebody. He couldn't believe the stories that Marcia told him. George would fume because Marcia was running with these people. She loved being with Marty." [lxx] Things at Lucasfilm weren't as unremarkable as they seemed; Marcia would later confide in Lucasfilm marketing genius Charles Lippincott that if she ever had to work with her husband on a film again, "it would be the end of their marriage." [lxxi]
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