Can You Imagine 'Star Wars' With Disco Music and Kurt Russell?

Back in the 1970s, George Lucas brilliantly fought an uphill battle to make the first Star Wars movie. In honor of Star Wars Day, Glenn and his co-hosts revisited the fascinating story surrounding the first project in the epic series --- including casting and music decisions that changed everything.

Listen to this segment beginning at mark 21:30 from The Glenn Beck Program:

GLENN: I don't know if you know this, but it is May the 4th. May the 4th be with you. I'm just saying.

STU: Yeah.

GLENN: And huge star war fans, and we were talking in the break about May the 4th. And if you look at what George Lucas did at that time, it was crazy. 1970s, you have to put yourself back into that. 56,000 people just died in Vietnam, and then you have Watergate, you have the communist, Marxist, radicals, it felt very much like today. Except, I think in some ways worse. You had the complete collapse of faith in America. You had the collapse of the faith in the dollar, in the military, Watergate was happening, inflation, gas shortages. And then if you look at the -- if you look at the movies, it was One Who Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, Clockwork Orange, Taxi Driver. Good heavens, man.

PAT: Not exactly Disney movies.

GLENN: No. French Connection, Dog Day Afternoon. Here was the happy point in the 1970s in the movie theater. It sounded a little like this:

[Jaws music]

That was, oh, what a relatable movie. I see ourselves in that getting eaten by a shark. So when he came out in the mid-'70s, and he decided to do Star Wars, nobody was interested in this. Here he is in California, he grew up in Modesto, California, George Lucas. And his childhood hero in the movie theater was Flash Gordon. And so when he heads off into Southern California to go to film school to USC, he has this Flash Gordon kind of thing. He produces a film called THX 1138. And I don't know if you guys have seen -- have you ever seen clips of it? It's actually not so bad.

PAT: It's a little weird.

GLENN: It's a little weird. But he -- you know, he develops it into a full length feature, it wins in college, and then he develops a full link feature and everybody in the movie studio hates it. And they actually demand their $300,000 back that he put up -- or that they put up front.

STU: Does that work? Are you --

GLENN: Yeah, no, I don't know. But they're, like, that's so bad, we want our money back. So he's friends with Francis Coppola.

PAT: He's the only one who liked the movie.

GLENN: Right. It's Coppola. But before Coppola is Coppola. But he's, like, dude, you've got something. You just have to go for it. But break out of your darkness and the darkness that's around, and he challenges him to do something lighthearted and something pure American and relatable to the American people. So he comes up with American Graffiti.

VOICE: The film was shot in just 28 days for under a million dollars.

PAT: Wow.

GLENN: 28 days. A million dollars.

PAT: Unbelievable.

GLENN: And I don't think people really understand -- I don't think people really understand what that -- I mean, that turned into Happy Days.

JEFFY: Yeah, that was a classic.

GLENN: That changed the 1970s.

JEFFY: Sure did.

GLENN: American Graffiti all of a sudden Ron Howard is huge.

VOICE: Most successful science fiction at that point was 2001. And successful then was that it made about $24 million or something like that. Most hit science fiction films would make about $16 million, which was the planet of the Aprils films and that sort of thing. But most science fiction films would make under $10 million. There's no reason to think that it would do something different.

PAT: Totally different time.

GLENN: So, American Graffiti is released, and he had already been talking to the movie companies, universal studios, united artist, and they looked at his space opera Star Wars, and they all said nNo, thank you. And so they pass. The American Graffiti goes out, it's the third highest grossing movie of the year. It brought in over $100 million, which was very rare in the 1970s. Remember, cost him -- what was it? A million dollars?

PAT: Less than a million.

GLENN: Less than a million. Brings in $100 million. All of a sudden he is -- he's knowing now that his passion project is up next.

VOICE: Undaunted. Lucas presented Star Wars to Allen Ladd Jr. the new head of creative affairs at 20th Century Fox. Ladd, a former producer, was able to recognize potential in the filmmaker, if not necessarily the film.

LADD: We had a meeting and George said, well, I didn't think about this thing called Star Wars and told me about it. And I said that sounds terrific. I mean, the technology part of the whole thing was completely over my head. But I just believed in him and his genius. I recognized American Graffiti that he really was a genius, so I just flew with it.

GLENN: And doing some research on Star Wars, it's amazing how much work he put into it. I mean, he met with really brilliant people about mythology. 1974 comes along, and he gets a deal for this space fantasy, this space opera, and he begins to write the screenplay.

