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volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse UltimaDork
8/11/23 9:30 a.m.

Fifty years ago today, the movie American Graffiti was released in theaters.  I've always liked it, and like it more the older I get.  In 1972, all the "big names" in the movie were just young pups- Richard Dreyfus, Ron Howard, Harrison Ford, etc...heck, even the director, an obscure guy named George Lucas, was just starting out.  So it's neat to see one of the earliest films where these folks got their start.  

Of course, the cars are part of the cast.  So much awesome American muscle to ogle.  If I had to pick a favorite, I'd probably go with the Pharoah car, the customized '51 Merc:

Apart from the stars, the cars, the soundtrack (pre-Beatles rock n' roll, great stuff), and the ubiquitous coming-of-age plot, though, the biggest thing that strikes me about this movie is the timing.  The movie came out in 1973, meaning it was in production since at least 1972, and in concept since earlier than that.  The movie is clearly a deeply nostalgic piece, set...10 years earlier.  The equivalent today would be a movie made now, but set in 2013.  Would anyone make such a movie?  Would anyone watch it?  Would anyone care?  

As fast as everyone says our world is changing now, imagine what happened between the early 60's and the early 70's, and how much of an impact it all had to have precipitated the making of a movie like American Graffiti.  I wasn't born until deep into the 70's, so I wasn't there, but from my parent's perspective, and from what I've read, the cultural shift in this country was tremendous, and, arguably, nothing like it has been seen since.  I use the word "arguably" with good reason, as per my earlier question, a lot has changed in the last 4 years, and it may be that we come out on the other end of this decade looking back on that previous world with an equal sense of whiplash.  And, like the shifts that happened between 1962 and 1972, some of it will be bad, but some will be good, too.  

Anyway, the Mrs. and I will be setting up the projector tonight for our own private screening.  I wish the kids were old enough to see it, as I know they'd enjoy it, but some of the language, intensity, and "in-car shenanigans" are a bit advanced for their ages.  Maybe in a couple years.  

 

 

Woody (Forum Supportum)
Woody (Forum Supportum) MegaDork
8/11/23 9:37 a.m.

In reply to volvoclearinghouse :

That's an interesting assessment. I'm curious to see where this goes. 

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse UltimaDork
8/11/23 9:41 a.m.

50 years ago, Roger Ebert had some similar thoughts:

https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/american-graffiti-1973

 

SV reX
SV reX MegaDork
8/11/23 10:26 a.m.

I was entering High School.  EXACTLY the right age!

DirtyBird222
DirtyBird222 PowerDork
8/11/23 10:33 a.m.

I've got annual passes to Universal. The GF, kids, and I go every so often to catch a rollercoaster, a concert, or whatever. The GF recently asked "What's Mel's Diner from and what's with all the cool cars out front?" after we've walked by it countless times. 

So we watched American Graffiti so she could have a full comprehension. She was hooked once she saw young Harrison Ford and thought it was a cool movie. Helped her grasp the whole Cali car culture too from our time there. 

Jerry
Jerry PowerDork
8/11/23 10:44 a.m.

I love this movie.  After taking my mom to an anniversary showing of Grease in theaters recently, I keep seeing Facebook ads for a 50th showing of AG in theaters and I can't decide if I'm interested enough.

wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L)
wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) PowerDork
8/11/23 10:45 a.m.

I think the difference here is the internet.

In the 60s/70s, things faded from the group consciousness. The Spinners, Bill Haley, and the Platters were not on our mind. Now, we hear Rick Astley as much as when he was at his peak. Yes, 2013 was a little while ago, but the Iconic touchstones are almost as prevalent as they were then. A quick search turns up "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk, "Royals" by Lourde, and "What does the Fox say" by Ylvis, etc. I guess the question is Do these songs grab a young audience? I'm in my 50s, so they all seem like they happened yesterday.

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse UltimaDork
8/11/23 11:52 a.m.

In reply to wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) :

We were at a fair recently and one of the carnival rides started playing "Get Lucky" and I swore that song had been out longer than it actually had.  So I googled it.  Yep, 2013.  

Agree, there definitely seems to be a lot of consciousness about times past now.  Perhaps more than ever.  Cars, music, culture...everything is "significant".  Music-wise, with the internet, we can listen to anything, anytime.  20 years ago, if you wanted to listen to anything that wasn't deemed to have a big enough audience to warrant a radio station, and you didn't have a decent CD/record/tape collection, you were SOL.  

