George Lucas’ American Graffiti asked the question “Where Were You in ’62?” It should have been an easy enough one for moviegoers to answer, seeing as how the film was released in 1973, barely a decade later. But much as The Big Chill would in the 1980s, Graffiti capitalized on nostalgia for the not-too-distant past, with early-’60s rock songs from Bill Haley and the Comets, the Beach Boys, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Del Shannon and many, many others. Eschewing any sort of orchestral score, the film is entirely populated by jukebox hits, many of which emanate from the radios of the hot rods cruising the streets of Modesto, Calif. In between the songs are the ruminations of famous real-life DJ Wolfman Jack, who serves as American Graffiti‘s gravel-voiced Greek chorus. The film was a smash hit upon its release. Wisely, Lucas made sure to secure for himself the profits from sound-track sales, a precursor to his fortune-making decision to snap up merchandising rights for his next film, Star Wars.
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