American Graffiti – 10 Unknown Facts
American Graffiti cast

10 Unknown Facts About the Movie “American Graffiti

The 1973 classic “American Graffiti” is a nostalgic ride back to the early 60s, filled with hot rods, rock n’ roll, and youthful adventure. But while it’s widely celebrated for its engaging story and memorable characters, there are many intriguing behind-the-scenes tales that shaped its creation. So, today, we’re diving into 10 unknown facts about “American Graffiti” that will reignite your urge to watch it immediately. Let’s get started!

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#1. Credits Roll, A New Tradition Begins

The limited budget of “American Graffiti” left George Lucas in a bind, as he was unable to pay all of the crew members. His solution? Offering screen credits in lieu of payment, a gesture that was typically reserved for department heads. This little workaround not only got the film made but also started a tradition that explains the lengthy closing credits we see in movies today.

American Graffiti Cast

#2. A Symphony of 40 Songs

Lucas had a grand auditory vision for the film – a soundtrack featuring at least 40 songs. However, this melody hit a dissonant chord with many studios due to the hefty bill for song rights. But, with a bit of help from his friend Francis Ford Coppola, fresh off “The Godfather’s” success, Universal Studios was convinced to finance the film, tuning the path for its iconic soundtrack.


#3. An Unscripted Crash Landing

When Charles Martin Smith cruised in on a Vespa, his crash into the building was as real as it gets. This unplanned stunt brought the house down during the first public premiere, marking a comedic moment that signaled hope for the film’s success.

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#4. George Lucas was Fueled by Spite

After the lukewarm reception of THX-1138, Lucas was encouraged by his friends to create something more relatable. American Graffiti was his response to show how simple it was to emotionally connect with an audience. Thus, turning a spiteful remark into a pop culture icon.

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#5. The Happy Days Connection – or Lack Thereof

Although “American Graffiti” and “Happy Days” have many similarities, they are not related. The resemblance is merely a coincidence, but it is fascinating how both shows captured the nostalgia of the 1950s in their own unique ways.

American Graffiti Trailer 1973

#6. An Ending That Almost Wasn’t

Lucas’s co-writers found the original ending a tad depressing and strange. However, Lucas stuck to his guns, maintaining the bittersweet reality check that unveiled the fates of the male characters.

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#7. Guardian Angel Producer

Mackenzie Phillips, who was a minor at the time, was almost unable to join the cast of American Graffiti. Producer Gary Kurtz stepped in as her legal guardian for the shoot, ensuring that she could star in the film. This unusual arrangement not only saved Phillips’s role but also demonstrated the close-knit bond that the cast and crew formed during the filming of American Graffiti.

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#8. The Elvis Absence

The reason why Elvis Presley’s songs were not included in the soundtrack of the movie “American Graffiti” was because of money. A licensing issue prevented the use of his songs, which was a strange reality for the teenagers of the 1960s, as Elvis was a very popular musician at the time. This surprising omission, which was caused by RCA’s refusal to agree to a flat rate for song licensing, created a unique musical landscape for a film that is deeply embedded in the pop culture of its era.

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#9. Set Shenanigans

The young cast of American Graffiti kept the set lively and fun, engaging in mischievous and outrageous antics between takes. From Harrison Ford and Paul Le Mat’s beer-fueled escapades to Richard Dreyfuss being thrown into a swimming pool, the cast’s playful spirit mirrored the adventurous tone of the film.

#10. A Hasty Town Exit

After a brief stint in San Rafael, the production was nudged out due to a mix of legal misadventures and disgruntled local businesses. However, Petaluma opened its doors with a warmer welcome, turning this relocation into a minor footnote in the creation of this masterpiece.

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Well, there you have it, folks! The journey from script to screen of “American Graffiti” is as fascinating as the timeless tale that unfolds on screen. Now, it’s your turn! Got a favorite moment or an unheard fact about “American Graffiti”? We’d love to hear it! Share your thoughts in the comments below, and let’s keep the nostalgia rolling!

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American Graffiti – The Movie

CRUSIN’ THE STREETS WITH AMERICAN GRAFFITI In 1973 a blockbuster film came along that captured the essence of teenage America in the early 1960’s. American Graffiti, written and directed by George Lucas (creator of Star Wars), depicts teens listening to rock and roll, going to dance hops, hanging out at the local fast-food drive-in, and…

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The sequel, More American Graffiti, was released in 1979. It was written and directed by Bill Norton. Though it starred many of the same people as American Graffiti, it failed at the box office. One of the key elements missing from the film was the car crusin’ scenes which were a big hit in the earlier film.

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One response to “American Graffiti – 10 Unknown Facts”

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