It's the proverbial end of the summer 1962 in a small southern California town. It's the evening before best friends and recent high school graduates, Curt Henderson and Steve Bolander, are scheduled to leave town to head to college back east. Curt, who received a lucrative local scholarship, is seen as the promise that their class holds. But Curt is having second thoughts about leaving what Steve basically sees as their dead end town. Curt's beliefs are strengthened when he spots an unknown beautiful blonde in a T-bird who mouths the words "I love you" to him. As Curt tries to find that blonde while trying to get away from a local gang who have him somewhat hostage, Curt may come to a decision about his immediate future. Outgoing class president Steve, on the other hand, wants to leave, despite meaning that he will leave girlfriend, head cheerleader and Curt's sister, Laurie Henderson, behind. Steve and Laurie spend the evening "negotiating" the state of their relationship. Meanwhile...Written by
Universal initially projected a $600,000 budget, but added an additional $175,000 once producer Francis Ford Coppola signed on. This would allow the studio to advertise the film as "from the Man who Gave you The Godfather (1972)". See more »
Curt gives his former teacher a cigarette from a pack in his shirt pocket early in the movie. Curt is never seen to smoke during the rest of the movie, even when hanging out with the Pharaohs. See more »
Hey, what do you say, Curt? Last night in town... you guys gonna have a little bash before you leave?
The Moose have been looking for you all day.
[hands a check to Curt]
They got worried... thought you were trying to avoid them or something.
What is it? What do ya got?
That's $2,000 man! Two thousand dollars!
Mr. Jennings gave it to me to give to you. He says he's sorry it's so late, but it's the first scholarship the Moose Lodge has given out. And he, uh, says they're ...
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At the start of the closing credits, the character and actor names for the main characters randomly appear in time to the opening xylophone notes of the Beach Boys' All Summer Long, which continues to play over the credits. See more »
One version has appeared on television with several scenes cut, including the entire sock hop except for the Louie, Louie sequence (which, ironically, was added to the 1978 re-release). See more »
I don't know if George Lucas really knew what he had in this picture--surely the screenplay seemed funny enough, and the thought of the cars and the period music was enticing--but did he really know these "unknown" actors would bring these characters to life? It seems almost a fluke, shot in 29 days and on a tight budget, but "American Graffiti" is a classic. It is perhaps pure nostalgia, mixing pathos and humor, sadness and craziness, hope and reflection in quiet little bursts of excitement. After cruising with Milner all night, teenage Carol hates to say goodbye but does, waving from her porch with the light on; Toad survives one bad accident after another, but his real moment is in hearing praise from his date (fantastic, husky-voiced Candy Clark, dolled up like a speeding Sandra Dee) just before she says good night; after chasing his dream date all night, Kurt (Richard Dreyfuss, green and anxious, and appealingly bemused) finally gets to talk to the stunning blonde wonder on the telephone, where she whispers a wrenching goodbye. The whole movie is steeped in reflection. It has great, great humor, yet it leaves one with a bittersweet melancholia. For yesterday is in the past, with our music, our memories and our hesitant farewells. ***1/2 from ****
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