For, July 26, 2013

"Where were you in '62?" the posters asked when "American Graffiti" was released in 1973. Personally, I was just starting high school, but this movie nonetheless resonated with me, just as it did with former teenagers all around the country.

If you've never seen it on the big screen, it helps for spotting those future stars that have itty-bitty roles, such as Harrison Ford and Suzanne Somers. And now's your chance as it plays Sunday, July 28, 2 p.m., and Wednesday, July 31, 2 and 7 p.m., at several Cinemark Theatres around the Salt Lake Valley and beyond (

"American Graffiti" was the third biggest movie of 1973, after "The Exorcist" and "The Sting," and because it was made on a very small budget, the film remains among the biggest profit makers in motion-picture history. It also catapulted writer-director George Lucas into a powerful position, giving him the necessary clout to get his next movie made, a dubious little sci-fi yarn in which the studio had little faith, "Star Wars."

Ron Howard had been a child star on TV with "The Andy Griffith Show," of course, but he had yet to launch his second act as the star of "Happy Days" (much less his third act as an Oscar-winning director). And his "American Graffiti" co-star was a completely unknown actor named Richard Dreyfuss. (Howard was around the same age as his character, fresh out of high school; Dreyfuss was 25.)

The ensemble cast also includes Paul Le Mat, Charles Martin Smith, Candy Clark, Mackenzie Phillips, Cindy Williams, Bo Hopkins and Kathleen Quinlan, and the aforementioned Ford and Somers. And the soundtrack, composed of period rock ‘n' roll songs, was as big a hit as the movie, long before such pop-song movie soundtracks were the norm.