Sunday, March 29, 2009

where were you in 62

Did you ever see American Graffiti? This is movie was written and directed by George Lucas in 1973. I saw this movie in the back seat at the Rebel Drive-in with my brother Brooky and his friend Jamey Moore. They often let me tag along when they went to the drive-in. That's how I first experienced Easy Rider, Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns, Hammer and American International gothic horror films.

American Graffiti was the first time I remembered ever seeing Richard Drefuss. It's also the first time I'd ever seen Harrison Ford in a film. Ron Howard's face was of course a very familiar one - Opie grown up. Charles Martin Smith played my favorite character, Toad, among all the other great characters. This movie is chock full of actors that you'd never seen before but would see become bigger stars as the seventies played out.

The story isn't complex at all. It's about a guy's last night in his small town. All the youth had little to do but cruise the strip and and find love or trouble...most often trouble. American Graffiti isn't candy coated, but is a fun ride. The characters are not stereotypical but somehow very familiar. The music blaring clearly from the cruising cars through out the night - tie together the mood and the different adventures of individuals playing out in a single night in Modesto. Lucas mind you, had pulled out all his 45's and wrote every scene with a specific single in mind.

This was a coming of age film that connects with those who came to age in the sixties. I know that Brook and Jamey seemed to have a different reaction to this film than I did. I am what some call a shadow-boomer (born in 58) and didn't relate to the imagery and characters of American Graffiti as my older siblings.

The movie was an unexpected success. George Lucas had only 500.00 to his name when he started out with the project. The film made him millions, which gave him the initial capital for some Flash Gordonish space movie idea he had been working toward.

In 1995, the Library of Congress deemed American Graffiti as "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." This movie really is significant. American Graffiti reflects a moment in time before America lost her innocence - all that turmoil to follow in the sixties.

Curt Henderson wakes the next morning to board a plane for college. If and when he comes back - it will be a different place all together. Yes. This is a very good movie.

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