On the cars...my dad tells me there's cars he sees at car shows, or on the internet, from the 50's and 60's that he never saw, or even knew they existed, back when they were just new cars.  I've owned over a half-dozen different 1973 Volvo 1800ES, for example - he'd never heard of them or saw one till he saw one of mine about 10 years ago.  There's definitely a survivorship bias.  He probably saw thousands of six cylinder, four door Novas and Impalas and Falcons.  

Will
Will UberDork
8/11/23 11:59 a.m.
volvoclearinghouse said:

The movie is clearly a deeply nostalgic piece, set...10 years earlier.  The equivalent today would be a movie made now, but set in 2013.  Would anyone make such a movie?  Would anyone watch it?  Would anyone care?  

Yes--See also Dazed and Confused. More like 20 year difference between setting and production, but still. I'm sure there are tons of other examples.

Toyman!
Toyman! MegaDork
8/11/23 12:04 p.m.

This is one of the movies I've never seen. I might have to rectify that. 

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse UltimaDork
8/11/23 12:05 p.m.
Will said:
volvoclearinghouse said:

The movie is clearly a deeply nostalgic piece, set...10 years earlier.  The equivalent today would be a movie made now, but set in 2013.  Would anyone make such a movie?  Would anyone watch it?  Would anyone care?  

Yes--See also Dazed and Confused. More like 20 year difference between setting and production, but still. I'm sure there are tons of other examples.

Oooh...that's a good one.  You know, I've never actually seen that movie, despite having heard of it a bunch.  

Edit: an article tying them both together.  

bludroptop
bludroptop UltraDork
8/11/23 12:22 p.m.

Old enough to remember... pop culture in the early 1970's was in the middle of a big 1950's nostalgia fad.  American Graffiti didn't start the fad but it sure rode the wave.  One year later came Happy Days on TV.  This was triggered by the fact fashion, culture and music had changed so dramatically during the 1960's - by 1972 bobby socks and greaser haircuts were a throwback to a time that seemed very long ago, even if it was only about 15 years.  

She's my little deuce coupe... you don't know what I've got.

 

 

Snowdoggie (Forum Supporter)
Snowdoggie (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
8/11/23 1:07 p.m.

I grew up in Northern California but ten years later during the Dazed and Confused Era.

I remember hearing Wolfman Jack on XERB on my Dad's car radio before I was old enough to drive.

I used to take my Mustang down to Modesto for Graffiti Nights.

I was a corner worker when George Lucas was doing an SCCA drivers school at the track we used to call Sears Point.

Sears Point was in the North Bay on the other side of Highway 101 from Skywalker Ranch.

This was all after Star Wars and long after American Graffiti came out.

Why do I feel like I missed out on something?

 

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
8/11/23 1:14 p.m.

This was one of my father's "drinking movies" and we had a VHS copy.  I watched it so many times as a kid I could practically recite the script.  VCH - how old are the kids?  I was watching it in my pre-teens.  I also think my father became more nostalgic for 1962 (when he was 14) during his 30's (when we were watching it almost weekly) than when it came out in 1973 and he was in the Air Force.

It is interesting how when it was made, just 10 years prior seemed "nostalgic".   For me at 53, 2013 feels like yesterday. 

I still say the second movie is worth watching. Totally different movie.  Less nostalgic and far darker in themes.   I think it's easier to watch today as we as viewers are more used to stories that jump around the time line, which was a complaint at the time of release.

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse UltimaDork
8/11/23 1:26 p.m.
Ian F (Forum Supporter) said:

This was one of my father's "drinking movies" and we had a VHS copy.  I watched it so many times as a kid I could practically recite the script.  VCH - how old are the kids?  I was watching it in my pre-teens.  I also think my father became more nostalgic for 1962 (when he was 14) during his 30's (when we were watching it almost weekly) than when it came out in 1973 and he was in the Air Force.

It is interesting how when it was made, just 10 years prior seemed "nostalgic".   For me at 53, 2013 feels like yesterday. 

I still say the second movie is worth watching. Totally different movie.  Less nostalgic and far darker in themes.   I think it's easier to watch today as we as viewers are more used to stories that jump around the time line, which was a complaint at the time of release.

My oldest, she's 9, and could probably handle it, but my son is 6, which we feel is a bit young for some of the scenes.  

10 years after I graduated high school didn't feel all that different, for me.  I certainly wasn't nostalgic for it.  

The second movie was worth watching, I agree.  Not as good, but if you're vested in the first movie, it at least provides some continuation.  I hope they never try to "remake" either movie, though.  

Snowdoggie (Forum Supporter)
Snowdoggie (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
8/11/23 1:36 p.m.

