(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)
The Movie: American Graffiti
Where You Can Stream It: HBO Max
The Pitch: American Graffiti is a classic coming-of-age story set against the 1960s backdrop of hot rods, drive-ins and rock n’ roll. Set in Modesto, California, the film follows an ensemble of students enjoying their final night as high school seniors before they each go their separate ways and begin their journey down the path of adulthood.
Why It’s Essential Viewing: George Lucas is best known for creating the groundbreaking Star Wars, as well as the exciting adventures of Indiana Jones. But before becoming a blockbuster filmmaker, Lucas was just a young gun trying to tell stories that appealed to his age group: adults in their late 20s and early 30s who were still trying to hold onto the nostalgia of their teenage years in the 1960s. Perhaps Lucas’ most grounded and honest filmmaking effort came when he tried to recapture young life as it was in 1962 with American Graffiti. Even though the movie is was financed by Universal, Lucas maintained complete control over the movie, resulting in what is ultimately a coming-of-age indie that wouldn’t feel out of place at the Sundance Film Festival. Read More »
In 1971, a young director named George Lucas was coming off the commercial failure of his first feature-length motion picture, THX 1138. While that film has since gone on to achieve cult classic status as a pre–Star Wars curio, it was, at the time, a financial flop that earned mixed reviews. During the film’s production, producer Francis Ford Coppola — who was on the cusp of his own mainstream directorial breakthrough with The Godfather — had issued a challenge to Lucas. The challenge was to write a screenplay with more mainstream appeal, something audiences would enjoy, a crowd-pleaser.
The result was American Graffiti. Released in August of 1973, American Graffiti remains the most down-to-earth, human movie Lucas ever made. There are no space battles here, just a group of kids cruising around town on the last night before two of them are supposed to go off to college. That relatable, coming-of-age aspect gives the film a timeless quality. Yet being four and a half decades removed from its debut in theaters and several generations removed from the time period it evokes also means that its setting might look as alien as a Star Wars planet to some viewers. The movie presents a vision of an America long gone, one where carhops roller-skate through the parking lot of drive-in restaurants and teenagers drag race through the streets in hot rods.
Let’s take a look back at American Graffiti in honor of its 45th anniversary.
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(Welcome to The Movies That Made Star Wars, a series where we explore the films that inspired George Lucas’ iconic universe. In this edition: George Lucas’s first two films American Graffiti and THX-1138)
George Lucas’ first two films, THX-1138 (1971) and American Graffiti (1973) couldn’t be more different. One is a bleak, dystopian science fiction film about how difficult it is for the human spirit to overcome a drug-addled world run by Christian conservatives. The other is a hot-rodding look at the rebellious youth of the ‘60s on their last night of freedom before their college years begin. Despite the wide gaps in genre and tone these films were, their DNA has been present in everything George Lucas has made and inspired.
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Hey there! We haven’t been properly introduced. I’m Ethan Anderton. Back in May, I joined the /Film crew as the Weekend Editor, and while some of you have gotten to know me and my film tastes over the past few months, I never got a chance to truly arrive here at the site like our new writers Jack Giroux and Jacob Hall.
Therefore, I figured I’d follow suit by delivering my own favorite films of all time. These are the movies that have stuck with me over the years, some more recently than others, and have defined and changed my life in a variety of ways. Read More »
When you think Lucasfilm, you probably think of two things: Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Both creations of filmmaker George Lucas, those two franchises put Lucasfilm on the map and made the company what is today: an entity that cost Disney $4 billion. But Lucasfilm isn’t only Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Proof of that hit theaters this past weekend as they released Strange Magic, an animated fairy tale Lucas himself conceived and produced.
That got us thinking, what else has Lucasfilm done? What are they without their two big superstars? The answer is “a lot” and “something pretty special.” Below, read our ranking of the 10 best Lucasfilm movies, minus Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Read More »
Both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz were born out of a basin of movie history. Each film is drenched in movie reference, be it visual or a line of dialogue, which adds a whole other layer of enjoyment on top of the individual stories. For the third film in The Cornetto Trilogy, writer/director Edgar Wright gets away from that. The World’s End is a movie obviously influenced by the history of film, but in a much less overt way. If anything, it’s overtly referencing Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, making it a great end to the trilogy.
The World’s End has plenty of influence though and, for his third screening series at the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles, CA, Wright has picked 14 films, on seven double features, that all had some inspiration in his latest work. The screening series is called The World’s End Is Nigh and it takes place August 9 through August 22, the eve of The World’s End. Check out the full line up below. Read More »
The New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles is one of those movie theaters that film fans must visit at some point in their life. Maybe it’s not the prettiest theater in the world, but the tickets are cheap, the popcorn is cheap, and it regularly has some of the best, if not the best, repertory screenings imaginable, mostly in double features. Now, for their 2011 season, they’ve decided to kick it off the Wright way. The Edgar Wright way.
The New Bev will play host to over two weeks of films programmed by director Edgar Wright. They did it three years ago and now, the director of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (which will screen as one marathon) is back for The Wright Stuff II. Wright has chosen twenty films to play over 18 days beginning January 14 and most of the films are specially themed double features. Want to know what’s playing when, with what and whom? Then hit the jump. Read More »
Every evil genius needs a lair from which the run all of their daily affairs: everything from selecting the color of the company letterhead to plotting world domination. Usually these are hollowed-out mountain fortresses, secret inactive volcano lairs, or undersea secret bases. Because if you’re going to do something on such a massive scale, why not it with a little style and panache?
Now, I don’t know if I’m going to call George Lucas an evil genius. A genius? Definitely. Evil? Well, the jury’s still out on that one, but his last few movies have certainly been tipping the scales in the wrong direction. Still, it’s hard to fault the guy that’s been responsible for American Graffiti, Star Wars, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Let’s just hope he ands some new franchises in there and stops tinkering with the old stuff.
Even though Lucas may not be an evil genius just yet, he’s still forged his own sprawling, secret base from which he conrols his empire. With the Skywalker Ranch-centric Fanboys opening (finally) this weekend, we thought we’d take a brief peek behind the scenes and tell you all about the secret lair of Lucas.
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Cool Posts From Around the Web:
Have you ever seen the movie How Green Was My Valley? Me neither.
Have you even heard of the movie? Didn’t think so.
Yet John Ford’s film somehow won 5 Oscars including Best Picture. But what’s more shocking: It beat out such classic films as Citizen Kane and The Maltese Falcon for the top honor. (Note: I’m not saying that Ford’s film is a bad movie. I’m just saying that in terms of reviews, user ratings, and all time-top 10 lists, it’s not to the level of Kane and Falcon)
How can that be? As it turns out there are a lot of movies that should have won Best Picture but somehow didn’t. Some of them weren’t even nominated!
Let’s take a look at the list.
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