American Graffiti

American Graffiti is a 1973 film directed by George Lucas. It tells the story of a group of small-town middle-class American California teenagers on the last night of summer. It is set in 1962 against the backdrop of commentary and music created by disc jockey Wolfman Jack. The commentary is from his U.S. broadcasting studio that is linked to the transmitter of border-blaster XERB in Mexico.

The film was followed by a sequel titled More American Graffiti in 1979.




American Graffiti starred Richard Dreyfuss (Curt Henderson), Ron Howard (Steve Bolander), Paul Le Mat (John Milner), Charles Martin Smith (Terry Fields), Candy Clark, Cindy Williams, Mackenzie Phillips and Harrison Ford. It also featured the first major public appearance by disc jockey Wolfman Jack. Suzanne Somers had a small but notable part as a blonde in the Ford Thunderbird.

Script and location

The script was written by George Lucas, Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck. Although the movie was based upon the memories of George Lucas regarding his teenage years in Modesto, California, it was shot on location around San Rafael and Petaluma in the Bay Area of Northern California. The low-budget movie was mostly shot during night in less than a month.

Musical accuracy

The movie gained some of its popularity through its accurate reflection of period music. The depiction of Wolfman Jack broadcasting live from a local studio in California via a transmitter in Mexico is not accurate. This is because provisions of the Brinkley Act forbade cross-border broadcasting. However, Wolfman Jack did broadcast from XERB, but not in the manner shown in the picture.


The film focuses on vignettes about the four young men: Curt, Steve, Terry, and John. Curt is not sure if he wants to go off to college, despite receiving a lodge scholarship, much to Steve's consternation. Steve, on the other hand, is not sure about his relationship with steady girlfriend Laurie, Curt's sister. Curt spends the whole night riding around in other people's cars obsessing about a mysterious blonde driving a white Ford Thunderbird.

John splits his time between trying to pick up girls and defending his reputation as the fastest drag racer in town. Terry uses Steve's car to pick up a girl.

Ironically, by the end of the night it is Curt who goes off to college, while Steve decides to stay in town and settle down with Laurie. Instead of attending college, he becomes an insurance salesman.

Academy Awards

The film was nominated for several Academy Awards:

The film is included in the National Film Registry.

Inspiration for TV series

The unexpected success of this film helped to inspire ABC to give the green light for the television series Happy Days, which also starred Ron Howard. Both shows also featured as their theme song "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley & His Comets, which led to the song returning to the American record charts in 1974, 20 years after it was recorded.

See also

External link

fr:American Graffiti


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