'American Graffiti:' True Stories About The First Ever Summer Blockbuster

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Ron Howard and Cindy Williams on the set of the film 'American Graffiti', 1973. (Photo by Universal Pictures/Getty Images)

The 1973 film American Graffiti is George Lucas's love letter to the 1950s and his home town of Modesto, California. Before he was a director, Lucas spent his nights drag racing through the streets of Northern California, and his nostalgia for his youth is on display in every frame of this film. Making American Graffiti, as George Lucas himself would tell you, was no easy task -- he didn't even really have a star to build the movie around, as Ron Howard was still best known as Opie from The Andy Griffith Show. Howard's co-stars Richard Dreyfuss, Cindy Williams, Harrison Ford and Mackenzie Phillips were hardly the household names they were soon to become. But when all was said and done, George Lucas's American Graffiti paved the way for Lucas’ next film, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

Keep reading to find out how the movie that helped turn George Lucas into a Hollywood heavyweight almost didn’t get made, and just what the cast and crew had to go through to put this story of growing up, leaving home, and rock and roll on screen.