In 1979, six
years after George Lucas' smash hit "American Graffiti",
Bill L Norton wrote and directed, under Lucas guidance,
a redux on the classic characters with this ambitious sequel.
You definitely need to know and love the original to have an
emotional investment in More American Graffiti, as the action
is spread over four different New Year's Eves from 1964 to 1967,
depicts scenes from each of these years, intertwined with one
another as though events happen simultaneously. John Milner (Paul
LeMat) is a Top Fuel drag racer, the Toad is dodging bullets
in Vietnam, Debbie is a San Francisco hippie, and Steve and Laurie
weather a domestic crisis. The cast is back, save for the AWOL
Richard Dreyfuss; even Harrison Ford pops up for an amusing uncredited
cameo (as Bob Falfa, now a motorcycle cop).
All that said,
it is the drag racing part of the film we care about here on
WDIFL. I now present a hundred plus stills from the film that
will bring NoCal racers home to Fremont Drag Strip - remind some
how hokey some of the racing set-ups were, and let you see that
Lucas did take some huge steps to get shots never seen before
of dragsters in action. The photos are in chronological order
as they appear in the film. To completely understand them - you
need to see the movie. It's well worth 90 minutes of your time.
"More American Graffiti" may be one of the most innovative
and ambitious films of the last five years, but by no means is
it one of the most successful. In trying to follow the success
of George Lucas' immensely popular 1973 hit, writer-director
B.W.L. Norton overloads the sequel with four wholly different
cinematic styles to carry forward the lives of "American
Graffiti"'s original cast.
To set the stage,
the John Milner (Paul LeMat) car is an ex-NoCal AA/FD that nobody
can positively ID. Many though it was the old Masters & Richter
Fuller car but the experts say no. Although LeMat did have a
lot of seat time on camera, the actual driving in the movie was
done by Davie Uyehara and he said it was an old Don Long car.
The mystery continues.
(drag racing) starts on New Years Eve 1964 with some nice overhead
shots of the long defunct Fremont Dragstrip staging lanes.
If you were ever
there you know this was the entrance to the pits at Fremont.
In the car is Ron Howard, Cindy Williams, Candy Clark and Charles
The first race
sequence features Milner's track rival - Beckwith (Ken Place)
beating the crowd favorite.
Carter was the starter at Fremont for 30 years.
returns to his pit.
Hunt Bros. team unloads their super trick - ultra high dollar
fueler from its trailer. At the time this car actually belonged
to Pierre Poncia who raced it until 1971 when it was sold. Years
after the movie was done, Pierre was looking to buy his car back.
He found the body - and bought it back and then had a new chassis
built to go inside. The new chassis had the required safety upgrades
and he actually raced the car again in Nostalgia Top Fuel. It
retired for good in 2002.
Paul LeMat, Ron
Howard, Cindy Williams, Candy Clark and Charles Martin Smith
reunite for the first time since 1973 (American Graffiti).
mixes up a load - but if you can read a hydrometer it looks like
This would fall
under the hokey racing sequences cited in the header. This Jim
Davis car was Milner's first round race - keep in mind he has
a fueler. This is obviously an unblown gas car.
the Fremont tower.
who was on the mic... none other than Steve Evans.
moves up to stage.
jumps quickly to John racing to a win.
"blew up" on the line.
Set up for sheer
effect, this single carb digger was rigged with pyrotechnics
to simulate a huge engine explosion. Dave Yount was the driver.
a spin out and the track safety crew comes to his rescue.
Hunt Bros. in
their first race of the day. The blue car was not ID'ed but here's
its backstory. That car was owned and driven by Rick Griffis.
It was an ex Jerry Ruth car bought by Charles Marquez who then
sold to Griffis. Eddie Flournoy would help with tuning. This
was filmed in October 1978.
and Laurie (Howard and Williams) on the fence.
Ok, the blue
car blew up (flash fire) a few frames ago yet its still out on
the Hunt car. which must have been crawling.
sequence that leave one thinking the Hunt car lost?
and Milner move up in the staging lanes for a rematch.
used most of the Fremont crew including Kitchy.
are a lot of great close up shots like this one of LeMat as Milner.
declares I'm #1.
left first by a bunch.
the race was the late great Steve Evans with Jolly on his right.
up in smoke, Milner long gone.
Milner lit the tires.
did win the race but lost the war.
pulled his chute, Milner's failed.
pulls his chute....
Ueyhara actually drove the car through a fence this shack for
and a bent front wheel.
Back in the pits
the Milner crew tries, without success, to repair the damaged
front in for their final round race with the Hunt Bros.
Carter goes through the motions of telling Milner he's running
out of time.
Bros car is in the staging lanes and ready to race.
of the Hunt Bros team was played by local racers Rick and Lorry
gets help from his new best friend (Beckwith) who pulls the front
end off his car to fix Johns. Beckwith was not a Hunt Bros. fan.
line crew gettin impatient.
Just as the Hunt
car was about to single, Evans goes nuts when he sees Milner's
car coming down the fire-up road.
gets gated but the Hunt car blows the tires at the hit.
330' mark Milner smokes the tires as well.
The little guy
(and star of the movie) wins ... go figure. This is the end of
the drag racing part of the film. However, it was only one aspect
of the movie. You need to see it all.
Accurate Review - Or Not
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