American Graffiti (1973) 50th Anniversary 4K Blu-ray Review



American Graffiti is a classic movie with a fantastic cast, fast cars and great music. The 4K has been well remastered in terms of sound and there are some entertaining special features but picture-wise everyone looks too waxy where it becomes distracting at times.

Plot: A group of teenagers in California’s central valley spend one final night after their 1962 high school graduation cruising the strip with their buddies before they pursue their varying goals.

Review: American Graffiti is widely regarded as a classic and rightly so; after recently picking up the new 4K it reminded me that it’s a shame that George Lucas is mostly known for Star Wars and didn’t do much else outside of that franchise. Admittedly he didn’t need to but I feel like we were robbed of some potentially classic movies.

This is a semi-autobiographical tale set in early 1960s California where a group of friends are planning on heading out of town to go to College and begin their new lives. Curt (Richard Dreyfuss) isn’t sure he wants to leave anymore and spends the night feeling nostalgic while getting into mischief with a local gang.

Steve (Ron Howard) isn’t an appealing character in any way practically raping his girlfriend at one point and he just comes off as selfish but he soon realizes that he and his girl love each other. Terry ‘Toad” Fields (Charles Martin Smith) is the nerd of the bunch and spends most of the evening making up lies to seem interesting to a girl he likes. Finally, John (Paul Le Mat) is the best racer in town but he also has a good heart and is there when his friends need him.

Throughout the film Harrison Ford pops up as Bob Falfa who thinks he can beat John in a race which builds up to the inevitable showdown.

There really isn’t much story here and it’s sort of a hang-out movie where we feel like we are right there with these kids driving around listening to Wolfman Jack and frankly having the time of their lives. There is still some drama and the characters are all memorable with faultless performances all round. The soundtrack is iconic with so many classic tunes that it’s hard not to sing along with them.

The 4K sounds amazing and the picture is crystal clear… but a little too clear with some obvious DNR giving everyone a somewhat yellow, waxy complexion. I understand cleaning it up but it is a little distracting when sometimes the cast look like mannequins. Special features include A Making Of, Screen Tests, Commentary from George Lucas and a Theatrical Trailer.

Overall, American Graffiti is a classic film with stellar performances, amazing music and lots of heart; it makes me nostalgic for a time I never knew and reminds us that there was more to George Lucas than just Star Wars (even though I love it so). The 4K has a bit too much DNR so everyone looks a little waxy but the sound is excellent and the special features are plentiful too however, if you already have the Blu-ray then I’d stick to that.