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Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Science-fiction jumped from the stuff of kiddie matinees to box-office bonanza in 1977, and Columbia Pictures reaped the benefits. Financially ailing at the time, the studio took a chance on young director Steven Spielberg’s dream project about UFOs. It paid off when production delays gave him the time to make the first summer blockbuster, Jaws (1975), and George Lucas’s Star Wars (1977) set box-office records a few months CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND opened, priming audiences for another science-fiction saga. Spielberg’s picture told a very human story about an electrician (Richard Dreyfuss) whose close encounter becomes an obsession and a single mother (Melinda Dillon) whose child is abducted by aliens. That personal element along with dazzling special effects and a John Williams score that’s almost another character, made the film Columbia’s biggest hit to date. TCM CFF presents the director’s cut.

d. Steven Spielberg, 137m, DCP