'Star Wars': The Movie That Ate Cleveland Park

By Karen De Witt
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 23, 1977

Scene 1, Take 1: A quiet, residential street in Cleveland Park around the corner from the Uptown Theater where "Star Wars" is playing.

Time: A half hour before the 7:30 show.

Action: Moviegoers in cars frantically searching for parking spaces. A group of teen-agers near the end of the block-and-a-half line casually having a picnic on a resident's front lawn as they wait for the movie to open. The Good Humor truck plying its way up and down the queue, tinkling out the allure of frozen goodies.

Close-up: discarded beer cans, burnt-out marijuana joints and McDonald's hamburger wrappers.

It's not a new motion picture under production yet, but if there is ever a sequel to that intergalactic spectacular "Star Wars," some of the residents of Cleveland Park would like to call it "Earthly Fallout."

"It's . . . it's an invasion," says Marcy Schuck, a Cleveland Park resident who no longer recognizes her peaceful neighborhood since "Star Wars" started playing. "There are people, people crawling up the streets constantly. We're constantly being awakended when people line up for the midnight show. My alley was blocked up once and I just wanted to scream and beat up the cars."

The trauma of living near a sell-out movie has struck more than one resident in the area and not all of it has just been the influx of outlanders.

"It's really changing the neighborhood," says Judy Hubbard, who lives on Newark, one of the hardest hit streets in the area. "We used to have quiet streets and now there are just people walking up and down the neighborhood from 6 until midnight. It's illegal to park on one side of the street and people are just ignoring the signs. It's dangerous. It leaves just one lane. A fire truck could never make it up the street if it had to. And people are fighting for parking spaces even in the big rains."

The fallout from the movie's success has not only increased the neighborhood's traffic, but also given an outlet to instant critics who praise or lambast the movie early in the morning, after the late show, for all the residents to hear.

"I'm just dying to see it," says another resident. "I keep hearing people on the street talking about what a great movie it is and I have a 6 year old who would just freak out if he knew it was playing. But with all the neighbors complaining, I can't tell anyone that I actually want to see the movie."

Not every resident has seen the movie as an earthly invasion of nonresidents. Ron Hoffman, who lives on Macomb Street, views the phenomenon as a chance to watch his neighbors interact or react to the moviegoers and people-watch in general.

"It's become a family amusement to watch the people in the lines," he says. "And I've told one of my neighbors who is really upset about all the people that I'm buying him a rocking chair and a rifle to protect his property. Sometimes it's just fun to sit and watch the people in the lines."

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© 1977 The Washington Post Company