Classic Review – American Graffiti (1973)

Title – American Graffiti (1973)

Director – George Lucas (Star Wars: A New Hope)

Cast – Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Paul Le Mat, Charles Martin Smith, Cindy Williams, Candy Clark, Harrison Ford

Plot – Set during the end of the 1962 American summer, a collection of high school friends spend one last night out on the town, cruising the strip and flirting with girls as they prepare to set off on their college adventures and start the next phases of their adult lives.

“It doesn’t make sense to leave home to look for home, to give up a life to find a new life, to say goodbye to friends you love just to find new friends”

Review by Eddie on 08/04/2020

While he will forever be known for the man that gave the universe Star Wars, one of beloved filmmaker George Lucas’s greatest feats behind the camera remains a seemingly unassuming tale of teenagers learning to cope with their quickly appearing adult lives in the 1973 classic American Graffiti.

On surface level a film about nothing more than a bunch of typical teenage boys spending one last night out in their small town as their summer break of 1962 comes to a close and their new college lives are set to begin, Graffiti is actually an ageless examination of a time of our lives that we will never forget, where friendships, romances and decisions we make set us on a course to shape the rest of our lives.

Featuring a recognisable cast of fresh faced stars that includes Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard and Harrison Ford, this Oscar nominated and box office smash, that was supported by esteemed director Francis Ford Coppola is a time capsule of a time gone by as an array of classic tunes introduced by the real Wolfman Jack play out around a townscape filled with burger shop drive ins, supped-up rides and colourful fashion.

There’s no real narrative driver as such, as Dreyfuss’s Curt searches for a girl of his dreams that his seen on the strip, Howard’s Steve has relationship drama’s with his long-term girlfriend Laurie, Paul Le Mat’s John gets stuck chaperoning the much younger Carol around town and Charles Martin Smith’s Terry tries to score booze and score with Candy Clark’s Debbie of whom he has just met.

The joy of Graffiti and Lucas’s sentimental examination of this time is evident in every frame of the film that is joyfully played out by its enthusiastic cast and while a more centralized plot driver wouldn’t have hurt the film, the dreamlike and breezy nature of the plot is a charming component of the film in its own right and no doubt an inspiration for such films as Dazed and Confused and other such coming of age slice of life tales.

When you watch Graffiti in today’s climate there’s also a certain level of disappointment that Lucas didn’t tap into more character driven and genuinely funny outings across his career, that has been overshadowed by his divisive work in the sci-fi space, it shows a whole different side to the bearded filmmaker and one that is a perfect example of the nuance and soul that exists within an imaginary artist that is just as at home with home truths as he is with light sabers and masked villains.

Final Say –

A glorious ode to a simpler time where cruising in your car and wondering what to order from the local drive in joint was about as hard as life got, American Graffiti is charming ride through the past that will resonate with anyone that has maneuvered through their teenage years into the great unknown we call adulthood.

4 1/2 Cherry Cokes out of 5  

6 responses to “Classic Review – American Graffiti (1973)

  1. Pingback: Classic Review – American Graffiti (1973) — Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys) | Los Angeles feedback film festival·

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