More American Graffiti

Last updated
More American Graffiti
More American Graffiti 1979.jpg
Theatrical release poster by William Stout
Directed by Bill L. Norton
Written by Bill L. Norton
Based onCharacters
by George Lucas
Gloria Katz
Willard Huyck
Produced by Howard Kazanjian
Cinematography Caleb Deschanel
Edited by Tina Hirsch
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
  • August 3, 1979 (1979-08-03)
Running time
110 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$2.5 [1] –3 million [2]
Box office$8–15 million (US) [2] [3]

More American Graffiti is a 1979 American coming-of-age comedy film written and directed by Bill L. Norton, produced by Howard Kazanjian. It is the sequel to the 1973 film American Graffiti . Whereas the first film followed a group of friends during the summer evening before they set off for college, this film shows where they end up a few years later on New Years Eve.


Most of the main cast members from the first film returned for the sequel, including Candy Clark, Ron Howard, Paul Le Mat, Cindy Williams, Mackenzie Phillips, Charles Martin Smith, Bo Hopkins, and Harrison Ford. Richard Dreyfuss was the only principal cast member from the original film not to appear in the sequel. It was the final live-action theatrical film in which Ron Howard would play a credited, named character.


The film, set over the course of four consecutive New Year's Eves from 1964 to 1967, depicts scenes from each of these years, intertwined with one another as though events happen simultaneously. The audience is protected from confusion by the use of a distinct cinematic style for each section. For example, the 1966 sequences echo the movie of Woodstock using split screens and multiple angles of the same event simultaneously on screen, the 1965 sequences (set in Vietnam) shot hand-held on grainy super 16 mm film designed to resemble war reporters' footage. The film attempts to memorialize the 1960s with sequences that recreate the sense and style of those days with references to Haight-Ashbury, the campus peace movement, the beginnings of the modern woman's liberation movement and the accompanying social revolt. One character burns his draft card, showing a younger audience what so many Americans had done on the television news ten years before the movie's release. Other characters are shown frantically disposing of their marijuana before a traffic stop as a police officer pulls them over, and another scene shows the police overreaction during an anti-Vietnam protest.

The storylines and fates of the main characters include the following:

The final scene of the movie shows Steve, Laurie, Andy and Vicki in front of the television store, Debbie and the Electric Haze in the band's van and Terry walking alone AWOL, all singing "Auld Lang Syne". Also, Milner is seen driving in his deuce coupe, listening to it on the radio, as he drives down the long, hilly road.

Wolfman Jack briefly reprised his role, but in voice only. The drag racing scenes were filmed at the Fremont Raceway, later Baylands Raceway Park (now the site of automobile dealerships), in Fremont, California.



After the success of the original film, George Lucas, who directed American Graffiti, felt that he should direct a sequel. However, his colleague Gary Kurtz and the film's producer Francis Ford Coppola declined to make a sequel since sequels were not as well received. Lucas shelved the sequel to work on Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark .

After the success of Star Wars, Universal City Studios president Sid Sheinberg felt that American Graffiti could have a sequel. Lucas was initially reluctant to do a sequel, [4] but after moved by his acquaintance Howard Kazanjian, he agreed to do so. Lucas felt that he should not direct the film due to various circumstances, such as handling his company's financing, developing Radioland Murders with Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, whom he had worked with on the film, and writing the screenplay of The Empire Strikes Back and planning his Indiana Jones franchise with fellow director Steven Spielberg. Finding a director was problematic for Lucas and Kazanjian. Kazanjian's top choice was John Landis, who refused to work on it. Lucas’ professor Irvin Kershner was also considered, but rejected the offer due to his lack of experience in comedy. Lucas considered Robert Zemeckis, who had finished directing his first feature film I Wanna Hold Your Hand , but he turned down the offer. Bill L. Norton was picked by Lucas as being suitable due to his California upbringing and experience with comedy. Lucas and Kazanjian asked him to do a screenplay, which Norton quickly accepted. Lucas was involved in the production by acting as the executive producer, editing both Norton's screenplay and supervising the finished motion picture, and even setting up a camera for sequences set in the Vietnam War.

