History, Legacy & Showmanship

History, Legacy & Showmanship

“What’s fun about seeing THX 1138 now, after 50 years, is to see how George Lucas took the rather dark themes and dynamic visual storytelling of his first film and found a way to infuse them into the Saturday matinee style films of the Star Wars series. THX is not his best film, but it’s fascinating to see the seeds of his future work within it.” – Gary Leva, director of Fog City Mavericks

The Digital Bits and History, Legacy & Showmanship are pleased to present this retrospective commemorating the golden anniversary of the release of THX 1138, George Lucas’s feature-length adaptation of his award-winning 1967 USC student film Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB.

Released two years before American Graffiti and six years before Star Wars, Lucas’s first motion picture starred Robert Duvall (Apocalypse Now, Tender Mercies) and Donald Pleasence (You Only Live Twice, Halloween) and was about a dystopian future where love and individuality are forbidden.

THX 1138 was executive produced by Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather, Apocalypse Now) as part of a deal in which Warner Bros. would finance and distribute American Zoetrope productions. [Read on here...]


Empire @ 40: Remembering the Early 70MM Cut

December 31, 2020 - 9:00 am   |   by

“On my thirteenth viewing, which was the first time I saw it at a different theater than the one I’d gone to since opening day, I knew there were noticeable changes when the final scene began with different music.” — film music historian Mike Matessino

The Digital Bits and History, Legacy & Showmanship are pleased to present a continuation of our 40th anniversary coverage of the release of The Empire Strikes Back, the middle act of George Lucas’s original Star Wars trilogy and one of the most celebrated and beloved sequels of all time. Part One of our Empire 40th coverage appeared back in May.

George Lucas’s penchant for making revisions to his work is about as legendary as his movies. The majority of Lucas’s alterations have occurred years after his films’ original releases. With The Empire Strikes Back, however, the first (of several rounds of) revisions were actually made while the movie was in first release, and it is this lesser-known aspect of the otherwise very-well-known production that is the subject of this column. [Read on here...]


The Flintstones was the first animated sitcom in television history. They paved that gravel road and it’s been smooth traveling ever since.” — Steve Cox, author of Mining Bedrock: The Voices Behind Television’s First Animated Sitcom, The Flintstones

The Digital Bits and History, Legacy & Showmanship are pleased to present this retrospective commemorating the 60th anniversary of the broadcast premiere of The Flintstones, Hanna-Barbera’s animated series set in the Stone Age (but inspired by The Honeymooners and mid-20th Century suburban America) that introduced the world to Fred and Wilma Flintstone, Barney and Betty Rubble, Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm, Dino, Mr. Slate, The Great Gazoo, and a host of other memorable supporting characters.

The popular series (recently released on Blu-ray and reviewed here) originally ran in prime time on ABC from 1960 to 1966 and spawned numerous spin-offs, TV specials, movies and tie-in merchandise. It premiered 60 years ago this autumn, and for the occasion The Bits features a Q&A with a trio of pop culture and animation historians who reflects on the series’ appeal six decades after its debut. [Read on here...]


The Mary Tyler Moore Show opened the floodgates for the kind of grown-up TV comedies that would thrive in the 1970s, and beyond. Although Mary’s show had little in common with M*A*S*H, All in the Family, or Barney Miller, it’s hard to imagine any of those breakthrough sitcoms getting a green light had The Mary Tyler Moore not proven to the TV networks that it was possible to attract a sizable audience to intelligent, risk-taking television shows — that good TV was, in fact, a viable business model.” — Vince Waldron, author of The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book

The Digital Bits and History, Legacy & Showmanship are pleased to present this retrospective commemorating the golden anniversary of the broadcast premiere of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, the Emmy-winning and multi-spinoff-inspiring television series starring Mary Tyler Moore (The Dick Van Dyke Show, Ordinary People) as Mary Richards that ran on CBS from 1970 to 1977.

The series — created by James L. Brooks (Terms of Endearment, Broadcast News) and Allan Burns (A Little Romance, Just Between Friends) and featuring the memorable supporting cast of Edward Asner as Lou Grant, Valerie Harper as Rhoda Morgenstern, Gavin MacLeod as Murray Slaughter, Ted Knight as Ted Baxter, Cloris Leachman as Phyllis Lindstrom, Georgia Engel as Georgette Franklin Baxter, and Betty White as Sue Ann Nivens — premiered 50 years ago, and for the occasion The Bits features a Q&A with a pair of classic television historians who reflect on the series’ appeal, impact and legacy five decades after its debut. [Read on here...]


“It’s heartening to remember now, at a moment of sharp political divisions, how the whole world seemed to hold its collective breath when the three American astronauts were in mortal danger.” — Beverly Gray, author of Ron Howard: From Mayberry to the Moon… and Beyond

The Digital Bits and History, Legacy & Showmanship are pleased to present this retrospective commemorating the silver anniversary of the release of Apollo 13, Ron Howard’s popular and award-winning docudrama about the aborted 1970 Apollo 13 lunar expedition starring Tom Hanks (Philadelphia, Forrest Gump) as astronaut Jim Lovell.

Apollo 13 — featuring Kevin Bacon (Footloose, Tremors) as Jack Swigert, Bill Paxton (Aliens, Twister) as Fred Haise, Gary Sinise (Forrest Gump, CSI:NY) as Ken Mattingly, Ed Harris (The Right Stuff, The Abyss) as Gene Kranz, and Kathleen Quinlan (Twilight Zone: The Movie, Breakdown) as Marilyn Lovell — was released twenty-five years ago this summer. For the occasion The Bits features a package of statistics and box-office data that places the movie’s performance in context, along with passages from vintage film reviews, a reference/historical listing of the movie’s IMAX re-release presentations, and, finally, an interview segment with a film historian who reflects on the film two and a half decades after its debut. [Read on here...]


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