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Trivia

George Lucas came up with the idea of shooting each of the four story lines in a different aspect ratio. Milner's Drag racing was in the 1950's exploitation style using a wide angle, stationary camera. The Vietnam sequences were shot on 16-milimeter film, like the TV reports of the time. Laurie and Steve's campus riot resembled a Hollywood version of student rebellions like The Strawberry Statement (1970) or Getting Straight (1970). Debbie's trip were in multiple-image split-screen, inspired by Woodstock (1970).
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George Lucas, inspired by Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather: Part II (1974) wanted to make his sequel darker and more complicated. Writer/director Bill L. Norton thought that cutting between four different time frames would be to jolting for most of the audience and also didn't like the various film formats used for each of the four story lines. Years later Lucas would admit that Norton was right.
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The climactic drag race needed four thousand people in the grandstand. They were attracted by the promise of free Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) toys.
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Producer Howard G. Kazanjian was asked by George Lucas to come up with a list of young California screenwriters to write the screenplay based on Lucas' outlines. When he picked Bill L. Norton, Lucas told him that if he did a good job on the script, he could direct the movie.
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This sequel cost eight times as much as the original American Graffiti (1973), but was brought in within it's $6 million budget and forty five day schedule.
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An uncredited Marcia Lucas edited the split-screen scenes for the 1966 sequence (many of which were incorporated to cover up the story defects). George Lucas, also uncredited, edited the Vietnam scenes for the 1965 sequence, making footage of just two helicopters seem like a dozen.
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The working title was 'Purple Haze'.
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Since long hair was the fad in the late 1970's, extras were recruited from the California Maritime Academy in Vallejo, due to their required short haircuts, and their campus was close to the Marin and the Fremont Raceway filming locations.
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George Lucas commented that this film was so bad that "it made all of ten cents," and that he has no clue why he made it.
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George Lucas' original four story lines were about Curt (Richard Dreyfuss' character) and Laurie (Cindy Williams) and the changes they underwent in the sixties, Debby (Candy Clark) being a topless dancer who had an affair with a local politician, Milner (Paul Le Mat) trying to beat the Factory Racing Team at the local drag strip, and Toad (Charles Martin Smith) in Vietnam. When Dreyfuss refused to sign on, Lucas had to invent a new character, Laurie's younger brother Andy (Will Seltzer, who also auditioned for Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)).
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Although the Bolander children are listed in the credits with fictional names. Steve (Ron Howard) calls them by their actual names of Mark and Michael in the film.
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Wilhelm-scream: when Lance is thrown on the bar during bar brawl.
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Wilhelm-scream: Vietnam football game when the players all fell down in the mud just before they carried the first guy off on the stretcher.
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Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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