Trivia: Close Encounters of the Third Kind

  • AFIS 100 Years Series:
  • Cast the Expert: You know how the dialogue between the pilots and the air traffic controllers sounded so realistic? Spielberg used the controllers from Los Angeles ARTCC, gave them the scenario, and they played it as if it were real.
    • Also, the synthesizer player is Philip Dodds, one of the lead engineers for ARP Instruments. Dodds was brought in to install the ARP 2500, and when Spielberg saw his expert handling of the equipment, he offered Dodds the role on the spot.
    • The "voice" of the mothership was performed by legendary tubist Jim Self. Spielberg cast him and his performance because the difficulty of playing the tuba added a "human" component to the alien communication.
  • Enforced Method Acting: Used with the young actor playing Barry. For example to get good reactions in the kitchen scene, where you only see his face, off camera they had a clown which Barry (Cary Guffy) smiled at. Then (same take)they brought in a man in a gorilla suit, which he looked at with a puzzled expression. Then the man in the gorilla suit took his mask off, revealing it to be a grown up he knew. Cary smiled.
    • Also, he said "Toys" because he was actually shown a bunch of toys to get him to smile.
  • Executive Meddling: Lots of footage was edited around and cut in the original 1977 version. Justified as the studio was on the verge of bankruptcy and needed to ship this film before they went under.
  • Flip Flop of God: Spielberg said in 2005, that he made that movie when he didn't have kids, and if he was making it today, he'd never have Neary leaving his family.
    • The younger Spielberg made authentic statements about
      • The plastic emptiness of nice suburban family life in the '70s
      • Mental Illness and what it can do to nice suburban people. Lots of men do in fact leave their families. One parent losing his or her mind is a common cause of divorce. In this case Neary's craziness is literally the result of alien mind control and his family wisely flees from him to avoid further exposure to his psychotic behavior.
      • And specifically, what has happened to thousands of people who believe, in all sincerity, that they truly are alien contactees. MUFON meetings are full of people who left/were left by their families because of an Experience.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Legendary French New Wave filmmaker François Truffaut appears as scientist Claude Lacombe.
    • His assistant is none other than Russel Dalrymple, the executive from NBC.
    • Many viewers nowadays will immediately recognize Jillian as Ralphie's mom.
    • At the time of the movie's release, many watchers recognized Roy's wife as Roberta Lincoln and/or Inga.
    • And of course those into UFO lore spotted UFO researcher J. Allen Hynek among the landing site staff. (The one with the pipe.)
    • Larry, third guy who runs with Roy and Jillian, is the villain from Witness, unrecognizable with his shaggy hair and big '70s glasses.
    • There's also Lance Henriksen in a thankless bit part as Lacombe's minder, Robert.
    • In the later Director's Cut, we run into Apollo Creed as a National Guardsman politely informing Roy that they don't take kindly to looters during the "nerve gas crisis".
  • Throw It In: During the dinner scene just before Roy piles on the mashed potatoes, you can hear the little girl say, "There's a fly in my potatoes." This was unscripted and almost caused the rest of the cast to laugh. The scene was kept as-is.