Skip to comments.American Graffiti 40 Years Later
Posted on 10/12/2013 2:05:14 AM PDT by Kaslin
On Saturday nights at my house, I often trot out classic movies and force the urchins to watch them. There is much wailing and gnashing of teeth, but I think it's important to teach kids about American culture, and films certainly are a big part of it. Actors like John Wayne, Cary Grant, Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn are worth seeing and remembering.
So the other night I trotted out "American Graffiti," a film released 40 years ago. The movie was directed by "Star Wars" creator George Lucas and chronicles one night in the lives of some California teenagers in the year 1962.
The first thing the kids noticed was Harrison Ford playing a young hood driving a hot rod. That got their attention. The movie features other great actors such as Richard Dreyfuss and Charles Martin Smith, along with Ron Howard and Cindy Williams, who turned the "Graffiti" success into the television hits "Happy Days" and "Laverne and Shirley."
About 20 minutes into the movie, which is heavy on dialogue and light on explosions, the urchins pulled out their iPads and began typing away. Dismay enveloped me.
"So you don't like this?" I asked the 14-year-old.
"It's OK. I'm listening."
"But you're playing with that machine!"
"I can multitask!"
A few minutes later, the 10-year-old demanded popcorn. I told him we'd get some halfway through the flick.
"Do they ever get out of the cars?" the urchin wailed.
"That's the culture in California. They cruise around in cars listening to the radio."
"But there are so many cars!"
I was losing them.
So I paused the movie and brought in snacks. I demanded they shut off the machines while eating.
"Why?" the 14-year-old asked.
"Because you can't text, eat and watch a movie at the same time."
"Yes, I can. I always do that."
"They're still in cars," the 8-year-old said.
We got through the movie, but just barely. Their interest peaked when The Pharaohs, a gang of juvenile delinquents, forced Dreyfuss to vandalize a police car. Finally, some destruction!
After "American Graffiti" concluded, I asked for their reviews. I got them while their heads were down looking at their iPads.
The consensus: It was OK. Too many cars.
These days, the machines and awful films that blow things up every 10 seconds are delivering heavy blows to American culture. The graffiti is on the wall. The attention spans of young people average about 30 seconds. Baseball? Forget it. Chess? Are you kidding me?
We live in a time where machines that deliver instant gratification rule. But I will continue to fight the cyberspace power. Coming attraction: Hitchcock's "The Birds."
Let the texting begin.
Hey Bill, that’s what happens when Dad is hardly ever home.
American grafiti.... Hated it.
American Graffiti - wonderful film about the way things used to be.
“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”
- The Late, Great Jeff Cooper
** swoooon **
Super animation, turning on the nation.
“American grafiti.... Hated it”
Too bad. I graduated HS in 62 and Garry Marshal had that era down pat. From the Main Street cruising to drag racing and leaving your friends to go to college. It was an age of innocence the USA will never see again.
Some just can’t help it
Excellent movie and one I always enjoy seeing. Felt like I was living that night with all the characters. Even though my teen years were in the 80s, I could very much relate to that experience and those feelings.
I absolutely despise most 'action-adventure' movies. They bore the snot out of me with the ridiculous fights and incredible death-cheating stunts and miraculous close shaves. I can suspend disbelief for a short time, but not long enough to swallow 99% of the stupid, unbelievable crap that happens in the first 15 minutes of one of these films.
Saw "Gravity" a day or two ago. Absolutely stupid in some of the things they expect you to believe happened.
There can never be "too many cars."
I was 20,I watched it in Nam
Correct. I thought the second one was good, too..
Was it 40 years ago? Oh my.
We saw it at a drive-in, while multi-tasking. Thought it pointless and mildly distracting, but basically trash. The little white goddess gave it some cred, not enough.
But what can you do? You have to go to movies, if only to shorten the discussion with your parents later.
Where were you — Went to a movie — How was it — It was great, Opie was in it — Oh.
I don’t believe that I have ever seen the movie. Certainly not in the movie theaters and not on TV either. It was just something that did not interest me.
Hitchcock. Nothing like him around now, eh? He had a good tv show too. Made you think, and you didn’t chitchat with your friends while he was on.
The Car Culture is dying. When I was a teenager in the 1970’s, I was chomping at the bit to get my driver’s license, and got it when I was 15. My two oldest kids, 17 and 18, could care less. One has a driver’s license but can’t stand driving. My oldest still hasn’t gotten his (to be fair, he has OCD and Tourettes) and doesn’t seem to care.
I was sailing up and down the coast of Vietnam on a WWII era carrier. I must have seen that movie twenty times. Loved the music, loved the cars. It didn’t depict my life in high school but it did look a heck of a lot better than dodging aircraft on a flight deck.
(Anyone here remember the hookrunner? One of my jobs as an ordnanceman was to follow that guy about two passes behind to put a safety pin in sidewinder missile launches as the a/c came to an initial stop. We were young and immortal.)
You wonder how the George Lucas, who wrote/directed this almost perfect masterpiece could possibly be the same George Lucas who made the fourth Star Wars movie (the first one of the “second” series - the last three are so memorable that I have to refer to them this way).
Whatever you do, never trot out a Spencer Tracy or Katherine Hepburn movie.
Both were so liberal I almost puke watching their trash.
The thing I think of when I consider this ‘nostalgia’ movie is that the night it depicts was only about 13 years past when the movie premiered. Things were moving fast back then...
Good movie, I enjoy watching it once in a while. We were absolutely thrilled one day to go to a car dealership in Sacramento and find the Thunderbird from that movie on display in the showroom.
I think Bill has not disciplined his kids very well. I can’t imagine my son ever pulling out one of his electronic devices while we watch a movie, even when he was little.
I’m gonna have to sign onto a lively ping list to get that thing off my new-posts-to-you page. *wah*
“The Car Culture is dying. “
Because they don’t go anywhere! They just sit there and stare at gadgets!
The teens in my house loved this film. Saw it less than a year ago. They saved it to DVR protect
Of course I won the battle of Internet, Facebook and texting back when they were in middle school. So now they just use those things as the tools that they are and not as breathing apparati
But they loved this film.
It is a good one.
John Milner. Toad. The music.
Then you are missing ‘father of the bride’ and ‘bringing up baby’
All moving parts stand still
He should have shown them “Hollywood Knights.” I bet some scenes in that would have gotten their attention.
I am also missing Guess who is coming to Dinner.
Old man and the Sea was a great Movie as was Captains Courageous, I guess I should have said be sure and pick which movies of Tracy’s that you watch.
Dinner is a good movie but a liberal pain
Loved that one..
Lawrence........Lawrence of Arabia!!!!!
Women don’t often dress that way anymore but some women lawyers do.
Some women lawyers dress like crap too
yeck can’t stand Katherine Hepburn
That Darn Cat!
Must have been the USS Midway.
Funny how that whole nostalgia thing works. I'm not sure how old you are, but I was about 13 when the Kinks released their song Come Dancing. In the song, Ray Davies recounts the music and dancing of his youth and it seemed like such a long reach into the past. It recently dawned on me that I'm now a lot older than Ray Davies was when he wrote the lyrics, and now, that song is a nostalgic recollection of my youth!
Ray Davies may have been born nostalgic.
After about 20 years of people telling him what a genious you are, how could anyone maintain proper humility? I think it kills many writers, that after a certain point, people aren't willing to tell them to their face that what they are doing is a stinker. YOu see that most stronly in the Star Wars movies.
Ralph Nader started ruining it, then came the console between the two front seats.
Now it's adrenaline-fueled video games and roller-coaster movies with overly dramatic music and acting.
Have you done Harvey yet? Absolute classic.