American Graffiti

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. Well the New Year decided to get the temperatures adjusted properly. It is cold here in the mountains, with a forecast of cold. Perfect weather for “hunkering down” to watch my Bulldogs take on the Nittany PedoLions from Penn State in the Gator Bowl. It’s called something like the “Taxslayer Bowl” officially, but we all know it’s the Gator Bowl. Let’s hope it’s just the University of Florida that we can’t beat in Jacksonville.

So much activity swirling about that Mulva and I almost forgot that Friday night is date night. As I am the consummate romantic, I didn’t want Mulva to get the impression that we shouldn’t take time out from our otherwise hectic schedules to make time for our relationship. It’s a hard thing for old married couples to keep the spark alive, or so I’m told. If you want to sit through two hours of absolute torture to have that point driven into your brain like a rusty railroad spike, watch the movie “Hope Springs“.

Now that we’re not supposed to be using “extraordinary interrogation techniques”, like waterboarding, I suggest we go to “Hope Springs” on a loop. The suspect could be all strapped in, like Malcolm McDowell in “A Clockwork Orange”, and not be allowed to close his eyes or turn away. I bet it wouldn’t take two showings to get the same results as a near drowning. I suspect eventually the Geneva Convention would step in and stop the practice as inhumane, but until then, let’s give ‘er a shot. We’re being criticized because the “Isis” are so much better at multimedia than we are, I see how we can up the stakes with “Hope Springs”

Well, talking about a bad movie doesn’t get us to this week’s selection, and I chose “American Graffiti”, for our date night. I remember how when the movie first came out, Mulva and I saw the movie at the old Starlight Drive In. Little Bud Junior was about 3 or so, and Melody was still a twinkle in her Daddy’s eye, as they say. The drive in was the only way we could see movies back then, having an infant that was given to banshee like yells at unexpected times. Bud Jr. wasn’t hurting, he was happy, he just expressed his joy by hollering like a bear stuck in barb wire. We could take Junior to the drive in movie just fine though. Make a pallet out of the back seat, give him a bottle, and before long he’d be sawing logs. We saw a lot of shows like this. Ah, the good old days.

Anyway, the romantic in me was feeling a little nostalgic, so when I saw “American Grafitti” in my box of Betamax tapes, I knew I had a winner. For the uninitiated, “American Grafitti” was a lot of “firsts” for a lot of things. Certainly the first movie about “cruising”, which was the great American past time for teenagers of that era. Rolling up and down the streets on the weekend, showing off your hot car, and generally preening like a peacock was a right of passage in most small towns. The weekend’s cruising provided conversation for the whole week, and then we got to do it again. Gasoline was about 35 cents a gallon, so a dollar went a long ways in terms of providing entertainment. “American Grafitti” caught the culture perfectly.

“American Grafitti” was directed by George Lucas, produced by Francis Ford Copolla, and starred a group of kids who would go along and become Hollywood’s elite, like Harrison Ford. We’ll give a shout out to Richard Dreyfus, Ron Howard, Cindy Williams, Candy Clarke, Paul LeMat, Charlie Martin Smith and Mackenzie Phillips. Even the cameos are stellar, with Wolfman Jack playing himself, and Suzanne Somers playing the mystery girl. All of the plot is done in vignettes, which allows for great character development. I think everybody could find a character they could identify with from their high school days.

“American Grafitti”, to me, is a perfect film time capsule. The sound track was true to the period, and in this reviewing, Mulva and I were patting our feet through much of the movie. We resisted the urge to get up and dance, though. The cars, clothes and language were spot on to the late ’60’s. Maybe we should do a ’60’s party here in the Rec room. I bet there’d be a lot of fun outfits.

“American Grafitti” has received not only extraordinary financial rewards, but numerous artistic awards as well. It is preserved in The National Film Register as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. All true, but a darn good date night movie selection for us old timers. Check it out.

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