American Graffiti


American Graffiti is a 1973 American comedy film about the common experiences of American youth at the verge of major life and career decisions. The film attempts to recapture the essence of American teenage and youth life of the post-World War baby boomer era. Co-written and directed by George Lucas, the film had a cast of unknown but up and coming stars such as Richard Dreyfuss and Paul Le Mart. The film was produced on a budget of around $770,000 but till date it has grossed in excess of $200 million making it one of the most profitable films of all time. Analytically, the film showcases four stereotypes of American teenagers during the rock and roll post World War 2 era. The four stereotypical teenagers are played by Ron Howard as Steve Bolander, Richard Dreyfuss as Curt Henderson, Charles Martin Smith as Terry Fields and Paul Le Mart as John Milner. Curt Henderson is the typical rebellious teenager, Terry Fields represents the boring and unfashionable youth, and Steve Bolander is the conformist or reliable citizen while John Milner is the street wise gang leader.

George Lucas was turned down by several film companies when he approached them for assistance in turning the script to screen play format but was eventually accepted by Universal Pictures. The film was produced as a compilation of short scenes depicting each character as they rollick and frolic and weave in and out of each other’s lives all set in a single night. The film itself was classified by the American Film Institute in 1998 as 77th on the list of greatest films of all time a ranking which was upwardly reviewed to 62nd after the 10th anniversary edition. It was picked for preservation in the National Film Registry by the American Library of Congress in 1995. American Graffiti has received numerous accolades by way of nominations of both the film and most of the actors for awards and in some cases winning.

The Plot of the Film

The film is set in Modesto, California in 1962 and it is creatively written as a semi-biography of Lucas’ growing up experiences in Modesto California during that period of time. Steve Bolander and Curt Henderson had been friends for long and they both met with John Milner and Terry Fields at Mel’s Drive-In in August 1962. Even though he had obtained a scholarship to the tune of $2000 Curt was undecided about heading northeast to start college. Terry is nicknamed the “Toad” because of his nerdy nature. Steve lends Terry his car for the evening and for the time he is away at college.


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