American Graffiti (1973)

American Graffiti
Directed by George Lucas
Written by Willard Huyck, Gloria Katz and George Lucas
(number 271)

This is kinda, the essential movie idolising sixties teens in America right? I looked up how this movie happened and if it led directly into the TV series Happy Days. Francis Ford Coppola challenged George Lucas to write something that’d appeal to mainstream movie audiences while they were filming THX1138. Lucas wrote this movie as a kind of autobiography/recording of how he’d spent his teenage years: cruising in cars to meet girls.

As expected the soundtrack is packed with hits of the fifties and sixties, lots of good stuff.

Unfortunately I’m watching it looking for the queer characters… bad idea. I started shipping just about everyone in couples that were never gonna happy. I was so sure Curt would be gay. He was so into that one teacher, and then he gets the nice man to man chat with the radio DJ.

Tiny baby Harrison Ford! Playing a total jerky idiot but it’s Harrison so that’s something.

Does it make me love the people? I dunno, sorta. I think my favourite characters are Carol and John which is weird because I’m pretty certain that he’s too old and cool for her, and she’s definitely too young to be cruising with him all night. But that said they have a really good vibe between them. Sorta reminds me of that episode in third season Veronica Mars where Logan has to babysit a young teenage girl and they end up getting on. At least there was no danger of romance between those two though.

Bechdel test: Laurie and Peg talk about how Laurie only wants to date Steve… and .. basically no, all women only spoke to men.

Best line:

Steve: why don’t you go kiss a duck?

You got the bitchinest car in the valley! You’ll always be number one, you’re the greatest!

State of Mind: Ultimately this is an early version of Dazed and Confused, but less… grimy. Less nastiness all round, although there is still nastiness. But it’s the same kind of American teenagers on the cusp, messing around and staying up all night, chasing people, making trouble and talking. I… am unsure if this is my kind of movie. I find it pretty dull all round. I guess the drag race was pretty interesting, bit rough on baby Harrison’s car.

Overall it’s a bit chunk of nostaligia for an era well and truly gone. It has almost nothing to do with me except I guess this movie had an impact on teen culture and on movies that came after it. I don’t particularly care, tbh. Also what the crap is with the bleak in the end credits with two of the main dudes dying? Bleeeeeaaaak.

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Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Written by Jeffrey Boam based on the story by George Lucas and Menno Meyjes
(number 315)

NB: What I like to do with movie trilogies in this list is post them together, but I actually can’t with this one. Because of my decision to post the top 100 films in descending order… and apparently the first Indiana Jones movie is number 2 greatest movie of all time and out of the three, this is the lowest ranked. (I actually far prefer this one…) But I did watch them in chronological order, so this review references the other movies, but I’ll post the reviews of them later. Make sense? No? Oh well. Read on anyway.

This is the Indiana Jones film I have the most love for. I remember seeing it at the movies when I won tickets to it at the tender age of eight years old. Very exciting, I don’t know if I’d ever particularly won anything before so it was very exciting.

My sister had a massive crush on River Phoenix, and well she might, he’s adorable in this. I really love the opening sequence with young Indy and the scout troupe, the dashing grave robber who Indy clearly obsessed about for years – still wearing his hat and dressing like him when he goes adventuring. Plus the very succinct and telling introduction to Henry Jones, Sr.

I find the script in this one much tighter all round. There’s less racism, less nasty shit happening than the previous two and I find the jokes more fun as well. Maybe I’m just more forgiving of this one since I remember it from my childhood where I don’t remember the other two.

I think probably the best moment is Indy actually managing to keep a handle on his shit when meeting Hitler and accidentally getting his autograph on the all important Grail journal.

Does it make me love the people? Much more than the previous movies. The youthful intro to Indy immediately gets me on side (as well as the conflict with his father) and of course it’s impossible not to love the senior Mr Jones when played so well by Connery. I actually have quite a lot of sympathy for Elsa too, she’s misguided but she’s interesting and passionate.

It’s nice to see Salah again and to see more of him than we’ve seen previously.

Bechdel test: Elsa Schneider is a great character, interesting, no nonsense, takes none of Indy’s shit, smart as a tack and vulnerable to temptation. Does she ever speak to another woman with a name? The answer is no.

Best line:

Indiana Jones: [steals a flower for Elsa] Fraulein, will you permit me?
Elsa: I usually don’t.
Indiana Jones: I usually don’t either.
Elsa: In that case I permit you.
Indiana Jones: It would make me very happy.
Elsa: But I am already sad, by tomorrow it will have faded.
Indiana Jones: Tomorrow I’ll steal you another one.

Henry Jones, Sr: First, is the path of God: Only the penitent man shall pass. Second, is the word of God: Only in the footsteps of God, shall he proceed. Last is the breath of God: Only in a leap from the lion’s head shall he prove his worth.

State of Mind: I do genuinely like this one more than the previous two Indiana Jones films. The script is tighter, there’s way less racism, the bad guys are Nazis who, generally, it’s easy to code as evil and there’s lots of great jokes and the relationship between the Joneses is believable and easy to invest in. It’s a pity that the only woman is again a love interest.

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