Close Encounters Of The Third Kind

God bless you, TCMHD. They had this and The Manchurian Candidate on this weekend.

Anyway, when’s the last time you watched Close Encounters? My wife hadn’t seen it since she was a kid (at the drive-in, no less), and I hadn’t seen it since the Special Edition that got released in 1980. TCM showed a version that had some stuff from the Special Edition (like them finding the battleship in the desert), but omitted the inside-the-mothership part, which I remember being fairly pointless anyway.

A couple of things struck me about rewatching CEotTK many decades after the fact:

If this movie was made today, you could have easily cut like an hour and a half out of it just by having Dreyfuss look for the picture of Devil’s Tower on Google Images instead of carving it into the side of his mashed potatoes. That said, I love the scene where he flips and starts throwing garbage into his house to make the large-scale model.

Second, I found it totally odd how the entire movie is like a justification for Dreyfuss to be a deadbeat dad. His family is fucking awful. They spend almost every scene that they have together just shrieking at each other, which makes them probably the most realistic American movie family in history. Seriously, though, if I were Dreyfuss those aliens would have to have been fucking facehuggers for me not to get the hell on that craft and away from those screeching harridans.

Thirdly: The special effects are still fantastic. Statues should be erected to Douglas Trumbull.

Fourth: The movie generally is way, way freakier than I remember. Watch the scene where blonde-woman-who-isn’t-Teri-Garr has her child abducted from her house - it’s Spielberg in total horror mode. There’s a half-dozen shots that are just incredible, but you can still see the seeds of mawkishness that would go and ruin so many of his later movies.

Anyway, if you haven’t seen it for a while, check it out, if only to get your 70s nostalgia groove on.

He had an image in his head, which he didn’t recognize, and of course didn’t know the name of. How would Google have helped with that?

Start with the names of shapes, and go from there. I’m not saying it would have been easy, but probably easier than turning his living room into a full-scale model.

Then you have your challenge, sir. Compose a search term that will yield an image of Devil’s Tower, using only the information Mr. Dreyfuss had available.

Cone? Cylinder? Plateau? Pyramid? Mind you, it’s easy because I already know what he’s looking for. I’m just saying that he would have had a way higher chance of tripping across something on a search engine than happening to catch it on TV by luck.

Actually, now that I think about it, why stop there? If the movie was made today, Dreyfuss could have made a Facebook group called “What The Hell Is This Thing?” and then uploaded photos of his models.

I wouldn’t say it was entirely luck. Devil’s Tower was on TV because of the goverment cover story about the chemical spill. So it would have been in the media quite a bit during the period of his freakout. Good plotting, that.

That’s true, but Dreyfuss only catches it by luck because he happens to be on the phone in front of the TV when it’s on.

High rock in the desert - Failure. No signs of devil rock up to page 6.
Flattop high rock - bigger failure. Apparently flattop is a hair style.
Cone shaped rock - no good (there is a picture of Madonna with the cone bra though on p3).
I think the problem is that its too famous to be dubbed with anything but its real name.

Need to have something you created in your living room tied to a real place but all you have is a picture? There’s an app for that.

Or will be.

Great movie though. I re-watched it a couple of years ago. I remember seeing this at the theater with my uncle. I especially love how it ties in all of the UFO phenomena stuff pushing it toward the movie’s final scene. Dreyfuss is an awesome actor. Believable in his own believability within the movie.

I watched a making of documentary a few years back and one of the reasons Dreyfuss got the part is because he told Spielberg that he saw the character as a total man-child that would be better off leaving his family. I think it’s pretty clear in the movie that he’s a selfish idiot. His wife and kids may come across as awful, but keep in mind that they’ve been dealing with his immaturity for years.

I think there are 1/2 dozen edits of this movie floating around. I think the one you saw also has a lot more of the “family life” stuff included too. That’s my favorite one.

For some reason, I connect these lines in my head everytime I’m taking out the trash cans:

Roy: "Okay, let’s have a vote. Tomorrow night you can play Goofy Golf, which is a lot of standing in line and shoving and pushing, and probably getting a ‘zero,’ or you can see Pinocchio, which is a lot of furry animals and magic, and you’ll have a wonderful time. Okay? So let’s vote. "
Kids: “Golf!”

I love the family scenes. Isn’t there one scene with Richard Dreyfus and Terri Garr talking while a kid in the background is slamming a dolls head over and over against the rail of a crib? It’s utter chaos!

I also think the control tower scene is one of the most muscular action scenes ever filmed. What a fantastic bit of storytelling.


It sounds like madkevin saw the director’s cut, which is basically the original movie with the extra bits Spielberg wanted to shoot but only got the money for if he promised to include a scene inside the spaceship, which he then cut out of what he considers the definitive edition of the movie (the interior of the mothership is still part of the DVD set as a deleted scene).

I watched this again a few years ago and it still holds up remarkably well. There is a rawness and authenticity to so many of the characters in this film, much like in Jaws, and the movie perfectly mixes wonder and horror. The looseness, for lack of a better word, of the actors, stands so far apart from many of today’s performances where everything feels controlled and deliberate.

This is also the only film Spielberg actually wrote himself. Does anyone know if he truly did it on his own or did he have an uncredited assist (or two)?

Melinda Dillon, aka Ralphie’s Mom.

You know, I’m almost certain he also wrote the book. Novelization. Whatever. I’ve got it around here somewhere. A slim hardcover of Close Encounters with his name as author.


Ummm… my point was, that it was big national news at the time. Odds are he would have caught it eventually, no matter what.

Never seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind…never seen ET.

Kinda hate Spielberg, so I’ve never been inclined to remedy that.

I absolutely love it. Easily one of my favorite films. Dreyfuss is great. Truffaut is great. Not to mention Melinda Dillon, Terri Garr, Bob Balaban, et cetera. John Williams composed a wonderful score. Douglas Trumbull delivered some amazing visual effects. And I love Vilmos Zsigmond’s cinematography.

But whatever the sum of its parts, what keeps me coming back is the sense of wonder Spielberg engenders. This film speaks to anyone who’s ever looked at the stars and marveled at what could be out there. So much of human history has been driven by dreamers, with their feet on the ground but their heads in the clouds, and Close Encounters celebrates that curiosity.

Plus, it’s rare to see a major Hollywood feature in which the aliens aren’t out to get us. To quote Peter Venkman, “The whole problem with aliens is you just can’t trust them. Occasionally you meet a nice once: Star Man, E.T… But usually they turn out to be some kind of big lizard!”

Though I suppose after Jaws, they would have let Spielberg make anything. We’re just lucky he chose to make this.

And shame, Desslock, shame. They’re some of the most magical films ever made. Go rent them right now!

I caught it in … December I think when HDNet Movies had it on. I swear that every time I’ve seen it previously, I missed the first 1/3 of the film, so I always thought that the movie started around when the little boy gets abducted. It was weird to see all the stuff from before that point.

I think the scene in the truck where everything starts floating is one of the best scenes in the film. For me, I really got a sense of terror from that scene, the fact that what we were are dealing with is really alien. It’s later on turned out to be more of a sense of wonder, as Omniscia says, but I really god a sense of something otherworldy from that scene as well.

Hmmm. I have to wonder if the window hasn’t already closed on this for him. I think there’s a window for some things like this. Like reading Lord of the Rings for instance. Once you’re past a certain point in your development, you’re past it. This isn’t an age thing, necessarily.

Here’s a key question: What does Desslock think of Jaws?