More American Graffiti
Theatrical release poster by William Stout
Directed byBill L. Norton
Written byBill L. Norton
Based onCharacters
by George Lucas
Gloria Katz
Willard Huyck
Produced byHoward Kazanjian
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]

More American Graffiti is a 1979 American coming-of-age comedy film written and directed by Bill L. Norton, produced by Howard Kazanjian. The film, shot in multiple aspect ratios for comedic and dramatic emphasis, is the sequel to the 1973 film American Graffiti. While the first film followed a group of friends during the evening before they depart for college, the sequel depicts where they end up on consecutive New Years Eves from 1964 to 1967.

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 from 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 film'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 overreaction to a anti-Vietnam War protest.

The storylines and fates of the main characters include the following:



After the success of the original film, George Lucas, who directed American Graffiti, felt that he should direct a sequel. However, his colleague Gary Kurtz and the film's producer Francis Ford Coppola declined to make a sequel since sequels were not as well received. Lucas shelved the sequel to work on Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

After the success of Star Wars, Universal City Studios president Sid Sheinberg felt that American Graffiti could have a sequel. Lucas was initially reluctant to do a sequel,[4] but after discussions with producer Howard Kazanjian, he agreed to do so.

Lucas felt that he should not direct the film due to various circumstances, such as handling his company's financing, developing Radioland Murders with Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, whom he had worked with on the film, and writing the screenplay of The Empire Strikes Back and planning his Indiana Jones franchise with fellow director Steven Spielberg. Finding a director was problematic for Lucas and Kazanjian. Kazanjian's top choice was John Landis, who refused to work on it. Lucas’ professor Irvin Kershner was also considered, but rejected the offer due to his lack of experience in comedy.

Lucas considered Robert Zemeckis, who had finished directing his first feature film I Wanna Hold Your Hand, but he turned down the offer. Bill L. Norton was picked by Lucas as being suitable due to his California upbringing and experience with comedy. Lucas and Kazanjian asked him to do a screenplay, which Norton quickly accepted. Lucas was involved in the production by acting as the executive producer, editing both Norton's screenplay and supervising the finished motion picture, and even setting up a camera for sequences set in the Vietnam War.

Home media

The film was released on DVD in September 2003 and once more as a double feature teamed with American Graffiti (1973) in January 2004. It was later released on digital disc in 2011 and finally released on Blu-ray for Europe in May 2012 and for North America in June 2018.


The film also featured a 24-track soundtrack album featuring music from the film, along with the voice-over tracks by Wolfman Jack. That album is out of print and has never been released on CD.

Side One
  1. "Heat Wave" – Martha and the Vandellas (2:42)
  2. "Moon River" – Andy Williams (2:41)
  3. "Mr. Tambourine Man" – The Byrds (2:18)
  4. "My Boyfriend's Back" – The Angels (2:36)
  5. "Sounds of Silence" – Simon & Garfunkel (3:07)
  6. "Season of the Witch" – Donovan (4:58)
Side Two
  1. "Stop in the Name of Love" – The Supremes (2:47)
  2. "Strange Brew" – Cream (2:45)
  3. "Just Like a Woman" – Bob Dylan (4:50)
  4. "Respect" – Aretha Franklin (2:25)
  5. "She's Not There" – The Zombies (2:21)
  6. "96 Tears" – ? and the Mysterians (3:01)
Side Three
  1. "Pipeline" – The Chantays (2:18)
  2. "Since I Fell for You" – Lenny Welch (2:50)
  3. "Beechwood 4-5789" – The Marvellettes (1:59)
  4. "Mr. Lonely" – Bobby Vinton (2:39)
  5. "Cool Jerk" – The Capitols (2:45)
  6. "I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag" – Country Joe and The Fish (4:12)
Side Four
  1. "The Ballad of the Green Berets" – Barry Sadler (2:37)
  2. "My Guy" – Mary Wells (2:45)
  3. "I'm a Man" – Doug Sahm (2:35)
  4. "Hang On Sloopy" – The McCoys (with Voice-Overs by Wolfman Jack) (3:02)
  5. "When a Man Loves a Woman" – Percy Sledge (2:50)
  6. "Like a Rolling Stone" – Bob Dylan (6:06)

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 same weekend as Apocalypse Now and Monty Python's Life of Brian.[5] The Numbers puts 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 10 reviews.[6]

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."[7] 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."[8]

Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film two out of four stars and called it "one long confusing movie" that is "really too ambitious for its own good."[9] 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."[10]

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."[11] 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."[12]

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."[13] 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."[14]

Retrospective assessments

George 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."[15]

In 2021, The Guardian's Matt Mitchell wrote about the film, by then "largely forgotten", for the newspaper's "Hear Me Out" series, in which critics argue for more favorable receptions for films often seen as artistic failures. He argued that its commercial failure was all but certain given its box office competition on opening weekend (Apocalypse Now and Monty Python's Life of Brian), and that it suffered by association with most sequels at the time being perceived as financially motivated since they were not part of studios' business models yet. "More American Graffiti is an experimental love-letter to teenage omnipotence becoming adult mortality", centered around Milner's death and the characters in the later storylines processing it. "There is a beautiful melancholia lurking beneath the comedic surface. It's an empathetic look at the distances in which our sorrows can migrate."[5]


  1. ^ "FILM CLIPS: George Lucas: 'Graffiti' Sequel Rosenfield, Paul". Los Angeles Times. Mar 1, 1978. p. f7.
  2. ^ a b c "More American Graffiti". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2015-01-27.
  3. ^ a b "More American Graffiti – Box Office Data, Movie News, Cast Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 2015-01-27.
  4. ^ More American Graffiti and Spetters: Jim Hemphill's Weekend Blu-ray Picks|Filmmaker Magazine
  5. ^ a b Mitchell, Matt (July 6, 2021). "Hear me out: why More American Graffiti isn't a bad movie". The Guardian. Retrieved July 8, 2021.
  6. ^ "More American Graffiti". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 2021-10-07. Edit this at Wikidata
  7. ^ Maslin, Janet (August 17, 1979). "Screen: 'More American Graffiti' Covers '64 to '67". The New York Times. C14.
  8. ^ Pollock, Dale (July 25, 1979). "Film Reviews: More American Graffiti". Variety. p. 16.
  9. ^ Siskel, Gene (August 17, 1979). "Vietnam scenes best of a confusing and ambitious 'Graffiti'". Chicago Tribune. Section 3, p. 2.
  10. ^ "Sneak Previews Season 2 Episode 5". IMDb. Retrieved 2019-07-08.
  11. ^ Champlin, Charles (July 29, 1979). "The Line on 'Dallas' and 'Graffiti II'". Los Angeles Times. Calendar, p. 23.
  12. ^ Arnold, Gary (August 3, 1979). "'More American Graffiti': Not Necessarily". The Washington Post. D4.
  13. ^ Geng, Veronica (August 20, 1979). "The Current Cinema". The New Yorker. 91.
  14. ^ Ansen, David (August 27, 1979). "Sliding Downhill in the '60s". Newsweek. 63.
  15. ^ Shenk, Jon (2001). The Beginning: Making Episode I.