Do people still think about American Graffiti?
--- because it seemed huge in 1973-74. I watched again last night for a first
time in years, realized that the expanded reissue has become the
"official" version, so we're close on two hours. Books tell that
American Graffiti is among most profitable films ever made, a windfall
for Universal. Done for cheap, as in under a million, many times that coming
back (the gross over a hundred million). I wonder if American Graffiti was what made Hollywood
realize outlandish money that could still be made off movies. Huge earning went up and up from there, to Jaws, and then Star Wars. Between these came The Sting, also Universal. We could wonder who actually took home remarkable
gains off American Graffiti. From watcher's P.O.V., you'd think creative hands should get lion's share, those like producing Francis Coppola, writing
director George Lucas, other scribes involved, but history says they got less than
we'd expect, Universal the big shark that ate money. Phenomena like American
Graffiti explains how studio exec salaries went stratospheric during that era.
Should American Graffiti take credit for massive
revive of early rock and roll in the 70's? Were record anthologies and comeback
of old acts borne on Graffiti wings? There weren't many D.J's like Wolfman
Jack by 1973, at least none with latitude he seems to enjoy in American
Graffiti. Radio was long stratified by play lists and jocks as cogs by then, so
the Wolfman must have seemed more historical figure than acts he spun through all-night depicted in the film. Wolfman Jack went from minor figure to Iron
Eyes Cody of the disc-spinners with American Graffiti. What was left of the
70's saw him everywhere. Wolfman gets great on-camera reveal near the end, maybe a
richest moment in American Graffiti. Remarkable is fact that contemporaries of
his, guys who started in the 50's on radio, are still doing air shifts for
Sirius, their listeners worldwide. Cousin Brucie (Bruce Morrow) comes to mind.
He began in 1959, still at it today, the voice a same as when he broadcast from
the Beatles hotel suite when they first came to America. What history this man
represents. I hope music historians got it all down, though you wonder how Cuz
would find time to do much looking back. Interesting is fact Wolfman Jack went head-to-head with Cousin Brucie on competing NYC stations right when American
Graffitiopened in 1973. Both got huge boost from nostalgia detonated by
Did the old rock and roll seen new to young
people in 1973? I don't recall hearing a lot of it. R&R had mostly
become "rock" by then, served on FM radio in eight or nine minute
album cuts, fun (for me) having bled off much of pop music. Harder edge saw volumes
louder and theatres doing midnight run of Woodstock
that had staff pulling plow past 3 AM. My college got in-concert Flash Cadillac and The
Continental Kids, fresh off American Graffiti ... I should have inquired if
classmates found them cool or quaint. The 50's revival tapped into everyone
wanting to be young again, or stay that way, a malady still in force. Later it
was counterculture 60's they all wanted to relive. I'm still waiting for that mindset to
go away. Standards we'd hear at gas stations and super markets was swing
from the 40's, then pop from the 50's. Now it seems the 70's are where elevators are
at. I can't fill my tank or walk through the YMCA without background of the
Spinners or Saturday In The Park. Question is, who's listening to those nine
minute album cuts from 1973?
American Graffiti could be read as look-back
fun, innocence we'd lost, whatever. There was chock-load of young players to
tote movie and TV load for a decade ahead. My objection at the time was Ronny
Howard to Opie-fy what was otherwise fresh casting, him bearing taint of Andy
Griffith in fallen later seasons and lagger that was The Smith Family on ABC.
End credit tally of fate awaiting Graffiti characters might as profitably be
applied to actors playing them, ones who'd thrive vs. those to flash, then
burn or sell autographs at the Beverly Garland Hotel on 90's weekends (do they still?).
Maybe there are those nostalgic for American Graffiti itself, revisits a chance
to relive 70's life that was simpler. Or maybe American Graffiti is more likeThe Longest Yardor others of impermanence, as in one had to be there to appreciate how meaningful they were.