Home media

It was released on DVD in September 2003 and once more as a double feature with American Graffiti (1973) in January 2004. It was released on Digital in 2011. It was released on Blu-ray for Europe in May 2012 and for North America in June 2018.


The film also featured a 24-track soundtrack featuring music from the movie along with voice-over tracks of Wolfman Jack. The soundtrack is out of print and has never been released on CD.

Side One
  1. "Heat Wave" – Martha and the Vandellas
  2. "Moon River" – Andy Williams
  3. "Mr. Tambourine Man" – The Byrds
  4. "My Boyfriend's Back" – The Angels
  5. "Sounds of Silence" – Simon & Garfunkel
  6. "Season of the Witch" – Donovan
Side Two
  1. "Stop in the Name of Love" – The Supremes
  2. "Strange Brew" – Cream
  3. "Just Like a Woman" – Bob Dylan
  4. "Respect" – Aretha Franklin
  5. "She's Not There" – The Zombies
  6. "96 Tears" – ? and the Mysterians
Side Three
  1. "Pipeline" – The Chantays
  2. "Since I Fell for You" – Lenny Welch
  3. "Beechwood 4-5789" – The Marvellettes
  4. "Mr. Lonely" – Bobby Vinton
  5. "Cool Jerk" – The Capitols
  6. "I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag" – Country Joe and The Fish
Side Four
  1. "The Ballad of the Green Berets" – Barry Sadler
  2. "My Guy" – Mary Wells
  3. "I'm a Man" – Doug Sahm
  4. "Hang On Sloopy" – The McCoys (with Voice-Overs by Wolfman Jack)
  5. "When a Man Loves a Woman" – Percy Sledge
  6. "Like a Rolling Stone" – Bob Dylan

A fictional band named Electric Haze featuring Doug Sahm appears in the film, most notably performing the Bo Diddley song "I'm a Man".

An earlier album, also titled More American Graffiti, was an official album sequel to the first soundtrack to American Graffiti . The album (MCA 8007) was released in 1975, four years before the film sequel of the same name was released. While only one of the songs in this album was actually used in the 1973 motion picture, this collection was compiled and approved by George Lucas for commercial release. In 1976, MCA Records released a third and final Various Artists double album set titled: American Graffiti Vol. III (MCA 8008). Unlike the first two albums, American Graffiti Vol. III does not include dialogue with Wolfman Jack.


Box office

More American Graffiti opened on August 3, 1979, the same weekend as Apocalypse Now and Monty Python's Life of Brian . [5] The Numbers puts the gross at $8.1 million, [3] and Box Office Mojo at $15 million. [2] Despite its minor box office success, its gross was nowhere near as high as that of American Graffiti, even though Ron Howard, Cindy Williams and Harrison Ford were bigger stars (due to their major roles in the TV hits Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley and the film Star Wars ) in 1979 than they had been in 1973.

Critical reception

The film received negative reviews from critics, in contrast to the critical acclaim received by its predecessor. Rotten Tomatoes reported that 20% of critics were positive based on 10 reviews. [6]

Janet Maslin of The New York Times called it "grotesquely misconceived, so much so that it nearly eradicates fond memories of the original ... The times — the story is scattered like buckshot from 1964 to 1967 — have grown dangerous, but these people haven't awakened at all. They're still the same fun-loving rock-and-rollers, and there's nothing they can't trivialize. So here is a comic look at campus rioting. Here are the beach party aspects of the Vietnam War." [7] Dale Pollock of Variety stated in his review that "More American Graffiti may be one of the most innovative and ambitious films of the last five years, but by no means is it one of the most successful ... without a dramatic glue to hold the disparate story elements together, Graffiti is too disorganized for its own good, and the cross-cutting between different film styles only accentuates the problem." [8] Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film 2 stars out of 4 and called it "one long confusing movie" that is "really too ambitious for its own good." [9] On Sneak Previews, Roger Ebert said he thought it was a "much better film" than Siskel did, that he "had no trouble following it" and that "it's a film worth seeing." [10]

Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times was also positive, writing that "the protagonists are affecting as before and More American Graffiti is an uncommonly evocative trip back to our common past—a stirring reminder in both style and substance of what we've been through." [11] Gary Arnold of The Washington Post wrote "All this fussy, arbitrary switching of scenes, years and aspect ratios may wow them back in film school, but the complicated framework reveals nothing but one inconsequential or misleading vignette after another. Norton doesn't achieve a true dramatic convergence of parallel stories; and his historical vision is confined to cheerleading reaffirmations of all the old counterculture cliches about war, cops, Women's Liberation, you name it." [12] Veronica Geng of The New Yorker called the film "a mess of time shifts and pointless, confusing split-screen techniques that make the images look dinky instead of multiplying their impact. For as busy a movie I have seen, it is visually one of the most boring. Norton trades in the grammar of moving pictures for a formula that says the sixties equals fragmentation equals split screen—and split screen we get; baby's first jigsaw puzzles of simultaneous action, until we long for a simple cut from a moving car to a closeup of the driver." [13] David Ansen of Newsweek wrote "This is all very film-school fancy, but what does it mean? Alas, precious little. 'More' in this case is decidedly less. Once you get used to the cross-cutting — which is rather like switching channels between four different TV shows — the realization dawns that none of the segments is particularly interesting." [14]

Lucas reflected on the experience in 1997 during the production of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace , remarking to Frank Oz: "You just never know on these things. I did a More American Graffiti; it made ten cents. Just failed miserably." [15]

In 2021, The Guardian 's Matt Mitchell wrote about the film, by then "largely forgotten", for the newspaper's "Hear Me Out" series, in which critics argue for more favorable receptions for films often seen as artistic failures. He argued that its commercial failure was all but certain given its box office competition on opening weekend, and that it suffered by association with most sequels at the time being perceived as financially motivated since they were not part of studio's business models yet. "More American Graffiti is an experimental love-letter to teenage omnipotence becoming adult mortality", centered around Milner's death and the characters in the later storylines processing it. "There is a beautiful melancholia lurking beneath the comedic surface. It's an empathetic look at the distances in which our sorrows can migrate." [5]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">George Lucas</span> American filmmaker

George Walton Lucas Jr. is an American filmmaker. Lucas is best known for creating the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises and founding Lucasfilm, LucasArts, Industrial Light & Magic and THX. He served as chairman of Lucasfilm before selling it to The Walt Disney Company in 2012. Lucas is one of history's most financially successful filmmakers and has been nominated for four Academy Awards. His films are among the 100 highest-grossing movies at the North American box office, adjusted for ticket-price inflation. Lucas is considered to be one of the most significant figures of the 20th-century New Hollywood movement, and a pioneer of the modern blockbuster.

<i>Return of the Jedi</i> 1983 American film directed by Richard Marquand

Return of the Jedi is a 1983 American epic space opera film directed by Richard Marquand. The screenplay is by Lawrence Kasdan and George Lucas from a story by Lucas, who was also the executive producer. The sequel to Star Wars (1977) and The Empire Strikes Back (1980), it is the third installment in the original Star Wars trilogy, the third film to be produced, and the sixth chronological film in the "Skywalker Saga". The film stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew and Frank Oz.

<i>Star Wars</i> (film) 1977 American film by George Lucas

Star Wars is a 1977 American epic space opera film written and directed by George Lucas, produced by Lucasfilm and distributed by 20th Century Fox. It is the first film in the Star Wars film series and fourth chronological chapter of the "Skywalker Saga". Set "a long time ago" in a fictional universe where the galaxy is ruled by the tyrannical Galactic Empire, the story focuses on a group of freedom fighters known as the Rebel Alliance, who aim to destroy the Empire's newest weapon, the Death Star. Luke Skywalker becomes caught in the conflict while learning the ways of a metaphysical power known as "the Force" from Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi. The cast includes Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, David Prowse, James Earl Jones, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, and Peter Mayhew.

<i>The Empire Strikes Back</i> 1980 film directed by Irvin Kershner

The Empire Strikes Back is a 1980 American epic space opera film directed by Irvin Kershner from a screenplay by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan, based on a story by George Lucas. The sequel to Star Wars (1977), it is the second film in the Star Wars film series and the fifth chronological chapter of the "Skywalker Saga". Set three years after the events of Star Wars, the film recounts the battle between the malevolent Galactic Empire, led by the Emperor, and the Rebel Alliance, led by Princess Leia. Luke Skywalker trains to master the Force so he can confront the powerful Sith lord, Darth Vader. The ensemble cast includes Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, and Frank Oz.

