Finally completed the George Lucas filmography with American Graffiti.
In retrospect it's interesting this was a megahit, because nowadays it plays a lot more like the kind of leisurely Linklater indie that would make about $3m. I'm guessing that back then 50's americana hadn't been immortalised in pop culture to same the extent it is now, so revisiting all these great songs and imagery in the Vietnam era felt fresh and a nice escape (though they still couldn't resist shoehorning in the customary 70's downer ending). The fact it's actually set in the 60's, despite having almost nothing to do with what we now think of as 60's, would sort of back up that on an iconic level these things hadn't fully crystalised yet.
Either way it's a million miles from the tight plotting of Star Wars, and I suspect that might have something to do with why the film doesn't seem to be so widely watched these days.
Even though it's one of his more successful films it's not necessarily a great defense against accusations that Lucas is perhaps not the most gifted director on the planet, because it's a pretty ugly looking film! Most of it is grainy shots of people stood against a pitch black background. 99% of the visual appeal is in the cars and some of the clothes.
Languid pacing aside it's still pretty good though. Good characters, good cars, great music, youthful good time vibes! Curious to see actual red blooded horniness in a George Lucas film.
If Lucas didn't get a cut of the profits from Happy Days he should've sued because, aside from Ron Howard being a skeevy date rapist, it's almost shameful how much was a direct rip.
I was also trying to figure out if any of the characters was the Lucas surrogate. Toad probably? Speccy dork makes good.