Documentary About the Ill-fated Star Wars Holiday Special Screening During Port Jeff Film Series

A Disturbance in the Force

Back in 1977, Star Wars hit theaters like a wrecking ball. George Lucas’ space opera changed everything creating an obsessive fandom that could not get enough of the minutiae of the universe from what the background alien with a pig snout in the Cantina scene ate for breakfast that morning to the nuts and bolts of the Corellian Engineering Corporation.

It could have all gone a different way, had the misguided holiday special that came out in 1978 derailed the entire enterprise – it was that bad. Or that good depending on your point of view. No, actually it was terrible. I mean, it was a variety show format that starred Bea Arthur, Art Carney, and musical guest, Jefferson Starship (which in retrospect makes a little bit of sense for the 1970s) for goodness sake!

Anyway, Lucas had a choice to make. He could embrace the campiness of the special or he could lock it away in a vault. He chose that latter. He chose wisely. Did that make people forget about it? Absolutely not! Bootlegged versions floated around cons for decades. Its mystery and popularity grew in spite of or even because Lucas tried to squash it. (I don’t know why this type of thing is called the Streisand Effect because it should be called the Star Wars Holiday Special effect.) People saw it despite Lucas’ best efforts. Is it cannon – nope. Is it worse than the sequels? Just barely.

The Star Wars Holiday Special had one redeeming value. It featured an animated sequence that was the first appearance of Boba Fett on screen. Remember, this was the 1970s so any little thing like that was a gift from God and people lost their effing minds.

Well, thanks to a little thing called “The Information Superhighway” those bootlegged videotapes are now available online in its entirety. Stop and watch it if you haven’t yet because it’s that bad (good!)

Video: YouTube.

Fun Fact: Chewbacca’s father is named Itchy.

Now, there is a disturbance in the force. Sorry, I mean “A Disturbance in the Force,” a 2023 documentary that explores the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special and why it has been locked away. This is the “hilarious backstory to Star Wars Life Day with an otherworldly cast of characters from Bea Arthur to Donny Osmond, stars of 1970s-era variety shows.”

You can watch it on screen with other Star Wars fans during the Port Jefferson Documentary Film Series on May 6, 2024 at 7pm at John F. Kennedy Middle School at 200 Jayne Boulevard in Port Jefferson Station. Costumes are welcome. (I pray we get some Bea Arthur cosplay at this!)

The screening is part of the award-winning Spring 2024 Port Jefferson Documentary Film Series.

Details below.

  • Guest speaker: Director Jeremy Coon
  • Q&A moderated by Tom Needham, Host of The Sounds of Film at WUSB radio.
  • A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…In 1978 George Lucas was talked in to cashing in on the STAR WARS craze by producing a holiday variety TV special.  What could possibly go wrong? Answer: Everything… From the filmmakers of NAPOLEON DYNAMITE, FANBOYS, and RAIDERS! THE STORY OF THE GREATEST FAN FILM EVER MADE comes the documentary about the infamous STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL.
  • Port Jefferson Village’s Red Shirt Comics will provide free comics – come early before they run out!
  • Get more info and advanced tickets at

Photo: Port Jefferson Documentary Series website.