VOICE: The filmmaker was able to distill his idea down to its essence. An epic battle between a heroic alliance and a evil galactic empire. The chief villain Darth Vader was there practically from the start. But it took time to come up with Star Wars three main heroes. A plucky young princess, the Korean smuggler and most important the boy whose name was Luke Star killer. He becomes a Jedi knight deriving his energy known as the force. But along the way, the script went through radical changes. At one point, Luke was a 60-year-old general and Han Solo had green skin and gills.

GLENN: It's amazing. He goes back, and he's meeting with these philosophy professors and these professors that study cultures and religion, and they are -- I mean, he's studying the Iliad, and he's looking for what are the mythical stories...he's scouring the world. What do they all have in common? So he starts writing this thing, and it goes way past one movie. And he realizes he has at least three movies in this. And so he decides to -- he doesn't tell anybody. He just takes and cuts them up into three movies, doesn't tell the movie studio I've got two other movies, and he decides I'm just going to make this one movie. So he goes to the Fox studio executives, and before he goes, he gets this really expensive artist to do all of the art work, so it's all in storyboard form. Because he knows nobody has the imagination to see this. Now, in a world where movies now are, you know, $200 million to make, this was, like, $8.5 million to make.

That back in the mid-1970s was a fortune, especially for a guy who had one hit. And $8.5 million, and they didn't have the technology to be able to make any of these scenes. I mean, they're still flying by wire. It would have looked like an old -- a Godzilla movie. So they're, like -- they couldn't -- they knew they couldn't -- that -- he knew the movie executives wouldn't be able to see it. But because he has the success of American Graffiti, he says "Here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to do this. If there's any sequels, doesn't tell him that he's got three already written, if there's any sequels, you know, we'll talk about that later and negotiate. And I tell you what. I'll take less, but I want all of the merchandising. This is before everybody was merchandising. It's like Desi Arnaz saying I want all the reruns. So nobody is merchandising and they're, like, this kid's a moron. All right. We'll do your deal.

VOICE: I was very careful to say I don't want more money, I don't want more points, I don't want anything financial, but I do want the right to make these sequels. I was on the assumption that every filmmaker was that the film would be a disaster and it would die a horrible death, and it would be very hard to get these next two movies made.

LADD: George said I would like a big slice of the merchandising. Up until that time, merchandising had been relatively unknown.

LUCAS: When I took over the licensing, I simply said I'm going to be able to make T-shirts, I'm going to be able to make posters, and I'm going to be able to sell this movie, even though the studio won't. So I managed to take everything that was left over that the studio really didn't care about.

GLENN: So now here's the amazing thing. He doesn't have any money, he barely has anybody's trust, he doesn't have the technology, he starts something called industrial light and magic, he's got no money, he just gets a bunch of people and says get some milk cartons. Can you cut them up and look like a planet? Doing crazy things in the studio. They have to build their own computers. They didn't have stop animation. When we did stop animation here in these studios, you rent these computers that tell -- they track every single shot, so you can go back and look. They didn't have that. They had to build their own computers to be able to do all the tracking shots. I mean, this is crazy to attempt. What I didn't know is there was an argument internally. The movie company said. okay, we're going to let you do this, but you're an unknown. You have to have famous people in it. And he's, like, no, I don't want any famous people in it. The guy the movie studio -- and even George Lucas thought, the guy who tried out, and they thought the whole time was going to be Luke Skywalker -- was it Luke Skywalker or Han Solo?

PAT: Han Solo.

GLENN: Yeah, the guy that was going to be Han Solo was going to be Kurt Russell.

LUCAS: I was very careful to say I don't want more money.

GLENN: Here's the audition.

RUSSELL: I found it. It's just not there.

STU: Oh, my gosh. So weird.

GLENN: It's crazy. We're looking at all of these original tapes. Do you know who's going to play Princess Leia. It was going to be Cindy Williams from LaVerne and Shirley.

PAT: How weird is that?

GLENN: Crazy. Just crazy.

PAT: Before Mark Hamell, they were talking about -- does anybody remember even the Greatest American Hero?

GLENN: Yes.

PAT: The guy who played the Greatest American Hero was going to be Luke.

STU: Oh, my gosh.

PAT: That would have been bizarre.

GLENN: So they start filming this thing, they go to north Africa to film all the equipment, the sand, the equipment, everything. This thing is headed for absolute disaster. And he finally has enough film, and he brings it to California to Frances Coppola, Brian DePalma and a few others --- all but one of them hated it. The guy who said you've got something is Steven Spielberg. He said even unfinished, this thing is going to be a monster. You're good. The problem was the score. If you remember, set yourself back in this time, the movie companies were looking for anything that would relate to the time period and to be a fad and everything else. And he knew this is a timeless story. This is the Iliad. I don't want a fad. I don't want -- that's why I didn't want stars in it. I don't want any of that. I want it to be classical. And that is why John Williams was hired to do the entire score.

