London, England was far from edenic at the outset of 1982. The weather was brutally cold. How cold was it? According to John Phillip Peecher’s “Star Wars: The Making of Return of the Jedi,” the below-zero temperatures had resulted in the fire department having to rescue a man who’d gotten his lips stuck to a car handle (which, to me, seems less an issue of frigidity and more a matter of rank stupidity). It was so cold, the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace was canceled! It was so cold, Rodney Dangerfield’s wife welcomed him into bed!
It gets worse. Carrie Fisher’s rented house began to belch hazardous gas fumes. Meanwhile, Mark Hamill’s chauffeur had his car stolen (fortunately, he was able to bum a ride with Harrison Ford to the studio).
This augured poorly for the production, but these obstacles were easily cleared. Fisher was not felled by carbon monoxide poisoning, Hamill got his transportation issue sorted out, and the bozo who decided to make out with the driver’s side of his car went on to be the Prime Minister of England from 2019 to 2022 (I’m guessing).
Most importantly, “Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi” wound up being the highest-grossing film of 1983. Though fans were split on the effectiveness of the Ewoks, they loved the first-act rescue of Han Solo, and adored the visually spectacular assault on the unfinished Death Star (a semi-lazy callback that forebodes the clumsy resurrection of Emperor Palpatine in “Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker”). The film works. Nub-nub, y’all.