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]

"Restoring Hope" has been a labor of love for Glenn and his team and tonight is the night! "Restoring the Covenant" was supposed to take place in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Gettysburg and Washington D.C. but thanks to COVID-19, that plan had to be scrapped. "Restoring Hope" is what was left after having to scrap nearly two years of planning. The Herald Journal in Idaho detailed what the event was supposed to be and what it turned into. Check out the article below to get all the details.

Glenn Beck discusses patriotic, religious program filmed at Idaho ranch

On July 2, commentator Glenn Beck and his partners will issue a challenge from Beck's corner of Franklin County to anyone who will listen: "Learn the truth, commit to the truth, then act on the truth."

Over the last few weeks, he has brought about 1,000 people to his ranch to record different portions of the program that accompanies the challenge. On June 19, about 400 members of the Millennial Choir and Orchestra met at West Side High School before boarding WSSD buses to travel to a still spring-green section of Beck's ranch to record their portion of the program.

Read the whole article HERE

The current riots and movement to erase America's history are exactly in line with the New York Times' "1619 Project," which argues that America was rotten at its beginning, and that slavery and systemic racism are the roots of everything from capitalism to our lack of universal health care.

On this week's Wednesday night special, Glenn Beck exposed the true intent of the "1619 Project" and its creator, who justifies remaking America into a Marxist society. This clever lie is disguised as history, and it has already infiltrated our schools.

"The '1619 Project' desperately wants to pass itself off as legitimate history, but it totally kneecaps itself by ignoring so much of the American story. There's no mention of any black Americans who succeeded in spite of slavery, due to the free market capitalist system. In the 1619 Project's effort to take down America, black success stories are not allowed. Because they don't fit with the narrative. The role of white Americans in abolishing slavery doesn't fit the narrative either," Glenn said.

"The agenda is not ultimately about history," he added. "It's just yet another vehicle in the fleet now driven by elites in America toward socialism."

Watch a preview of the full episode below:


Watch the full episode only on BlazeTV. Not a subscriber? Use promo code GLENN to get $10 off your BlazeTV subscription or start your 30-day free trial today.

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.

Acclaimed environmentalist and author of "Apocalypse Never" Michael Shellenberger joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Wednesday to warn us about the true goals and effects of climate alarmism: It's become a "secular religion" that lowers standards of living in developed countries, holds developing countries back, and has environmental progress "exactly wrong."

Michael is a Time "Hero of the Environment," Green Book Award winner, and the founder and president of Environmental Progress. He has been called a "environmental guru," "climate guru," "North America's leading public intellectual on clean energy," and "high priest" of the environmental humanist movement for his writings and TED talks, which have been viewed more than 5 million times. But when Michael penned a stunning article in Forbes saying, "On Behalf of Environmentalists, I Apologize for the Climate Scare", the article was pulled just a few hours later. (Read more here.)

On the show, Micheal talked about how environmental alarmism has overtaken scientific fact, leading to a number of unfortunate consequences. He said one of the problems is that rich nations are blocking poor nations from being able to industrialize. Instead, they are seeking to make poverty sustainable, rather than to make poverty history.

"As a cultural anthropologist, I've been traveling to poorer countries and interviewing small farmers for over 30 years. And, obviously there are a lot of causes why countries are poor, but there's no reason we should be helping them to stay poor," Michael said. "A few years ago, there was a movement to make poverty history ... [but] it got taken over by the climate alarmist movement, which has been focused on depriving poor countries, not just of fossil fuels they need to develop, but also the large hydroelectric dams."

He offered the example of the Congo, one of the poorest countries in the world. The Congo has been denied the resources needed to build large hydroelectric dams, which are absolutely essential to pull people out of poverty. And one of the main groups preventing poor countries from the gaining financing they need to to build dams is based in Berkeley, California — a city that gets its electricity from hydroelectric dams.

"It's just unconscionable ... there are major groups, including the Sierra Club, that support efforts to deprive poor countries of energy. And, honestly, they've taken over the World Bank [which] used to fund the basics of development: roads, electricity, sewage systems, flood control, dams," Micheal said.

"Environmentalism, apocalyptic environmentalism in particular, has become the dominant religion of supposedly secular people in the West. So, you know, it's people at the United Nations. It's people that are in very powerful positions who are trying to impose 'nature's order' on societies," he continued. "And, of course, the problem is that nobody can figure out what nature is, and what it's not. That's not a particular good basis for organizing your economy."

Watch the video 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.

Dr. Voddie Baucham, Dean of Theology at African Christian University in Lusaka, Zambia, joined Glenn Beck on the radio program to explain why he agrees with Vice President Mike Pence's refusal to say the phrase "Black Lives Matter."

Baucham, who recently drew national attention when his sermon titled "Ethnic Gnosticism" resurfaced online, said the phrase has been trademarked by a dangerous, violent, Marxist movement that doesn't care about black lives except to use them as political pawns.

"We have to separate this movement from the issues," Baucham warned. "I know that [Black Lives Matter] is a phrase that is part of an organization. It is a trademark phrase. And it's a phrase designed to use black people.

"That phrase dehumanizes black people, because it makes them pawns in a game that has nothing whatsoever to do with black people and their dignity. And has everything to do with a divisive agenda that is bigger than black people. That's why I'm not going to use that phrase, because I love black people. I love being black."

Baucham warned that Black Lives Matter -- a radical Marxist movement -- is using black people and communities to push a dangerous and divisive narrative. He encouraged Americans to educate themselves on the organization's agenda and belief statement.

"This movement is dangerous. This movement is vicious. And this movement uses black people," he emphasized. "And so if I'm really concerned about issues in the black community -- and I am -- then I have to refuse, and I have to repudiate that organization. Because they stand against that for which I am advocating."

Watch the video 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.