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Man escapes with 'Star Wars'

February 06, 1997

By KATE COLEMAN

Staff Writer

Guy Haines II saw "Star Wars" for the first time in the summer of 1977.

After that, Haines, of Clear Spring, saw the movie 26 more times, in part because he likes the escapism of the "Star Wars" legend.

Before his first viewing of the film, Haines figured his friends were exaggerating when they billed "Star Wars" as "awesome," a "must see" that would blow his mind.

A skeptical Haines had expected yet another lackluster science fiction movie, but he found their predictions were as on target as lasers beamed from a Rebel Warrior's X-Wing craft.

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He sat on the edge of his seat while he witnessed what he considers a milestone in cinema history.

"After leaving the theater, I found myself grasping the wheel of my '77 Pontiac Ventura, pushing the pedal to the floor as we fought the battle of the Death Star all the way home," Haines wrote in response to a Herald-Mail request for "Star Wars" stories and memories.

"You're transported to this galaxy far, far away," he said.

Over the past 20 years, Haines, 42, has spent a lot of time and energy in that far away galaxy.

The re-release of "Star Wars" has made Haines nostalgic for old friends.

He recently talked to Jack "Butch" Harp in Laurel, Md. Harp designed his own Darth Vader costume and wore it to movie theaters - sometimes getting in free.

Haines, who often accompanied him, recalls the delight of older kids and the terror of a little boy who wouldn't take his seat until "Darf Fader" temporarily made an exit.

Haines met David Prowse, the actor who played Darth Vader, at a 1981 science fiction convention in Philadelphia.

The Silver Dragon Science Fantasy Society, a local group Haines started, went to Baltimore for the 1983 opening of "The Empire Strikes Back," rather than wait for its local showing.

Two weeks later, the group made the front page of The Daily Mail by standing in line outside Long Meadow Cinema in the early morning hours, determined to be the first to see the film in Hagerstown.

Haines plans to resurrect the group to lead the line for the first of the prequels planned for 1999 release.

"Star Wars" reached a financial milestone last weekend by taking in $35.9 million, placing it in position to overtake "E.T. - The Extraterrestrial" as Hollywood's all-time biggest moneymaker.

Haines contributed to that total, seeing "Star Wars" twice at Hagerstown Cinema 10 on Jan. 31, the day the computer-enhanced re-release premiered with 4 1/2 minutes of new footage.

His reaction this time around wasn't all that different than his original impression of the movie: "I was, like, overwhelmed. I was, like, blown away."

Haines said the audience included people of all ages, from tiny children to senior citizens. He said the new scenes stood out, but he believes they'll blend in with repeated viewings.

Of course, there will be repeated viewings for Haines. He already has plans to see it again this weekend.

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