Close Encounters of All Kinds

Steven SpielbergIt is 1975.

I am 16. I walk with Steven Spielberg across the parking lot at Orange Coast College where we have just seen a retrospective of his work (Duel, Sugarland Express, Jaws). I ask him what his next film will be. He tells me “It’s called Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but I can’t tell you anything more about it”. Hmm.

It is 1976. I receive a publication from the US GPO for a project in Mr. Ramseyer’s Political Science class. It describes the government’s position on UFOs. It includes the definitions of the three types of ‘Close Encounters’. And I realize Spielberg is making a movie about contact with alien life forms.

It is 1977. ‘Star Wars’ releases in May and triples the value of 20th Century Fox stock within weeks of its release. My parents tell me they want to buy me some stock for my graduation present. I tell them to buy as much Columbia Pictures stock as they can. They say “We want you to study stocks, to learn something about the stock market”. I explain why I want this stock. They buy it immediately. Within a week of its November release, ‘Close Encounters’ doubles the value of my stock. A week later it’s worth three times what my parents paid for it, and rising.

A week later, actor Cliff Robertson goes public about Columbia’s VP of Production, David Begelman, who is embezzling money by cashing checks in Robertson’s name at his bank. The stock tanks.

The end.