One of the
best films of the early 1970s, AMERICAN GRAFFITI was the unexpected hit
that launched the careers of several now-well known figures, not the
least director George Lucas, whose followup to this classic was a
little picture called STAR WARS. Richard Dreyfus and Ron
were the two biggest stars to emerge from this film, while Harrison
Ford, who would achieve stardom as Hans Solo in STAR WARS, appeared in
a small part as a drag racer. Cindy Williams and Mackenzie Phillips
would find fame in long-lasting sitcoms, and Charles Martin Smith would
become a popular character actor and a movie and TV director.
Only Paul LeMat and Candy Clark seemed unable to cash in as they
deserved to, considering Suzanne Somers, seen for approximately two
seconds in the movie, wound up more famous than both of them combined.
The movie itself, about four high school graduates on the last night of summer 1962, evokes the pre-Beatles, pre- Vietnam Sixties better than any other film I know of, and has a killer soundtrack to boot. There is hardly a moment that doesn't have Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Buddy Holly and other fifties stars wailing away on a jukebox or car radio in the background, and the each song enhances the mood of the scene in which they are heard. The ending credits feature the now clichéd technique of revealing the subsequent fates of the four major character, making the inevitable bad sequel, MORE AMERICAN GRAFFITI, utterly pointless. - JB