‘The Last Starfighter’ with Catherine Mary Stewart

Title:
The Last Starfighter (1984)
Rated: PG
Written by:
Jonathan Betuel
Directed by:
Nick Castle
Starring:
Lance Guest as Alex
Robert Preston as Centauri
Catherine Mary Stewart as Maggie
Dan O'Herlihy as Grig 
Barbara Bosson as Jane
Norman Snow as Xur

 

By Bo Ransdell from Last Blog on the Left

Pre-screening memoriesSure, the plot seems familiar now:  A young man, trapped by circumstances of economics and class, struggles to be something more, something different.  He knows there’s an “out there,” a world that he could conquer if he could only get free and find the opportunity.  That’s the situation that Alex Rogan (Lance Guest) represents, and, to an eleven year old boy in 1984, it was a projection, quite literally, of everything that a pre-teen felt.   

Add to that healthy mix of angst the element of technology, specifically the home video game revolution, and you’ll find that same pre-teen, filled with a vague wanderlust, debating with his friends in the schoolyard whether the Atari 2600 translation of Donkey Kong could hold a candle to the arcade version (it can’t) or if Yar’s Revenge was the best in the 2600 library (it was).  So, when a movie made escape possible through the medium of video games, the scales had lifted from my eyes.  This was a movie I had to see.   

I saw The Last Starfighter a lot as a kid, where it found a lot of screenings thanks to premium cable channels and a brand-spanking-new VCR.  I still have the tape on which The Last Starfighter resides, alongside The Terminator.  Even as a child, I enjoyed juxtaposition.  At every viewing of the film, it reinforced the idea that you can truly excel, if only given the opportunity to do so, and it’s a belief I still subscribe to.

New memories: Seeing it as an adult, it’s hard to quiet the thrilled child still inside, the one who still believes everything is possible if given the chance and that Yar’s Revenge is the best Atari 2600 game.  Roughly halfway through my mature, well-considered viewing of The Last Starfighter, I gave up trying to silence him.  This was and remains a movie that encourages a sense of wonder, a sense of possibility, and, if you remembered it as a special movie when you were young, seek it out.  The optimism of the film is there, and a real sense of magic, managed by genuine emotion thanks to a very talented cast.  Sure, the effects, revolutionary at the time, haven’t aged so well, but they fit the imagination of the movie.  And it’s that part, the spirit of opportunity in the face of adversity that makes this a treasure. 

Download Natsukashi’s ‘The Last Starfighter’ podcast here

or venture to our online player below:

Our featured guest: Catherine Mary Stewart

Catherine Mary Stewart returns to Natsukashi to revisit yet another indelible role from her resume.

She had first joined us for a chat about Mischief and also spoke about her other cult classic of 1984, Night of the Comet, but Last Starfighter hold a special place in her memories for reasons she recounts for us in the podcast.

After taking a stretch to focus more on being a mom, Catherine is reigniting her career with roles Rising Stars, a film with Fischer that she describes as an anti-American Idol, and a just-announced A Christmas Snow, which she details on her Facebook page (where she personally connects with her fans). You can also follow her at her blog.

Catherine is always a fun, engaging guest and has several tales about working on the set of The Last Starfighter, and we thank her for letting us share them with her.

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4 Comments

  1. […] 'The Last Starfighter' with Catherine Mary Stewart « natsukashi […]

  2. I remember finally getting this on DVD a few years ago. It really brought back childhood memories. If I recall correctly, Catherine was in “Nightflyers”, another film I liked as a child but haven’t seen for many years. Of course, I also own “Weekend at Bernies”, which is a great little 80s flick.

    As a kid watching these lightweight, fantasy science fiction movies in the late 1980s/early 1990s, I found them more entertaining than “Star Wars” (the obvious inspiration for all of them). In retrospect, Lucas’ galactic adventure has risen to the top, but as a 12 year old the likes of “Flight of the Navigator”, “Explorers”, “Battle Beyond the Stars”, “Tron”, “Flash Gordon”, “Dreamscape”, and of course “The Last Starfighter” had many more outings in the VHS player. You’re right when you say it was the sense of adventure in these movies. Even though the special-effects have dated, many of them still look great today. Back when they were first released, viewed by innocent teenage eyes, they were magical and awe-inspiring.

    It was great listening to Catherine reminisce about “The Last Starfighter”. Another excellent podcast.

  3. Another great interview. I especially love the very original way you introduce and end an interview, in a manner relating it to the movie.

    Robert Preston’s voice here reminds me a bit of John Huston’s in the Rqankin-Bass’ “Hobbit/Return of the king” animated films. I think.

    • From talking with Cathy, Preston really seemed like tthe real deal, too. She’s a favorite of ours to talk to, as well. And she’s promised to come back and talk about yet another iconic film in which she starred. Hint: it rhymes with “Weekend at Gurnies.”
      Did I say too much?


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