It starred Richard Dreyfuss (Curt Henderson), Ron Howard (Steve Bolander), Paul Le Mat (John Milner), Charles Martin Smith (Terry Fields), Candy Clark , Cindy Williams , Mackenzie Phillips and Harrison Ford. It also featured mysterious disc jockey Wolfman Jack's first appearance to the general public. Suzanne Somers had a small but notable part as a blonde in the Ford Thunderbird.
The film focuses on vignettes about the 4 young men: Curt, Steve, Terry, and John. Curt isn't sure he wants to go off to college, despite receiving a lodge scholarship, much to Steve's consternation. Steve, on the other hand, isn't sure about his relationship with steady girlfriend Laurie, Curt's sister. Curt spends the whole night riding around in other people's cars obsessing about a mysterious blonde driving a white Ford Thunderbird.
John splits his time between trying to pick up girls and defending his reputation as the fastest drag racer in town. Terry uses Steve's car to pick up a girl.
Ironically, by the end of the night it's Curt who goes off to college, while Steve decides to stay in town and settle down with Laurie.
The movie gained some of its popularity through its accurate reflection of period music.
The film was nominated for several Academy Awards:
- Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Candy Clark
- Best Director - George Lucas
- Best Film Editing - Verna Fields and Marcia Lucas
- Best Picture - Francis Ford Coppola and Gary Kurtz
- Best Writing, Story and Screenplay Based on Factual Material or Material Not Previously Published or Produced - Willard Huyck, Gloria Katz and George Lucas
The film is included in the National Film Registry.
See also: American Graffiti (soundtrack)