Here was George Lucas's D sports racer at Sears Point. He went through the driver's school but never raced.

https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/dsrforum/george-lucas-dsr-driver-t10963.html

 

Now that's Podracing!

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
8/11/23 1:37 p.m.

In reply to volvoclearinghouse :

There's no real market for a remake, so I wouldn't be too concerned about that. It was made for Baby Boomers and that market is shrinking. There is an appeal to Gen X and older Millennials, but to a lesser degree.  Those groups already have coming of age movies made during those times to rewatch and get nostalgic over.  

It's amusing for me to think about some of the movies my parents took me to when I was 6.  We didn't go to many (we had no money back then), so the memories are fairly vivid. 

Will
Will UberDork
8/11/23 2:34 p.m.
volvoclearinghouse said:
Will said:
volvoclearinghouse said:

The movie is clearly a deeply nostalgic piece, set...10 years earlier.  The equivalent today would be a movie made now, but set in 2013.  Would anyone make such a movie?  Would anyone watch it?  Would anyone care?  

Yes--See also Dazed and Confused. More like 20 year difference between setting and production, but still. I'm sure there are tons of other examples.

Oooh...that's a good one.  You know, I've never actually seen that movie, despite having heard of it a bunch.  

Edit: an article tying them both together.  

IMO American Graffitti and Dazed and Confused are essentially the same movie as Breakfast Club, Can't Hardly Wait, etc--single-day coming of age high school movies. There's a new one every few years. AG and D&C just make cars & music a bigger part of the setting.

Datsun310Guy
Datsun310Guy MegaDork
8/11/23 3:10 p.m.

My favorite scene

that can't be your car, that must be your Mama's car......

 

 

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse UltimaDork
8/11/23 7:42 p.m.

In reply to Will :

You know, I used to really like Breakfast Club; so did Mrs.VCH.  so much so that one of us had the DVD when we got married, so its in our collection. A few years ago we realized that neither of us had seen it in a while, so we popped it in for movie night. 

As the final credits rolled, we looked at each other like, "what did we just watch?". Somehow it lost whatever meaning it had previously had, and the main thing we got from it was, you know, the principal really had a helluva job dealing with those E36 M3ty little kids. 

It's hard to be sympathetic to people that you don't really have anything in common with. 

stuart in mn
stuart in mn MegaDork
8/11/23 11:29 p.m.

Seen in the daylight that Mercury pictured in the first post was no prize...the chop job was awful, the whole thing had been slapped together in two weeks for the movie.  In the dark it did look the part.  (For that matter, Milner's 1932 coupe was sort of a hack job too but it has become iconic.  And, by now most people know Falfa's 1955 Chevy was the same car used in Two Lane Blacktop.)

A remastered version of the film will be in select theaters on August 27 and 30.  https://www.fathomevents.com/events/American-Graffiti-50th-Anniversary  The soundtrack has been updated as well, hopefully they didn't mess with the song selection.

Jim Pettengill
Jim Pettengill HalfDork
8/11/23 11:46 p.m.

Interesting article recently about the making of the movie in Hagerty's magazine (I think - could have been R&T, full issue about music and cars).  I never realized that Milner's license plate was THX 1138.

CJ
CJ Dork
8/12/23 1:40 a.m.

I was at the premiere of American Graffiti in my small town in 1973.   There was much burnout smoke in the parking lot after the movie. 

Unfortunately, the 1600cc's of Roaring Power my '57 444 Volvo did not allow me to contribute to the smoke show...

ddavidv
ddavidv UltimaDork
8/12/23 9:06 a.m.

The wife and I enjoy watching "Millenial Movie Monday" with Ashleigh Burton.  I'll caution she may be an acquired taste for some.  Former radio personality turned YouTuber, she grew up never seeing movies so everything we all know and love is new to her.  You can see her reaction video for American Graffitti here.  The take-away is that even someone wholly unfamiliar with the time period depicted in the film can still enjoy it.

Bonus hilarity when she asks, "What's that thing on the counter?"  I won't ruin it for you.

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse UltimaDork
8/12/23 9:42 a.m.

We did watch it last night, after the kids were in bed. Wholly enjoyed it.  

I think I may have to change my favorite car. The teal and white Edsel driven by Laurie is pretty fantastic. The Merc is cool, but even in the movie you can tell what a pile it is. Still, those tri-spoke hubcaps...

The placement of a select few foreign cars (the convertible Beetle, Kurt's Citroen) is an interesting juxtaposition among the American iron and was likely intentional. Like, look at these weird cars, well, they're weird now, but in 10 years they'll be ubiquitous. 

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