When Star Wars came out in 1977, nobody knew it would become the classic that we all recognize today. Some people were skeptical, for sure. But few reviewers were as hilariously savage as John Simon, with New York Magazine, who called it “a set of giant baubles manipulated by an infant mind.”
Top image: New York Magazine, 1977.
Here are some choice passages from Simon’s review, which you can read over at Google Books:
I sincerely hope that science and scientists differ from science fiction and its practitioners. Heaven help us if they don’t: We may be headed for a very boring world indeed. Strip Star Wars of its often striking images and its high-falutin scientific jargon, and you get a story, characters, and dialogue of overwhelming banality, without even a “future” cast to them. Human beings, anthropoids, or robots, you could probably find them all, more or less like, that, in downtown Los Angeles today...
O dull new world! We are treated to a galactic civil war, assorted heroes and villains, a princely maiden in distress, a splendid old man surviving from an extinct order of knights who possessed a mysterious power called “the Force,” and it is all as exciting as last year’s weather reports.... Why, even the most exciting fight is an old-fashioned duel, for all that the swords have laser beams for blades....
Here it is all trite characterization and paltry verbiage... The one exception is Alec Guinness as the grand old man Ben Kenobi (Ben for the Hebrew ben, to make him sound Biblical and good; Kenobi probably from cannibis, i.e., hashish, for reasons you can probably guess.)...
Still, Star Wars will do very nicely for those lucky enough to be children or unlucky enough never to have grown up.
Also found on Google Books: a 1983 article from Texas Monthly, which takes issue with a May 23, 1983 Time Magazine cover story about Return of the Jedi. Apparently, Time insisted that Return of the Jedi “represents a return to striding form after the lunging missteps of The Empire Strikes Back.” (The actual Time Magazine article isn’t online, and I haven’t had time to look for it in the library.)