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]

The conditions in Afghanistan under the Taliban rule — for Americans, allies, Christians, women and more — continue to deteriorate, and the people there continue to plead that we will not forget them. On the radio program Monday, Glenn Beck gave an emotional update on current evacuation efforts, including the tragic story of one girl — an American passport holder — who was not rescued in time.

"I have a pit in my stomach like I haven't had in a while. What is happening in Afghanistan is both miraculous and horrendous," Glenn began. "What's going on right now one of the most amazing things I've ever personally witnessed — the evacuation of Americans, those [Afghans] who helped us, Christians that are dying, women that are under incredible conditions. I see things that I can't show you. I see the pleadings from people who are in safe houses, 'Please, don't forget us.' I see what they're being sent by the Taliban.

"If I die today, my entire life will have been worth it for what you have helped get done, in just the last three weeks. You have saved well over 5,000 people," he continued.

Fighting back tears, Glenn added, "I ask that you pray for those in the Middle East, that are in the midst of doing work, that a Moses-style miracle will happen. ... There are several people that are in dire need of medical care. Friday, we told you — along with the congressman from Oklahoma [Rep. Markwayne Mullin] who had just returned — [about] a father and two daughters that were blue passport Americans, and a mother who had a permanent residence, a Green Card. The daughter was very ill. And they thought, that if we couldn't get her out of there, that she would lose her legs. I got a call on Saturday morning, that we were too late, that she didn't lose her legs. She lost her life, waiting. There are now two Americans, instead of three."

Glenn showered his audience with gratitude, repeating that "well over 5000" lives have already been saved because of their incredible generosity, but lamented that there are still thousands more people yet to be saved.

Watch the video clip below to hear more updates from Glenn:

.

To donate to these rescue efforts, visit NazareneFund.org or MercuryOne.org.

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

Megyn Kelly pulled her sons out of the private elementary school they attended after she learned that the boys were asked "weekly" if they were still sure they were boys. But that's not all that this "experimental transgender education program" taught.

Megyn joined Glenn Beck on the radio program to tell the story, which she thought had ended when the school apologized, and to talk about what's next for America as our leaders refuse to promote actual psychological support for our kids and instead "parade" transgenderism as the solution to their problems.

"When [my son] was in third grade, I found out they unleashed a three-week experimental transgender education program on these boys, with really inappropriate videos. The kids were confused. These are 8- and 9-year-olds, Glenn. They have no idea what the school is even talking about with the trans thing. They got really in-depth, with really in-your-face videos — and then parents complained. And the school did something it hasn't done in its 400-year history, which was they apologized. Even they realized they had done wrong," Megyn explained.

"But, then I said to my son a year later, so did they ever round back to the trans thing? Like, whatever happened with it? And he said ... they bring it up every week. ... [They ask] how many people here still feel confident that they're a boy? Do you still feel sure you're a boy?" she continued. "This is not support. This is not nonbullying. This is indoctrination. And it's deeply confusing to the children, and wrong."

Megyn went on to give examples of how she's seen trans ideology turn "support, nonbullying, kindness, friendship, allyship, on its head."

"The absolute surrender of the medical community to this insanity is a scourge on this nation. It's disgusting what is happening with our doctors," she added. "There are people who are legitimately transgender, or who have gender dysphoria. And for those people, we should be supportive and they should get the care that they need. But what we've done instead, is taken everyone who expresses any kind of gender confusion and said, you're trans. You're trans. And we have our psychiatrists doing this."

"It's crazy," Megyn asserted. "The fact that we're doing this so willy-nilly in the name of allyship and support, it's abusive. It's criminal."

Watch the video clip below to catch more of the conversation:

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution, and live the American dream.

"Never forget" is not only a tribute to those we've lost, it's a warning that it could happen AGAIN. On "Glenn TV" Wednesday, Glenn Beck looks back 20 years ago to the modern generation's Pearl Harbor moment. A day of infamy we're STILL feeling repercussions from.

But in remembering 9/11, we need to look toward the future because the Biden administration is setting us up for the NEXT 9/11. They bungled the Afghanistan withdrawal, and now we have video of top al Qaeda commanders — who served with Osama bin Laden — returning to the country. But could America survive another terror attack?

Glenn asks former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the leader who brought America back from the brink. He tells Glenn about the moment he learned the Twin Towers were struck, the actions he took to prevent more terrorism, and if he thinks NYC could survive another attack under Mayor de Blasio's leadership.

Glenn is also joined by Rev. Johnnie Moore, author of "The Next Jihad." He warns that Biden's policies in the Middle East are Obama 2.0, and "if you thought ISIS was bad, you haven't seen anything yet. We must keep our eyes on Iran."

Watch the full episode of "Glenn TV" below:


Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.