Features and Columns · Movies

George Lucas’ Wildest Sequel: The Admirable Audacity of ‘More American Graffiti’

No, it’s not the ‘Star Wars’ prequels.
More American Graffiti
Universal Pictures
By  · Published on September 3rd, 2021

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay on the wildest sequel by director George Lucas: 1979’s More American Graffiti.


When a film is especially near and dear to you it can be tempting to avoid its sequels like the plague. Why run the risk of tainting your memory of the original film? Of sullying its hallowed plot beats with the knowledge that the story continues, for better or for worse? A sequel doesn’t even necessarily have to be “bad” for this Schrodinger’s paradox to kick in. It turns out that Bride of Re-Animator is a solid and thoroughly enjoyable follow-up to Stuart Gordon’s original film. But mustering up the courage to finally give it a shot was like pulling teeth because, well, you know, what if it was bad?

This whole affair becomes especially tricky when sequels are infamously terrible. Enter: George Lucas, a man whose directorial reputation is inextricably linked to sequelitis. But while his Star Wars prequels are their own can of worms, today we’re interested in his much worse and weirder effort.

After the veritable sci-fi bummer that was THX 1138American Zoetrope co-founder Frances Ford Coppola challenged Lucas to make something warm, fun, and commercial. The result was the 1973 period coming-of-age comedy American Graffiti, whose runaway success begged for a quick, studio-driven cash grab. Now, you may be thinking: hang on a second, More American Graffiti wasn’t directed by George Lucas. I’m looking at IMDb right now and it credits someone named, Bill Norton. What gives? Well, in a move that would ultimately color future Lucas projects (it rhymes with Meturn of the Medi), by all counts on More American Graffiti, Lucas was more of a “ghost director” than a producer.

Released six years after its predecessor, More American Graffiti reunites with the gang of the original film (minus the too-expensive-to-hire Richard Dreyfuss). Where American History charted the growing pains of a dying innocent era, its sequel dives headlong into a turbulent and rapidly fracturing culture colored by instability, war, and political upset. Delivered from the perspective of someone enamored with the original film, the video essay below unpacks what makes More American Graffiti such a mess of a sequel as well as potentially one of the most adventurous films George Lucas has ever been involved with.

Watch “George Lucas’ Weirdest & Wildest Sequel”:

 

Who made this?

This video on More American Graffiti is by Andrew Saladino, who runs the Texas-based Royal Ocean Film Society. You can browse their back catalog of videos on their Vimeo account here. If Vimeo isn’t your speed, you can give them a follow on YouTube here.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).