If there's one criticism that can be levelled at George Lucas over the 1997 Special Edition of A New Hope, it's that he didn't know when to put the brakes on with the computer stuff. Lucas' lack of constraint is nowhere more evident than in his decision to reinsert the scene where Han Solo confronts galactic gangster Jabba The Hutt in Mos Eisley, replacing humanoid Declan Mulholland with a CG approximation of the genuine article.
The scene doesn't work, but you can't blame Lucas for giving it a go. Jabba is such a fabulously realised creature that it seems a shame he only really gets one big scene (although what a scene it is: Jabba holding court at his Tatooine citadel, surrounded by flunkies and scantily clad slave girls).
How can you not want to give more screen time to a guy like that - a 600 year-old, 12-foot-long crimelord slug so grotesquely bad-ass he demands his court jester makes him laugh at least once a day or he'll eat him?
But like so many of the popular minor players, he is more fascinating because he's an enigma. Discounting the silly Special Edition scene, Jabba is a background presence throughout A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. When he does make his bow in Return Of The Jedi, his appearance and behaviour blow anything we could possibly have imagined out of the water.
He is awesomely disgusting, the repulsive physical corollary to his vile trade - and then some. Voiced by Larry Ward and operated by puppeteers Mike Edmonds, Tony Philpott and David Barclay, Jabba instantly became a Star Wars icon.
His death scene, strangled by Leia with her slave chains (a scene inspired by the garrotting of Luca Brasi in The Godfather), is a bittersweet experience for connoisseurs of gelatinous, guffawing bad guys. Nevertheless, Jabba lives on, popping up regularly in novels and comic books. And his name has passed into the popular lexicon as a metaphor for everything from morbid obesity to political corruption.
His last screen appearance was in The Phantom Menace, where, true to form, he commits yet another dastardly act: falling asleep before the end of the Podrace. You've got to hand it to the fat bastard, haven't you?