Star Wars “Who’s gonna believe this?”

From Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock ‘N’ Roll Generation Saved Hollywood by Peter Biskind

The problems that affected the script wouldn’t go away [during shooting]. When Luke, Han, and Princess Leia were trapped on the Deathstar, George complained, “I got fifty stormtroopers shooting at three people from ten feet away, and nobody ever gets hurt. Who’s gonna believe this?”

Spielberg offered to shoot second unit on Star Wars, figure out a way for the storm troopers to die in a spume of green vapor. “George wouldn’t let me,” he remembers. “He was always more competitive with me than I was with him. He kept saying, ‘I’m sure Star Wars is going to beat Jaws at some point, or if not Star Wars, something else.’ I was admiring and jealous of his style, his proximity to audiences. But he did not want my fingerprints anywhere around Star Wars.” Spielberg put down Lucas because Lucas never moved his camera, just plunked it down on sticks and shot what happened in front of it.

When he returned from London, Lucas was about a sdepressed, upset, and bitter as his friends had ever seen him. He called it a $10 million trailer, kept saying, “I only got 30 percent, 30 percent.” Initially, the plan was that Marcia would not edit Star Wars; she would take some time off, get pregnant. But she never did get pregnant, and George, unhappy with his English editor, who was cutting to create a campy effect, asked Marcia to take over. She was working on the climactic battle scenes at the end, when Scorsese called, shortly after Christmas 1976. His editor on New York New York had died. “I’m fucked,” he said. “I really need you. Could you come down to LA and help me out?” Says Paul Hirsch, who was cutting Star Wars with her, “Marcia respected Marty above all other directors, and didn’t believe in Star Wars terribly much. It was not her thing.” So she went. “She abandoned George to work on this serious, artistic film,” says Katz. “For George, the whole thing was that Marcia was going off to this den of iniquity,” adds Huyck. “Marty was wild and he took a lot of drugs and he stayed up late at night, had lots of girlfriends. George was a family homebody. He couldn’t believe the stories that Marcia tol dhim. George would fume because Marcia was running with these people. She loved being with Marty.”

One day, Lucas stopped by Scorsese’s editing room. In a rerun of the disput over the ending of Alice, he told Marty that he could gross an additional $10 million if De Niro and Minnelli walked off into the sunset a happy couple instead of going their separate ways. “When I heard him say that, I knew I was doomed, that I would not make it in this business, that I cannot make entertainment pictures, I cannot be a director of Hollywood films,” recalls Scorsese. ” ‘Cause I knew I wasn’t going to do it. I knew that what the two characters had gone through in that film, I had gone through in my own life, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to face myself or them if Bob and Liza were to go off together.”

Fascinating. But look. Scorsese’s still here.

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