<i>Raiders of the Lost Ark</i> 1981 film directed by Steven Spielberg

Raiders of the Lost Ark is a 1981 American action-adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Lawrence Kasdan, based on a story by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman. It stars Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, Ronald Lacey, John Rhys-Davies, and Denholm Elliott. Ford portrays Indiana Jones, a globe-trotting archaeologist vying with Nazi German forces in 1936 to recover the long-lost Ark of the Covenant, a relic said to make an army invincible. Teaming up with his tough former romantic interest Marion Ravenwood (Allen), Jones races to stop rival archaeologist Dr. René Belloq (Freeman) from guiding the Nazis to the Ark and its power.

<i>American Graffiti</i> 1973 US film directed by George Lucas

American Graffiti is a 1973 American coming-of-age comedy-drama film directed by George Lucas, produced by Francis Ford Coppola, written by Willard Huyck, Gloria Katz and Lucas, and starring Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Paul Le Mat, Harrison Ford, Charles Martin Smith, Cindy Williams, Candy Clark, Mackenzie Phillips, Bo Hopkins, and Wolfman Jack. Suzanne Somers, Kathleen Quinlan, Debralee Scott, and Joe Spano also appear in the film.

<i>The Searchers</i> 1956 film by John Ford

The Searchers is a 1956 American Technicolor VistaVision epic Western film directed by John Ford and written by Frank S. Nugent, based on the 1954 novel by Alan Le May. It is set during the Texas-Native American wars, and stars John Wayne as a middle-aged Civil War veteran who spends years looking for his abducted niece, accompanied by his adopted nephew Martin.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wolfman Jack</span> American DJ and music TV host (1938–1995)

Robert Weston Smith, known as Wolfman Jack, was an American disc jockey active from 1960 till his death in 1995. Famous for his gravelly voice, he credited it for his success, saying, "It's kept meat and potatoes on the table for years for Wolfman and Wolfwoman. A couple of shots of whiskey helps it. I've got that nice raspy sound."

<i>Debbie Does Dallas</i> 1978 pornographic film

Debbie Does Dallas is a 1978 pornographic film starring Bambi Woods. The plot of the film focuses on a team of cheerleaders attempting to earn enough money to send the title character to Dallas, Texas to try out for the famous "Texas Cowgirls" cheerleading squad. The fictional name "Texas Cowgirls" was seen as an allusion to the real-life Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Woods had previously tried out for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders in real life, but was cut during auditions.

Paul Le Mat is an American actor. He first came to prominence with his role in American Graffiti (1973); his performance was met with critical acclaim and earned him the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year - Actor.

<i>41 Original Hits from the Soundtrack of American Graffiti</i> 1973 soundtrack album from American Graffiti by Various Artists

41 Original Hits from the Soundtrack of American Graffiti is the official 1973 soundtrack album of the film American Graffiti. It has been certified triple platinum in the U.S., where it peaked at #10 on the Billboard 200 album chart.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Howard Kazanjian</span> American film producer (born 1942)

Howard G. Kazanjian is an Armenian-American film producer best known for the Star Wars films The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, as well as the Indiana Jones movie Raiders of the Lost Ark. Kazanjian was an originating member of Lucasfilm, Ltd., serving as its vice president for approximately eight years.

The original Star Wars trilogy, formerly marketed as the Star Wars Trilogy, is the first set of three films produced in the Star Wars franchise, an American space opera created by George Lucas. It was produced by Lucasfilm and distributed by 20th Century Fox, and consists of Star Wars (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983). Beginning in medias res, the original trilogy serves as the second act of the nine-episode Skywalker saga. It was followed by a prequel trilogy between 1999 and 2005, and a sequel trilogy between 2015 and 2019. Collectively, they are referred to as the "Skywalker Saga" to distinguish them from spin-off films set within the same universe.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gary Kurtz</span> American film producer (1940–2018)

Gary Douglas Kurtz was an American film producer whose list of credits includes American Graffiti (1973), Star Wars (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), The Dark Crystal (1982) and Return to Oz (1985). Kurtz also co-produced the 1989 science fiction adventure film Slipstream, which reunited him with Star Wars star Mark Hamill.