VOICE: Fortunately, Lucas was able to recruit one of the industry's most accomplished composers. John Williams.

PAT: Yeah, otherwise, it would have been, like, a disco soundtrack. That's what they wanted. Disco.

GLENN: Cindy Williams, Kurt Russell in disco. Do you know what that is? Quite honestly, do you know what that is? The movie that opens today, Galaxy.

PAT: Guardians of the Galaxy.

GLENN: Guardians of the Galaxy Volume II. That's what it is, except they would have been doing it seriously.

STU: Wow. Pat, you told me when you're going through all of this research how Harrison Ford actually became Han Solo.

PAT: Yeah, he just read the lines to the actors.

GLENN: He was --

PAT: Because he had been in American Graffiti.

STU: Right.

PAT: Lucas didn't want him in the movie because he was already known.

GLENN: He was, like, I don't want you. But I'm going to hire you just to be the line reader.

PAT: To help these guys who are actually going to be in the movie.

GLENN: So these guys would come in that were reading for it. And he would be, like, okay, listen, here's some things that I learned about this character. He's really like this, like that. So he's coaching and none of them could get it right and finally Lucas was, like, play the role. And that's how he got it.

STU: Wow.

PAT: Because he was just better than the Kurt Russells and everybody else they brought in.

STU: And after that movie, Lucas retired and never did anything of value for the rest of his life.

GLENN: No, that's only half true. He didn't retire. But maybe he should have. He didn't do anything of value after that.

[laughter]

Are your kids doing well in school? They might not be doing as well as you think.

A recent study found that the majority of parents in the US think their children are doing better in school than they actually are, and we largely have COVID to thank for that.

Due to the disastrous educational and social policies implemented during the COVID pandemic, millions of kids across the country are lagging and are struggling to catch up. They are further impeded by technology addiction, mental illness, and the school system, which is trying to mask just how bad things are. However, due to continued COVID-era policies like grade inflation, your kid's report card may not reflect the fallen educational standards since 2020.

Here are five facts that show the real state of America's youngest citizens. It's time to demand that schools abandon the harmful COVID-era policies that are failing to set our children up for success.

Gen Alpha is struggling to read

Sean Gallup / Staff | Getty Images

Literacy is the foundation of education. Being able to read and write is paramount to learning, so when a young student struggles to gain literacy, it severely impacts the rest of their education. According to a 2021 report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP):

In 2019, some 35 percent of 4th-grade students and 34 percent of 8th-grade students performed at or above NAEP Proficient.

This means that 65 percent of 4th-graders and 66 percent of 8th-graders performed below NAEP proficient. As to be expected, the effects of this lack of literacy are still being felt. A 2024 report called the "Education Recovery Scorecard" created by Harvard and Stanford researchers found that in 17 states, students are more than a third of a grade level behind pre-pandemic levels. Moreover, in 14 states, students are more than a third of a grade level behind in reading specifically.

Grade inflation

Steven Gottlieb / Contributor | Getty Images

If you thought the U.S. dollar was the only thing suffering from inflation, you would unfortunately be mistaken. Grades are also being inflated, caused by more lenient grading practices that began during the pandemic and have yet to return to normal. While students undoubtedly love this practice at the momentafter all, who doesn't like an easy A?in the long run, it only makes their lives more difficult.

This practice has seen attendance and test scores drop while GPAs rise, making it more difficult for colleges to decide which students to accept, as more and more students have 4.0s. Students are also less prepared for the increased workload and stricter standards they will face when they start college. Overall, there has been a decline in preparedness among students, which will inevitably cause issues later in life.

Failure is no longer an option (literally)

To mask just how ill-prepared students have become, some universities have decided to double down on their grading system. Some schools, like Oregon University, have decided that they will no longer give students failing grades. Instead, if a student fails a class, they will simply receive no grade, thus keeping their academic record blemish-freebecause heaven forbid a student should face the consequences of their own actions.

These universities are doing a real disservice to an entire generation of students. To cover up their failures, they are waving students through their programs, failing to prepare them for the world they will face.

Addiction to tech

Tech addiction has been a concern for parents since before the pandemic, but unsurprisingly, the lockdowns only made it worse. A 2023 study showed that internet addiction in adolescents nearly doubled during the lockdowns when compared to pre-pandemic numbers. This doesn't come as a surprise. Forcing kids to stay inside for months with the internet as their sole connection to the outside world is the perfect recipe for addiction to tech.

