He turned 70 last year, but Steven Spielberg is showing no signs of slowing down. Indeed, the most successful director of his, or any, generation is only becoming more prolific: this weekend’s announcement that his Washington Post/Pentagon Papers movie with Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep will open in December means that he’s set to make at least five movies in five years (“Bridge Of Spies” in 2015, “The BFG” in 2016,” the already-wrapped “Ready Player One” in 2018 and the fifth Indiana Jones in 2019, potentially with “The Kidnapping Of Edgardo Mortara,” which was delayed for the Hanks/Streep picture, coming too).
So it’s interesting, with all that in mind, to look back to the very start of his career, and a rare opportunity has arrived thanks to YouTube channel The Museum Of Time Travel, which has unearthed Spielberg’s first-ever feature length directing assignment, the presciently-titled “L.A. 2017.” Made in 1971, when Spielberg was just 25, it’s an episode of the big-budget NBC TV series “The Name Of The Game,” which aired 90 minute episodes (hence the first-feature length mark in the director’s career: a couple of shorter TV episodes had aired first).
As the title might suggest, it sees publisher Glenn Howard (Gene Barry) transported to the year of the title — coincidentally, our year — to discover a heavily polluted America with a fascist government that’s run like a corporation. WHAT A FAR-FETCHED, IMPLAUSIBLE FUTURE THEY PREDICTED. Featuring, “Feud” fans, a cameo from Joan Crawford, the episode’s long been difficult to track down, so we’d advise any Spielberg fans to take the chance to have a look while they still can. [Dangerous Minds]