Sunday, September 30, 2018

R.I.P. Gary Kurtz

Damn, another obit. This one's particularly painful for me..

R.I.P. Gary Kurtz, who died on September 23, 2018 at age 78. 

Kurtz was a very talented Hollywood producer, and very good friends with one Mr. George Lucas. Kurtz collaborated with Lucas, producing American Graffiti, Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. He also produced non-Lucas projects such as The Dark Crystal and Return To Oz.

While Kurtz's name may not be a household word, Star Wars fans owe him a HUGE debt of gratitude. Kurtz wasn't afraid to tell George Lucas "No," and overruled many of his more boneheaded ideas. Without Kurtz, Star Wars and Empire would be VERY different movies indeed, and likely wouldn't have been anywhere near as good or successful without him. In fact, looking at Lucas' original ideas, they'd have been downright awful.

Sadly, Kurtz and Lucas had a falling out prior to filming Return Of The Jedi. Kurtz was all set to produce, but became disillusioned with the direction the project was taking. In particular he objected to the inclusion of the cutesy Ewoks. 

When Kurtz asked why there was an army of sentient teddy bears in a Star Wars movie, Lucas cynically admitted he stuck 'em in so he could sell more toys. Sadly, Kurtz left the production immediately, to the film's detriment.

You can actually chart the exact moment Kurtz dissolved their partnership by looking at the quality of Lucas' output. Everything he made after Kurtz' departure is sadly lacking. It makes me sad thinking of what could have been under Kurtz's firm hand and sensibilities. 

R.I.P. Gary Kurtz!

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