301 user 126 critic

American Graffiti (1973)

PG | | Comedy, Drama | 11 August 1973 (USA)
2:47 | Trailer
A couple of high school grads spend one final night cruising the strip with their buddies before they go off to college.


George Lucas
1,433 ( 1)
Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 9 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Dreyfuss ... Curt
Ron Howard ... Steve (as Ronny Howard)
Paul Le Mat ... John
Charles Martin Smith ... Terry (as Charlie Martin Smith)
Cindy Williams ... Laurie
Candy Clark ... Debbie
Mackenzie Phillips ... Carol
Wolfman Jack ... Disc Jockey
Bo Hopkins ... Joe
Manuel Padilla Jr. ... Carlos
Beau Gentry Beau Gentry ... Ants
Harrison Ford ... Bob Falfa
Jim Bohan Jim Bohan ... Holstein
Jana Bellan ... Budda
Deby Celiz Deby Celiz ... Wendy


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 Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Where were you in '62? See more »


Comedy | Drama


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz found the ending depressing and were incredulous that George Lucas planned to include only the male characters in the epilogue. Lucas argued that mentioning the girls meant adding another title card, which he felt would prolong the ending. Because of this, Pauline Kael later accused Lucas of chauvinism. See more »


Not only is Milner's yellow hot rod missing an antenna, it doesn't even have a car radio. It never did and still doesn't have one, the car being now owned in original condition by Rick Figari from San Francisco. See more »


[first lines]
Terry Fields: Hey, what do you say, Curt? Last night in town... you guys gonna have a little bash before you leave?
Steve Bolander: The Moose have been looking for you all day.
[hands a check to Curt]
Steve Bolander: They got worried... thought you were trying to avoid them or something.
Terry Fields: What is it? What do ya got?
Curt Henderson: Oh, great.
Terry Fields: That's $2,000 man! Two thousand dollars!
Steve Bolander: 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 all ...
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Crazy Credits

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 »

Alternate Versions

Original opening credits letters were changed in VHS/DVD editions, and again in Blu Ray edition. See more »


Referenced in Saved by the Bell: Save the Max (1990) See more »


I Only Have Eyes For You
Music by Harry Warren (uncredited)
Lyrics by Al Dubin (uncredited)
The Flamingos
Courtesy of Roulette Records:
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User Reviews

It nails youthful nostalgia almost perfectly!
25 March 2019 | by AhmedSpielberg99See all my reviews

This is definitely one of the most influential of all coming-of-age films. I assume that this movie has established a new narrative style, and has proved that nostalgic films are not necessarily made for the sake of nostalgia, for it captures the zeitgeist of the 1960s America instead of mimicking it. A notable example of the influence of American Graffiti is Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused. And while I wasn't as engaged and invested in the characters of the former as I was with of the latter, American Graffiti admittedly is the more mature and thought-provoking of the two. The characters here have some depth you would probably never see in slice-of-life movies. And this comes from the sharp dialogue that fleshed out the characters throughout the movie's running time in a very subtle way.

Some characters have better and more well-developed arcs than the others. They all are relatable, somewhat likable, and played by very good actors who did their best in their roles; but some character arcs feel as if they aren't fully-developed and lack some pieces in the middle. Ron Howard's character, Steve is a case in point; although I was quite invested in his character by the end of the movie.

This leads us to my second issue with this movie, which I mentioned above. It's that the movie took me a little while to get into its characters and whole the story in general. I think the reason of this problem is that the movie promised me from its very beginning that it would focus on the characters' story-lines to flesh them out; not their journeys. Don't get me wrong, I adore slice-of-life and road movies, and I also knew that American Graffiti is this kind of a movie. But I guess the first minutes would a bit misleading, and therefore it took me sometime for the movie to draw me in.

I can't praise the movie's soundtrack enough! I mean, it's absolutely one of the greatest film soundtracks ever! The movie wouldn't have been so nostalgic, if it wasn't for its killer soundtrack. It is a key factor in capturing the era's spirit, and also in giving the movie its distinctive bitter-sweet vibe. I think I won't stop listening to it for a long time!

American Graffiti is also a proof that George Lucas is a great director as he is a great writer. I know that the dialogue is one of the film's best merits; but man, the camera work is so exquisite, and the color-grading is superb and quite expressive. The movie also has some brilliant moments of scene-blocking that, once again, gave the movie its evocative atmosphere.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

11 August 1973 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Another Slow Night in Modesto See more »


Box Office


$777,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (re-release) (1978) | (rough cut)

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (Dolby System®)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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