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American Graffiti

American Graffiti

4.8 8
Director: George Lucas

Cast: Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Paul Le Mat


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It's the last night of summer 1962, and the teenagers of Modesto, California, want to have some fun before adult responsibilities close in. Among them are Steve (Ron Howard) and Curt (Richard Dreyfuss), college-bound with mixed feelings about leaving home; nerdy Terry "The Toad" (


It's the last night of summer 1962, and the teenagers of Modesto, California, want to have some fun before adult responsibilities close in. Among them are Steve (Ron Howard) and Curt (Richard Dreyfuss), college-bound with mixed feelings about leaving home; nerdy Terry "The Toad" (Charles Martin Smith), who scores a dream date with blonde Debbie (Candy Clark); and John (Paul Le Mat ), a 22-year-old drag racer who wonders how much longer he can stay champion and how he got stuck with 13-year-old Carol (Mackenzie Phillips) in his deuce coupe. As D. J. Wolfman Jack spins 41 vintage tunes on the radio throughout the night, Steve ponders a future with girlfriend Laurie (Cindy Williams), Curt chases a mystery blonde, Terry tries to act cool, and Paul prepares for a race against Bob Falfa (Harrison Ford), but nothing can stop the next day from coming, and with it the vastly different future ushered in by the 1960s. Fresh off The Godfather (1972), producer Francis Ford Coppola had the clout to get his friend George Lucas's project made, but only for $750,000 on a 28-day shooting schedule. Despite technical obstacles, and having to shoot at night, cinematographer Haskell Wexler gave the film the neon-lit aura that Lucas wanted, evoking the authentic look of a suburban strip to go with the authentic sound of rock-n-roll. Universal, which wanted to call the film Another Slow Night in Modesto, thought it was unreleasable. But Lucas' period detail, co-writers Willard Huyck's and Gloria Katz's realistic dialogue, and the film's nostalgia for the pre-Vietnam years apparently appealed to a 1973 audience embroiled in cultural chaos: American Graffiti became the third most popular movie of 1973 (after The Exorcist and The Sting), establishing the reputations of Lucas (whose next film would be Star Wars) and his young cast, and furthering the onset of soundtrack-driven, youth-oriented movies. Although the film helped spark 1970s nostalgia for the 1950s, nothing else would capture the flavor of the era with the same humorous candor and latent sense of foreboding.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Matthew Johnson
Before jetting across the universe in Star Wars, George Lucas set his sights on mapping a more modest locale: American Graffiti follows four friends on the streets of Modesto, California one late summer night in 1962. With DJ Wolfman Jack (as himself) spinning rock 'n' roll classics (he's almost like a Greek chorus), the tunes blare from the hot rods cruising the main strip and set the tone for the evening's misadventures. Curt (Richard Dreyfuss) and his best friend Steve (Ron Howard) are about to leave for college in the east, but Curt's having a change of heart -- and searching for a blonde in a white Thunderbird (Suzanne Somers) -- while Steve and his girlfriend Laurie (Cindy Williams) try to say goodbye for the year. John Milner (Paul Le Mat), the aging king of the strip in his neon yellow hot rod, is unwittingly shackled with annoying street urchin Carol (Mackenzie Philips) and dogged by eager street racer Bob Falfa (Harrison Ford). Compared to Lucas's Star Wars trilogy -- to a degree, the protracted coming-of-age tale of Luke Skywalker -- American Graffiti exists much more within the moment. It savors youth's bittersweet last fandango, when looming maturity seems to make each moment more precious than the last.
All Movie Guide
Nostalgic but unsentimental, American Graffiti is a seminal coming-of-age film that speaks to anyone who has ever been a teenager. George Lucas's second feature film, it recalled a simpler time while reminding audiences that things weren't really that simple. An elegy for childhood freedom, it captured yearning conflict without exploiting it and refused to exchange its tough-love treatment of its subjects for a more breezy, simplistic rendering. The film was a surprise success (much like Lucas' next film, Star Wars) that set the tone for subsequent youth-oriented movies. It also sparked a craze for nostalgia films set in the pre-Vietnam era, an interesting detail given that, while certainly nostalgic, American Graffiti avoided the sort of sappy, one-dimensional pitfalls encountered by its numerous imitators. A classic by any standards, its message remains unforced and universal, making the film identifiable with but not defined by one particular era.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Universal Studios
[Wide Screen]
[DTS 5.1-Channel Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Picture in picture video commentary with director George Lucas; The music of American Graffiti - Instantly indentify the songs heard while watching the film, create a custom playlist of your favorites and even them from iTunes; BD-Live; Pocket BLU app; The making of American Graffiti - An original documentary featuring interviews with cast and crew; Screen Tests - Never before-seen screen tests with Ron Howard, Richard Dreyfuss, Cindy Williams, Mackenzie Phillips, Paul Le Mat and Charles Martin Smith

