"Where were you in '62?"
It's in the fall of 1962, and Curt Henderson (Richard
Dreyfuss) and Steve Boland (Ron Howard) are about to leave for
college. The film details the events that happen on that night
before they are to spread their wings and leave the security of
a small town and familiar people, some of whom they love deeply.
The film skillfully intertwines 4 interrelated stories of 4 high
school graduates, involving various eternal teenage problems,
concerning love, change, growing up, and fitting in, all with
a sense of humor and punctuated with '50's / '60's rock and roll
music, as a back drop.
The screenplay is originally refreshing, and
expertly blends humor with serious thoughts and drama, as it
explores various issues that faced teenagers then, and now as
well. Much of the film, set in the sleepy California town of
Modesto, in 1962, is said to have been drawn from Lucas' high
school period. He may have written the role of the aspiring
writer, (Dreyfuss), to represent his young self.
The film, most of which was shot at night, on
a shoestring budget, has a gritty, realistic look. This was
achieved by shooting the film, whenever possible, in available
Because much of the film takes place in a single
night. It gives the viewer a "real time" feel, similar
to that recently achieved by the film, "Before Sunrise."
Many of the film's characters have their lives changed in the
course of the film, undergoing interesting "character arcs."
The talented cast, of basically unknown actors/actresses,
under the inspired direction of George Lucas, did a terrific
job, bringing to life this innovative, cutting edge screenplay.
This movie helped just about everyone in the cast to advance
their careers; not bad for a low-budget film!
This film made Dreyfuss a star, as his role
really showcased his talent. A few years later, he won an Oscar
for Best Actor in "The Goodbye Girl."
Many others also enjoyed fast career advancement
from their performances in this film, as doors were opened to
them. Cindy Williams, Ron Howard, and Mackenzie Phillips landed
TV sitcoms. Ron Howard turned to directing, becoming very successful
Harrison Ford landed a lot of films with Lucas,
Speilburg, and others, going on to achieve star status, melting
the hearts of women with his good looks, and wowing his fans
with his ability to tell a good tale through his own style of
Charles Martin Smith (Toad), while not becoming
a huge star, has been able to make a living in acting, being
in movies and television continually throughout the years.
Also, look for Suzanne Somers ("Step by
Step"), in the small but important role of the mysterious
blonde in the Thunderbird.
My favorite scene involves Curt Henderson (Dreyfuss)
and the gang, 'the Pharaohs', that Curt inadvertently get involved
with, when he accidentally scratches a gang member's car, by
sitting on the hood of it. Threatened by the gang with being
dragged behind their car if he refused, Dreyfuss does the required
anti-social act which would gett back at the obnoxious Officer
Holstein, by disabling Officer Holstein's car, as the police
are sitting in it in a parking lot, with humorous results. The
film is filled with fun and antics, such as this instance.
The film's soundtrack is filled with vintage
1950's and '60's music. These nostalgic, feel-good songs really
set the tone for the picture.