When "Star Wars: Episode VI — The Return of the Jedi" began shooting in January 1982, it was the most complex undertaking of the franchise to date. It was also the most vital. Though George Lucas' plans to make two more trilogies were far from fruition, if this installment fell short of fans' stratospheric expectations, there would be no more trips to the galaxy far, far away.

Finishing the screenplay was a chore in and of itself, but once that hurdle was cleared, it appeared it would be smooth sailing through the rest of principal photography. They'd survived the tumultuous production of "The Empire Strikes Back." Surely, the "Star Wars" machine would hum through the final chapter of the Original Trilogy.

All told, "Return of the Jedi" was a comparably stress-free shoot. But it didn't start that way. Not by a damn sight.

A Rough Start To A Blockbuster Final Chapter

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.

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