More American Graffiti

More American Graffiti is a 1979 American coming-of-age comedy film written and directed by Bill L. Norton. It is the sequel to the 1973 film American Graffiti. Whereas the first film followed a group of friends during the summer evening before they set off for college, this film shows where they end up a few years later.

More American Graffiti
Theatrical release poster by William Stout
Directed byBill L. Norton
Produced byHoward Kazanjian
Written byBill L. Norton
Based onCharacters
by George Lucas
Gloria Katz
& Willard Huyck
CinematographyCaleb Deschanel
Edited byTina Hirsch
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • August 3, 1979 (1979-08-03)
Running time
110 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$2.5[1]–3 million[2]
Box office$8–15 million (US)[2][3]

Most of the main cast members from the first film returned for the sequel, including Candy Clark, Ron Howard, Paul Le Mat, Cindy Williams, Mackenzie Phillips, Charles Martin Smith, Bo Hopkins, and Harrison Ford. Richard Dreyfuss was the only principal cast member from the original film not to appear in the sequel. It was the final live-action theatrical film in which Ron Howard would play a credited, named character.


The film, set over the course of four consecutive New Year's Eves from 1964 to 1967, depicts scenes from each of these years, intertwined with one another as though events happen simultaneously. The audience is protected from confusion by the use of a distinct cinematic style for each section. For example, the 1966 sequences echo the movie of Woodstock using split screens and multiple angles of the same event simultaneously on screen, the 1965 sequences (set in Vietnam) shot hand-held on grainy super 16 mm film designed to resemble war reporters' footage. The film attempts to memorialize the 1960s with sequences that recreate the sense and style of those days with references to Haight-Ashbury, the campus peace movement, the beginnings of the modern woman's liberation movement and the accompanying social revolt. One character burns his draft card, showing a younger audience what so many Americans had done on the television news ten years before the movie's release. Other characters are shown frantically disposing of their marijuana before a traffic stop as a police officer pulls them over, and another scene shows the police brutality during an anti-Vietnam protest.

The fates of the main characters listed at the end of American Graffiti are updated at the end of this sequel.

  • John Milner is shown driving his trademark yellow deuce coupe toward another vehicle's headlights on New Year's Eve 1964. After disappearing over a small hill, neither his taillights nor the approaching car's headlights are seen again, hinting that this was the crash in which Milner was killed. The anniversary of John's death is mentioned in both the 1965 and 1966 sequences.
  • Terry "The Toad" Fields fakes his own death in Vietnam. Disillusioned with the war, he decides to desert, saying he plans to go to Europe. Terry's superiors believe him to be dead in 1965, as do Debbie in 1966 and Steve and Laurie in 1967.
  • Joe Young (the leader of The Pharaohs) is killed by a sniper in Vietnam after promising to make Terry a Pharaoh once they return to civilian life.
  • Steve and Laurie's relationship is strained by her insistence that she start her own career. Steve forbids it, saying he wants her to be a mom to their young twins.
  • Free-spirited Debbie "Deb" Dunham has switched from Old Harper whisky to marijuana and has given up her platinum blonde persona for a hippie/groupie one in a long, strange trip that ends with her performing with a country-and-western music group.

Wolfman Jack briefly reprised his role, but in voice only. The drag racing scenes were filmed at the Fremont Raceway, later Baylands Raceway Park (now the site of automobile dealerships), in Fremont, California.




The movie was written and directed by Bill L. Norton who was picked by Lucas as being suitable due to his California upbringing and experience with comedy. Lucas was involved in the production by acting as the executive producer, editing both Norton's screenplay and the finished motion picture, and even manning a camera for sequences set in the Vietnam War.

Home media

It was released on VHS and LaserDisc in 1979 or 1980. It was released on DVD in September 2003 and once more as a double feature with American Graffiti (1973) in January 2004. It was released on Digital in 2011. It was released on Blu-ray for Europe in May 2012 and for North America in June 2018.


The film also featured a 24-track soundtrack titled More American Graffiti, featuring music from the movie along with voice-over tracks of Wolfman Jack. The soundtrack, originally released in 1979 as MCA 2-11006, is out of print and never has been released on CD.

A fictional band named Electric Haze featuring Doug Sahm appears in the film, most notably performing the Bo Diddley song "I'm a Man".

An earlier album, also titled More American Graffiti, was an official album sequel to the first soundtrack to American Graffiti. The album (MCA 8007) was released in 1975, four years before the film sequel of the same name was released. While only one of the songs in this album was actually used in the 1973 motion picture, this collection was compiled and approved by George Lucas for commercial release. In 1976, MCA Records released a third and final Various Artists double album set titled: American Graffiti Vol. III (MCA 8008). Unlike the first two albums, American Graffiti Vol. III does not include dialogue with Wolfman Jack.