Marcia Lou Lucas is an American film editor and film producer. She is best known for her work editing Martin Scorsese's Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1973), Taxi Driver (1976), and New York, New York (1977) and her then-husband George Lucas's THX-1138 (1971), American Graffiti (1973), and the Star Wars trilogy (1977–1983).

<i>Captain Tugboat Annie</i> 1945 film by Phil Rosen

Captain Tugboat Annie is a 1945 second sequel to the classic Tugboat Annie (1933), this time starring Jane Darwell as Annie and Edgar Kennedy as Horatio Bullwinkle. The movie was directed by Phil Rosen, and is also known as Tugboat Annie's Son.

<i>Louisa</i> (film) 1950 film by Alexander Hall

Louisa is a 1950 American comedy film directed by Alexander Hall and starring Ronald Reagan, Charles Coburn, Ruth Hussey, Edmund Gwenn and Spring Byington. It was produced and distributed by Universal Pictures. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Sound.

The Dirty Dozen is the nickname for a group of filmmaking students at the USC School of Cinematic Arts within the University of Southern California during the mid-late 1960s. The main group consisted of budding directors, screenwriters, producers, editors, and cinematographers. Through innovative techniques and effects, they ended up achieving great success in the Hollywood film industry.

<i>Spud</i> (film) 2010 South African film

Spud is a 2010 South African comedy-drama film written and directed by Donovan Marsh, based on the novel of the same name by John van de Ruit. The film stars Troye Sivan as the title character, alongside John Cleese, Jason Cope and Tanit Phoenix. It was released in South Africa on 3 December 2010.

<i>This Is 40</i> 2012 film by Judd Apatow

This Is 40 is a 2012 American romantic comedy film written and directed by Judd Apatow and starring Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann. A "sort-of sequel" to Apatow's 2007 film Knocked Up, the movie centers on married couple Pete (Rudd) and Debbie (Mann), characters introduced in the previous film, whose stressful relationship is compounded by each turning 40. John Lithgow, Megan Fox, and Albert Brooks appear in supporting roles.


  1. "FILM CLIPS: George Lucas: 'Graffiti' Sequel Rosenfield, Paul". Los Angeles Times. Mar 1, 1978. p. f7.
  2. 1 2 3 "More American Graffiti". Box Office Mojo . Retrieved 2015-01-27.
  3. 1 2 "More American Graffiti – Box Office Data, Movie News, Cast Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 2015-01-27.
  4. More American Graffiti and Spetters: Jim Hemphill's Weekend Blu-ray Picks|Filmmaker Magazine
  5. 1 2 Mitchell, Matt (July 6, 2021). "Hear me out: why More American Graffiti isn't a bad movie". The Guardian . Retrieved July 8, 2021.
  6. "More American Graffiti". Rotten Tomatoes . Fandango . Retrieved 2021-10-07. OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
  7. Maslin, Janet (August 17, 1979). "Screen: 'More American Graffiti' Covers '64 to '67". The New York Times . C14.
  8. Pollock, Dale (July 25, 1979). "Film Reviews: More American Graffiti". Variety . p. 16.
  9. Siskel, Gene (August 17, 1979). "Viet scenes best of a confusing and ambitious 'Graffiti'". Chicago Tribune . Section 3, p. 2.
  10. "Sneak Previews Season 2 Episode 5". IMDb. Retrieved 2019-07-08.
  11. Champlin, Charles (July 29, 1979). "The Line on 'Dallas' and 'Graffiti II'". Los Angeles Times . Calendar, p. 23.
  12. Arnold, Gary (August 3, 1979). "'More American Graffiti': Not Necessarily". The Washington Post . D4.
  13. Geng, Veronica (August 20, 1979). "The Current Cinema". The New Yorker . 91.
  14. Ansen, David (August 27, 1979). "Sliding Downhill in the '60s". Newsweek . 63.
  15. Shenk, Jon (2001). The Beginning: Making Episode I.