Star Wars' First Spoof Makes an Historic Mention of Lucas' Early Work

My brother just pointed this out to me, after a conversation we had today about the 1978 parody Hardware Wars which, like most of our discussions, arose truly apropos of nothing. The Star Wars sendup makes a subtle nod to George Lucas' earliest work, with a kind of visual Easter egg reference that one would expect from a present-day YouTube video. But in 1978, spoofing a director with two other films under his belt, it was a lot more astute.

At 6:08 of Hardware Wars you can see it, when Ham Salad and Chewchilla prepare to send their unnamed steam iron spacecraft into hyperspace. Writer/Director/Producer Ernie Fosselius shot a speedometer with the trip odometer set to 1138—a plain reference to THX-1138, George Lucas' 1971 directorial debut.

This is one of the earliest of many winking references to that film, a commercial failure. The initials THX or the digits 1138 would later show up, repeatedly, in dialogue in the Star Wars trilogy and its associated works. It's the basis for the THX sound certification system, whose title screen you see at the beginning of Lucasfilm flicks.

The license plate on a car in 1973's American Graffiti, Lucas' second film, bore reference to THX-1138. That makes Hardware Wars at least the second work outside of Star Wars to make a crack at it, and probably the first one not made by Lucas to do so.

The other largely unknown accomplishment of Hardware Wars is—despite our nearly-Medicare-eligible father's stubborn and grammatically incorrect insistence—the narrator's correct usage and pronunciation of "an heroic," both using "an" as the article preceding a word beginning with H, and the aspirate pronunciation of that consonant. You can hear it at 3:56 of the above film.

Truly, Hardware Wars was an historic film whose significance we continue to discover, 35 years later.

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