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American Graffiti

A box office smash in 1973, George Lucas's first hit AMERICAN GRAFFITI perfectly captures the innocence of one night in 1962.

It's the last night before a large group of students head off to college, with Lucas serving up plenty of laughs and launching a galaxy of future stars as he tells their stories.

Ron Howard (still Ronny back in '73) is Steve, the popular football player deciding whether to make out or break up with his long time girlfriend Laurie, played by Cindy Williams (Laverne and Shirley).

Paul Le Mat is John, the recent graduate who's stuck around and still cruises in his bright yellow hot rod every weekend. Charles Martin Smith (Starman) is Toad, the nerdy friend who is about to finally score with Debbie, played by Candy Clark (The Man Who Fell To Earth).

Harrison Ford is incredibly young, flashing future movie star charisma as Bob Falfa, a cowboy hat wearing dragster in town to challenge John.

Suzanne Somers is a mystery blonde in a white T-bird who becomes a personal quest for Richard Dreyfuss in his first starring role as Curt.

Wolfman Jack and his music wrap every moment of the flawless production design in early 60's rock and roll and he makes a terrific appearance as a local DJ giving out life advice.

Fast moving, funny and incredibly nostalgic, Lucas shows a light touch that would be less evident in his later works like "Star Wars". He does manage to sneak in the licence plate THX 1138 for the sci-fi nerds in the audience.

It truly captures an era, slightly before my time since I was 1 year old in 62, that feels so incredibly innocent compared to today's world.

Every bit of the production design is flawless, as is the fast paced editing by Verna Fields (Jaws).

Created for about $770,000, it sat on the shelf for nearly a year at Universal before they released it and it became a massive hit, making $115 million at the box office.

It was followed by a sequel 6 years later in 1979, "More American Graffiti" that nobody saw, a total flop.

The original remains a classic, a time capsule sure to induce smiling upon opening. It gets a B+, two malts and a sock hop from this corner.

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