Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Character mistake: When Ronnie is cutting the article about Roy's encounter out of the newspaper, the title of the article begins with "UFO's...", the apostrophe making it possessive. It correctly should have been "UFOs...", with no apostrophe making it plural as intended.

Kit Sullivan

Upvote valid corrections to help move entries into the corrections section.

Suggested correction: You are incorrect. The article is actually correct. It is used as a contraction, not a possessive. http://www.thepunctuationguide.com/apostrophe.html.

It's not a contraction. A plural acronym is simply "s" added to the acronym. An apostrophe never indicates plurality.

Charles Austin Miller

Suggested correction: There is no standard on how to pluralize initialisms or acronyms and either way is acceptable, depending on a person's preference. An apostrophe does not automatically make something possessive, such as using apostrophes in contractions to replace missing letters.

Bishop73

Nope. In contractions joining two words, apostrophes only replace vowels (typically the letter "o," such as in "hasn't" or "wouldn't" or "isn't," and most obviously with "it's" replacing the letter "i" in "it is"). In this case, the acronym "UFOs" stands for "Unidentified Flying Objects," and there is no vowel to replace between the "t" and the "s" (in fact, an apostrophe wouldn't replace any letter at all). So, the contraction argument is invalid. Using an apostrophe for "UFO's" makes the acronym singular possessive (such as in "The UFO's movements were erratic").

Charles Austin Miller

It seems you missed the point of my comment. What you're stating is an opinion on how to pluralize initialisms and acronyms. While many lean towards just adding an "s", many real life publications back in the 70's did in fact use and "apostrophe s" for initialisms and acronyms. (Notice how 70's isn't possessive or a contraction. But many prefer using "70s.").

Bishop73

"Many publications" were wrong (especially in the late 1970s) and followed poor literary and journalistic standards. No, it's not a "matter of opinion"; throwing in apostrophes where they are not appropriate is a matter of poor education in the English language.

Charles Austin Miller

The question is not whether using the apostrophe is "correct" or "appropriate." It's whether it was used by publications in the '70s. It was, therefore it is not a mistake.

You should be more educated when stating opinions then, because it wasn't about being wrong. It was about no set standard. For example "The Chicago Manual of Style" would recommend UFOs while "The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage" would recommend UFO's. Of course, both would recommend using the apostrophe when making single letters plural "A's" or p's and q's."

Bishop73

The New York Times manual of style is predictably bogus. I'm a professor of Journalism (Southwest Texas State University 1979 to 1987). I know what is proper.

Charles Austin Miller

Character mistake: "Cosmic Kidnapping" is spelled incorrectly with a missing P in a newspaper article at the press conference where he breaks his pencil while drawing.

Character mistake: When Roy is heading toward Devil's Tower in his car, you can hear a radio report. The man says something about the Tetons and then mentions the town of Meteetsee. He says "Meh-test-ie." That's the incorrect pronunciation.

manthabeat Premium member

Other mistake: One visual that has always bothered me that I could not find in your list were the scenes when the mother ship first appears. It's enormous scale appears to dwarf Devil's Tower and the whole surrounding area actually, but when it moves over to the "landing strip" area and begins to rotate 180° (right-side up?), it suddenly seems to shrink to a much smaller size and mass during the slow revolution. On its originally-seen scale above/behind the tower, one would think that either the great ship's outer prongs would have been torn off, or more likely the impromptu landing site and most of Devil's Tower would have been destroyed as the huge craft rotated itself. The visual scales just do not stay consistent throughout the film's climactic final act.

More mistakes in Close Encounters of the Third Kind

David Laughlin: We didn't choose this place! We didn't choose these people! They were invited!
Claude Lacombe: They belong here more than we.

More quotes from Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Trivia: After this movie, young Cary Guffey got to play the part of an alien himself - in the Italian movies "Uno Sceriffo extraterrestre - poco extra e molto terrestre" (English title: "The Sheriff and the Satellite Kid", 1979) and its sequel "Chissà perché. capitano tutte a me" ("Everything Happens To Me", 1980); both with the Italian actor Bud Spencer.

More trivia for Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Question: I would really like some insight on a burning question I have had since seeing this movie as a child in 1978, when it came back around in theaters in eastern Canada, where I grew up. Not knowing much about American history in school, I didn't know at the time that there even was a Devil's Tower, or that it had been made the first US National Monument in 1906, and as such would have been famous to all American citizens. I still remember loving the psychic element in the film where our heroes agonize internally about the strange mound shape seen only in their heads, to be finally rewarded and deeply relieved with news footage later in the film which solidified their visions into something tangible and concrete (igneous rock actually!) Thus, as a boy knowing nothing about the tower in Wyoming, this part of the film played perfectly into the fantasy for me-it sold me all the way. But why or how did this work for Americans at the time the film was new? In the film, we are to believe that our adult heroes knew nothing of the tower before their initial close encounters, and were shocked to discover that it actually existed. Again, for me, Devil's Tower was an absolutely incredible and awesome choice, and made me love the film all the more for it. But I would like to know how Americans felt about it during the film's 1977 and later 1980 re-release? Was it just as awe-inspiring for them as well, or was it more like: "Duh-you're driving your family crazy making models of a natural rock formation everyone knows is less than 90 miles away from Mount Rushmore?" I would really appreciate an answer, because for me, the tower's news-footage "reveal" was a huge moment in the film, and really does provide the kick-start that launches the entire third act of the film. For American audiences, why was it not the same as if Roy had struggled to attach a garden hose under a hastily-built plywood model with a hole in the middle, because the aliens implanted a vision of "Old Faithful" in his head?

Answer: Devil's Tower really is out in the middle of nowhere, and in one of the least populated states (it's "only" 90 miles away from Mt. Rushmore, but it's an incredibly boring 90 miles of mostly empty plains) so it didn't make for a convenient tourist attraction like other landmarks and thus didn't garner as much fame (it's actually much more famous nowadays, thanks to this movie). That said, the movie seems to have cleverly provided two separate "reveals" for this plot turn: those familiar with Devil's Tower will recognize it when Richard Dreyfuss knocks the top off his sculpture, giving it the distinctive "flat top" shape; then, only minutes later the rest of the audience will discover it along with the characters during the news broadcast. It wouldn't surprise me at all if this was set up deliberately keeping in mind the landmark's status of "kind of famous but not really THAT famous."

TonyPH Premium member

Your explanation (and the other answer) helps makes the overall plot more understandable. The French scientist, Lacombe, mentions that there were probably hundreds of people who were implanted with the Devil's Tower image in their minds. As pointed out, it is not a particularly recognizable landmark, which would explain why many never made the connection to it.

raywest Premium member

Answer: "Devil's Tower" is, indeed, a national landmark. However, it isn't one of the most famous, nor most iconic. It isn't nearly as widely known as, say, the Grand Canyon, the Mississippi River, Niagara Falls, or the landmarks you mentioned - Mount Rushmore and Old Faithful Geyser. But, as you stated, its imposing form does fit so nicely into the aura of the film's alien encounter. Devil's Tower isn't something everyone knows by shape. And for those of us who do, it doesn't require much suspension of disbelief to posit that the characters in the film wouldn't have put it together prior to the news footage.

Michael Albert

More questions & answers from Close Encounters of the Third Kind

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