Robin’s Underrated Gems: Star Wars (1977)

Once in a blue moon, “Robin’s Underrated Gems” uncovers a film that’s so obscure and unfairly neglected that I feel like I’ve found buried treasure. This may be one of the best films I’ve ever covered in this column, but unfortunately, it’s also one of the most unknown. I sat down and watched this particular film the other day and actually said out loud: “Why in the hell don’t more people know about this movie?!”. The underrated gem in question was a little flick called Star Wars and even though I was personally blown away by it, this may be one of those efforts that’s only destined to find a limited cult audience and will never achieve full mainstream acceptance. Curiously, the title “Episode IV” is shown on screen at the very beginning, so it’s apparent that the only movies in the world more obscure than Star Wars are its three predecessors, and it’s amazing to think that a series could have already lasted four whole films without anyone even having heard of it. However, while the film isn’t very well-known, it did have a few recognizable faces in it, including a young Harrison Ford. While his performance here doesn’t top his astonishing work as the bellhop in Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round, I’d still say Star Wars was a nice little stepping stone to the role that finally did make him a star: Colonel Lucas in Apocalypse Now.

I also made a surprising realization while watching this film. You’ve probably heard of Luigi Cozzi’s 1979 sci-fi masterpiece, Starcrash, starring Caroline Munro, Christopher Plummer and a young David Hasselhoff. I’ve now come to the realization that Starcrash may have been a tad inspired by this Star Wars film. It borrows quite a few elements from the plot of Star Wars, but I think we’d all agree that Starcrash greatly expanded and improved upon them, which is why it became the revered sci-fi masterpiece that it is today. I don’t know much about this film’s original theatrical release as I don’t think its distributors had a lot of faith in it, so I assume it played in a couple of theatres in Utah before tossed away into the vault for several decades. I did manage to find a clip of the film’s original trailer, though I doubt you’ll ever able to find somebody who actually saw this in a theater. Once you’ve read my entire review, I’m sure you’ll instantly feel compelled to check this little underrated gem out, but good luck trying to find it anywhere.

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