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Richard Dreyfuss Curt Henderson
Ron Howard Steve Bolander
Paul Le Mat John Milner
Charles Martin Smith Terry Fields
Cindy Williams Laurie
Candy Clark Debbie
Flash Cadillac Rock Band
Joseph Miksak Man
Charles A. Murphy Old Man
Christopher Pray Al
Jan Wilson Girl
Jan Dunn Old Woman
Wolfman Jack Disc Jockey - Himself
Jana Bellan Budda
Lynne Stewart Bobbie
Kathleen Quinlan Peg
Tim Crowley Eddie
Scott Beach Mr. Gordon
John Brent Car Salesman
John Bracci Gas Station Attendant
Del Close Man at Bar
Charles Dorsett Man at Accident
Johnny Weissmuller Badass
Al Nalbandian Hank
Susan Richardson Judy
Ed Greenberg Kip Pullman
Joe Spano Vic
Debra Scott Falfa's Girl
Ron Vincent Jeff Pazzuto
MacKenzie Phillips Carol
Bo Hopkins Joe
Manuel Padilla Carlos
Beau Gentry Ants
Jim Bohan Policeman Holstein
Suzanne Somers Blonde in Thunderbird
George Meyer Bum at Liquor Store
James Cranna Thief
Harrison Ford Bob Falfa
Herby and the Heartbeats Rock Band
Terry McGovern Mr. Wolfe
Debbie Celiz Wendy
William M. Niven Clerk

Technical Credits
George Lucas Director,Screenwriter
Dennis Clark Art Director
Francis Ford Coppola Producer
Jan D'Alquen Cinematographer
Ron Everslage Cinematographer
Verna Fields Editor
Douglas Freeman Set Decoration/Design
Willard Huyck Screenwriter
Gloria Katz Screenwriter
Ned Kopp Asst. Director
Gary Kurtz Co-producer
Albert J. Locatelli Production Designer
Marcia Lucas Editor
Walter Murch Sound/Sound Designer
Art Rochester Sound/Sound Designer
Aggie Guerard Rodgers Costumes/Costume Designer
Haskell Wexler Cinematographer


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American Graffiti 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
rbush44 More than 1 year ago
What more could you want? This movie has it all, an astounding cast of actors, a great story, cool cars, and an awesome soundtrack. This movie is right on the mark about a time when young men and women could have fun cruising around town and going on adventures. George Lucas certainly has done a great job with Star Wars however this movie in my opinion has been his best work to date. It's one of the movies you hope no one ever comes along and wants to remake. I mean come on, after watching this film, who didn't want to be John Milner or Bob Falfa? James Dean doesn't have anything on Paul LeMat and Harrison Ford. This movie is a must watch for all your teenagers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A wonderfully nostalgic look at the early 60's. The street scenes are perfect and the music is a great compilation of that era's sound. The characters really ring true for that time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just watched this the other night on TV and I thought the movie was great! I went out right away and bought it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a 2007 high school graduate. After watching this movie, I wish I had graduated 45 years earlier. It looks like people actually hung out with their friends and didn't waste their time with Nintendo, cell phones and computers. Unlike other movies, the plot is not complicated, there are not a lot of characters, there is no violence. Its just a flat-out good movie. Don't know how to explain it. You're just gonna have to watch and see for yourself. Knocks the snot out of rip-offs such as Superbad and American Pie.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
RhiannanTH More than 1 year ago
I love this movie! It is a true American classic and without revealing my age, it permits me to go back in time when things were much simpler. I would let the movie run just to hear the music sound track. It is mostly about high school graduates riding around in there cars and having fun on their last night before leaving for living in the real world.