Directed by: George Lucas
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Runtime: 109 Minutes
There is a reason this film has been labelled “one of the most influential teen movies”. Through the tender storytelling and nostalgic set pieces, you are pulled into the classic days of the early 60’s. Director George Lucas has proven himself as a good director here with the film’s narrative following not one plot, but four that follow each boy and his adventures on their last night before they leave town.
It is the final night of summer for the teenagers of Modesto California in 1962. The four boys whom we follow are Among them are Steve (Ron Howard) and Curt (Richard Dreyfuss), college-bound with mixed feelings about leaving home; nerdy Terry "The Toad" (Charles Martin Smith) and John (Paul Le Mat ), a 22-year-old drag racer. They all spend their nights in different ways, and the film follows these four plot strands seeing the teenagers in their final nighttime adventures.
If you look at this film, you will see how film’s in the future have partially resembled it in some ways. Think “Grease”, think “Hairspray”, and even think “Cry-baby”. All these films capture the 60’s, but I cannot help but feel this film completely nails it to the ground. From the set pieces to the costumes, they throw in everything possible, making this the ultimate American teenager film. Not to mention the colourful and nostalgic cars we see.
The thing to remember about the film is how delightfully campy it is in its plot. It is nothing more than a film about teenagers and their escapades with booze, cars, women and gangs, yet, this is not a bad thing because the film is brilliant. You get more than you expect from the wonderfully entertaining film that really captures the teenaged days of the 1960s’. It looks at all those moments memorable to the early times of the decade and throws them into a motion picture.
With a solid script, the film’s dialogue was great. Another interesting thing is that the director of “The Godfather”, Francis Ford Coppola produced this film. With such an ensemble of greatness in his film, no wonder it turned out as such a great one. Not to mention George Lucas did a great directorial job here that is assuring and skilful. He helps capture the essence of this period and leads the film’s multiple plots with us sitting back and enjoying the trip.
The performances of the film were campy, comic and highly amusing. Seeing all those actors depicting the vintage and stereotypical teenagers of yesteryear was amusingly fun. From Ron Howard to Cindy Williams, they all capture the teenaged appearance. I will not go through all of them individually, but I will say as a whole, the group have unique characteristics that define some of the stereotypes of 60’s America. One for example is Terry, the geeky and cowardly small guy.
For audiences of the early 70’s, with the 60’still quite fresh in their minds, I am sure the film did not have a nostalgic effect as it does today, but rather an overview of what it his were like a time not so long ago. The date in which this film portrays is almost 50 years ago and still it manages to capture the imaginations of audiences. The film is not artsy, nor does it have deep meaning. It is simply a fun-packed teen ride that transports you with different teenagers’ stories on a delightful and nostalgic journey.
My Rating: 9/10