Close Encounters of the Third Kind | Image: Columbia Pictures Corporation
Film enthusiasts usually have definite opinions on Steven Spielberg's works; some not so favorable. Spielberg has often been criticized as being too emotionally manipulative or overly sentimental. Others have been critical of his portrayal of, in their view, an unrealistic idea of American families. Some address Spielberg's critics as resentful of his huge commercial appeal, and in many cases they may be right. However you feel about Steven Spielberg's contribution to American film, there's no denying its significance and influence.
In the linked list below, mental_floss presents 30 facts about popular Steven Spielberg movies. Some examples:
4. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND WAS INITIALLY A VERY DIFFERENT FILM.
Spielberg’s initial story outline involved UFOs and shady government dealings following the Watergate scandal, which became a script entitled “Watch the Skies.” The idea involved a police or military officer working on Project Blue Book, the Air Force’s official study into UFOs in the 1950s and 1960s, who would become the whistleblower on the government cover-up of aliens. There were numerous rewrites—Taxi Driver scribe Paul Schrader even took a crack at it, penning a political UFO thriller titled “Kingdom Come” that Spielberg and the movie studio rejected—before the story we know today emerged.7. TOM SELLECK WAS SUPPOSED TO PLAY INDIANA JONES.
Prior to the production's start date in May 1980, George Lucas and Spielberg set up shop in the old Lucasfilm corporate headquarters to begin the casting process. Actors and actresses in consideration for the lead roles of Indiana Jones and his tough but beautiful companion Marion Ravenwood included Jane Seymour, Debra Winger, Mark Harmon, Mary Steenburgen, Michael Biehn, Sam Shepard, Valerie Bertinelli, Bruce Boxleitner, Sean Young, Don Johnson, Dee Wallace (who would later go on to star as the mother in Spielberg’s E.T.), Barbara Hershey, and even David Hasselhoff.
For Indy, Lucas and Spielberg eventually settled on actor Tom Selleck. But when CBS got wind of what the two were up to, the network legally barred Selleck—the lead of the hit showMagnum, P.I.—from appearing in the film. Spielberg then suggested Harrison Ford as a quick replacement, but Lucas was reluctant to cast Ford because he was already Han Solo in hisStar Wars films. But Spielberg’s quick thinking prevailed, and Ford was added to the cast just two weeks before principal photography began. (A similar snafu happened with Danny DeVito, the first choice to play Indy’s jovial companion Sallah, who couldn’t take the part due to his contractual obligation to appear on the popular ABC show Taxi.)