Box office

More American Graffiti opened on August 3, 1979. The Numbers cites the gross at $8.1 million,[3] and Box Office Mojo at $15 million.[2] Despite its minor box office success, its gross was nowhere near as high as that of American Graffiti, even though Ron Howard, Cindy Williams and Harrison Ford were bigger stars (due to their major roles in the TV hits Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley and the film Star Wars) in 1979 than they had been in 1973.

Critical reception

The film received negative reviews from critics, in contrast to the critical acclaim received by its predecessor. Rotten Tomatoes reported that 20% of critics were positive based on ten reviews.[4]

Janet Maslin of The New York Times called it "grotesquely misconceived, so much so that it nearly eradicates fond memories of the original ... The times — the story is scattered like buckshot from 1964 to 1967 — have grown dangerous, but these people haven't awakened at all. They're still the same fun-loving rock-and-rollers, and there's nothing they can't trivialize. So here is a comic look at campus rioting. Here are the beach party aspects of the Vietnam War."[5] Dale Pollock of Variety stated in his review that "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 ... without a dramatic glue to hold the disparate story elements together, Graffiti is too disorganized for its own good, and the cross-cutting between different film styles only accentuates the problem."[6] Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film 2 stars out of 4 and called it "one long confusing movie" that is "really too ambitious for its own good."[7] On Sneak Previews, Roger Ebert said he thought it was a "much better film" than Siskel did, that he "had no trouble following it" and that "it's a film worth seeing."[8] Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times was also positive, writing that "the protagonists are affecting as before and 'More American Graffiti' is an uncommonly evocative trip back to our common past—a stirring reminder in both style and substance of what we've been through."[9] Gary Arnold of The Washington Post wrote, "All this fussy, arbitrary switching of scenes, years and aspect ratios may wow them back in film school, but the complicated framework reveals nothing but one inconsequential or misleading vignette after another. Norton doesn't achieve a true dramatic convergence of parallel stories; and his historical vision is confined to cheerleading reaffirmations of all the old counterculture cliches about war, cops, Women's Liberation, you name it."[10] Veronica Geng of The New Yorker called the film "a mess of time shifts and pointless, confusing split-screen techniques that make the images look dinky instead of multiplying their impact. For as busy a movie I have seen, it is visually one of the most boring. Norton trades in the grammar of moving pictures for a formula that says the sixties equals fragmentation equals split screen—and split screen we get; baby's first jigsaw puzzles of simultaneous action, until we long for a simple cut from a moving car to a closeup of the driver."[11] David Ansen of Newsweek wrote, "This is all very film-school fancy, but what does it mean? Alas, precious little. 'More' in this case is decidedly less. Once you get used to the cross-cutting — which is rather like switching channels between four different TV shows — the realization dawns that none of the segments is particularly interesting."[12]

Lucas reflected on the experience in 1997 during the production of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, remarking to Frank Oz, "You just never know on these things. I did a More American Graffiti; it made ten cents. Just failed miserably."[13]


  1. FILM CLIPS: George Lucas: 'Graffiti' Sequel Rosenfield, Paul. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 01 Mar 1978: f7.
  2. "More American Graffiti". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2015-01-27.
  3. "More American Graffiti – Box Office Data, Movie News, Cast Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 2015-01-27.
  4. "More American Graffiti Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2019-04-22.
  5. Maslin, Janet (August 17, 1979). "Screen: 'More American Graffiti' Covers '64 to '67". The New York Times. C14.
  6. Pollock, Dale (July 25, 1979). "Film Reviews: More American Graffiti". Variety. p. 16.
  7. Siskel, Gene (August 17, 1979). "Viet scenes best of a confusing and ambitious 'Graffiti'". Chicago Tribune. Section 3, p. 2.
  8. "Sneak Previews Season 2 Episode 5". IMDB. Retrieved 2019-07-08.
  9. Champlin, Charles (July 29, 1979). "The Line on 'Dallas' and 'Graffiti II'". Los Angeles Times. Calendar, p. 23.
  10. Arnold, Gary (August 3, 1979). "'More American Graffiti': Not Necessarily". The Washington Post. D4.
  11. Geng, Veronica (August 20, 1979). "The Current Cinema". The New Yorker. 91.
  12. Ansen, David (August 27, 1979). "Sliding Downhill in the '60s". Newsweek. 63.
  13. Shenk, Jon (2001). The Beginning: Making Episode I.
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