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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
1,047 ( 277)
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?


Carol (Mackenzie Phillips) wears a T-shirt that says "Surf Boards by Dewey Weber". Weber was a well known surfer in the 1950s and 60s. In 1960 he founded Weber Surfboards in Venice, California and sold thousands of boards until longboards declined in popularity in the 1970s. After his death in 1993, his widow and two sons revived the business, and still use the original logo seen in the film. See more »


When Terry finds Steve's car after it was stolen earlier, he mentions that the thieves must have taken the keys and he tries to hot-wire it. Later he drives into Mel's with the car and Steve comes and takes the car from Terry without any mention of the keys being found, the keys given back to Terry or Steve by the thieves, or of Steve having another set of keys. And if it was hot-wired back to Mel's, why did Steve not make any mention of the car running without keys? 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

Worded epilogues prior to the credits shows what happen to the characters following the movie. While this has since become commonplace in films, it was considered innovative at the time. See more »

Alternate Versions

Most TV versions include audible dialogue in the scene where Steve and Budda are sitting together inside the drive-in with Laurie looking in through the window. Budda can be heard asking, "Why not?" at one point and, "Hey listen, if you think I'm chasing you again," just before she says, "This time it would be just for fun. OK?" This added dialogue is not present in any of the video releases, nor is it present in the DVD. See more »


Referenced in Need for Speed (2014) See more »


Get a Job
Written by The Silhouettes (uncredited)
The Silhouettes
Courtesy of Bell Records:
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User Reviews

Thanks George Lucas !
24 March 2003 | by BruceCorneilSee all my reviews

As the plot and the characters of this movie have already been thoroughly discussed elsewhere , perhaps I can just make one additional observation in regard to the wider influence that it had during its initial release.

Specifically, the outstanding success of this landmark film was largely (although not entirely) responsible for starting the "retro" craze that quickly grew into a major international subculture and is still going strong today. Although, back in the '70s we used the word "nostalgia".

The movie's soundtrack album, which was nothing more than a compilation of 1950s and early 60s Top 40 hits, generated massive sales figures across the globe and immediately triggered a flood of similar vinyl offerings from other record companies.

Being the ripe old age of 13 in 1973, I totally lost interest in the music of the day and started to collect many of the aforementioned compilation albums.

Again, as others have correctly pointed out, the initial retro scene was mainly confined to the musical side of things which included the establishment of "Oldies" radio stations. It wasn't long, however, before the general mood of nostalgia became more widespread with an increasing number of people becoming interested in other pop culture commodities of the era such as movies,TV shows, cars and clothes.

Pretty soon the whole thing exploded and the "Good Old Days" suddenly became big business. And why not? There's some fabulous entertainment to be found in the archives for those who care to look.

Give me 'dem ole' time movies any day of the week! In fact, when you look back, I think we owe a debt of gratitude to George Lucas and the gang for giving us "American Graffiti". It started a positive and enjoyable marketing trend which has brought a great deal of pleasure to millions over the years. And that's a pretty nice legacy for any movie to leave behind.

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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:

See more on IMDbPro »

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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