20 years ago today, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace was released in the US. The first of the Star Wars prequels, the film marked the directorial return of George Lucas (who also wrote its screenplay) after a 22-year hiatus since the first Star Wars of 1977. The Phantom Menace stars Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, and Jake Lloyd as a 9-year-old Anakin Skywalker (who would become Darth Vader). The movie takes place 32 years before the original film, and follows Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi as they protect Queen Amidala in hopes of securing a peaceful end to a interplanetary trade dispute while simultaneously contending with the mysterious return of the Sith Lords. WATCH this trailer and the upcoming previews for the FINAL Star Wars film coming in December… (1999)

Although the film’s visual effects were widely praised, it got mixed reviews especially regarding the dialogue, plot, and the addition of Jar-jar Binks “a comic relief character who’s frankly not funny,” according to the L.A. Times.

The entire Star Wars saga (three prequels and three sequels) comes to a final climax this December, 2019 with the release of the ninth film, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Check out the trailer below…

MORE Good News on this Day:

  • The electric fire alarm system was patented in Boston, Mass., the first city to adopt the method (1857)
  • Oscar Wilde was released from Reading Gaol prison having served 2 years hard labor for “gross indecency” (1897)
  • The Soviet Union ratified a treaty with the United States and Britain that banned nuclear weapons from outer space (1967)
  • Apple, Inc. opened the first Genius Bars (in Tysons Corner, Virginia, and Glendale, California), where customers can get free tech support in the chic Apple retail environment (2001)
  • Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith was released into theaters worldwide, completing George Lucas’ 28-year saga, which first appeared in 1977 and includes 6 episodes (2005)

And, Happy 74th Birthday to Pete Townshend, the English musician, singer-songwriter and co-founder of The Who. Born in London to musician parents, he taught himself how to play guitar and never learned to read music. Yet, he became one of the most influential guitar players and rock composers in the world. (1945)

Photo by Ross Belot – CC license

Also on this day in 1978, Dire Straits released ‘Sultans Of Swing’, their first single from the debut album. With a budget of only $150, the song was first recorded months earlier as a demo in North London. Written by singer-guitarist Mark Knopfler about a musician who doesn’t mind if he “doesn’t make the scene—he’s got a daytime job and he’s doing alright,” the catchy hook rose to No. 4 on the Billboard chart. Mark’s guitar solo went down in history as No. 22 on Guitar World‘s list of greatest solos.

1985 photo by Helge Overas, CC license

And, on this day in 1967, The Beatles held a press party at the London home of their manager Brian Epstein to launch the Sgt. Pepper’s album. They hired Linda Eastman to be the press photographer, a woman who, four years later, became the beloved wife of Paul McCartney for 27 years–until her death from cancer at age 56.

She had been a professional photographer focused on celebrities, and was often published in music industry magazines. Her book, Linda McCartney’s Sixties: Portrait of an Era, features the best of her work.


  1. How is Lucas’ woefully ill-conceived and horrendously written (if unintentionally hilarious) bastardization of his own trilogy worthy of “On this day in History”, especially considering it came out a scant 2 years ago?

    Not tryin to be mean… Just legitimately curious.

  2. Tell us how *you* would have conceived it?

    They all were written pretty poorly (remember Han Solo’s early lines?), but they remain jewels in our home that, when played in the living room, seem to draw in any of the rest of family — no matter what we’re doing– even when we’ve seen them a thousand times and small kids are now teenagers.

    It must be the force!

    I’ll look around for more history from this day…

  3. Oh, there’s no question that “Star Wars” and “Return of the Jedi” have some pretty awful lines, not to mention clunky direction and editing. But dialogue and story structure are two different things – at least the original had heart, being something that looked “homemade” as opposed to created by a committe in Silicon Valley.
    And let’s not forget the actually *good* interchanges in “Empire” (neither penned nor directed by Lucas), particularly:

    Leia – “I love you.”
    Solo – “I know.”

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