Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.

A football-field-sized, green and purple flying saucer emiting an ear-shattering, high-pitched whine did not make off with New York's Ziefeld movie theater Sunday night, as 2,500 journialists from around the world converged for the first critics' screening of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," a $20-million sci-fi film by "Jaws" director Steven Spielberg.

At the close of the 2-hour, 15-minute film, the audience did not applaud. Rather, they walked from the theater in almost religious silence. A number of them were seen to turn their heads skyward after exiting the building.

There was little fanfare outside the theater before the screening. Perhaps a dozen self-proclaimed "Star Wars" fanatics solicited spare tickets, though none was to had. A television crew somberly recorded the influx of media folk, and missed entirely the sly entrance of the few celebrities who did turn out: Woody Allen and Diane Keaton: Peter Boyle and Susan Sarazin: Paul Simon and Shelly Duval; "Star Wars" director George Lucas; and - Liza Minnelli, who was accompanied by an unidentified (although not flying) and quite animated object.

Immediately after the first of Sunday night's two screenings, a barrage of debate began in fron t of the theater as one of the "Star Wars" freaks returned to his fold to report on the picture.

"Was it like "Star Wars"?

"No, it was totally different."

"Well, what was it like?"

"It was sort of like '2001,' only it was different."

"Well, what was different about it?"

"It was sort of like '2001' and 'Jaws' put together."

"'Jaws'?"

"Yeah, a lot of suspense."

"Do they come out of the ship like the shark jumped out of the water?"

"Yeah."

Do they let anybody?"

"Well, that's hard to say. They certainly don't use ray guns."

Unday's creenings, delayed for two weeks while Spielberg made some last-minute changes in the film, were the first public showings of the movie, except for a sheak preview to some "ordinary" filmgoers in Texas a few weeks ago.

Since then the director has made at least one small change: deleting from the climatic end sequence the original "Pinocchio" sound track version of Jummy Cricket singing "When You Wish You Upon a Star."

The film does, howere, include Bugs Bunny is an old cartoon, "Duck Dodgers in the 21st Century," as well as Johnny Mathis singing "Chances Are."

Chances are that doesn't make any xense to you, but you'll just have to wait to see the film which has its world premiere in New York on Nov. 15.