Arts and Entertainment

The Orchard goes cruisin’ with “American Graffiti”

By BILL MICKELSON

If there’s one thing that hasn’t changed in the two decades since “American Graffiti” became the iconic film of the 1970s, it’s teenagers’ hankering for companionship and booze.

That and, of course, cool cars.

Underneath the hood of all the coming-of-age, end-of-an-era, can’t stay 17 forever sap, the dark-to-dawn quest for booze and companionship is pretty much what drives the flick. Salacious boys and intellectual girls carousing around in their cool old cars, from the drive-in to the hop and out to “Inspiration Point” before the sun comes up.

It’s not as perverse as the premise would have you believe. It’s a classic. But imagine, for a minute, if the movie were remade around that premise today. My, how things have changed.

As it is “American Graffiti” (1973) takes us back to a time when dancing was more than crass body movements, cruising was a most important Friday-night affair, everything cool was boss and the drive-in was still a hip place to hang out.

Downtown Port Orchard, as a whole, will be reverting to that time period this weekend as the annual classic car show The Cruz and a four-day bevy of related happenings take over the town.

The Orchard Theatre is getting into the festivities, as it’s become accustomed to doing, by featuring “American Graffiti.”

From a film-head’s perspective this movie is important because it puts the spotlight on some of Hollywood’s most famous faces — Ron Howard, Cindy Williams, Richard Dreyfuss and Harrison Ford — back when they were just teenagers. And for the director, some guy named George Lucas, it was a springboard to the “Star Wars” fame.

From a gear-head’s perspective, it’s got Bob Falfa’s wicked ’55 Chevy, John Milner’s screaming yellow Roadster and a host of other classic Cadillacs, Corvettes and Chryslers.

Not too mention, the rock-and-roll perspective. “American Graffiti” is stacked with wall-to-wall classic rock, the first movie of its kind to do so. There’s so much classic rock that it was characterized as a musical, even though none of its characters had to sing. The music’s courtesy of the Wolfman.

But, as the muscle-head Milner laments in the film, “Rock and Roll’s been going downhill since Buddy Holly died.”

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