Two years before his gig as a showboating marine biologist in Jaws, Richard Dreyfuss honed his wiseass-overachiever chops in American Graffiti, George Lucas’ 1973 film about the Be-Bop-a-Lula youth of 1950s Modesto, Calif. Dreyfuss’ Curt isn’t too stoked about leaving Cali to accept a scholarship at an East Coast college, so he spends a picaresque night tooling around town with his high school buds, becoming a temporary member of a chain-and-leather gang named the Pharaohs, and falling in love with a mystery woman in white. Notable for its precisely evocative soundtrack and for the fact that Lucas hired his carpenter, Harrison Ford, to moonlight as a raffish street-racer, the film is touching without being schmaltzy. And it established the vocabulary for pretty much every subsequent coming-of-age-in-one-night flick, from Dazed and Confused to Superbad—not to mention most things starring Molly Ringwald.
THE FILM SHOWS AT 8 P.M. AT AMERICAN CITY DINER AND CAFE, 5532 CONNECTICUT AVE. NW. FREE. (202) 244 1949.