Mental illness

Camerique / Contributor | Getty Images

The mental health crisis has been growing across the world for decades now, but it took a turn for the worse during the pandemic. Both a study from Iceland and Australia recorded a decline in the mental health of their youth during the pandemic, and a study out of San Francisco measured physical changes to the brains of children that resembled the brains of people who suffered childhood trauma.

5 SURPRISING ways space tech is used in your daily life

NASA / Handout | Getty Images

Is your vacuum cleaner from SPACE?

This week, Glenn is discussing his recent purchase of a Sputnik satellite, which has got many of us thinking about space and space technology. More specifically, we've been wondering how technology initially designed for use outside Earth's atmosphere impacted our lives down here on terra firma. The U.S. spent approximately $30 billion ($110 billion in today's money) between the Soviet launch of Sputnik in 1957 and the Moon Landing in 1969. What do we have to show for it besides some moon rocks?

As it turns out, a LOT of tech originally developed for space missions has made its way into products that most people use every day. From memory foam to cordless vacuums here are 5 pieces of space tech that you use every day:

Cellphone camera

LOIC VENANCE / Contributor | Getty Images

Have you ever seen a photograph of an early camera, the big ones with the tripod and curtain, and wondered how we went from that to the tiny little cameras that fit inside your cellphone? Thank NASA for that brilliant innovation. When you are launching a spaceship or satellite out of the atmosphere, the space onboard comes at a premium. In order to make more room for other equipment, NASA wanted smaller, lighter cameras without compromising image quality, and the innovations made to accomplish this goal paved the way for the cameras in your phone.

Cordless vacuums and power tools

Education Images / Contributor | Getty Images

When exploring the moon, NASA wanted astronauts to use a drill to collect samples from the lunar surface. The problem: the moon has a severe lack of electrical outlets to power the drills. NASA tasked Black & Decker with developing a battery-powered motor powerful enough to take chunks out of the moon. The resulting motor was later adapted to power cordless power tools and vacuums in households across America.

Infrared ear thermometer

BSIP / Contributor | Getty Images

What do distant stars and planets have in common with your eardrum? Both have their temperature read by the same infrared technology. The thermometers that can be found in medicine cabinets and doctors' offices across the world can trace their origins back to the astronomers at NASA who came up with the idea to measure the temperature of distant objects by the infrared light they emit.

Grooved pavement

Bob Riha Jr / Contributor | Getty Images

This one may seem obvious, but sometimes you need a massively complicated problem to come up with simple solutions. During the Space Shuttle program, NASA had a big problem: hydroplaning. Hydroplaning is dangerous enough when you are going 70 miles an hour in your car, but when you're talking about a Space Shuttle landing at about 215 miles per hour, it's an entirely different animal. So what was NASA's space-age solution? Cutting grooves in the pavement to quickly divert water off the runway, a practice now common on many highways across the world.

Memory foam

BERTRAND LANGLOIS / Stringer | Getty Images

If you've ever slept on a memory foam mattress, it probably won't come as a shock to find out that the foam was created to cushion falls from orbit. Charles Yotes was an astronautical engineer who is credited with the invention of memory foam. Yotes developed the technology for the foam while working on the recovery system for the Apollo command module. The foam was originally designed to help cushion the astronauts and their equipment during their descent from space. Now, the space foam is used to create some of the most comfortable mattresses on Earth. Far out.

5 most HORRIFIC practices condoned by WPATH

Bloomberg / Contributor | Getty Images

Whatever you know about the "trans movement" is only the tip of the iceberg.

In a recent Glenn TV special, Glenn delved into Michael Schellenberger's "WPATH files," a collection of leaked internal communications from within the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). Glenn's research team got their hands on the WPATH files and compiled the highlights in Glenn's exclusive PDF guide which can be downloaded here. These documents reveal the appalling "standards" created and upheld by WPATH, which appear to be designed to allow radical progressive surgeons to perform bizarre, experimental, and mutilating surgeries on the dime of insurance companies rather than to protect the health and well-being of their patients. These disturbing procedures are justified in the name of "gender-affirming care" and are defended zealously as "life-saving" by the dogmatic surgeons who perform them.

The communications leaked by Schellenberger reveal one horrific procedure after another committed in the name of and defended by radical gender ideology and WPATH fanatics. Here are five of the most horrifying practices condoned by WPATH members:

1.Trans surgeries on minors as young as 14

One particular conversation was initiated by a doctor asking for advice on performing irreversible male-to-female surgery on a 14-year-old boy's genitals. WPATH doctors chimed in encouraging the surgery. One doctor, Dr. McGinn, confessed that he had performed 20 such surgeries on minors over the last 17 years!

