Before Star Wars changed the universe, George Lucas had his first major hit film with 1973’s American Graffiti. This paean to early-’60s youth culture boasts a cast of future stars that includes Ron Howard, Richard Dreyfuss, Cindy Williams, Paul Le Mat, Mackenzie Phillips, and Harrison Ford. The movie follows the lives, loves, and misadventures of a group of friends one summer night in ’62 in Modesto, Ca., as they prepare for the uncertainty of life after high school.
The film’s soundtrack is unforgettable, containing 41 era-specific hits from the likes of The Beach Boys, Bill Haley and the Comets, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Fats Domino, The Big Bopper. As such, it is an essential snapshot of rock and roll glory days.
Above, George Lucas reflects upon the film and its legacy.
American Graffiti is a celebration of innocence long gone made by a filmmaker whose career was about to explode into the stratosphere. What are your favorite characters and songs from the movie? Tell us below!