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Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind

1977       Richard Dreyfuss

Already hailed from coast to coast by critics and the public alike as a unique experience in motion picture entertainment, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" opened in 1978.

The Phillips Production of a Steven Spielberg Film was produced by Julia Phillips and Michael Phillips and written and directed by Steven Spielberg. The Columbia Presentation in Association with EMI stars Richard Dreyfuss, Francois Truffaut, Ten Garr and Melinda Dillon. Heightened by sophisticated new visual effects and the use of the Dolby Sound System, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" brings an audience as close as possible to an event that could be the most momentous of our time - the awesome experience of contact with alien beings. The story of ordinary people confronting the extraordinary was conceived by writer-director Spielberg nearly five years ago, while he was editing his first motion picture, "The Sugarland Express," and preparing his second, "Jaws." He wrote an initial 25-page story outline, concerning a UFO sighting in the skies over Indiana, then put it aside while he filmed

"Jaws." Since "Jaws" was released three years ago - to become the second highest-grossing box office success in movie history - he has worked continuously on "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." To protect the picture's dramatic concept and special visual effects, filming was carried out under tight security in Wyoming, India, Alabama and California.

The visual effects were supervised by Douglas Trumbull, who previously designed the photographic effects for Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" and hailed by Spielberg as "the next Walt Disney." Using advanced camera and electronic equipment of his own invention, Trumbull based his imagery on thousands of documented UFO reports.

"Close Encounters of the Third Kind" reunites Spielberg with Richard Dreyfuss, who co-starred in "Jaws." Dreyfuss portrays Ron Neary, an Indiana power lineman driven to the brink of desperation by a UFO encounter. In addition to "Jaws," Dreyfuss has won critical acclaim in "The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz" and "American Graffiti," and is currently on screen in Neil Simon's "The Goodbye Girl" with Marsha Mason. Francois Truffaut, the Academy Award-winning French filmmaker, stars as Claude Lacombe, a scientist who spearheads a worldwide investigation into the UFO phenomena. It is a role written especially for him.

Ten Garr, who won distinction for her performance opposite Gene Hackman in "The Conversation" and in Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein," is Neary's wife, who cannot comprehend the sudden and bizarre upheaval in their lives.

Melinda Dillon, brought to the filmmakers' attention by Hal Ashby, who directed her in "Bound for Glory," plays a young widow, traumatized by the "strange lights in the sky" and the subsequent disappearance of her 4-year-old son.

The film's elaborate musical score was composed and conducted by Academy Award winner John Williams, whose impressive screen credits include "Star Wars" and "Jaws." The Director of Cinematography was Vilmos Zsigmond, winner of the Best Cinematography Award from the National Society of Film Critics for "The Long Goodbye." Other well-known cinematographers who contributed to individual sequences included William A. Fraker, Douglas Slocombe, John Alonzo, and Laszlo Kovacs.

Dr. J. Allen Hynek, who served as Technical Advisor in the film's production, has been described as today's outstanding authority on UFO phenomena. The highly respected astronomer and author is a former director for Ohio State University's MacMillin Observatory and spent 22 years as scientific consultant to the United States Air Force's "Project Blue Book" as the military investigation into UFOs was called.

He is presently a professor of astronomy at Northwestern University and the Director of the Center for UFO Studies in Evanston, Illinois.

It was Hynek who first categorized the three kinds of "close encounters" from which the picture draws its title - a close encounter of the first kind - sighting of a UFO; close encounter of the second kind - physical evidence; close encounter of the third kind actual contact with the occupants of a UFO.

Filmed in Panavision and Metrocolor and recorded in Dolby Sound, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" has been rated PG by the M.P. A.A. Click here for more

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