Starring: Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Paul Le Mat (his film debut), Charlie Matt Smith, Cindy Williams, Candy Clark, Mackenzie Phillips (her debut), Wolfman Jack, Harrison Ford
Director: George Lucas
Summary: Four high school seniors in 1962 face an uncertain future as they try to live through their last big school dance
Other Nominations: Director, Supporting Actress (Clark), Original Screenplay, Film Editing
-The soundtrack was a huge focus of the film and it does play like a greatest hits version of music from the mid 50s-early 60s (with the exception of Elvis because RCA wouldn’t sell the rights at a reasonable price). However cheap a tactic it might be (and one that has been repeated by numerous movies since), it does invoke the era well and the music itself is good for my tastes at least.
-The movie does a good job of juggling all four stories it wants to tell and giving them each the time they need to feel like they have a real beginning, middle and end (even if the female characters have no depth to them, something George Lucas generally had problems with). I especially liked Le Mat and Phillips’ story which had quite a bit of charm to it. I also thought Richard Dreyfuss was very good in general and I can understand why this movie was a springboard for him to being a future star in the industry.
-This movie is very much about white people’s nostalgia, a celebration of a simpler and less complicated past when the biggest problems for teenagers were girls and looking cool, while lamenting changing times (especially at the very end in a very good coda). However, I think this is a film mostly relies on connecting with you on a personal level based on your own experiences either 1) because you were a white high schooler from that era, or 2) because it reminds you of your high school experiences in some positive way; for me, I have no nostalgia for high school, like at all, nor was I somebody who did a lot of cruising or girl chasing. I think the lack of an experience to appeal to limited my overall enjoyment and I thought this was just pretty good instead of great.
I thought it was pretty good, although I feel like I’m not the target audience. However, it does a pretty good job of telling its character’s stories and I liked Dreyfuss. Hey, at least the success of this film led to some pretty awesome movies from its director over the next 16 years.