Flashback

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50 Years Ago

The draft lottery is a statistical bummer and should be thrown out, says an action filed Monday with the U.S. district court in San Francisco by attorney Joel Shawn of Corte Madera.

…The suit claims the alleged random selection of draft members was anything but random, and it has enlisted the expert testimony of three Stanford statisticians and one from UC Berkeley to bear it out.

If the suit were victorious, it would result in sending the whole system back to General Lewis Hershey’s drawing board for the Selective Service boss to try again.

…Valmar Schaaf is bugged by the whole approach to the lottery. “It was a matter of contempt on Hersey’s part to turn the whole thing over to a pair of military men. But then the whole draft is contemptible. My grandfather came to America to avoid conscription there. Now it’s all reversed and American kids are running away to Europe to avoid involuntary servitude.”

— Uncredited, 2/11/70

40 Years Ago

George Lucas’s carefully calculated gamble to put a popular space fantasy on the screen has paid off beyond his wildest reckonings.

…Lucas has drawn the curtain on interviews since the phenomenal success of Star Wars

But the Sun kept asking, finally persuading him to forego the hermit image and answer a few questions.

Star Wars was one of the biggest box office successes of all times with a gross of $400 million. What was its genesis?

Star Wars is really three trilogies, nine films. I wrote it as one long 18-hour movie in two-hour increments. When it’s all done it will be one of the most expensive films ever made… it won’t be finished for probably another 20 years… When I finish the third film, Luke Skywalker’s part, I’m going back to the first trilogy, which is about young Ben Kenobi, young Luke’s father, young Darth Vader.

…Are there new characters in The Empire Strikes Back?

There’s a new character played by Billy Dee Williams, a friend of Hans Solo’s, and there’s another character who’s a Jedi master who’s teaching Luke how to be a Jedi.

…Why did you choose not to direct Empire?

I’ve sort of retired from directing. If I directed Empire then I’d have to direct the next one and the next for the rest of my life. I have never really liked directing.

Writing is what you like to do?

No. I hate writing. What I enjoy is editing.

…What’s your production schedule. What else is on the horizon?

…We’re doing the Star Wars series. Then I’m doing another film called Raiders of the Lost Ark directed by Steven Speilburg [Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind]. We’ll start shooting this spring. It’s an adventure film, a period piece that takes place all over the world.

⁠—Joanne Williams, 2/8/80

30 Years Ago

President George Bush is breathing a bit easier after last week’s losing congressional bid to override his veto of a bill that would have protected 40,000 Chinese students from deportation.

…The episode underscores the president’s disappointing record on human rights issues…

…The most visible example of his failure to take the lead is reflected in his policy toward China, where in June authorities crushed the democracy movement and killed protesters probably numbering in the hundreds, possibly the thousands. The administration responded meekly by imposing the minimum sanctions an outraged U.S. public would tolerate and lobbied hard against legislation to impose further sanctions.

⁠—Greg Cahill, 2/9/90

Compiled by Alex T. Randolph
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