2.Amputation of healthy, normal limbs

BIID, or Body Integrity Identity Disorder, is an “extremely rare phenomenon of persons who desire the amputation of one or more healthy limbs or who desire a paralysis.” As you might suspect, some WPATH members are in favor of enabling this destructive behavior. One WPATH commenter suggested that people suffering from BIID received "hostile" treatment from the medical community, many of whom would recommend psychiatric care over amputation. Apparently, telling people not to chop off perfectly healthy limbs is now considered "violence."

3.Trans surgeries on patients with severe mental illnesses

WPATH claims to operate off of a principle known as "informed consent," which requires doctors to inform patients of the risks associated with a procedure. It also requires patients be in a clear state of mind to comprehend those risks. However, this rule is taken very lightly among many WPATH members. When one of the so-called "gender experts" asked about the ethicality of giving hormones to a patient already diagnosed with several major mental illnesses, they were met with a tidal wave of backlash from their "enlightened" colleges.

4.Non-standard procedures, such as “nullification” and other experimental, abominable surgeries

If you have never heard of "nullification" until now, consider yourself lucky. Nullification is the removal of all genitals, intending to create a sort of genderless person, or a eunuch. But that's just the beginning. Some WPATH doctors admitted in these chatlogs that they weren't afraid to get... creative. They seemed willing to create "custom" genitals for these people that combine elements of the two natural options.

5.Experimental, untested, un-researched, use of carcinogenic drugs 

Finasteride is a drug used to treat BPH, a prostate condition, and is known to increase the risk of high-grade prostate cancer as well as breast cancer. Why is this relevant? When a WPATH doctor asked if anyone had used Finasteride "to prevent bottom growth," which refers to the healthy development of genitals during puberty. The answer from the community was, "That's a neat idea, someone should give it a go."

If your state isn’t on this list, it begs the question... why?

The 2020 election exposed a wide range of questionable practices, much of which Glenn covered in a recent TV special. A particularly sinister practice is the use of private money to fund the election. This money came from a slew of partisan private sources, including Mark Zuckerberg, entailed a host of caveats and conditions and were targeted at big city election offices— predominantly democratic areas. The intention is clear: this private money was being used to target Democrat voters and to facilitate their election process over their Republican counterparts.

The use of private funds poses a major flaw in the integrity of our election, one which many states recognized and corrected after the 2020 election. This begs the question: why haven't all states banned private funding in elections? Why do they need private funding? Why don't they care about the strings attached?

Below is the list of all 28 states that have banned private funding in elections. If you don't see your state on this list, it's time to call your state's election board and demand reform.

Alabama

Photo 12 / Contributor | Getty Images

Arizona

Encyclopaedia Britannica / Contributor | Getty Images

Arkansas

Photo 12 / Contributor | Getty Images

Florida

Encyclopaedia Britannica / Contributor | Getty Images

Georgia

Encyclopaedia Britannica / Contributor | Getty Images

Idaho

Photo 12 / Contributor | Getty Images

Indiana

Photo 12 / Contributor

Iowa

Photo 12 / Contributor | Getty Images

Kansas

Photo 12 / Contributor | Getty Images

Kentucky

Photo 12 / Contributor | Getty Images

Louisiana

Photo 12 / Contributor | Getty Images

Mississippi

Encyclopaedia Britannica / Contributor | Getty Images

Missouri

Photo 12 / Contributor | Getty Images

Montana

Encyclopaedia Britannica / Contributor | Getty Images

Nebraska

Encyclopaedia Britannica / Contributor | Getty Images

North Carolina

Photo 12 / Contributor | Getty Images

North Dakota

Encyclopaedia Britannica / Contributor | Getty Images

Ohio

Photo 12 / Contributor | Getty Images

Oklahoma

Photo 12 / Contributor | Getty Images

Pennsylvania

Photo 12 / Contributor | Getty Images

South Carolina

Photo 12 / Contributor | Getty Images

South Dakota

Encyclopaedia Britannica / Contributor | Getty Images

Tennessee

Photo 12 / Contributor | Getty Images

Texas

Encyclopaedia Britannica / Contributor | Getty Images

Utah

Encyclopaedia Britannica / Contributor | Getty Images

Virginia

Photo 12 / Contributor | Getty Images

West Virginia

Encyclopaedia Britannica / Contributor | Getty Images

Wisconsin

Encyclopaedia Britannica / Contributor | Getty Images