Let me just say that I was not an immediate fan of Walrus Man when A New Hope was initially released. I’ll be honest and just say that I’m pretty sure I was put off by his “butt” mouth. That being said, I have grown to really like the ole butthead, or Ponda Baba, as he likes to be called now (Walrus Man is still a better name).
As I was looking for good references for my Walrus Man illustration, I came across some archival photos that I had never seen before, and learned a few new things about our angry butt-mouth friend. Originally Walrus Man was supposed to suffer a greater injury at the hands of Ben Kenobi than just his arm. He was also going to lose his head. Apparently Ralph McQuarrie talked Uncle George out of this horrible idea, allowing Walrus Man to walk away with only a flesh wound.
And speaking of flesh wounds, there was always that discrepancy between the flipper-like hands that we first see Walrus Man with and the wolfman-like, clawed arm that had been sliced off by Ben that we see in the final film. This discrepancy is two-fold. First there is this running notion that the Walrus Man arm was a mistake and that it should have been his partner in crime, Doctor Cornelius Evazan’s arm that Ben should have lopped off because you only really see Doctor Evazan draw his blaster. And second, and the most obvious, is why was the flipper arm switched out with the wolfman arm in the first place. Concerning Doctor Evazan, yes in the film, since it is a seedy dive bar, the Cantina is fairly dark, so you only really see Doctor Evazan draw his blaster. But I found a photo that showed both Walrus Man and Doctor Evazan drawing both their blasters. Granted the photo was small, but you could clearly see Walrus Man holding his blaster. So the notion that it should have been Doctor Evazan’s arm on the floor because only he drew his blaster is wrong because both had their blasters out.
Concerning the flipper arm instead of the wolfman arm, I found two photos that clearly showed the original arm that was filmed was the flipper arm! I was so surprised to find these photos. My guess is that the flipper arm looked too weird, and did not read as a “hand” so they switched it out with something more recognizable. They probably just grabbed a spare hand from the creature shop and used that. And this also goes back to the Doctor Evazan arm discrepancy. There were test photos of the Walrus Man arm. So clearly Uncle George always had Walrus Man in mind when the slicing and dicing was going to happen. It was never going to be Doctor Evazan arm on the floor. It was so amazing to find all these photos, and even more amazing that I’m still learning new stuff about this incredible film… even 40 years later.
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