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Tuesday, August 01, 2023

AMERICAN GRAFFITI turns fifty years old this week

George Lucas's movie - the first for his own company Lucasfilm - American Graffiti was released fifty years ago tomorrow.  It premiered at a film festival and was followed with wide release soon after.  If you've never seen American Graffiti you really should do yourself a favor and watch it.  It's a film spanning the course of a single night, in the lives of a group of friends who are spending the final hours of summer break in 1962.  I don't know if "plot" is the right word to describe this movie as having.  But it's a mighty monument to a way of youth that isn't there anymore.  American Graffiti has a solid cast and a soundtrack that is just as much part of the film as those appearing in it.

Well, I thought that for the occasion we would go WAY back into The Knight Shift's archives, to when it was less than a year old in 2004.  At the time my friends and I were working on our very first film together Forcery.  The final scene takes place at Mel's Drive-In, from American Graffiti.  Short Sugar's Barbecue in Reidsville, North Carolina played the part of Mel's.  We shot the scene at the drive-in part of the restaurant, and then... this idea hit for something we could do as a homage to George Lucas's classic movie.  I told Chad Austin, who was playing Lucas in Forcery, about it and he was game for it.  He was already wearing the costume and makeup for the part anyway.

So here is Chad Austin as George Lucas in September 2004, in a recreation of the famous behind-the-scenes still from American Graffiti showing Lucas crouched beneath the counter while directing Ron Howard:

Wow.  That was September of 2004 when we made that photo.  So much has happened since then but it seems like just yesterday.

Of course George Lucas - the real one - got a lot of respect and admiration for American Graffiti and would use that goodwill when he was shopping Star Wars around to the studios.  I'm glad that he did, but part of me also wonders what it would have been had he made more films like American Graffiti.  The Star Wars franchise arguably stymied a lifetime of potential movies from this talented filmmaker.  But I like to think that Lucas still hasn't forgotten his greatest career passion.  Maybe someday we'll see him return to what makes him happiest in life after his family.

 I hope that he will.


Lurch said...

I've wanted to watch Forcery and finally tonight I sat down and saw it. You and your friends did a great job! Now make a sequel where George Lucas comes back for revenge on Disney for how badly they've done with Star Wars and Indiana Jones.

Chris Knight said...

So very glad that you like it! :-) Thank you. I'll be sure to pass that along to the rest of the crew :-D

KalebT said...

I've been reading your blog for a long time. It seems that you just have a way of surrounding yourself with good people. You're like one big family doing things like making movies together. It's very inspirational.

Keep up the great blogging!