The panic cut still intrigues me greatly but he seemed to be a much more grounded guy back then.
Agreed. The man behind the original "Star Wars Trilogy" was a brilliant filmmaker. If you watch the old interviews, his personality is even different. More alert, more intelligent sounding. More humble, more grounded.
AFAIC, more fraudulent. He said all the right things back in those days, but he had to in order to build up anticipation and create his cult of personality. Its so repulsive to me nowadays to think back to 'interviews' such as the ones with Leonard Maltin attached to the 1995 VHS release. He is lying through his teeth. Doesnt matter if his personality is perceived different if his sensibilities were the same back then as it is now (and they are).
All filmmakers have a portfolio with peaks and valleys and maybe a decline towards the very end. But you do not have the outrageous dropoff from the OT (and ROTLA) to what we see now unless something else was at play. and the evidence that Lucas was a dangerous liability mitigated by hall-of-fame talent is overwhelming.
Thats why he lashed out at Dale Pollock's book and claimed it was full of lies for so many years. We were not supposed to know about the 'panic cut'. We were not supposed to know that Lucas didnt care about any aspect of filmmaking except editing (and Lucas' vaunted editing skills are so overblown its hilarious).
That cut was not a 'panic' cut. it was his cut, only difference is the crew told him it sucked ass and they were appalled by what they saw. Again, if the movie went over budget because lucas planned principal photography to be quick & dirty and half-assed, like the PT, then he is at fault.
In regards to this topic, the bottom line is this: ESB may or may not be his least favorite SW film, but it is without question his least favorite production. And not just because it went over budget. And he was determined to never going to happen again. If that meant lousy, pathetic movies - well, thats ok too.