'The Mandalorian' Just Honored The Movie 'Star Wars' Torpedoed

It's becoming more and more apparent that this season of The Mandalorian is attempting to not just engage with some of the less popular elements of the franchise but also to reckon with the pop-culture casualties Star Wars left in its wake. First, it was Dune, the classic novel which George Lucas liberally borrowed from (to the near-litigious displeasure of its author). Now, the most recent episode was an unsubtle riff on The Wages of Fear. The French novel was made into the classic 1953 Henri-Georges Clouzot film of the same name and eventually a little movie called ... Sorcerer.

"The Believer" finds Mando and Bill Burr (Bilbo?) transporting a shipment of the ultra-volatile starship fuel Rhydonium through rough terrain.

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While Sorcerer similarly finds a group of nogoodniks hauling a truckful of dynamite through the jungle. 

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Despite being one of the greatest goddamn movies of all-time, Sorcerer was a huge bomb at the time. Why? Well, it opened just one month after Star Wars -- it also didn't help that the movie contained precisely zero actual sorcerers, to the confusion of audiences. Director Willaim Friedkin's much-hyped follow-up to The Exorcist was originally supposed to open at the same time as Lucas' seemingly unpromising space opera, but its release was delayed. When Star Wars came out, Lucas didn't even realize that he had a hit on his hands, assuming that the lines wrapping around the block were for Sorcerer.

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By the time Sorcerer hit theatres in June of 1977, all people wanted was Luke Skywalker and his pals. "Star Wars swept all the chips off the table," said Friedkin, who had turned down the opportunity to produce the blockbuster. Mann's Chinese Theatre tried to wriggle out of their Sorcerer booking after Star Wars dominated its paltry two-week run but ultimately failed. As soon as the Sorcerer engagement ended, the theater immediately brought Star Wars back and threw a big-ass party to celebrate.

Which, again, kind of sucks only because Sorcerer is a masterpiece. There's only one more episode left in season two of The Mandalorian, and we're guessing it will somehow feature an elaborate reference to Space Pets, the unproduced script that allegedly contained the first appearance of the Ewoks.

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter! And check out the podcast Rewatchability.

Top Image: Lucasfilm

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